Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Casualty of War: Random Book Link

The first negative side effect of the organization project has surfaced, and it's one that was really unforeseeable. First, a little background:

On Wikibooks, the "Random Page" link, which connects to [[Special:Randompage]] is essentially useless. It could point you to any random subpage of any random book. Books are intended to be complete units, that is that you are supposed to start at one point and work your way to the end. Coming in to a book in the middle is useless. First you would need to figure out what book you are in (an easy task, admittedly), then go back to the Table of Contents, read up on all the necessary background information, and then read the page you arrived at.

For editors, the system is a little different. However, each book has it's own formatting conventions and style guidelines, so an editor cannot be expected to navigate to a random page and just make improvements.

To that end, we decided to implement a "Random Book" link, instead of a "Random Page" link. A little bit of fancy javascript, combined with the list at [[Wikibooks:Alphabetical classification]] created a random book link that worked very well. However, when the Alphabetical classification was changed from being a manually-updated list to being a series of categories, the Random Book javascript was broken.

The fix for this is likely going to be an easy one. However, it does go to show that radical changes, even if they are radical improvements, can cause unforeseen problems.

No comments:

Post a Comment