00520: Distribute PmWiki with WikiWords disabled by default

Summary: Distribute PmWiki with WikiWords disabled by default
Created: 2005-09-14 10:20
Status: Closed - added to 2.1.beta1
Category: CoreCandidate
From: Pm
Priority: 55555 44331 00
Version: 2.0.5

Description: Currently PmWiki is distributed with WikiWords enabled by default, but they can be disabled by setting $LinkWikiWords=0; in a local customization.

Several people (including Pm) have commented that a better default might be to distribute PmWiki with WikiWords disabled, and have administrators explicitly enable WikiWords using $LinkWikiWords=1; in a local customization.

See http://pmichaud.com/pipermail/pmwiki-users/2005-September/017571.html for more discussion (thread starts at http://pmichaud.com/pipermail/pmwiki-users/2005-September/017510.html).

The downside is that making this change suddenly may be a surprising upgrade for some administrators that will cause some sites to "break", and although the fix is simple (set $LinkWikiWords=1) many administrators may not know where to look for it. But perhaps this would be a small pain -- which is why opinions are being solicited here.


I understand the backward compatibility issue but perhaps all that needs to be done is to alter sample-config.php as follows:

The lines that read

      ##  Set $LinkWikiWords to zero if you don't want WikiWord links (i.e.,
      ##  all links are made using .
      # $LinkWikiWords = 0;                      # disable WikiWord links

Could be changed to:

      ##  Set $LinkWikiWords to one (1) if you want WikiWord links (i.e.,
      ##  links are made using ThisIsALink.
      $LinkWikiWords = 0;

As any config.php files are not overwriten in an upgrade, this would not effect any current installations. Of course, I suppose as PmWiki works just fine with no config.php, the default behavior as defined in the core would technically not be any different. It would at least be a start, and possabley a way to gadge feedback on the change from those starting new wikis. Either way, I voted '5' for this feature.


I totally disagree. If you're using a wiki, then use a wiki, else get a blog. WikiWords are just part of wiki's. My vote is '0' - leave it the way it is by default, but for those that don't want this, let them set $LinkWikiWords=0. In other words, make WikiWords an opt-out concept, not an opt-in one. RussFink

I would second. WikiWords are just part of wiki's. VKrishn
I third this view. WikiWords are a huge part of wiki culture and should remain on by default. I personally don't understand why it is such an issue for an admin to turn them off if he/she does not want to provide them as part of the service. Educating new users should not be a difficult task if the wiki is in fact providing the information needed to help authors learn how to use the system. One of the strongest points about PmWiki is its built in versatility and variety of options out-of-the-box. PM, please don't short-cut those options. TRhodes
PmWiki isn't intended to be faithful to "wiki culture". And if it's not an issue for an admin to disable wikiwords, it's also not an issue for an admin to enable them. The real question is: which is easier from a site maintenance perspective -- is it easier for a site to build a lot of pages with wikiwords enabled and then try to turn them off, or vice versa? Personally, I think it's easier to start disabled and then decide to add wikiword support later (because pages won't have wikiword links in them), than it is to start with wikiword support enabled and then try to disable it (and have to figure out how to find+fix all of the now broken wikiword links). --Pm
I also think that WikiWords should be left enabled. It's the thing that makes a wiki a wiki. Disabling them is like Apache would have port 80 switched off by default. I'd better like that only mixed case words should be WikiWords, not words with numbers like BIG5 or something. I can't belive that often used mixed case words (like CPUs, OSes, CDs) is a pain for some people, just crate a page for these words and you have a perfect glossary. It's painless.Elsni

Default should be WikiWords off.

WikiWords are part of the hacker subculture, and hackers can be expected to know how to enable WikiWords if they want them.

I'm using PmWiki as an engine for a corporate intranet populated not by hackers, but by naive authors. To these naive authors, WikiWords appear as a weird alien concept they're unable to get comfortable with, and often downright unable to use successfully. As a result of my experience, I would not encourage anyone to use WikiWords for a PmWiki installation meant for use by naive authors.

Don't forget the easy-to-install PmWiki might be an administrators first Wiki. By the time experience tells him that he should have switched off WikiWords for the benefit of his naive users, he might have invested a lot of time in explaining the concept. He has two equally poor options then - spending even more time explaining to even more authors the concept, or telling the original authors to forget about WikiWords and generate links in a different way. The former is time-intensive, the latter has a negative impact on the author's confidence in the wiki.

Just as importantly, WikiWords work reasonably well in English, but may be poorly suited for foreign languages. German for example heavily relies on compound nouns anyway and is much more variable with regard to the declined forms of nouns, so WikiWords are really clumsy there.

WikiWords off by default and a warning about their effect on naive authors in the sample config file would really have made my administrator's tasks quite a bit easier.

I'd think that with the PmWiki philosophy making the requirements of naive authors a high priority, WikiWords should be disabled by default.

--~~~~~ --Henning September 23, 2005, at 05:29 AM

Not that it matters to me now that I have my wikis running, I think the default should be WikiWords off.

Particularly on wikis that contain many acronyms, it becomes a pain to have to turn off "accidental" WikiWords such as CPUs or OSes. It also requires teaching new authors two rules - one for WikiWords and one for free links. I would rather just describe free links which allow things to look like normal text? as opposed to ThingsToLookLikeNormalText. ;-)

NeilHerber September 29, 2005, at 09:52 AM

Definitely off. It's a *HUGE* pain when using pmwiki for documentation for things like SERVER1 to become links. We have now switched to turning wiki words off, however a script that converts existing WikiWordLinks to proper WikiWordLinks (using the explicit syntax) would be immensely good for large wikis.

--- I think it is easier for a site to ship with wikiwords enabled by default, that is how people that use wiki's expect them to operate (from my expereince) WHR

Page restored from http://web.archive.org/web/20060815014735/http://www.pmwiki.org/wiki/PITS/00520Eemeli Aro June 29, 2009, at 08:29 AM