Flow/2017 community feedback concerning URLs format

From mediawiki.org

Flow URLs and wikilinks to the pages have been pointed as not being easy to use or understand. The Collaboration team plans to change that aspect soon and is asking for community input.

(This page and the discussion are in English, but feedback from any language is welcome!)

Technical aspects[edit]

A Topic link is formatted at the moment like this: Topic:T47jqwe15hsw3ai0

We plan to change that to something more descriptive, that will give more context to users.

Those URLs must include:

  • Topic: namespace prefix, that must be used as a prefix like on any other page.
  • universally unique identifier (UUID) included somewhere (T47jqwe15hsw3ai0). That UUID is the most import piece of information and it must be kept at all times.

How URLs will be formatted will also have an impact how Flow links are displayed on Special pages and on other places where the UUID is currently displayed.


The Collaboration team is asking for your feedback about how the different elements should be ordered:

  1. The Order of the 3 elements - (UUID, Topicname, Pagename)
  2. The Separator to use between the elements
    1. Any other safe-character can potentially be used: - . _ ~ : / ? @ ! $ & ' ( ) * + , ; =
    2. Some are not available on some keyboards, like $ or are not easy to use on other keyboards, like ~
    3. @ and/or / are recommended.
    4. We can't use #, because there can be only 1 #in each URL, and it must be used for the post's own UUID, when a specific post's permalink is wanted.
    5. The separator is just for visual distinction and comprehension. It will not be tripped up, if the page or topic name contains the separator-character.

There are many options, from these 2 variables. After some discussions offline, the Collaboration team have selected a few recommendations, which follow.


That change will impact how the URL is displayed on the browser bar and replace all links displayed as Topic:T47jqwe15hsw3ai0 on pages generated by the wiki (Special pages, like "what links here").

As a reminder, the current state is https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Topic:T47jqwe15hsw3ai0

  1. Topic:Topicname@Pagename/UUID : https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Topic:Test@Project_talk:Sandbox/Flow_test/T47jqwe15hsw3ai0
    • Note: Topic is immediately followed by the location, using the @ as a location marker.
  2. Topic:Topicname-UUID@Pagename : https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Topic:Test-T47jqwe15hsw3ai0@Project_talk:Sandbox/Flow_test
    • Note: The UUID is attached to the topic name to avoid a bad copy/pasting. https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Topic:Test-T47jqwe15hsw3ai0 will work, even if the location is forgotten.
    • Note: A dash is used instead of a slash, to prevent confusion with subpages.
  3. Topic:UUID/Pagename/Topic :  https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Topic:T47jqwe15hsw3ai0/Project_talk:Sandbox/Flow_test/Test
    • Con: Slashes are very common, but can be confusing when the discussion is on a sub page.
    • Pro: The UUID should come first, because it is the only crucial piece of information. Everything after it can be trimmed or tweaked.
    • Pro: This would keep the standard order of "Pagename#Topicname" that editors are accustomed to.
  4. Topic:UUID : https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Topic:T47jqwe15hsw3ai0
    • Keep it like it is.


Will the current URLs already used on pages still work when the new URL format is deployed?
Yes. The UUID is the only mandatory element. The current format will still work and it will be possible to use it as a shortcut.
Why use the UUID ? Can't we skip it?
Flow has been designed to support cross wikis posts and displays. The UUID allows that and also prevents to have conflicting threads with identical titles.
Why don't we use something like Topic:Pagename/Topicname... ?
To avoid confusion that might come from having the Pagename stick to the Topic: prefix.
What about the parameters in the URL?
Parameters, used to highlight recent or quoted posts, will remain unchanged, but the URL will use the new configuration. If choice 1 is chosen, then:
will be become:
Parameters can't be skipped. Long URLs using parameters already exists.
Will it change how links are displayed on a page I've written?
No. Plain text pages will not be changed. As an example (and if URL format 1 is chosen), Topic:T47jqwe15hsw3ai0 will be shown as Topic:Test@Project_talk:Sandbox/Flow_test/T47jqwe15hsw3ai0 on Special:WhatLinksHere.


Please leave your feedback on the talk page, by indicating which solution you prefer, of a combination of different proposals. Any new format idea can be suggested on the talk page, but please do not edit the proposal page to add a new one.

That feedback process is not a formal decision process. The Collaboration team will make the final decision.