Category Off Topic

A wiki's purpose is to generate a community of programmers and their ideas. There is no conceivable benefit to selecting some arbitrary cut point between ideas that relate to programming, those that are tangential, and those that are orthogonal. It takes all kinds to program. All off-topic pages are on-topic, and the best way to increase the signal/noise ratio around here is to add signal. If you can't say something nice, don't spend your idle time deleting pages that have been reviewed and amended, by programmers, for years before you got here. -- PhlIp

By adding the CategoryOffTopic to the bottom of the page, one does not denigrate or detract content, but merely by categorization indicates it does not seem to fit the community's intention of focusing on a limited range of topics.

When a page is obviously not related to the stated focus of this wiki, do not fan flames, or contribute heat to the subject; instead, simply add the CategoryOffTopic to the bottom of the page.

No more need be said about agreeing with or disagreeing with the content, just that it is OffTopic, and as such should be modified so as to bring it OnTopic by those involved, or after a period of time long enough for such adjustments to have been made, to be voluntarily moved or perhaps deleted from the active pages of the wiki. This will keep the site from losing its stated purpose. As such, the rights of free speech are preserved.

The words posted on this wiki are posted with the understanding that at any time and by anyone, the words can be altered, by correction of spelling, grammar, or corrections regarding facts. Signed contributions generally receive a different treatment and are generally left as is. This however does not mean that after a period of time and for purposes of maintenance that pages might be moved to other wikis, or to archives and then deleted from the active pages.

When clicking on this page title, you can see pages so classified, and you can:

  1. See if you can refactor the page(s) to relate it/them in some way, bringing it OnTopic,

  2. Encourage the participants to follow this wiki's norms of participation and contributions and not use this space for out-of-bounds subjects,

  3. Subject the page to the deletion or moving process, with appropriate actions.

  4. Suggest in order to introduce some signal to the noise of the page that the readers try OnTopic pages by adding something like:

For OnTopic Categories, try CategoryCategory.


WardCunningham, Blessed Be His Name, has a small list on his home page titled, "I've written hundreds of wiki pages. These are some of my favorites ..." That list includes such "off-topic" gems as TenWordLine, BackgammonOpenings, ResponsibilityRelief, and others. None of these pages are labeled "off-topic." Why not? Could it be that these pages enjoy special status in the minds of the WikiGnomes because they were penned by the Lord Creator Of The Wiki, Blessed Be His Name? I'm quite certain that any kaka I might generate would be slapped with an "off-topic" badge the instant it got added to the repository. Hmm.

Q: Did Ward generate this page?

A: Probably not, Ward is not hesitant to sign pages, but rather to give just a few guidelines.

Q: Is it his intention to delete pages so marked "after a period of time?"

A: He is leaving that up to the "wikizens".

Q: How is a Wikizen to know what is or isn't off topic?

A: Read the page, extract whatever meaning you can from its contents, and decide for yourself.

Q: Isn't it true that Ward his own bad self has refused to place limits on the topics of dissertation/discourse covered by this Wiki?

I have hit on many pages on this Wiki I wasn't looking for but found useful nonetheless.

So have many others. But perhaps "usefulness" is not the criteria used for determining whether a page is OnTopic or OffTopic.

I'd hate to see them blown away because they were labelled "off-topic," whatever the topic needs to be.

If a page is "blown away", improperly edited, or has been subjected to vandalism, it can be restored by anyone, and such restoration is not at all uncommon.

We understand that this Wiki is primarily about software engineering and patterns, but should Ward generate some guidelines for the generation of new material? I want to see that if pages are going to start disappearing.

I do not believe this Category is about "blowing away pages", but rather about retaining focus on a limited range of topics. The categorization of a page as OffTopic is an attempt to identify pages which do not appear to have that focus. It is not that they could not be connected to that purpose by refactoring and editing, but that by doing so, they might be preserved. Many OffTopic pages may be interesting and receive much attention and be "useful", but unless the page falls within the intentions spelled out by Ward regarding what the focus of this wiki should be, they should be acted upon as indicated above, with deletion being a least desirable option.

Really? How does one categorize such pages as BoogerClub, which sparked so much debate a while back? It is obvious that the Wiki community at large wishes this page to remain, yet it has no bearing whatsoever on people, patterns, or whatever other drivel is supposed to be so all-consuming important here. There are lots and lots of pages like that. Eh?

Core pages gone on a tangent can produce OffTopic pages. These pages can stay. OffTopic pages gone on a tangent produce Noise. Noise is deleted.

In other words, we discuss user interfaces. Somebody brings up star trek user interfaces and brings their STTNG technical manual. This is off topic, but it can stay. Somebody brings up Worf's preferred controls to Picard's. This is again going off on a tangent. Noise, (unless that topic came directly off, say, ManagementAntiPatterns?) and so can be deleted.

Is this about the right spirit of OffTopic?

Good idea. I say that we add this as a new principle. Any off topic page that is one link away of a on topic page can stay (so context is preserved). Any off topic page further from on topic pages is deleted. A good name? What about JustOneLevelOfOffTopic?.

I know that this is not enough, and that it can be circunvented, but it is a good start. --JuanPabloNunnezRojas.

Thinking about off topic info here at WardsWiki is one of the reasons I am compiling the project tentatively named OneBigWiki at the WorldWideWiki, []. Always looking for help. How can we direct, or should we, direct off topic pages to other wikis? -- MarkDilley

I find that a lot of pages have been in CategoryOffTopic for over a month, with no dissenting discussion near the CategoryOffTopic tag. I deleted a few of these (and encourage others to do the same, and to debate the CategoryOffTopic tag on pages they think shouldn't be deleted). -- BayleShanks

Why must an off-topic debate be present to stave off a deletion? Should not the real content of the page itself be enough. A debate about being off-topic is just clutter and undesirable. Being off topic should not trigger a deletion; being of no real value should. Perhaps a category such as CategoryNoValue? could be used?

Yeah, uh, Bayle? I dropped a note on your Wiki home page about this, but you've been deleting stuff that doesn't get a lot of change traffic despite the fact that people read it and refer to it occasionally. You should maybe not do that so much, y'know? -- MartySchrader

I agree that deletion of OffTopic pages should be done rarely. Adding the CategoryOffTopic tag to a page is a reasonably polite hint to its writers that they might want to take their discussion elsewhere or add some OnTopic content to the page. But let's not delete them, except for those pages that are clearly of little value. And let's not clutter pages with debate of whether they are or are not OnTopic - everybody knows, even if they like to argue otherwise. -- KrisJohnson

No they don't!

Yes they do.

Do not!

Do too.

you've been deleting stuff that doesn't get a lot of change traffic despite the fact that people read it and refer to it occasionally. You should maybe not do that so much, y'know?

Thanks for letting me know, Marty. I had assumed that labeling a page with CategoryOffTopic was meant to initiate a process which would end either with the removal of the CategoryOffTopic tag or with the deletion of the page (analogous to the DeletedPage tag on UseMod systems, except less automatic).

I'm only peripherally involved here, so I don't want to do any harm - I guess I'll leave controversial actions like deleting to others until I have more experience with the conventions here at the PortlandPatternRepository.

But I do suggest that pages that are offtopic be actually deleted rather than just labeled with CategoryOffTopic. There seem to be quite a few pages on RecentChanges here which are neither people, projects, nor patterns.

-- BayleShanks

Eesh. Yeah, I know - it's a pretty tricky thing, this deciding what needs to be "cleaned up" and what should be left as is. Don't think that just because somebody with a Big Mouth(tm) comes along and whines about your deletions you need to stop WikiGnomeing altogether. I've been a little hypersensitive the other way because of some recent deletion (and other cleanup) actions that have been performed by over-eager Wikizens worried about the level of noise on Wiki. I would like everybody doing this to take a Chill Pill and ask for some discussion on merit before trashing questionable content.

This particular issue is not going to be resolved quickly or in the span of one page, Bayle. Wikizens have been discussing this very problem almost since the first Wiki edit was done seven years ago. We'll just keep hammering at it, okay? -- MartySchrader

Wikizens have been discussing this very problem almost since the first Wiki edit was done seven years ago.

So I've heard! Thanks for the friendly response. -- BayleShanks

Ah, hell. I swear I just riffed on category off-topic, and how it makes everything that's off-topic on-topic, independently and all by myself. -- CharlieMartin

See: AppropriateWikiTopics, WikiOnWiki


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