User:NotAracham/RaidarrArchive/Don't import Wikipedia

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Don't import Wikipedia (essay by Raidarr)
Or: don't turn your wiki into a black box.
The title applies to a few things I see:
  • Importing many Wikipedia modules and templates to achieve infoboxes without understanding how they work
  • Importing even more Wikipedia templates for organizational purposes that are not necessarily suited to the needs of your wiki
  • Strictly binding a wiki to the conventions and procedures of Wikipedia when a more lightweight solution does the job

If you do have a strong understanding of these and know what you're doing/how you're doing it, you are beyond the intended audience of this essay and I welcome you in helping out people looking for advanced solutions mentioned below.

In pulling a template from Wikipedia, you will find yourself importing many many things to do a simple job. If you don't import wholesale then you will be chasing phantom errors that are difficult to troubleshoot without throwing in much more. There will be lots of Wikipedia-specialized text that is cumbersome to adapt to your likely far more local needs. If you have already jumped the rabbit hole then you will find it very painful to change system: there isn't an undo button once you've imported dozens, hundreds of pages. Infoboxes do not have a totally easy solution: they need to be set up with some care if you want a wiki that you and other editors will understand.

It is advisable to develop infoboxes and other structure yourself through simpler means such as mw:Extension:PortableInfobox, a sanitized and simpler structure such as this, or if you really need Lua and more advanced structure or have more specialized needs, consult someone who is familiar with these to help set it up in a clean way. There is also Dev wiki which contains quite a bit of stuff you can pull in and adapt to local use.

Wikipedia works the way it does out of many years of development and being larger in community + content + practical scope than Miraheze and every wiki on it combined. Its template structure has become eldrich because of this. The full apparatus of how Wikipedia works (by which I refer to enwiki, the one people will typically import from) is beyond the needs of an overwhelming majority of wikis that will ever appear on Miraheze. I advocate for options where wiki operators will learn and develop structure, rather than create a black box they may not understand and will require others to troubleshoot regularly if/when it behaves in unexpected ways or later becomes clutter when you do find simpler solutions.

Miraheze builds off Wikimedia for its ethos and many of its practices, but this is superseded by the development of Miraheze as its own entity and as a wiki farm serving a far larger audience. Personally I think we should be looking at and learning directly from Fandom and its flaws and strengths as much if not more so than Wikimedia. This isn't to dismiss them since much of how Miraheze works was pulled directly from their text, but to say inspiration needs to be taken with care and as-needed. Simplicity is ideal until more is required.

This is an essay from Raidarr who welcomes any questions, critiques, suggestions and further comments via talk page. Direct edits for simple grammar and spelling errors are welcome.