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New MediaWiki extension: Approved Revs

Approved Revs is my latest MediaWiki extension (with some important code contributions made by Jeroen and others), released about a week ago; version 0.2 just came out today. It’s a simple extension, that just lets administrators mark a single revision/version of any wiki page as the “approved” one – so that, when users go to that page, what they see is the approved revision, not necessarily the latest one.

It’s a simple concept, and hardly original: you may be aware that there’s already an extension that does this – FlaggedRevs, which is already in use on a growing number of language Wikipedias; maybe a dozen currently – not yet the English-language one, but it’s probably just a matter of time. What’s different about Approved Revs is just its simplicity – FlaggedRevs puts in place an entire framework for evaluating the quality of any specific revision. That sort of framework approach makes sense for very large sites, like Wikipedia, where decisions about which version to approve have to be done out in the open, and agreed to by many people. For smaller sites, the framework of FlaggedRevs could be overkill – in fact, my first thought to create a new extension came after trying to install FlaggedRevs and getting scared off after around the 3rd paragraph of the documentation (though to be fair, that’s what some people have said about Semantic MediaWiki as well).

Anyway, I think Approved Revs will be an important extension, because it enables an element of workflow, something that MediaWiki has generally lacked. When you create a website with a standard CMS solution like Drupal or WordPress, you can easily save a page or posting in draft form before it gets “published”, i.e. made viewable to the public. And you can have different user types, so that one set of people is responsible for writing the content, and another is responsible for approving it. In MediaWiki it’s a different world: whatever the last thing that a user wrote, whether your user base is a small group of employees or the whole world, is what everyone sees. This of course offers a big advantage in immediacy, but for some organizations it’s just not acceptable. So Approved Revs could open up the use of MediaWiki to content-management situations where previously it wasn’t a possibility.

And yes, if the page contains semantic data, it’s the data from the approved revision that gets stored by SMW, which is great. (The same behavior could be true of FlaggedRevs – I don’t know.)

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