Topic on Talk:Structured Discussions

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Alsee (talkcontribs)

Let me demonstrate a rather Catastrophic Flow fail with an example taken from recent article work I was involved in. Rather than nuke this message board, I'll link you to a test Flow board where I posted it:

Example: Flow Fail

Here's the Article Talk page that the example came from. That table is BIG, but the Talk interface is perfect. You can view that table exactly as it would appear in the article. You can view the entire contents of the table just by slowly dragging the browser scroll bar down. Or using just a mouse wheel. Or by simply clicking the scroll bar several times going down page by page. Or similarly by tapping the PAGE_DOWN key several times. In Flow that table is mangled beyond recognition because the Flow "low density interface" is too narrow for editing work. Trying to view that table in Flow means battling the interface. Fully viewing the table contents in Flow requires anywhere from fortyish to several hundred mouse-actions, constantly switching between the browser vertical scroll bar and the Flow's horizontal&vertical scroll bars. Try it, and count how many separate mouse actions it takes to view everything, row by row. And don't overlook that you have to Flow-scroll-right to see the text column on the right.

I haven't be able to find up yet what scratchpad is supposed to be... maybe that table should have gone inside a scratchpad? I have no clue. Was scratchpad planned to be full width? (Matching current Article and Talk Width)

Support that table, at full width, with multiple people editing it. If you want Flow to replace Talk pages for editing discussion and work, that's what we need. A collaboration and work system, not just a beautiful message board.

He7d3r (talkcontribs)

With or without flow, I think that table would be better placed in the sandbox, where it would not pollute the talk page. In the talk you just need to add a link to it. More than one user can edit a sandbox page, if the table is supposed to be edited collaboratively until you get a final version.

Alsee (talkcontribs)

I just double checked the page, no one gave any indication that they thought it "polluted the talk page", or in any way commented negatively on it's presence. Considering that it was the center of an RfC, I think everyone considered it valuable and expected that it was immediately visible.

DannyH (WMF) (talkcontribs)

That's a good example, thanks. That is really hard to work with. I think part of the problem there is the indentation -- it looks like that table is being treated as if it were the "full width" of the Flow margins, but the indentation is then pushing the display to a smaller width, so you get the horizontal scroll bar.

I know that it's not a very satisfying response when I say "we're going to have to think about that", but it's probably better than making up an answer just for the sake of an answer. So... we're going to have to think about that. Thanks for pointing it out.

Alsee (talkcontribs)
Edit: Clarification the problem is that "full Flow width" is ~55% of "full Article/Talk Width". It's because you're imposing a low density design.

I deliberately posted it with indentation to amplify the effect, but it was still rather bad when I tried it with no indentation. With no indentation Flow still gave an annoying-but-mostly-harmless horizontal scroll bar. (It went left-right only a few characters in distance.) The table was still badly squished, and viewing the full contents required:

Carefully use Flow scroll bar to go down 8 pages.

Switch to using browser scrollbar. Jump down 1 page. Switch back to flow scroll bar.

Carefully use Flow scroll bar to go down 9 pages.

Switch to using browser scrollbar. Jump down 1 page. Switch back to flow scroll bar.

Carefully use Flow scroll bar to go down 8 pages.

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I'm good with "we're going to have to think about that" as reply, as long as you're taking it as important :)

Many of us are concerned that you guys seem focused on building a beautiful social message board. We need a work area. On Mediawiki and Wikimedia you guys seem to use the system mainly as a discussion board for discussing on off-wiki content (i.e. software). That's the use case a lot of you are most familiar with. For us Wiki is the work area, and Wiki content is what we're working on. Wikitext makes for a rather lousy discussion forum, but the fact that Article_space = Article_work_space = Community_areas is very powerful for us. If the goal is for Flow to replace article Talk pages then people are going to have very high expectations for Flow as a work space.

I have some related concerns, but I'll start a new thread later.

He7d3r (talkcontribs)

For a long time we have being using wiki pages do do many things which are better handled by other systems (seriously, users from non-Wikipedia WMF wikis know that very well), and while Flow is supposed to be a better system for one of these things (discussions), if we try to use it for something it is not designed for, we can't blame it for not being a good system for that.

Flow won't stop us from continuing to use wiki pages (like sandboxes and personal test pages) for the task of creating and improving collaboratively a draft version of something (a table, a template, a gadget). IF we need a better system than wiki pages for those tasks, then we should request a new system for that, not to expect that Flow will be the solution for them.

Sänger (talkcontribs)

But talk-pages of articles are sandboxes of those articles as well, the syntax implemented there has to work for this purpose, otherwise it's got to be thrown away as not fit for the job.
The current flow is just capable of dealing with blabber pages, not article talk pages. Those kind of pages are by no way essential for creating an encyclopedia, they are at best "nice to have" in some certain areas off-sight.

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