Topic on Talk:Structured Discussions

Sänger (talkcontribs)

In the now closed thread currently just beneath this one Deryck Chan wrote, that on the Wikimania the legend was passed, that the DOA project Flow is still in active development. It's been discussed a bit on his Flow page (not a real talk page, just Flow). Methinks, such discussions should not be done on some hidden back-rooms on user talk pages, but just here, where Flow is the topic.


Who declared this dead horse non-dead? Why is more money wasted on Flow instead of improving Talk pages? Why is, for example, the VE forbidden on talk pages, as it's no problem to use it there, it's only fine for the Flow-fans to pretend VE is somehow connected to Flow, which is a blatant lie.

Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 15:23, 23 August 2017 (UTC)

Alsee (talkcontribs)

The only way to kill Flow is for the community to continue pushing the Flow-Rollback.

  • The Flow extension was uninstalled from Enwiki.
  • The Flow extension was uninstalled from Metawiki.

@Sänger, are you willing to organize a Dewiki RFC to request Flow be uninstalled? I would be more than happy to supply information and examples that will help get consensus. It will be no problem to start an RFC on Commons and other English wikis. Then we can reach out for people to translate it into other major wiki languages.

MarcoAurelio (talkcontribs)

Hi Alsee:

The Flow extension was uninstalled from Metawiki.

Yes, but not without even last minute warring tries to shut down the gerrit patch in spite of a large community consensus against Flow due to some technical problems to remove it. That said, we got that uninstalled and we're happy with the decision we made. Some projects I work on are also considering having the feature removed. That said, it is easier to remove Flow on wikis where not even a single page uses this as it does not require converting back pages to wikitext content model, so Sänger, should you wish to pursue an RfC at Deutsch projects, go ahead. Regards.

Sänger (talkcontribs)

I just asked on the Diskussionsseite von Flow whether there is Flow somehow installed, and how we can get rid of it. I'm no dev, so I don't know where to look at.

MarcoAurelio (talkcontribs)

See my reply below. I see that you've already posted on dewiki and I've added a comment there. We editconflicted :)

Sänger (talkcontribs)

It's not there on deWP, not even as a test. What else should be done?

Alsee (talkcontribs)

The WMF installed the Flow extension on all wikis, even if there are zero active Flow pages. EnWiki and Metawiki removed all Flow pages AND uninstalled the Flow software itself.

Benefits of uninstalling Flow:

  • Uninstalling this complex unused extension improves the security of the Wiki. Flow has had critical security threat bugs in the past. Flow may currently have unknown critical security threat bugs. Future development on Flow would almost create new critical security threat bugs. All software development carries an inherent risk of bugs, but if Dewiki isn't using Flow then there's no reason Dewiki should get hit by those bugs. There is no reason to have this unused software installed.
  • Uninstalling this large, complex, unused extension improves the stability of the Wiki. The Flow extension is unusally complex, and it is unusually invasive into other parts of the wiki software. The future development plans for Flow would make it far more complex, and far more invasive into other wiki software. A Flow bug could disrupt the wiki, a severe Flow bug could even crash the wiki completely. Again, if Dewiki isn't using Flow, then there's no reason the software should be installed.
  • Uninstalling Flow prevents any deliberate or unintended side effects that Flow has on the wiki.
  • Uninstalling Flow removes the "create Flow page" buttons from the wiki, ensuring that no one can create Flow pages without a major discussion to re-install Flow.
  • Uninstalling Flow communicates an important message to the WMF. Some people at the WMF expect Flow to eventually replace Talk pages. They plan to keep spending money trying to upgrade Flow. They have Faith that we will eventually want Flow, once they "upgrade" it enough. Uninstalling Flow says we are NOT eagerly waiting for Flow to be improved. It says we want Flow GONE. If a few more major wikis firmly say we want Flow GONE, maybe the WMF will finally get the message that Flow isn't a viable project. Maybe they'll finally stop wasting money on it.
MarcoAurelio (talkcontribs)

I can confirm Flow is enabled on dewiki and its sister projects. Maybe it is not used on any page, but the extension is there.

Deryck Chan (talkcontribs)

I understand your skepticism, because I know how hard it feels when WMF rolls out new features with insufficient forethought and messes things up. But not all wikis are alike, and the Wikimedia movement is more than the English and German Wikipedias. Editors of many smaller wikis have found Flow useful and I believe (or at least I hope) the continued development of Flow will not force wikis to adopt it against their editors' wishes.

Alsee (talkcontribs)

This was not a case of "insufficient forethought and messes things up".

Before Flow was built, countless editors tried to discuss the project with the WMF. The WMF individual(s) responsible for Flow were hostile and malicious. (Assuming Good Faith terminates when actions or statements demonstrate otherwise.)

The lead designer effectively terminated discussion, telling the community to seek "zen acceptance" of the fact that he was going to ignore us, that he was going to build what he wanted to build, and that the WMF would force it out whether we wanted it or not. He stated he wanted to "kill off wikitext", and proceeded to knowingly and deliberately build a grossly defective Flow with by-design content-corruption problems. That is beyond inexcusable. Deploying Flow anywhere sabotages the global community and sabotages the global mission. If the WMF scraps Flow and starts from scratch, maybe we can come up with something that benefits everyone. I don't know what that would look like, but conventional forum software with a corrupt wikitext-simulator bolted on is not a viable answer.

Sänger (talkcontribs)

I'm very sceptical, as the extreme buggy and licenses disregarding MediaViewer was forced with brutal might and complete ruthlessness against the explicit wishes from the communities upon the deWP and enWP by the WMF, who gave a flying fuck about the communities, if it doesn't align with their vain. The WMF still has not apologised for this completely unacceptable behaviour at that time.

Without Flow all Wikipages are more or less the same, editable in the same manner, behave the same way, look the same way, are flexible in the same way and easy to use in the same way.

Flow completely breaks with that (and LiquidThreads, the other, even weaker, forum impersonation did as well. Instead of developing the VE for use on talk pages, they want some new shiny bling. VE on Talk pages is possible, but it is deliberately not implemented, to give Flow some advantage. They simply want Flow, and don't care even a bit about the communities. New shiny bling is sexier then dull maintenance, that's the main reason for Flow. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 17:09, 24 August 2017 (UTC)

Deryck Chan (talkcontribs)

I'm with Sänger on the issue of VE for talk pages. Talk pages are used for discussing and drafting bits of articles so it makes sense to allow some form of VE integration, whether inside our outside Flow.

And w:WP:BEANS applies - the more developers resist allowing VE on talk pages, the more editors who dislike Flow will complain about unfair advantage imposed by WMF. If VE is enabled for talk pages, editors who don't yet feel strongly about Flow might be swayed that talk pages aren't always the best structure for discussions, even if visual editing is enabled. Then they might warm up to structured discussion systems.

Sänger (talkcontribs)

I'll show you this thread, where some of the fan-boys of Flow refused any meaningful discussion.

Deryck Chan (talkcontribs)

I agree with both of you. As an engineer by trade I can believe why VE will struggle to emulate the indentation that we currently use on talk pages. Did you notice that VE is a bit clumsy when it tries to handle bulletted and enumerated lists?

But at the same time I agree with you that WMF Editing / Collaboration teams are doing themselves a disservice by forbidding the use of VE on talk pages. They should allow individual projects to turn it on by popular demand. Given the disposition of German Wikipedians I can see one of two outcomes: either the middle-ground majority of editors will realise that VE + talk pages is the wrong solution for threaded discussion and begin to support a propert threaded discussion system, or the German volunteer community will find a way of making VE work for talk pages. Either way that will stop people from whining in an infinite loop.

Jdforrester (WMF) (talkcontribs)

The structured discussions feature provided by Flow is not and has never been "dead".

Some communities are using it on a regular basis as they appreciate it, and the developers have kept on with maintenance tasks and bug fixes. This year, we will make some changes to structured discussions based on feedback, as we documented in the annual plan. The editor-facing changes will be announced to the affected communities soon.

The structured discussions feature is not and will not be deployed to editing communities that don't want it. As it's an editor-focused feature, unlike MediaViewer, it has to work well for a majority of editing community members to be successful. That shouldn't prevent some communities from using it just because other communities don't want to.

It is wrong to say that all wiki pages are alike, and that structured discussions are the only departure from this. Each "structured data storage" system differs from other wiki pages. Most simply, file pages are radically different (you have to 'upload' to change them). In Wikibase (used for Wikidata with other future uses being worked on by several teams), "pages" have a completely different storage/editing mechanism. Wikisource also uses a very different editing system for side-by-side correction of OCR'ed texts, which is more appropriate for that set of needs. In the same way, a structured discussion system has unique needs. Getting it implemented will have a known list of benefits, that communities have been asking for over many years, and that are impossible to implement in a non-structured plain wiki page.

Sänger (talkcontribs)

Why are you not putting the VE on talk pages? Why don't you maintain normal, structured talk pages? This pages here have a completely inflexible, cast in concrete, mono-structure, a dumbed down forum impersonation. Real talk pages are usually good structured, you can even reorganize them, indent far better, put some new headlines in there, whatever, they are flexible.

If some few elements like auto-indenture, auto-signing and of course the VE, that is deliberately held back from talk pages, to make Flow look better, are developed, that would erase probaly about 95% of the so-called problems.

Flow is just an inflexible contaminant in the otherwise quite flexible and homogeneous wikiverse. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 19:45, 24 August 2017 (UTC)

Deryck Chan (talkcontribs)

You might want to consult our volunteer colleagues at Wikidata and Commons about your description of a "flexible and honogeneous wikiverse"...

Sänger (talkcontribs)

I'm talking about the article based, encyclopedic, core projects, not the database background projects.

Basically all pages in normal article based projects behave exactly in the same manner, are editable in exactly the same manner, have exactly the same look-and-feel. Flow creates an artificial barrier between talk pages and all other pages.

And the VE is withheld from talk pages without any real reason probably to give Flow, a pet project by some people in SF, an advantage. That's imho a very destructive approach. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 13:19, 26 August 2017 (UTC)

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