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[Chicken-users] Re: Could we keep old URLs in the wiki working?

From: Peter Bex
Subject: [Chicken-users] Re: Could we keep old URLs in the wiki working?
Date: Wed, 6 May 2009 10:01:53 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/

On Wed, May 06, 2009 at 12:29:55AM +0200, Alejandro Forero Cuervo wrote:
> When I moved all users in the wiki from /foo to /users/foo, I took the
> time to create symlinks from the old locations to the new, so that
> people using the old URLs would be automatically redirected to the
> right (new) location.  People would gradually update their bookmarks
> and search engines would gradually notice that things have moved and
> everything would be fine and dandy.

"Gradually" would imply that eventually everything would indeed be moved.
A look at the Trac timeline tells me that these symlinks have been there
for over 5 months.  How much longer do you intend to keep them around?

> I've just noticed, however, that someone went and erased all the
> symlinks, which serves absolutely no purpose other than causing
> headaches for systems that still use the old links.

I sent an email to this very mailinglist asking if it was ok to move
the eggs and manual stuff:

Later I sent an email asking to do the same to the user pages:

Back then, nobody complained; people agreed that my changes were a good
idea (or even necessary in the case of eggs and the manual).  You can
see the thread's responses starting here:
(the archive doesn't show threads across "periods", but this is the
first reply to the first message I sent to the list)

I gave a clear motivation for doing this; the user pages and their
symlinks were getting out of synch, and having two places with the same
info that you have to keep in synch is a very bad idea (there were a
few broken symlinks, some user pages were _not_ symlinked and I believe
there were even regular user files in the wiki rootdir).  Also, the
wiki provides no way to see and manage these symlinks as far as I know,
which means that everytime someone creates or deletes a user page
through the wiki interface, someone needs to go in and fix the symlinks.

Another reason to do this was to remove clutter.  There was a large
number of files in the rootdir of the wiki.  Now it's only a handfull,
with the manuals, eggs and users nicely separated in their own
namespaces.  In the process of this big cleanup I found, aside from the
broken symlinks, a few bogus egg pages and a few egg pages that had no
"eggs" tag.  I'm not saying that this couldn't have been done by an
audit of the existing infrastructure, but it's a nice side-effect of
having a good look at what we had.

> For example,
> searching for "mario domenech goulart" on Google lists
> as the second
> result.  This result used to work, redirecting to the correct page.
> Now it takes you to a stupid edit form.

Yes, and keeping it around will ensure Google never updates its links.
We just have to wait a little longer and it will come around and
update its links.

> So could we please just restore these links?  If the names (eg.
> "/mario%20doemenech%20goulart") eventually gets needed for something
> (for example, that becomes the name of something other than a user of
> Chicken, lets say the name of the official manual or something) we can
> *then* remove the symlink and use it for the purpose needed.  Until
> then, why break things that were working?

Again, I provided proper motivation in my original email.  Why are you
complaining now, over two months later, after I did all this work?

> This same comments applies to URLs for eggs and for manual pages and
> everything else.  For example, all the URLs for all my eggs in the
> Chicken wiki were just broken when someone decided to move /egg-foo to
> /eggref/N/egg-foo without providing symlinks.  Now most links to the
> documentation for my eggs are broken.  Perhaps link /egg to
> /eggref/N/egg, where N is the latest version for which it is
> available?

I proposed making such a change, but doing this automatically instead of
manually - ie in svnwiki itself.  This suggestion yielded no response
from anyone with enough svnwiki knowledge to make this happen.

Keeping these symlinks updated can be a huge maintenance chore and they
will inevitably get out of synch, just like the user symlinks did.
We have enough infrastructural problems as it is, I don't see why we
need more.  If it can be automated, I have no problems with it.
In fact, I would applaud it -- nobody likes broken links.  But I don't
have access to our web server nor the insight in how all this stuff
hangs together, so I'm not the right person to make these changes; I'll
have to leave that to someone who does and has.

> No, I'm not volunteering my time to fix this mess.  I had actually
> spent some time fixing this in the past for the users pages (which
> involved some transformations in the names of the links to make them
> more svnwiki-friendly).  I'm merely asking for a stop to the nonsense
> in the way the Chicken wiki is being handled.

I don't see why you're making such a fuss about a wiki you yourself said
you're not even using anymore
and not even volunteering to fix it.  We had some problems, which were
fixed after a period of technical discussion about how to best do this,
as is the proper way in community-managed software.  You were welcome to
participate in said discussion, but you chose not to.  I don't see why
we have to back out changes agreed upon by a democratic process at the
request of one person.

> Please see

Maintainability trumps ivory tower "best practices" IMHO.  Also, if you
feel so strongly about this, why not implement my suggestion to redirect
egg pages automatically?  This will give us the best of both worlds; it
keeps maintenance low and the URIs "unchanged".

Peter Bex
"The process of preparing programs for a digital computer
 is especially attractive, not only because it can be economically
 and scientifically rewarding, but also because it can be an aesthetic
 experience much like composing poetry or music."
                                                        -- Donald Knuth

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