Proposal talk:Digital Archaeology

From Strategic Planning

That we need

Digital Archaeology is kind of a misnomer, since the functionalities sketched are oriented towards article mainenance which are needed now today, not only in f.ex. 10 years.

I was going to add my own proposals, but this one counterparts most of what I wished for as regards to article maintenance. The function

  • "easily discovery of what piece of text in an article was written when, by whom (and how long it stayed there)"

is extraordinarily important for the very common case where an editor adds a maintenance template call f.ex. {{citations}} without adding a very recommended note on the talk page.

A few other on-my-wish-list functions would be:

  • a history per article section, where only the changes pertaining to that section is highlighted,
  • a certain article-with-latest-changes view, where the article text is at the left, and notes on the latest changes are on the right, the time span for latest changes regulatable by the user/editor by input boxes, f.ex. choosing changes for 10 days, changes for 20 weeks, etc..

I'll also mention a few other Digitial Maintenance/Archaeology thoughts relevant to this:

  • a special function for adding maintenance templates, instead of the normal editing, so that the editor:
  1. gets an interface to choose between a variety of templates suitable for certain kind of error and maintenance alarms,
  2. fills in an input box for the ordinary edit note,
  3. fills in an input box for writing reasons note to be published in the talk page, so the maintenance note is properly explained, and so the editors can act on it more properly,
  4. and the system adds a time stamp to the maintenance template automagically, to be displayed in the article immediatelly when added,

I had some other relevant thougth that just dropped from my mind. I'll be back later. Rursus 07:29, 18 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Maybe related to Proposal:Filtering out vandalism in edit history, Proposal:Graveyard and Proposal:Flag Featured article diffs? Rursus 06:44, 19 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I love this proposal! Some time ago I read that some historian said that Wikipedia is an interesting historical document by itself... Nemo 22:04, 19 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wrong idea, at the wrong time

Obviously the basic premise is a very valid one: Wikipedia is an archive that "will be of extreme interest to the future's historians - the digital archaeologists".

However, these future historians belong in the future, and will use the resources and the tools that the future will provide for them. What they will want from us, here and now, is what archaeologists have always wanted, namely not to disturb the archive. Let the archive build of itself. Direct the attention of the users to improving the quality of the articles and do not distract them (it already feels as if for every user who wants to add content there are ten or more bureacratically minded zealots and censors). - Brya 06:18, 27 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, we cannot know without looking

First, the idea that the history metadata about the pages on the Wikimedia projects represents part of the intellectual history of our time fascinates me. Maybe mostly out of vanity (hey, I like to think I'm influencing the thoughts of the unborn as much as the next person!), but also for the fact that instead of being limited to the evidence of what the intellectual elites -- which is the case until very recent times right now -- future historians will be able to drill down even further into what average people around the world thought by datamining the page histories. (And the most valuable part of this data may be the vandalism & oversighted content, not the featured content.)

How can we know what is important? By encouraging studies of this type. For example, the edit wars on various Wikipedias concerning hot-button issues like Israel vs. Palestine or the US elections of 2004 & 2008. Another consideration is that at some point a lot of this page history will need to be pruned away to maintain a reasonable server performance. (IIRC, the actual file from which a Wiki page is built contains every change to that page, which means at some point a user will be accessing multi-MB (if not multi-GB) files just to read a few thousand words of information.) If any such pruning is done, then the Foundation needs to ensure that the older drafts are preserved & made available to the general public in some way. A process for archiving these must be created before a problem is encountered, not after the discovery every edit made in 2005 was lost during a routine housecleaning. -- Llywrch 17:44, 31 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Some proposals will have massive impact on end-users, including non-editors. Some will have minimal impact. What will be the impact of this proposal on our end-users? -- Philippe 00:08, 3 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]