Wandering Thoughts archives


There are good and bad wikitext dialects

One of the things about wikitext dialects that I've essentially asserted in passing is that there are 'good' and 'bad' dialects. Perhaps this raises your eyebrows, either because you think all wikitext dialects are a bad idea or because you don't see what creates such a difference.

There are two possible criteria for goodness in wikitext (or in general any simple markup scheme), depending on why you're using a wikitext. For a markup aimed at empowering beginners, what probably matters is how simple, straightforward, and error-free it is. This ties into your desired style, in that it should be both easy and obvious to create the kind of content that you want, marked up and styled in the ways that you want.

For a markup aimed at smoothing the way of frequent authors, what matters is how unobtrusive and smooth the markup is. The more that you have to spray large amounts of special text all over your content (and the harder they are to tell apart), the more the markup is getting in your way and the less it's giving you compared to just using normal HTML. This leads me to feel that good wikitext here either looks close to what you'd write in plain text or is simple and terse. The goal in both cases is to minimize the extra friction of adding and using markup.

(I feel that aesthetics matter here because you don't just write your text, you also read it as you're writing and revising. A wikitext dialect that is obtrusive or ugly winds up obscuring your actual content with its markup. If you can't easily read your content for flow in its un-rendered form, well, that's a kind of friction.)

A bad wikitext dialect is one that moves away from these virtues. It's obtrusive and verbose; it's complicated and perhaps hard to keep straight; it makes it hard to decode what the markup means at a glance (due to eg using a bunch of very similar markup characters). It gets in your way. It may make it too easy to put markup mistakes in your text or too hard to find and fix them. Overall, it contorts and distorts your writing process.

(My fuzzy view is that a wikitext dialect being incomplete doesn't necessarily make it bad. In the abstract incompleteness just makes a wikitext unfit for some purposes, but then if you're forced to use the wikitext anyways for these purposes it can turn into something that's getting in your way and thus is bad. I wave my hands.)

web/WikitextGoodAndBad written at 22:39:32; Add Comment

Why I can't see IPv6 as a smooth or fast transition

Today I got native IPv6 up at home. My home ISP had previously been doing tunneled IPv6 (over IPv4), except that I'd turned my tunnel off back in June for some reason (I think something broke and I just shrugged and punted). I enjoyed the feeling of doing IPv6 right for a few hours, and then, well:

@thatcks: The glorious IPv6 future: with IPv6 up, Google searches sometimes just cut off below the initial banner and search box.
For bonus points, the searches aren't even going over IPv6. Tcpdump says Google appears to RSET my HTTPS TCPv4 connections sometimes.

(Further staring at packet traces makes me less certain of what's going on, although there are definitely surprise RSET packets in there. Also, when I said 'IPv6 up', I was being imprecise; what makes a difference is only whether or not I have an active IPv6 default route so that my IPv6 traffic can get anywhere. Add the default route (out my PPPoE DSL link) and the problems start to happen; delete it and everything is happy.)

Every so often someone says that the networking world should get cracking on the relatively simple job of adopting and adding IPv6 everywhere. Setting aside anything else involved, what happened to me today is why I laugh flatly at anyone who thinks this. IPv6 is simple only if everything works right, but we have plenty of existence proofs that it does not. Enabling IPv6 in a networking environment is a great way to have all sorts of odd problems come crawling out of the woodwork, some of which don't seem like they have anything to do with IPv6 at all.

It would be nice if these problems and stumbling points didn't happen, and certainly in the nice shiny IPv6 story they're not supposed to. But they do, and combined with the fact that IPv6 is often merely nice, not beneficial, I think many networks won't be moving very fast on IPv6. This makes a part of me sad, but it's the same part of me that thinks that problems like mine just shouldn't happen.

(I don't think I'm uniquely gifted in stumbling over IPv6 related problems, although I certainly do seem to have bad luck with it.)

tech/IPv6ComplicationsAgain written at 03:09:58; Add Comment

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