Extension:Reflect

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Reflect

Release status: experimental

Implementation Page action, Ajax, Notify, Skin
Description Reflect provides a second column to threaded talkpages. In the second column, anyone can add a bullet point summarizing some point that the commenter was making. The goal is to help make large discussions more meaningful by improving the experience of participating as well as making it easier to identify the takeaways.
Author(s) Travis Kriplean (tkripleantalk)
Latest version 0.1
MediaWiki 1.16
Database changes Yes
License GPL v2 / MIT (X11)
Download Template:WikimediaDownload/svn
Example Installation at abstract.cs.washington.edu
Hooks used
BeforePageDisplay

MakeGlobalVariablesScript

Translate the Reflect extension if it is available at translatewiki.net

Check usage and version matrix; code metrics

Reflect is a mediawiki extension that creates a novel type of threaded comments. It depends on Extension:LiquidThreads. Reflect is not yet internationalized.

Reflect being used by a few people working on the 2009-10 Strategic Planning Initiative.

Presentation at Wikimania[edit | edit source]

Jonathan Morgan gave a presentation on Reflect at Wikimania 2010

Installation[edit | edit source]

  1. Make sure you have Extension:LiquidThreads installed
  2. Download the files from SVN and place them under $IP/extensions/Reflect
  3. Add the required tables to the database: php maintenance/sql.php extensions/Reflect/reflect.sql (your designated database user needs to have CREATE rights on your MediaWiki database)
  4. Add
    require_once("$IP/extensions/Reflect/Reflect.php");
    into your wiki's LocalSettings.php
  5. Installation can be verified through Special:Version

Rationale[edit | edit source]

While it would be great if we could have intelligent, engaging, meaningful mass discussions online, the reality is often bleak. It can be hard for discussants to make sense of all of what is being said (particularly newcomers to a discussion). It is easy to feel overwhelmed, powerless, not heard. Juvenile interactions and flame wars are common. And at the end of the day, it is often difficult to identify the takeaways.

One problem may be that our interfaces have not evolved effective listening mechanisms. Consider everyday experience. When we talk with each other, we give evidence that we understand each other. This evidence helps us debug our messages, as well as helping us feel recognized and heard. Web interfaces, however, largely do not afford the backchannel that is often used by listeners to communicate such evidence. Threaded forums allow us to respond by saying “uh huh”, but it clutters up large discussions. We can sometimes hit the “like” button to signal some affinity for a comment, but does not contain much information.

Reflect implements a subtle interface change to a LiquidThreads-enabled Mediawiki installation that helps people listen, while at the same time producing useful summaries. Instead of a single column of threads, two side-by-side columns are provided. The first column contains the original raw comments that we all know and love. The second column has a list of concise summary bullet points for each respective comment. Other readers and discussants add these bullet points. Commenters can engage with summarizers to make sure that the summarized points accurately portray the points they were trying to make. Adding a summary bullet point is an act of listening somewhere between clicking the "I like this comment" button and responding to a comment.

External links[edit | edit source]