[Haskell-cafe] [meta] the haskell wiki management

Andrea Rossato mailing_list at istitutocolli.org
Wed Jul 25 05:42:35 EDT 2007


this is what happened to me recently.

Recently I had the opportunity to join the community around XMonad, a
project, you should know something about it, led by some well know
haskellers. It's a very exiting project, and by joining it you have
the opportunity to code with people who know Haskell very well.
Moreover those guys are very friendly and willing to help newcomers
like me.

Thanks to them I came to build up some knowledge about X window
programming in Haskell - Robert and Spencer being my two principal

I have this problem of mine, that when I feel grateful to someone I
must find a way to get even, and I thought that writing a tutorial for
newcomers could be a form of paying back the XMonad community, a
subgroup of the Haskell community after all.

I though that using the Haskell wiki was appropriate, so I started
writing down what I learned thanks to those guys.

As you may understand writing a tutorial is time consuming: not only
you have to write the code and the code must be possibly clear. But I
have also another problem: English is not my mother tongue, I'm sure
you know that by now.

So, while writing - eventually it took me up to 20 hours of work to
finish the tutorial -, I started a new wiki page and updated it as new
stuff was written: "X Window Programming in Haskell" was the page

Then suddenly, Sunday night, I could not find my page anymore. So I
went to "recent changes" to find out that someone had decided to
change the page title to "X window programming", right after editing
it. Not to remove some of the huge amount of typos, not to rephrase a
sentence that a (properly) English speaker could not understand, not
to debug some code, not to improve the content. No, just to enforce a
rule, written here:


A rule that reads: "Titles should use sentence-style capitalization
(see [1] - wikipedia). Capitalizing more words seems to be only
appropriate in larger documents like books."

"Seems to be only appropriate in larger documents like books." This
makes me laugh, really.

I got really upset and went to the talk page of the guy who moved the
page to ask for an explanation. And I moved the page back to its
original title: it was not a tutorial about x window programming, but
about x window programming in Haskell.

And so I found out these guidelines I was not even aware of. And that
people were actually enforcing them.

Now, that's fine, it is a wiki after all, and authorship must be
forgotten. I didn't have this feeling when I discovered the wiki for
the first time. In many tutorial you could and still can find a

You know, I'm an academic type of guy: I don't care about copyright at
all, but I care a lot about authorship. I know, this is my fault.

Now, what happened next? The guy I was upset with decided to change
the rules and added this to the guidelines page: "When doing a
signficant renaming of a page, (i.e., something more than just
correcting the case as per the guidelines), use the "Discuss this
page" link to suggest the new title and the reasons why. After a
reasonable amount of time, if there are no objections, go ahead and
move / rename the page."

But five minutes later he also decided that it was time for the new
rule to be violated by the rule setter himself, and renamed other
tutorials of mine, something I've written a year ago or so, without
making any suggestion in the discussion page.

You know, changing a wiki page title means breaking all links to that
page from other sites. So, changing an old page title, means taking
that page off the Net.

This is fine with me and my contributions to the Haskell wiki: useless
stuff that is better not reading than reading.

On the other side, I'm not going to stand such behaviour and I'm not
going to write a single word on that wiki anymore. I removed my
signature from the x window tutorial. I'm human too, I would add.

Nonetheless I do not understand if this is an explicit policy of
getting rid of unwanted contributors, like me, or just a stupid way of
managing a collective resource like a wiki.

Having a group of people in charge of setting, enforcing and violating
rules at their will is a nice form of government, that usually pisses
people off. And it is very difficult to adopt such an attitude to piss
only unwanted people off. You usually end up repelling people you
would like to attract too. I believe it is inevitable. This is the
only reason I'm writing this.

Sorry for such a long useless letter, but I've seen that the Haskell
community loves to talk about maintaining itself, and so on. I thought
that my 2 cents could be enjoyable too.

Andrea Rossato

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