MediumSizedPages

One style of wiki discussion is to break discussions into many medium-sized pages. From this constraint on page size, constraints on the scope of pages are derived – the scope of each page should not be too small or too large. The rule of thumb is that each page should define one term or idea about which there is something interesting to say.

Terms whose scope is too narrow include simple atomic terms (for instance, the number 3, or the operation of addition). Such a page is referred to as a ShallowPage. A page’s scope is too narrow if it merely requires a definition – not a discussion. Pages discuss terms, they don’t merely define them 1.

Terms whose scope are too broad include the sort of things whose scope includes, for instance, entire academic disciplines; or words like “politics”. The problem with such pages is that you may attempt to have an entire, long conversation on that one page, making it a very long page rather than a medium-sized page. A page’s scope is too large if you anticipate having a long discussion all on that one page. Pages define terms within a discussion – they do not hold entire discussions on one page.

These rules of thumb are interpreted flexibly. If there is some well-defined term whose definition is frequently misconstrued, or a thing to which attention is being called, a ShallowPage may be created. And if there is a topic which is too broad, often it will stand as a page, accompanied by a constant effort to move parts of conversations away from the broad page and onto pages with smaller scope.

PrecisionOfLinkLanguage

There are many pages which represent terms whose meaning is well-defined, but about which there is a lot to say.

However, there are also many pages which represent terms that are broad enough such that a precise definition of the term is not immediately obvious to the person who initially creates the page – although often, through discussion, a precise definition is arrived at later. In such cases, a substantial part of the discussion can consist of an effort to define the meaning of the term.

You can look at this as a community effort to improve precision. The initial creation of a page without a solid definition can sometimes be seen as a proposal that the community work on defining a term – as if the page creator were saying, “I think this idea can be defined, but I can’t quite figure out what the definition is – can you help?”. In this way, there is a dynamic in LinkLanguage-styled wiki discussions that leads to ever-increasing precision of language.

However, LinkLanguage-styled discussions are not always the sort of discussions that a person who demands precision would like. Consider mathematics or analytical philosophy, which often begin with the introduction of well-defined terms and build a language outwards in small, well-defined steps. The ethic of MediumSizedPages makes it difficult to build a discussion out of small links between well-defined terms, because each term and each step would by itself form only a ShallowPage. Instead, MediumSizedPages leads to the constant introduction of new, poorly-defined terms.

See Also

Discussion

I pulled this out of LinkLanguage, because I am focusing that page on link language itself.

Footnotes:

1. although if the proper definition of a term is not known, it’s okay for the discussion to consist of a search for the definition – and at the conclusion of that discussion, if the definition arrived upon is not available elsewhere, then it’s okay to keep the page

Languages: