Wikiversity:Subpages/Forking and organizing

This is a collaborative essay about how Wikiversity might better employ the Subpage structure. The title represents the two different reasons why subpages are used.

Organization edit

  • As an example of "organizing", consider a content-style resource and add a subpage for a quiz. Then a third level might be added for a Quizbank compatible version. See, for example Venus/Quiz/Quizbank.
  • A study may become deep, with many subtopics. If this is a coherent study, it can be done with a top-level page (which might or might not be top-level in mainspace), and subpages, and subpages of subpages, etc. Using subpage links, the entire structure becomes portable.

Forking edit

  • At the other extreme we have "forking", which I think of as the splitting of two incompatible resources on the same subject. There is no one "right" way to teach a subject. Wikiversity needs to host a variety of "good" was to teach the same subject. A student may pick which resource to use, may may use both, or may create their own study.
  • It has been said that multiple resources on the same topic is "confusing." Deep education must confront this. Out of the mud grows the lotus, out of confusion comes fusion, integration, knowledge. Avoiding confusion avoids depth.
  • Forking has been used to avoid conflict and allow free exploration and expression, while maintaining overall neutrality. The forked pages are linked from a top-level page, neutrally. The top-level page enjoys, typically, 100% consensus. The subpages, the "forks" or "sections" or "essays" may include opinion, point of view, original research, and need not be verifiable or neutral.

Other considerations? edit

  • An opinion: There is another reason for subpage structures, that upon reflection, is false. Unlike Wikipedia, Wikiversity and Wikibooks strives to build educational materials. This is a much more ambitious endeavor because multiple resources are required for each resource, especially in mathematical fields where it is essential to present ideas at the correct level of sophistication. But even the social sciences require different and incompatible viewpoints to be presented. Wikiversity needs parallel resources, "forking", as described above. So with so many different resources all on the same and related topics, would it be a good idea to organize the titles? The answer is no, because an idea that is impossible to realize is a bad idea.

However, "impossible" is typically an interpretation not based on experience. It might be beyond the imagination of the person, who has never seen a counterexample. It might be difficult. parallel resources implies side-by-side, neutrally presented. Differing page names do not accomplish this. What does is a top-level name as a neutral "node." That can be done with distinct page names, all at the top level, but the organization is far less transparent and neutral access is not guaranteed. It can be done, however, the logistics, what it takes to maintain structures like this, is a far greater burden. A parallel structure using subpages takes minutes to set up, if that.

  • It is hard enough to create different approaches to teaching the same subject.

It is trivially easy, if multiple users are involved in the creation. Sometimes a single user can create multiple approaches. If there are two professors of physics who want to work on a single topic, they may do so by agreement, or they may develop "sections." Or some combination of that, say a top-level resource that enjoys consensus (not only theirs but that of the community), and then essay or section pages which they individually control.

The concept given is focused on "teaching," and the original essayist here is a professor. However, Wikiversity has a major focus on "learning by doing," where people who want to study a subject create resources. This is, itself, a whole pedagogical movement, quite successful, Self-directed learning, which then will use many resources (including teachers).

  • Organizing and cataloging them into schools, topics, and so forth is nearly impossible.

Again, the impossibility argument. The difficulty is only finding people interested in organization. The actual organization is not generally difficult. It has been suggested that some standard epistemology or classification of knowledge be used, with, then, some exception or "miscellaneous" category. The goal of organization has never been to exclude content or to force users to only address "notable" topics or the like. It is simply to organize resources, and the effect is generally protective. Isolated resources, not clearly a part of some overall educational project, have often been deleted, even very recently.

  • The attempt to organize has great value. But that attempt will never be more than a partial success.

Of course. The organization of knowledge is an educational task, and education is never complete.

However, Wikiversity is quite disorganized. There is plenty to do! The process is, in itself, educational. Organizing resources, one learns about many different subjects, if one actually reads sources, etc.

  • Do we want to argue about which resource deserves to be called "Physics"? I don't think so.

That is correct. We don't. So who gets to use that name? The first one to use it? What has been discovered is that subpaging into sections completely resolves conflict, usually.

There was recent conflict over page names (written September 7, 2015). However, this was the first conflict over this issue seen in a long time, and the roots of that conflict are still being explored. The ultimate resolution may be some months or years away. In the case involved, forks were not appropriate because there was no forking issue, or very little content disagreement, there was only the issue of appropriate resource name. (A secondary issue was the inclusion of Wikipedia links, which is an aspect of neutrality.)

As is obvious, there is not necessarily a simple and easy solution that respects fully both the individual freedom of the user and the organization of the site. Organization, however makes it more accessible to users, and makes neutrality possible even with highly controversial topics, and it may not have been obvious, but the topic involved in the recent dispute is highly controversial by nature. It is, real-world, in-your-face disruptive. Ultimately, the Wikiversity community will find consensus. But this kind of conflict is very rare.

  • Some attempt to organize namespace is good, but we can't get carried away with the attempt to get everything right. Nobody chooses bans a movie or book because its title does not fit in with other titles, and to some extent, the same tolerance should also be applied to namespace.

There is no issue of "ban" in the organizational process. Organization, per se, does not throw away recyclable material. It places it in a place where it may be used. Resources, placed in this way, may be developed with almost complete freedom. Our organizational process has become radically inclusive, much to the chagrin of a few, who have mostly gone home.

The comment is opposed to perfectionism, which is obvious, who isn't? It seems to think that organization and tolerance are opposed in some way.

However, tt's a simple idea that organization will never be perfect, and that there may be alternate ways of organization. In the recent dispute, the issue largely devolved around the categorization of a set of art movements as "Avant-garde." This was in no way a rigid proposal, inflexible. It was treated as such. As it happens, the author of the resources appears to be politically aligned or active with a movement that is classified, on wikipedia and by the academic community, as "avant-garde" but that may explicitly reject the "avant-garde," that is anarchist but that attacks anarchism and anarchists, etc. (Perhaps as a joke, and pranks are a big part of that movement.) The protest may be against formalism itself, an anti "ism" ism. So it's not a good case to use to develop or reject general organizational principles, which we already know how to apply in ways that almost always work well.

It was not always this way! WV:Requests for Deletion used to be a busy place, with high contention, plus many custodians routinely deleted resources against the consent of the creators. We basically killed that problem, almost entirely, but some have forgotten what that was like. --Abd (discusscontribs) 23:41, 7 September 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]