Template talk:WikiProject History of photography

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Here per request, allow me to explain some of the background behind the drive to convert WikiProject banners to use {{WPBannerMeta}}. WPBM is a meta-template that is used to create WikiProject banners for individual WikiProjects. Each WikiProject has requirements that are subtly different, but at the same time there are many similarities between banners, many things that are the same. A meta-template is useful in these situations to ensure that these similar features are the same amongst all banners, and to allow each banner to take advantage of any improvement made to the banner template. There have been several such improvements in the past year which have been incorporated into WPBannerMeta and so are available to all WikiProject banners using it. Some examples are:

  • The old set of CSS classes for talk page templates (messagebox standard-talk) have been replaced by new classes (tmbox tmbox-notice in this case) that have superior appearance on older browsers. The old classes had 'flow' issues on several browsers and tended to overlap things like {{shortcut}} boxes. This means that the old classes are deprecated, and will eventually be removed from Common.css. See Template talk:Tmbox for more details.
  • There is now a completely new method for nesting WikiProject banners inside banner shells that does not require the |nested= parameter, instead using a combination of javascript and CSS to automatically collapse banners inside banner shells. This deprecates both the messagebox nested-talk CSS classes and the code associated with |nested=yes. As this system becomes more widespread (it currently has about 60% deployment) people will get out of the habit of using |nested=yes and so banners which do not support it will increasingly break. See Template talk:WikiProjectBannerShell#New implementation of WikiProject banners for more details.
  • We are now at last settling on a single system for suppressing the inclusion of categories on a page by templates; that is, when a template like a WikiProject banner is used as an example on a page, it should not add the page to any categories. This is an extremely important development for improving the quality and usefulness of our maintenance categories, and the system (passing |category=no to the banner) is one that will become increasingly habitual.

These major advances inevitably propagate outwards through the system, but the first port of call to make any improvements is always WPBannerMeta, because by fixing a problem there, it can be instantly fixed for seven hundred projects and 800,000 talk pages. That's the beauty of a meta-template: problems can be fixed, and improvements made, by editing just one template. And the efforts of all the hundreds of template coders who previously worked alone and re-invented the wheel seven hundred times can now be focused together to improve all those banners at the same time. As a consequence, banners using WPBannerMeta are considerably more reliable and 'idiot-proof' than other banners. I'm not trying to demean the work of the people who coded this particular banner with the following list of flaws, just to show how a banner that's had more work put into it is inevitably more reliable. So, a few of the problems with this banner code as it stands:

  • Deprecated "messagebox" classes, as mentioned
  • Deprecated |nested= implementation, as mentioned
  • Unreliable |small= implementation: have you actually seen how tall the box gets? Most projects cut half the text from the box to keep it sensibly sized.
  • Unreliable class filtering: my acid test is how the banner handles |class=cheesecake.
  • Case sensitive class handling: |class=na is handled completely differently to |class=NA
  • FL-Class not supported, despite being a part of the standard WP1.0 assessment scheme

As I said, please don't take that list the wrong way, I'm just noting that there is an improvement in reliability and control when converting to use WPBannerMeta, as these problems have been fixed. WPBannerMeta also incoporates a huge number of other advances and improvements to the appearance and functionality of the banners.

I hope this explains the purpose of the meta-template and why existing WikiProject banners are being converted to use it. Happymelon 13:19, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for the very courteous and informative reply, Melon. I certainly get the gist of it. However, I'd like to think it over in more detail -- but unfortunately my concentration is failing as my bed calls. I'll return and reconsider within 24 hours. I understand that during the next few days "RL" may be more alluring for you than a discussion here, so I shan't moan if your second reply comes a lot more slowly than your first. -- Hoary (talk) 14:39, 23 December 2008 (UTC)
Good morning! I've now slept and had a coffee. You say:
As I said, please don't take that list the wrong way[...]
No problem: I'm thick-skinned (and wish that more editors were). Actually I'm feeling somewhat contrite for my peremptory reversion and question that prompted you to devote thirty minutes or more of your finite lifespan to creating the lengthy explanation above.
You list six problems. I don't understand one or two, one (the lack of FL) doesn't strike me as a problem at all, but others I do acknowledge are problems. But more broadly I take the point that a template whose appearances are countable in the hundreds should be designed in such a way as to minimize the risk of later irritations and time-wasting.
I've also now looked at Template:WPBannerMeta (or rather at its documentation). This does indeed seem to be designed for flexibility. To me, an important ingredient is:
Some projects also use the importance scale to place their articles in order of priority.
IMPORTANCE_SCALE – if defined, enables the standard importance scale (Top, Mid, Low, None).
(my emphases).
Major problems in "History of Photography" are that history continues to the present day (cf the "social history" section of your large bookshop or university library, covering last year's news if not this year's); that hundreds of thousands of photographers have, or claim to have, or have friends that claim that they have, at least some 'pedia-worthy smidgen of notability; that times are hard for photographers, who must compete for recognition, money or both; that self- or friend-promotion (subtle or blatant) is endemic in these articles; and that the number of WP editors who take the trouble to look into non-blatant promotion can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Add an invitation to assess "importance", and the results will be blackly farcical, as (for example) the nobodies who churn out humdrum photos of slebs for weekly magazines will be (self-) rated as important on the strength of the name-value of those slebs or the sales figures of the magazines.
I'd like to self-revert my reversion of the recent edits, but as soon as I do this I'd like to remove any reference to an importance rating. I do not want to screw this up, and of course I'm unfamiliar with the template so may very well get something wrong. So instead could you please revert my edit but do away with "importance"? I'd probably want to tweak the result in some way, but there'd be no urgency about this and there's less danger that I'd screw it up.
This project has no interesting list that I've heard of and I can't imagine that it would ever have a "Featured List"; you might zap that option too, unless doing so would be difficult or rub somebody up the wrong way.
Happy Kwanzaa! -- Hoary (talk) 02:10, 24 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the response. I certainly agree with you about the importance scale; some projects find it very useful but for others it is, as you say, somewhat farcical. I've restored the WPBM code without any importance scale, or the 'extended' 1.0 scale (Template-Class, Category-Class, etc), which you also don't use. You do yourself too little credit, I think, by doubting your project's ability to get a FL; it's more trouble to not include that grade than it is to allow it, anyway, so I've left it in for you. Don't hesitate to call if you need any help adding to or removing things from the banner in the future. Many thanks! Happymelon 11:24, 24 December 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for the good work!
Well, since you offer, could you remove the "e"-for-edit link? People shouldn't edit the template other than after some careful consideration; surely the trouble needed to locate the template is not too much, and there's no need to encourage bored schoolboys and the like to dick around with the thing, especially when there are so few people watching it. However, if this is difficult, please don't worry about it. -- Hoary (talk) 11:18, 25 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done by myserious wiki-magic :D. Happymelon 12:00, 25 December 2008 (UTC)
Excellent, and certainly better than it was a week ago. Thank you! -- Hoary (talk) 01:36, 26 December 2008 (UTC)