Talk:Omnibus List/Archive

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I find this article's existence troublesome...

Not to say that I don't see how it's useful or understand the point of it, but it represents what I see as a major "flaw" in the wiki organization. Here's how I explained it in a forum post (with further edits for clarification/correction):

[This article and the "List of _____" articles are] updated disjointly, which is one of the problems (the biggest problem) with having the “omnibus list” in addition to the categorized lists. Data duplication is always a bad thing, it leads to inconsistency and redundant effort.

The other problem is that it just makes for an insanely long file, to put it all in one page like that. That makes the page slow and painful to edit, as the entire source has to be loaded into the editor each time. The Omnibus List page gets around that by not using the WikiTable formatting of the categorized list articles, which definitely helps a lot, but that also means it’s just a bare “word list” that doesn’t provide nearly as much information as those tables.

I’ve long toyed with the idea of redoing the so-called “Omnibus List” as just a shell page that transcludes the individual list articles together. So, you could still see all of the content in one place (for those who find that valuable), still divided into sections by item type just like the current omnibus list, but we wouldn’t be maintaining two separate, out-of-sync lists of everything in the game. Such an Omnibus List would be at least slightly slower to load/render than the current one, since it would contain all of the table formatting. (Although I think MediaWiki’s caching of the rendered versions of “List of ____” would come into play, there, so it shouldn’t be too awful.) I don’t think it would be unworkable, though obviously that’s something that’d have to be tested before committing to it.

The only genuine down side, really, is that edits would have to be made in the appropriate the “List of _____” articles — you wouldn’t be able to edit the Omnibus List itself, since it would only contain a few lines of transclusion code to pull in the other pages. But we could probably provide edit links in each section for convenience.

The major thing that’s held me back from doing it is the same as the reason for doing it: I suspect the current Omnibus List and the individual “List of ____” articles are so out of sync, that it would be a Herculean undertaking to reconcile them. And I suspect users of the current Omnibus List would complain if they weren’t first reconciled (so that the combined-List-of-____ omnibus contains everything that was on the old Omnibus List, and doesn’t lose any information). Also, I just have this fear that people may be attached to the Omnibus List and would object to such a major change to it, for any reason. But, that’s mostly just my own self-doubt, it’s not really based on anything concrete. -- FeRDNYC (talk) 00:09, 30 April 2017 (UTC)

TLDR at bottom.
Having read this talk topic and your thoughts above a little while ago I've been giving the same issue some thought. So today, in an effort to shed a little light on the question and procrastinate from more important things, I reconciled the Artifacts portions of the two side-by-side, and made the required corrections and improvements. The short story is:
I share your concerns, but in case those numbers don't speak for themselves, I'm going to put down some points in defence of the continued concurrent existence of the Omnibus List and the other separate Lists.
  • It is far more accessible. The Omnibus list is simply easy. Easy to refer to, easy to edit, easy to add to. The List of Artifacts is more beautiful, more detailed, more logical and more rigorous, and completely unintuitive for a non-technical user to add to, or even correct, reliably.
  • Transcluding the 'List' tables here (or any other synthetic amalgamation that I can imagine) would destroy the best of both. You would have frequent ruinous edits to the table, requiring the constant undoing-redoing of edits, or otherwise constant structural repair, to the table layout. Users would be greatly disincentivized to contribute their observations and knowledge. What the wiki really needs, IMHO, much more than categorical consistency and perfect data, is low barriers to entry, and positive early experiences. We see (at least I do) fairly frequent complaints that the wiki "isn't useful", but very infrequent contributions to it. Ought we really to make changes that would discourage contributions that are being made?
    • Additional point on the topic of contribution rates — Players gain edit privileges at level 15. As of this moment (07:25, 27 May 2018 (UTC)), a glance at the short-term Pantheon of Mastery indicates that, in the last 5 days (short-term pantheon persistence rate), there have been somewhere in the order of 15,000 active players of level 15 or greater. Meanwhile, a glance at Special:ActiveUsers shows 112 users have taken at least 1 action on the Wiki in the last 30. That's a 0.75% participation rate. I'm curious enough to pose the question but not to gather the data right now: How many of those contributions (and contributors) do we think were purely expanding or correcting the Omnibus?
  • There's certainly a challenge with double-handling and duplicated effort. But I think the challenge is justified for both epistemological and functional reasons. I feel like most regular wiki contributors (beyond the Omnibus, that is) share an inclination towards the more structured, formal, technical presentation in the tabulated Lists, and I think that predilection is what draws us to work in the wiki-garden. So, if that's how we like our epistemology, I think the burden falls on us to take the unrefined Omnibus data, the crowdsourced intelligence of the broader Godville player community, and fit it neatly into the boxes and fields of the systems we made. Because in the end, I can't help but wonder if we ourselves are the main audience for the “List of ____” articles.
I'm not saying there aren't some refinements that might be made somehow to facilitate the ease (and thereby hopefully the frequency) with which reconciliations can occur. But I feel like those refinements lie in technical solutions to bridge the gap — something something python — rather than imposing a technocratic framework onto the democratised and accessible but low-tech Omnibus solution.
I honestly think that what would happen if the Omnibus were significantly changed from its ad hoc solution is this: after a fairly brief period of the existing Omnibus contributors becoming increasingly frustrated, a new Omnibus page would spring up, have the contents of the last-good omnibus pasted into it, and BAU would continue... But without the benefit of the current immutable #GV-____ framework, so even more free-form and less structured than before.
TLDR: Having spent too much time today reconciling the largest of the categories, despite the effort involved it has in fact served to reinforce to me the importance of the Omnibus as is. --Djonni (talk) 07:33, 27 May 2018 (UTC)
I just had a look at the real figures I raised the question about above, over omnibus contribution rates. A few conclusions: 1) The Active Users special page doesn't actually show all active users. So participation rates are some unknown value above 0.75%. 2) Of all the actions taken on the wiki in a snapshot I took of the last 30 days from the (apparently incomplete) active users list, which is some value >1337, a grand total of 9 were to the Omnibus list, two of which were me. So, perhaps my impression that the Omnibus List is some kind of busy hive of small contributions isn't backed by the data. I think my conclusion overall still stands... But with weaker confidence. --Djonni (talk) 11:17, 27 May 2018 (UTC)
(Not necessarily responding to all of the above, but cherry-picking a few points...)
Well, as far as the Omnibus List itself, the contribution rate is simple. Here it is:
I think the history largely speaks for itself. It's like maybe a half-dozen users maintaining it. They may add lots of items, and there's a reasonable number of edits, but it's really a very, very small group of editors.
Comparing that to the history of the big List Of articles, Monsters, Equipment, or Artifacts, there's some of the same thing, but there seem to be a more diverse set of editors involved, and far more lone, drive-by edits by random users, who for the most part manage to figure out the table formatting by example. Or if they screw it up, someone else fixes it. In practice it's NBD, and makes me think the barrier-to-"entry"/editing issue is overstated.
Also, as a separate counterpoint on that front, I'd argue that by not even including article links, the Omnibus List discourages the creation of individual item articles (or, at the very least fails to encourage it), which perhaps slows the expansion of the rest of the wiki. So, there's some question of overall balance, as well. -- FeRDNYC (talk) 10:31, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
Indeed you make a good point about the editors to the List of articles, I hadn't thought to look from that direction. And also about the lack of interlinking from the Omnibus - perhaps adding those [[]] to the Omnibus entries would be a partway step...? An experiment to test the waters, see if the existing small list of editors would work with that change?
The transclusion option maybe remains the best way to go in the long term. Looking at the omnibus edit history, most edits have been done using the sectional [edit] links in the headers. That bodes pretty well for transcluded lists. (And perhaps an explanation within <!-- --> at the top would assist the folks who reach for the edit tab for the page.) And perhaps the benefits of the clickable alphabetic sections and sorting will be of interest to Omnibus editors/users (sidenote: the same #s_X nomenclature is currently used in each of the lists, that will need adjusting). I guess it's just a fair amount of wasted work rewriting the framework of the page to try if it doesn't work/stick. The work of cross-comparing and reconciling the rest of the lists though is, I think, important to do regardless.
I think I'd been staring too long at both lists the other day, and rereading my comments above I should definitely have waited and thought on it more before I wrote all that! Apologies if it struck a wrong tone. Still planning on doing the reconciliation of the other lists/omnibus sections when I can, unless someone beats me to it. --Djonni (talk) 11:37, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
Oh, not at all — I'm always in favor of lively debate; having our ideas challenged is usually the best way to flesh them out fully. Hell, I'd never have realized all of the potential problems that a align= implementation for Template:Diary boxes would create (especially on mobile), if not for our talk-page discussion of the idea. Nor would I probably have thought to check, and fix, the Template:Diaryquest rendering on mobile devices.
If anything, my "Not necessarily responding..." opener suffered from crashingly inept phrasing. It was intended as merely an apologetic disclaimer, up front, indicating that I was aware that my response failed to address all of the points raised, and that it was both a conscious decision (in the sense that I was aware of it), but not an intentional one (in the sense that I wasn't choosing to ignore the rest, I simply didn't get to all of them, and decided that a partial response was preferable to none at all). But in reading it now I can see that it sounds like I was saying the complete opposite, which was not at all what I'd intended. So, whoops on that one. -- FeRDNYC (talk) 18:37, 3 June 2018 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── No need to worry, no harm done either way :). In fact, I have some follow up thoughts about the challenges of transclusion (the List of Artifacts, in particular). I'm not sure the current three-column format in the List would work well when transcluded, certainly not if the current multi-columnar format of the Omnibus were to be kept (and again, bearing mobile layout in mind). I feel like two columns (artifact, type tag) are worthwhile in the Omnibus, but the third column is important information in the List. Unfortunately I don't have a solution for this, aside from a laborious and tedious use of <includeonly> and other inclusion control tags, which strikes me an a terribly inelegant and bug-prone approach. Spitball, is there perhaps some clever way to make a {{artifactentry}} (or whatever) template that would render differently on the two pages? Is that even a better way to do it, or is it better to rethink the structure of the Omnibus to accommodate many columns in the transcluded tables? --Djonni (talk) 01:40, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

So, regarding the central premise of this entire thread (my initial "data duplication is bad" argument), here's an interesting counterpoint to that, from a decade-old discussion on Wikipedia:

In an enterprise like Wikipedia, redundancy is a good thing; it's another check on creeping error. The great weakness of single-entry databases, is that one error infects everything else: your name is misspelled renting a video or enrolling in class, and suddenly (or years later) you can't get a passport. Just think what a malicious vandal could do if he had to change only a single datum. (3) It's often handy to have the same data arranged in different formats for different tastes or different purposes.

I admit it's an argument I'd never encountered or considered before, since my bias is towards rigorous data-management systems where data redundancy is the enemy. But it's quite correct to point out (though it's not included as such in the list of What Wikipedia is not) that Wikipedia Is Not A Database, nor in turn is the Godwiki. And among other things, the realities of collaborative, easily-accessible editing of its contents mean that it shouldn't be treated as if it's a database. So... yeah, something to chew on, for myself as well. -- FeRDNYC (talk) 20:58, 12 June 2018 (UTC)
Yeah, and I think that chimes, for me, with my poorly-articulated ur-thinking about what the GodWiki is, and in turn the Omnibus and List ofs, in a functional and epistemological sense. But your point about the Omnibus not encouraging or actively discouraging the expansion of the wiki is an important one. I think adding [[]] around each item is a step in the right direction at the very least. --Djonni (talk) 02:12, 13 June 2018 (UTC)