https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=6455

--- Comment #114 from Tisza Gergő <gti...@gmail.com> 2010-11-20 11:35:35 UTC ---
(In reply to comment #110)
> Experience has shown that people will just write pages that use up whatever 
> the
> resource limits are.  They'll use the functions to write still more 
> complicated
> templates, which currently they can't write because of preinclusion size
> limits.  It's not at all obvious it will make anything faster, it will just
> allow more complexity for the same length limit.
> [...]
> Maybe we should enable the string functions, but reduce preinclusion length
> limit, or impose other limits on template complexity.

You make it sound as if complexity would be a bad thing in itself. That is not
so - complex tasks require complex solutions, most of the time. MediaWiki
itself has become much more complex along the years, the editing workflow
became more complex, Vector was a huge jump in the complexity of the editing
GUI, and so on. Everyone accepts these as necessary, so why not the same for
complex templates? Seems like a bit of NIH syndrome to me (or more precisely,
Not Invented By Us, because it *is* invented here, just not by the developers).

I sense a good amount of developer hubris in the debates about templates - "you
should leave this stuff to us, we could do it better". Sure you could - but you
could do much less of it. By the same account, we should leave writing
encyclopedia articles to professionals, because they are much better at it
(except that Nupedia had some 100 articles after three years). This line of
thinking is completely contrary to Wikipedia philosophy. Wikipedia is about
generativity, community empowerment and ultra-low barriers to entry - you can't
seriously suggest that making a feature request and waiting for some developer
to pick it up every time someone needs a new template would be a scalable
approach.

> People shouldn't have been writing programs in wikitext to begin with, they
> should use proper scripts of some type -- extensions or bots or such. 

This gets thrown around a lot, but how those proper scripts could replace the
current template system is never demonstrated. Bots are not much help with
dynamic text (and do have problems of their own, like littering page
histories). Extensions, as I tried to point above, are not scalable (whatever
you might think of the template syntax, it is a lot easier to learn than
writing secure and scalable MediaWiki extensions, and we didn't even consider
yet the epic fail of code review). The conclusion of the bug about Lua was that
templates using scripts interpreted by some external tool are out of the
question - they have security issues, and they would break compatibility of
Wikipedia with pretty much all other MediaWiki installations. What is left
then? Inventing another template language and writing another parser in PHP?
IIRC Werdna actually offered to do that and was turned down, because that is
still not a "proper" solution. The proper solution, apparently, is to deny the
Wikimedia community of a useful tool, out of purely aesthetic reasons.

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