The Orphaned Pages ProblemThe Orphaned Pages Problem was identified in the RockMonkey Chat Room by Paul Mann on the 18th May 2005. Orphaned Pages are WikiPages which are not linked to by any other page on the wiki. Some extend this definition to include orphaned clusters: selections of pages which are not linked to from anywhere else in the Big Cloud, but link to one another. Parts of the debate follow. Please feel free to chirp in with suggestions:
Paul Mann suggests a way to prevent Orphaned Pages
I have a suggestion for RockMonkey, which I'll leave here for people to peruse in the morning, or whenever. *cough*. Make it so whenever the "edit" script is accessed, the referrer is checked, and the edit page only appears correctly if it was accessed by clicking on a WikiWord, rather than typing theaddress in manually. That should greatly remove the number of Orphaned Pages which seem to be appearing at a rapid rate, largely thanks to Milford Cubicle.
Dan Huntley picks holes in Paul Mann's argument, and suggests a bad alternative
Nice idea, but won't work with browsers that hide referrers (many installs of ZoneAlarm do this when jumping trans-site, so people only see "local" referrals), and, more importantly, won't work if user came directly to page (which is common for me, because I find out about Recent Changes by RSS andjust "jump in", and sometimes by WikiGame developers).
In addition, Wiki Games may suffer, as it's very difficult or impossible to write code that will detect, for example, wiki links which only appear as a result of tokens or are full (http://...) links, so if you used one of these you'd likely be denied from changing the resulting page.
But you're right about the Orphaned Pages situation, Paul. Perhaps there's another way...
We could make it, for example, such that: "If you own more orphaned pages than anybody else, and this is more than X (3?), you may not edit pages other than orphaned pages". This will result in people having to reduce the number of orphans they're responsible for before they can do other edits, and by doing so, they become second-worst for it, making somebody else the OrphanMaster, until all active members have less than X Orphaned Pages.
However, again, there's a problem as far as the linking structure is concerned. A page which only contains a link to a category page appears orphaned, but is not, and a page linked to only by WikiGame code (e.g.some of Troma Night Adventure/RestlessWorld's dead scenes) appear orphaned, but are not under the correct (tokens/items) circumstances.
Plus, an almost equally-big problem to orphaning is seperation from "The Big Cloud", small clusters - usually of just two WikiPages - of pages that are connected to one another but to nothing else.
While not technically orphans, they contribute equally little to wiki structure.
Ruth Varley pitches in despite being only a junior grade geek
Well, it would probably help if everybody just read this page, felt guilty, and went away to fix orphaned pages they knew they'd created in the past...
Dan Huntley backs up Ruth
I'd love to see things work based on community-lovey-ness and respect for one another and for the wiki. But that's not likely to happen, is it. I'm never a fan of saying this, but a technical solution may actually be the best answer.
Perhaps we could make it impossible to make a page unless a link exists to it already? But we'd still have the wikigame/category problems, potentially.
Restless Boy adds his two cents
Maybe we could just acknowledge that the whole of RockMonkey is just something a very small number of people use for pissing around having fun when they're bored and that it doesn't really matter if some pages get lost on the way, or if Watermelon links to Kangaroo. It's not like anyone really uses this as a serious info resource. The Wiki Games are the biggest chunk of it volume-wise and most of the rest is just for people to take the piss (see Daventry).
Dan Huntley sits on the fence a little longer
Aye, I agree with Restless Boy. The Orphaned Pages problem is not such a problem as one might expect, compared to the dead-end pages and the (awful) content-less pages.
Watermelon and Kangaroo are part of the Big Cloud. =o)
Jimmy Carter adds a little aside
Would it be possible to represent the big cloud/ little clouds in some sort of diagram, showing how many pages are in each and the connections between them? I'm thinking of those Internet Mapping guys here, but obviously on a much smaller scale.
It might help to track and shut down the errant clusters (doesn't that sound slightly Blade Runner-ish?), but it will look nice and pretty.
Dan Huntley answers
Yes, it's possible.
Yes, I'd love it to happen.
No, I don't have the time or inclination to write the program. But I'll lend all the support I can to anybody who does. Perhaps some young geek might like to have a stab at the project over the summer. Just tell me if you're interested and I'll tell you what it'll entail.
Ruth Varley gets all enthusiastic
Ooh, ooh, I want to do it!
Your Suggestion Here
See also WhyOrphanedPagesAreAProblem