Talk:Main Page

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Planetary knowledge core

Rewording suggestions

{"The foundational principles by which Infogalactic operates are very different than..."

change to- "The foundational principles by which Infogalactic operates are very different from..."

"Infogalactic is written collaboratively by volunteers who contribue..."

change to- "Infogalactic is written collaboratively by volunteers who contribute..."

The word "contribute" is misspelled as "contribue". Maybe enable edits of the page?}

These problems have been fixed.

~ ?

Two questions:
  1. Is it "InfoGalactic" or "Infogalactic"? I prefer I + G in caps and I prefer consistency where possible.
  2. Is "founding" better than "foundational" yet means the same thing? The latter seems awkward to me.
~ JasonCarswell (talk) 06:58, 25 January 2017 (UTC)

typos and spelling errors

List any errors you find in this secured text. Admins: once corrected in main text, delete the item from this list.

Items to Fix

  • "To edit an existing page, clicking the Edit link" (should be "To edit an existing page, click the Edit link")
  • Currently the "MediaWiki has been successfully installed" is showing up on the front page... That should be removed.

MediaWiki default content

I suggest getting rid of "MediaWiki has been successfully installed" and everything that follows. Jean Valjean (talk) 18:06, 27 October 2016 (UTC)

A main discussion page

It would be a good idea to have a main discussion page. Sophie Whelan (talk) 19:22, 29 October 2016 (UTC)

-- That is what talk pages are about. If you want to discuss a topic, go to it's discussion page. If one does not exist, create it. Eg: add something like this [[Talk:Topic of interest]]. -- Crew (talk) 19:53, 29 October 2016 (UTC)

Perhaps Sophie was referring to a meta discussion page, about Infogalactic policy/procedures/technology/incidents/etc.? Jean Valjean (talk) 02:20, 3 November 2016 (UTC)
Regardless of what Sophie was referring to, you are right Jean. Can be checked very single day by Galaxians and used to rapidly create create "relevant" articles and check the ones which already exist to watch for vandalism and improve what might already be there. Where should I be directed to discuss an idea like this? --The Librarian (talk) 21:19, 1 December 2016 (UTC)
We need an area of the website just to discuss the website generally, where people can ask for advice oncreating pages and get answers from other users. This should be added to the sidebar --Hydrargyruum (talk) 18:25, 28 December 2016 (UTC)
Howdy, I created an unoffical InfoGalactic forum here with areas for private discussion, I'm hoping you guys will find it useful; I'm happy to grant admin privilidges to the staff here, check it out:

--Tears of Ovid (talk) 22:12, 4 January 2017 (UTC)

I started a topic here for discussion about the project's future and how it can surpass Wikipedia, particularily in regards to concerns such as a smoother editing interface which is one thing driving new users away from Wikipedia and helping to kill it off with the rise of Smartphones;--Tears of Ovid (talk) 03:39, 5 January 2017 (UTC)

Main discussion page now created - Village Pump

Hi, I went ahead and created a main dicussion forum at Infogalactic:Village Pump for the community to discuss things and concerns in a centralized location and and allow for more organized discussions.

If possible I'd ask that an administrator ad a link to it from the main page or the toolbar where 'recent changes', 'random page', etc are available.--Tears of Ovid (talk) 16:12, 8 January 2017 (UTC)

Is there any chance of changing the name from Village Pump to something else?
  • community brainstorm
  • community center
  • community chat
  • community discussion
  • community forum
  • community hall
  • community mingle
  • community roundtable
  • community soapbox
  • community symposium
  • community water cooler
  • galactic brainstorm
  • galactic forum
  • galactic roundtable
  • town square
~ JasonCarswell (talk) 07:09, 25 January 2017 (UTC)
It's been updated to the Infogalactic:Galactic boardroom. ~ JasonCarswell (talk) 06:15, 28 January 2017 (UTC)

Some Wikipedia criticism forums worth looking at

In case anyone's interested, here's a few active websites dedicated to Wikipedia discussion and criticism. The staff at InfoGalactic might consider getting involved with the members there and seeing if anyone there is willing to collaborate:

There's also an older forum "Wikipedia Review", but it's mostly dead now.

--Tears of Ovid (talk) 00:57, 9 January 2017 (UTC)

Here is how we need to progress

The new main page is quite good, but it is static. I suggest an approach below that will need refinement, and want to engage in a design process. While WikiMarkup and IG are not the best places to do it, it will have to do.

Firstly, while we are designing it (which should only take a few days) we should put the old main page back and save its content somewhere as a guide.

Secondly, there are five areas in the new main page:

  1. Today's featured article. This occupies the top LH side of the page after the portal list. It is only a portion of the actual article (the intro only should appear here.)
  2. A Did You Know section that contains a seemingly random set of points in the LH middle section.
  3. A news section that occupies the top RH section below the portal list and contains a series of short descriptions and links to articles.
  4. An On this day section in the middle RH side.
  5. Today's featured picture section spanning the whole page below the above sections.

The problem at the moment is that the content is static.

While we could make everything dynamic, I think it is worthwhile using a design that has:

  1. Static material defining the outline. That is, a table of two columns and two rows within another table defining one column and two rows with other material above it and below it.
  2. Five dynamic sections. However, how we generate those will require work.

We do not want to have people manually creating that material on a daily basis. I think we can use an approach like the following:

  1. Define a list of featured articles and use the current approach of placing a portion of that article in Infogalactic:Today's Featured Article. This will then be transcluded into the main page. Each day, the head material for a different article from the list will be copied into the featured article page.
  2. Define a list of separate did you know fact snippets and an Infogalactic:Did you know article that will be transcluded into the main page in that section.
  3. Create a Infogalactic:Current Events or whatever article that will be assembled on a daily basis (there is an effort towards this happening.) These will refer to current events and point to existing IG articles.
  4. Create a list of anniversary info for each day of the year that can be selected from, and an Infogalactic article for it to be placed in.
  5. Also, create a list of featured pictures, and similarly an article that can be transcluded.

Now, to make all this work what I propose is that a cron job will run every day at a specific time and it will choose new content for each of these sections from the lists provided and, using a PHP script, or otherwise, move that content into the correct pages in the database. (Every page is represented by both a page description area, content area and versions information.)

By taking this approach we do not have to have people manually changing things every day. They can concentrate on defining new pages or expanding the lists of items that will go in these areas.

For featured articles something like 30 would be useful as as start. Similarly for pictures and the Did you know stuff (ie, 30 by 7 or whatever). The news items are a bit harder because writing whole new pages will get difficult. However, there are many items of news each day and lots of articles that can be referred to.

What I am interested in at this stage is feedback on this approach.

The next steps will be to define the lists of items and to define what the PHP script must do. We also have a sandbox that it can be tested in without disturbing the main area.

-- Crew (talk) 04:27, 26 January 2017 (UTC)

I have rolled this back for the moment, but it will be back in an improved form with most of the work done by TearsOfOvid. -- Crew (talk) 16:24, 26 January 2017 (UTC)

More thoughts

Selecting from among a list of articles to display is easy. I can add a new command that looks like {{#SelectFromList|ArticleName}}. Or we can do something simple for the first cut, like have the cron job do the work after reading in things.

One of my goals here is to get something up quickly that captures the promise of what TearsOfOvid did and then extend it as needed.

The more difficult task is keeping the news stuff up-to-date. Thoughts welcome.

--Crew (talk) 17:49, 26 January 2017 (UTC)

There are two different styles of transclusion here, or maybe three:

  1. There is the initial portion of the featured article. It would be nice to be able to avoid having to extract out some portion and create a separate article.
  2. There are the list of little Did You Know snippets and the On this day snippets.
  3. There are the news items. This will be the hardest.

The following subsections are some thoughts around these. The intent is that the main page should never need to be updated unless we want to change the layout.

Transcluding only the initial portion of an article from a list

It would be useful to have an article called Infogalactic:ListOfFeaturedArticles or something like that, containing a list of featured articles, line by line with no Wikimarkup or other decoration.

Then it would be useful to have a special command, like {{#TranscludeHead|name_of_article|#ofchars}} and have it extract that many words from the article's head for insertion in the top LHS featured article.

The intent would be, I think, that the Main page would then transclude Infogalactic:Featured_article and that would be generated on a daily basis to have a different invocation of TrascludeHead with a different featured article selected from the list.

This would be set up from the PHP script run by a cron job.

I just had another thought here. We/I could implement something like {{#TranscludeBased|art1,art2,art3...}} where it takes the Julian date modulo the number of elements in the list and transcludes that one (or the head portion of that one.) I think the amount of code of that will not be large.

Further, the current example had the following changes over the original article:

  1. It summarized three paragraphs of the original into one, and
  2. It converted the highlighted word (bold) into a link.

However, this makes the automatic generation of those from a list of articles more difficult.

I suggest that we simply take the first 1,000 characters from the article (breaking on a word boundary) and, since the footer of that section includes a link to the original article, there is no need to add a second link. That should yield about 150 words.

These steps mean that we can automatically generate these sections.

However, there is an issue here. We need to ensure that the caching layer does not have to re-fetch these pages on every access, so it would be good to include an expiry time in the HTTP headers or wherever. So, if the page is generated half-way through the day, indicate that it does not expire until such and such a time (use care because the functions mentioned, like Julian Dates etc, switch over at midday, not midnight, I think.)

Transcluding Lists of items like Did you know

Again, the Main page would transclude an article like Infogalactic:Did_you_know, but this must be fully formatted as we expect it to be. This article would be assembled from a larger list by selecting randomly each day and it should try to avoid having the same snippets appear on consecutive days. This should be relatively easy and can be done by reading the existing article before constructing the new article.

The candidate snippets can be in another article perhaps separated by a blank line or some other separator.

The featured picture

Some thoughts here.

The news items

This is the most difficult portion because it needs to be updated with news articles that refer to existing content. It seems unlikely that an article on a news item will exist, but related content might exist.

This idea that might suffice for a while if acceptable. Until there is a person or group or bot in full charge of the news on a regular basis, what if we "outsourced" it for until then. Assuming we could settle on a worthy source, or perhaps from a few opposing worthy news sources (alt media, right, left, etc), allow them to maintain the news feed with a "news feed by..." link with their name. They provide a service and get cross promotion as does InfoGalactic. In addition to the "(current history) news" there may be "history" and "alt-history" sites, image curation, and trivia sites willing to do the same. I don't know how you'd find all of these other than creating a site-wide header banner asking for submissions or references. ~ JasonCarswell (talk) 06:38, 28 January 2017 (UTC)
Hmmm, that is a thought. There is an effort underway to create a team of people for doing this, but I am not sure of the progress. --Crew (talk) 15:41, 28 January 2017 (UTC) stef's thoughts on news today. --Activedecay (talk) 22:10, 28 January 2017 (UTC)
One needs to take Stefan Molyneux with a grain of source. ~ JasonCarswell (talk) 01:01, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
I have a few other Main Page ideas that aren't on Wikipedia.
  • A truncated list of all recently edited articles, with at least a few hours padding. There's nothing more annoying than someone else editing something you're tweaking. If it's been left alone for a few hours then someone's probably done with it.
  • A truncated list of "IG original" recently edited articles. This is different original content deserving to be highlighted.
  • A word cloud of the most active articles with font size related to popularity, like at the top of
  • A word cloud of the most active "IG original" articles with font size related to popularity.
  • A video of the day? Maybe a short list? Maybe this is not in our wheel house.
  • Meme of the day?
  • Note: I think this "differentiation" branding strategy is important until IG becomes more prominent. It also lends itself to my boardroom expressed idea about dividing each "controversial" page into "official" and "alternative" sides. So too, if on the left side feature "IG original/alternative" content, while the right side features "mixed/forked" content.
~ JasonCarswell (talk) 01:01, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

Work In Progress

For those who are interested in this stuff, I have a strategy for the first part.

I will create a MediaWiki extension that adds the Parser Functions I need.

These will be something like:

  • {{#SelectFromWikiBased|ArticleContainingListOfArticles}}. This just returns the name of an article.
  • {{#SelectFirstWords|ArticleName|WordCount}}. This will return the first WordCount words of wikitext in the article selected with some trailing text (A Full article... link). Care will have to be taken not to break links etc ...

I think I can see how to do most of this. --Crew (talk) 19:31, 28 January 2017 (UTC)

Sounds promising.--Tears of Ovid (talk) 16:28, 29 January 2017 (UTC)

Have made progress

I have made some progress on this, I believe. The key problem I am trying to solve at the moment is ensuring that once the main page is generated it remains cached until the end of the day. Calculating the cache time is not hard, but making sure I set the correct things seems to require quite a bit of understanding of the caching stuff. (By not hard, I mean, you get the time--which is the number of seconds since the epoch, divide that by 86400 to get the day number and take that modulo the number of items in the list, but then I want to expire the entry at the end of the day, but that is just (86400 - (time modulo 86400)).)

It also struck me that the following approach could be used for the lists of Did You Know stuff:

  1. Create a list of, say 210 items
  2. Each day, take the day number modulo 30, multiply that number by 7 and use it as the starting point into the list
  3. Select the next 7 entries.

This will make the Did You Know list repeat every 30 days. Another approach might be to use mt_rand() to generate in index into the list seven times. This would give us a list that changes every day, reorders the entries, and can be expanded and should change every day.

--Crew (talk) 06:53, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

Hi, I sent you an email regarding a suggestion on how to use a snippet of the featured article in the main page in a script. Easiest way to do it is probably to create a separate page containing only the snippet of the article and transcluding that page.--Tears of Ovid (talk) 18:41, 11 February 2017 (UTC)

Further progress and issues

The code so far seems to work and seems to handle the parser cache correctly. However, I realized that there is an issue with the anniversary stuff (On this day.)

Depending on where you are in the world, it can be wrong for up to 12 hours ... Assume we change that portion of the page when the data on the Prime Meridian changes. Then people in Australia, since they are ahead, will see Yesterday's info until ~8 hours into their day, while people in the US will see Tomorrow's info for a while as well. This would a case where doing everything on the browser with JavaScript could remove the issue. Of course there are really only two parts of the world, but the solution might be to push down three lists, yesterday, today and tomorrow, along with some JS to handle the selection.

Secondly, the excerpting code is working reasonably well, but it might need to rescale any pictures specified (or eliminate them completely) which creates complexity. I have shelved this idea for the moment. --Crew (talk) 23:02, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

--Crew (talk) 18:46, 2 February 2017 (UTC) -- Updated: Crew (talk) 00:50, 3 February 2017 (UTC)

Main page looks good; I'm impressed.--Tears of Ovid (talk) 20:45, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

Status and further work

So far all of the sections now work, however, it took some time to get the news info importing correctly from

A few changes I would like to make:

  1. Instead of manually preparing the "On this day" material I have a change to the code that select N entries at random from the pages named Month_[d]d. Eg, March_4 or August_18. This code now seems to work and is begin tested. Once I am happy with it I will cut it over. It reduces the amount of admin required to generate that section of the front page.
  2. It would be good to show the news items as bullet points, but that will take more hacking on the JavaScript used. It is not impossible to do, however.

If there are any other suggestions please let me know. --Crew (talk) 22:57, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

Status of things

I got all of the above working along with using JS to handle the In the news section on the main page, however, a problem arose with the In the news section when we added support for mobile devices. So, I redid support for In the news without JavaScript.

I am now looking at adding the EmbedVideo extension so people can embed videos.

-- Crew (talk) 22:03, 25 March 2017 (UTC)

Wikia editing interface - tech suggestion

Hi, I've been inactive for awhile, but wanted to make sure the staff have taken Wikia's editing interface into account; in comparison to Wikipedia's badly outdated interfaces, it has many more user-friendly features that makes editing for Wiki newcomers much smoother and more intuitive.

As an example, for folks not familiar with Wikia (one of Jimbo Wales' sister projects dedicated to fandom Wikis; e.x. Star Wars), I'm posting a link here to demonstrate (you'll have to register a Wiki account to view all of the editing options):

By default, Wikia has a Visual Editor enabled (Wikipedia currently has a Visual Editor as well, but it's not available on InfoGalactic as of yet).

However Wikia's standard editor, also includes features such as highlighting of Wiki Markup code (e.x. bold font, italic, internal link, category code, etc); this makes it much easier for users to spot code when editing the pages, and Wikipedia doesn't even have a basic feature such as this). Here's a picture below as an example:

Wiki markup.PNG

It also has a feature in which a list of articles matching text entered into an Wiki link is automaticallly filled in (similar to with the main search bar at the top of the page), which makes it easier to add Wiki links to an article. Here's an example:

Wiki markup 2.png

I'd definitely recommend that InfoGalactic tech impliment features similar to these in the coming updates.--Tears of Ovid (talk) 07:14, 6 June 2017 (UTC)