Forums: Index > Watercooler > Do we really want to subst Biography?

I understand why some may feel that subst'ing a template like {{biography}} is a good idea, but we may want to think this through a little more carefully. Here are three major problems with this idea.

  1. The code below makes an article much more difficult to upgrade. I personally don't want to waste time writing code to support articles with this level of complexity.
  2. Do we really want contributors to see this kind of gobbledeegook when they open an article for editing? Seems to me that it a sure recipe to scare off new contributors.
  3. Wikipedia was founded on the principle that contibuting to articles is simple enough that everyone can be an editor. Substing code like this moves Familypedia in entirely the opposite direction. Most of us may be comfortable reading nested conditionals, but there are very few instances of the following wikitext in a Wikipedia encyclopedic article. For very good reason.
{{get|key=Short name}} was born {{get birth}} {{#if:{{get|key=Father}}| to {{get|key=Father}} {{#if:{{get|key=Mother}}|
and {{get|key=Mother}}}}}} {{#if:{{get|key=Death year}}|and died {{get death}} at the age of {{age (smw)}} years| 
and is now {{age (smw)}} years of age}}. {{#if:{{get|key=Spouse}}|{{#ifeq: {{get|key=Sex}} | Male | He 
| {{#ifeq: {{get|key=Sex}} | M | He | She}}}} married {{get|key=Spouse}} 
{{#if:{{get|key=Spouse2}}| and later {{get|key=Spouse2}}}}.}} 

~ Phlox 08:58, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

I think, Familypedia cannot be easy enough for new contributors. I heared in my surrounding people who I promoted Familypedia that they preferred Rodovid because of the easy formulars and not the irritant save, resave and purge system. Bergsmit 09:33, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

I don't know what you mean by "upgrade". And you're exaggerating again: in the first random article I have just picked from Wikipedia there is more gobbledegook that in subst:biography:,_Nevada&action=edit. Our substing is the only easy way to make the affected part of the biography editable. (Parameters would provide an alternative but that's gobbledegook.) Someone who wants to add a sentence or phrase (about a significant achievement or a third spouse, for example) can't if it's just {{biography}}. Here's another solution:
Convert it to a bundle of several templates, each producing a short sentence. Add a comment at the end that anyone can insert another sentence anywhere, but if wishing to vary any sentence must either:
replace the particular template; or
"subst" the template, save, and brave the conditionals so as to produce a new version that uses some of the clever stuff.
Robin Patterson (Talk) 10:00, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

There is a crucial difference. Note that Wikipedia article has no nested conditional logic whatever. That infobox is not the least bit intimidating when viewed in Wikia's WYSIWYG editor (which WP doesn't use- yet). The intimidating part is a list of parameters that the new editor hides behind very easy to use forms. The same cannot be said of subst'ed {{biography}}. It would be a series of identical get template icons whose meaning is opaque. Not a pretty site at all, especially not if we are trying to attract novices to wiki editing.

The alternative of breaking the biography into blocks is a reasonable solution to the goal of improving the biography's text, but what I am reacting to is the idea making a general practice of inclusion of intimidating elements into the article body. We need to get to a place where the articles are trivial for a grandmother to edit using the new editor and SMW forms.

Regarding the auto generated narratives, I propose that we defer substing {{biography}} until such time as such narrative templates are repackaged into easy to use narrative blocks as Robin suggests. -~ Phlox 16:47, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

Concerns noted and generally agreed with. My detailed proposal is now on Template talk:Biography. — Robin Patterson (Talk) 15:10, 30 June 2009 (UTC)