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Submissions/Context and Linearity: Representing Structure in Wikis

From Wikimania 2010 • Gdańsk, Poland • July 9-11, 2010


This is an open submission for Wikimania 2010.

Title of the submission

Context and Linearity: Representing Structure in Wikis

Type of submission


Author of the submission

Jani Patokallio

E-mail address or username

en:User:Jpatokal, wikitravel:User:Jpatokal

Country of origin



Wiki Manager, Lonely Planet

Personal homepage or blog



The standard organizational structure of a wiki is a simple one-to-one mapping of article titles to content. While perfect for a “flat” space like an encyclopedia, the limits of this soon become clear when attempting to represent hierarchical content like a place taxonomy, or ordered and hierarchical content like a book with chapters and sections. How can the structure of such content be accurately represented in a wiki so that it can be exported to other, more static formats like books or PDFs? How can the structure be made visible in the wiki itself, so users can navigate “up” and “down” in a smooth, linear way and have the full context of what other content is around them? How can we go beyond merely representing structure to allowing wiki-like easy editing and reordering of it as well?

This presentation will cover MediaWiki's built-in mechanisms for bridging the gap, including:

  • Subpages, which provide hierarchy but lose context
  • Categories, which can be used for unordered, contextless classification
  • Transclusion, which provides order and hierarchy but lose context and granularity

In addition, extensions that provide additional functionality will be covered:

  • Breadcrumbs, which can be used to graft hierarchy onto flat articles
  • Collections, which can be used to assemble articles into books
  • Semantic Mediawiki, which can be used to generate dynamic views of content

Finally, the presentation will take a look at sites like Wikibooks, Wikispecies and Wikitravel to see how they have chosen to address these issues, as well ongoing work at Lonely Planet to develop our own solutions to these problems.

Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)

Knowledge and Collaboration (or Infrastructure, it will be a fairly technical talk)

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  1. User:He!ko
  2. Jodi.a.schneider 18:26, 13 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  3. guillom 21:19, 17 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Headbomb 05:10, 18 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Sapphire 12:53, 18 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Incnis Mrsi (probably, not certainly) 20:56, 22 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Kocio 13:06, 2 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Meeso 10:15, 9 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Natbrown 14:00, 29 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]