Split By Topic Not By Opinion

If a Wiki page gets too big, and you'd like to split it, you'll be tempted to split it by opinion first. It's very common to see a page already organized by opposing opinions anyway. Someone will write a four-paragraph blurb in support of something, and then it will be separated with a horizontal line from the next section, which will be ... a four-paragraph blurb against it. You'll probably be tempted to take the second blurb and turn into a page with a name like "EverythingsWrongWithFooBar".

Imagine the result, though. A flurry of pages saying things like "FooBarIsEvil" and "FooBarIsTheGreatestThingSinceSlicedBread" and "FooBarRefuted" and "FooBarMisunderstood". This will cause encourage two different behaviors, both negative:

Generally, the big problem with splitting by opinion is that it obliterates the middle ground. What if you're ambivalent about FooBar, and would like to sort out your own ambivalences on one page? Where do you post it? Do you split up your own post and put it on two different pages? More likely, you'll just forget about it, and cede ground to the fanatics.

Probably it's far more productive to split by topic area, creating a cluster of pages with names like "FooBarAndExtremeProgramming" and "WhatWouldChristopherAlexanderSayAboutFooBar". Of course, it's probably a lot harder, too.

In writing this, I'm fully aware that there are actually tons of these sorts of opinion-split pages already around. And maybe they help a little by serving a bit as designated places to let off steam on certain touchy topics, such as Microsoft. Still, I can't help but shake the nagging feeling that the refactorers could be working a little harder to guide civil discussion and piece-by-piece consensus. Maybe I'm just being too idealistic again. -- francis

I can't help but believe that pages split by opinion are actually good. I think of many page titles as a little handle attached to an idea. The title summarizes the idea, and may be an ImplicitAssertion? that the idea is good. It may also be a recommendation, such as SplitByOpinionNotByTopic?.

If PageTitlesAreHandlesForAnIdea?, and/or there are real-world scenarios both for and against the idea/recommendation, then pages with opposing names (SingletonsAreEvil and SingletonsAreGood) make sense.

Page titles should be assertions, for the simple fact that you can then link to them in sentences grammatically.

CategoryWikiMaintenance CategoryWikiRefactoring

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