Last modified: 2011-03-13 18:06:27 UTC

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Bug 2927 - Alternate link text, special case
Alternate link text, special case
Status: RESOLVED WONTFIX
Product: MediaWiki
Classification: Unclassified
General/Unknown (Other open bugs)
unspecified
All All
: Lowest enhancement (vote)
: ---
Assigned To: Nobody - You can work on this!
:
Depends on:
Blocks:
  Show dependency treegraph
 
Reported: 2005-07-21 15:49 UTC by Marc Wanner
Modified: 2011-03-13 18:06 UTC (History)
0 users

See Also:
Web browser: ---
Mobile Platform: ---
Assignee Huggle Beta Tester: ---


Attachments

Description Marc Wanner 2005-07-21 15:49:07 UTC
Alternate link text is very often a substring of the link text itself:

[[Largemouth bass|largemouth]], [[Harrisburg, Pennsylvania|Harrisburg]], [[The 
Holocaust|Holocaust]], [[Neutral country|neutral]]

The proposal is to allow such cases to be specified as follows:

[[^largemouth^ bass]], [[^Harrisburg^, Pennsylvania]], [[The ^Holocaust^]], [[^Neutral^ country]]

which would mean only display the text enclosed in carets, thus saving the repetetive typing. This 
would be in addition to the pipe markup, not a replacement for it. 

This idea was posted on the Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals) page on July 7, 2005 and was well 
received.
Comment 1 Brion Vibber 2005-07-21 19:27:28 UTC
Similar ideas were kicked around in 2002, but never accepted as it simply makes things much more 
complex than it needs to be.

See old closed feature request:
http://sourceforge.net/tracker/index.php?func=detail&aid=586885&group_id=34373&atid=411195

It also breaks the ability to use titles with that character, which may break links.
Comment 2 Marc Wanner 2005-07-21 23:32:24 UTC
(In reply to comment #1)
> Similar ideas were kicked around in 2002, but never accepted as it simply makes things much more 
> complex than it needs to be.
> See old closed feature request:
> http://sourceforge.net/tracker/index.php?func=detail&aid=586885&group_id=34373&atid=411195
> It also breaks the ability to use titles with that character, which may break links.

Well, OK, but if it was proposed before and now it's proposed again, that would seem to imply that it's a 
useful feature (note previous comments: "Looks insteresting and useful", "I actually rather like this idea").

I assume that it would not be that difficult to run a query to find out how many times the text following a 
pipe in a link appears to the left of the pipe.  I think you'd find it's a very common phenom.  The caret 
might not be the best character to use (originally proposed using the tilde, but it was objected that not all 
keyboards have the tilde).  Seems to me that the previous proposal to use square brackets was, indeed, 
confusing.  What about curly brackets: [[{Harrisburg}, Pennsylvania]] = [[Harrisburg, 
Pennsylvania|Harrisburg]]?
Comment 3 Brion Vibber 2005-07-22 09:13:33 UTC
While it looks cute, it provides no new capabilities in return for making the syntax more complicated.

Cost:
* Wiki becomes harder to use
* Increased likelihood of bugs

Benefit:
* None

This was my eventual analysis and is why that feature request was closed. This is likely to be closed as 
WONTFIX as well unless something changes.

Comment 4 Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 2005-07-22 16:25:00 UTC
(In reply to comment #3)
> Cost:
> * Wiki becomes harder to use

Only until you learn the syntax, then it theoretically becomes easier to use.

> * Increased likelihood of bugs

true
 
> Benefit:
> * None
* Less typing

Comment 5 Marc Wanner 2005-07-23 15:51:24 UTC
(In reply to comment #3)
> While it looks cute, it provides no new capabilities in return for making the syntax more complicated.
> Cost:
> * Wiki becomes harder to use
> * Increased likelihood of bugs
> Benefit:
> * None
> This was my eventual analysis and is why that feature request was closed. This is likely to be closed as 
> WONTFIX as well unless something changes.

I have trouble seeing the validity of the "Wiki becomes harder to use" objection.  This is the sort of markup 
where you look at the displayed page, you look at the markup, it's obvious what's going on.

As for "Benefit: None", I can't tell you how often I curse the repetetive typing of the piped alt text. It's 
especially annoying when doing a list of things, all of which have the same text you want left out-- a list of 
towns all in the same state, a list of lakes or rivers, a list of trees (where they're all pines) or fish 
(where they're all different bass). Not to mention the possibility of introducing a typo in the alt text.
Comment 6 Rowan Collins [IMSoP] 2005-08-11 14:11:01 UTC
I think the "Wiki becomes harder to use" objection comes from the fact that
every new piece of wiki syntax adds to the learning curve which must be followed
by new contributors. It may be obvious to *you* what it does, but some people
require quite a lot of experimentation before they get the hang of such things.
That said, I agree that this would be a relatively easy one to spot what's going on.

As discussed at bug 845, there are ways we could extend the existing "pipe
trick" to other circumstances - although it's voodoo in that you can't learn by
example because it's never there in the source, that approach does keep the
syntax simpler for new users to read. It's also less likely to cause bug
headaches, because an on-save translation can be manually fixed if it's wrong,
whereas parsing errors can happen to existing text and require the software to
be fixed before they become correct again.

The other observation worth making is about how well existing syntax is used - I
often come upon completely unnecessary things like [[Computer_program|computer
programs]], presumably written by editors who don't realise that [[computer
program]]s is exactly equivalent. While it seems wasteful to go round seeking
out and correcting such inefficiencies, the more ways there are of doing one
thing, the more confusing the source becomes, as examples of all of them will
proliferate depending on the editor.
Comment 7 Marc Wanner 2005-09-05 15:49:40 UTC
I still have trouble accepting the "Wiki becomes harder to use" objection.  Rowan Collins writes 
"every new piece of wiki syntax adds to the learning curve which must be followed by new 
contributors".  But this is an entirely optional syntax-- it need not be followed by new 
contributors.  The pipe trick continues to work exactly as before.  It simply becomes unnecessary 
whenever the display text is a subset of the link text (which is, I would guess, better than half 
the time).

The point about existing syntax being poorly used is well taken, except that I see relatively few 
instances, given the number of novice editors at work.

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