Thread Mess Discussion

Moved from ThreadMess
Is it good form to delete things on your HomePage? My HomePage has conversation on it and I was wondering if it can be deleted. I have been told conflicting statements on this issue, and I would like clarification please.--KathyBracy

In general it's considered good form to summarize and delete threads. Details are given on the GoodWikiCitizen page. Some feel much more strongly about this than others. On your HomePage, which represents you here, you should feel free to edit however you like.

There are some very vocal participants who would argue that the threads should not be deleted; rather, they should be moved to the bottom of the page, or extracted to other pages. According to this line of thinking, the threads show a history of the consensus reflected in the document mode that is created at the top of the page. There are others, namely the WikiReductionists, who argue that it is better to remove the threads. For more information, see the suggested links at the bottom of this page. (Note: the selection of pages listed below was copied from PhilGoodwin's home page, so they reflect a preservationist bent. WikiReductionists may want to augment the list with some that reflect the opposing view. See also WikiSocialNorms)

I believe it is perfectly fine to edit your HomePage as you see fit. I would suggest you think carefully about changes to signed contributions, however. Some can be refactored some probably should be left untouched. I have in the past contacted the individual who signed a comment to ask if I might change or modify their signed contribution. The politeness worked wonders. -- DaveSteffe

I actually think that pretty much anything goes so long as you avoid UnethicalEditing. The whole delete/preserve debate boils down to who will have editorial control over Wiki or more precisely over fears about who will ultimately have that control. I think that we should each do what we think is right, listen carefully to other peoples responses to that and modify our behavior based on any wisdom we gain from the interaction. I would advise against treating any WikiRule? as more than a suggestion or the words of person or group as carrying any more weight than anyone else -- even WardCunningham. This hasn't been WardsWiki since he gave it to us in 1995 and won't be again unless he decides to take it back. -- PhilGoodwin (I've bolded some of the more informative pages below)
This is all really nice, but what is a ThreadMess?

When the discussion on a page becomes so long and rambling that the content is obscured.

[Like this? --IsaacFreeman]

Sometimes thread mess occurs because contributors add content that is almost on-topic for a particular page, but subtly misses the point that the Wikidom is trying to make; that is, the ThesisAntithesisSynthesis can't happen because there is too much noise.

Note that a page may contain very good content that is still noise to that page. If one comes across misplaced content cluttering up a ThreadMode discussion it is one's duty to move the good stuff to where it can be useful. You leave a note to show what the removed material was and where its new home is located. Lousy content -- chatter, drivel, and other fluff -- can be axed without any mention at all.
I suggest cleaning up thread mess in stages. First put proposed categories or groupings lists up for others to critique. For example, an outline-format pro/con summary of the arguments made. See example in AutoKeysVersusDomainKeys. After such seems to be agreed upon, then proceed to refactor the content to match the new layout. (This has not been tested to completion yet, so I can't vouch for it yet.)

Parallel Reconstruction

Another approach is to build a parallel page that attempts to clean up the threaded material into neater packages. When all parties seem to agree that the new page says the same things as the original, then the original can perhaps be archived, or demoted.

Maybe a good Wikizen can select a page-of-the-month to clean, and many people work on that one page for a month.

However, the following difficulties have been encountered during prior attempts:

It's not an easy thing to do. One must have a lot of patience.
Is "Mess" Relative?

It's possible that some readers may like "thread mess". It's kind of like a political debate: a battle of wits and communication skills. It may be half educational and half entertaining to them. A political debate is often a thread-mess, but voters still expect them. This is not meant to condone the practice, but merely point out that different readers may like different "formats" of topics or discussions. People are quite varied such that your preference may not be representative of others'. Just something to consider.
See also: WikiReductionist versus WikiFilterist

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