Sunday, August 23, 2009

Broken users

Special:BrokenRedirects is one of MediaWiki's most interesting - and, ironically enough, probably one of its most broken - special pages. It lists "broken" redirects - i.e. if the target doesn't exist but a page redirects there, the page is considered to be a broken redirect. What's interesting is that it considers interwiki redirects also "broken" in cases where interwiki redirecting isn't enabled.

But interwiki redirects are not broken redirects. The software has no (easy) way of checking - or if it does, it's not used - whether the page on the target wiki exists or not, so it just assumes that it's a broken redirect. This is probably why people use silly "soft redirect" templates.

Soft redirects are - at least in my opinion - pointless. Interwiki redirects are not broken redirects. If you, as an editor, cannot tell the difference between a redirect to a nonexistent page and a redirect to another wiki, then the only one who is broken is you. Not the software and most certainly not the redirect.

So why do I even care? Because:

  • soft redirects are pointless

  • I used to use interwiki redirects *a lot* during my time at Wikia and I absolutely hate getting notifications about new messages on some random wiki I haven't edited more than once

Seriously, just because you don't understand it doesn't mean that it's broken.

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