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Feature request: Different link color for nonexistent pages

  • Having done quite a bit of editing of devnet wiki pages over the last ~2 weeks, I encountered many shortcomings of the wiki system (compared to what I'm used to from Wikipedia) which I believe unnecessarily reduce the usability, ease of editing, and maintainability of wiki content and thus ultimately limit the devnet wiki's potential in becoming a great community resource.

    Trying to to resist the temptation to start a big rant ranging from the fragility of Textile markup to missing world peace, I'll start with a small (but IMO quite important) issue:
    Links to other pages within the wiki (using the %{background:#ddd}[[...]]% syntax) don't provide any visual indication of whether that page actually exists or not.

    This is an issue because:

    • Users who misspell or mis-format their links won't notice.
      Typos in the main text will get noticed during proof-reading - typos in link URLs not as likely (or when was the last time you clicked on every single link in a page you edited to double-check that they all work?)
      Just a few days ago I fixed a wiki page created by another user who mistakenly used the %{background:#ddd}[[...]]% syntax for external links (as in %{background:#ddd}[[|Link Caption]]%), and didn't notice the mistake when previewing/submitting the page because the wiki happily presented the link captions in bright green color (like any other links), with no indication that they were actually linking to non-existing wiki pages like "%".

    • Planning/"earmarking" pages for future creation becomes visitor-unfriendly.
      As an example, consider "this wiki page":/wiki/Handling_Document_Formats#0ca419f44726d5a88f9287a4e393691f I've created, pointing to a list of other wiki pages - some of which already exist, some of which don't.
      A visitor clicking on one of the pages only to find it empty would feel annoyed ("false advertising"), and after clicking on two or so of them and finding them all empty, he/she might even assume that there is no useful information to be found here at all, and leave disappointed (even though some of the pages do in fact already exist, and contain lots of info).
      Yet, at the same time I really don't want to refrain from adding those links in advance (before all the pages actually exist), because it makes the intended scope of that "page collection" nicely self-explanatory, and provides a convenient way for myself or others to create the missing pages one by one in the future (in a way that guarantees that they will be given the "correct" page name, in line with the naming scheme of their already existing siblings).

    For comparison:

    • Wikipedia shows links which point to nonexistent wiki pages in red color.

  • links pointing to non-existing pages are certainly one of the major pains in Internet. At point one has to start. So your proposal to start within the Qt framework is a good starting point.

    The marking of non-existent but future pages is something which can be handled manually. However, this is error-prone, because the human in the loop is mostly the start of the problem. Therefore, this feature makes also sense in my opinion.

    The question is about the resources required to make such a feature work. There would be some input from experts in that field required.

    One point is the discussion here. This allows the collection of ideas and builds the basis for the future implementation. However, you might want to place the "suggestion already on JIRA. ": If you place the link here and vice-versa people can vote there already and express their interest for the feature.

  • [quote author="koahnig" date="1336818240"]The marking of non-existent but future pages is something which can be handled manually.[/quote]

    In the case of the link list I mentioned above, I've considered manually giving those links whose target pages don't exist yet a different color (using Textile markup), but it would not only add a burden to keep it synchronized, but also has the potential to confuse new contributors who might click one one of the links and create that page, and then wonder what they've done wrong because the links doesn't turn green.

    [quote author="koahnig" date="1336818240"]However, you might want to place the "suggestion already on JIRA. ":[/quote]


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