Remove the link to the old Python wiki?

The Python Documentation Editorial Board has a question about removing the link from to the old wiki.

We talked about how, for many people, the old wiki is their first stop when they look for the docs. Since that gives them a worse user experience, would it be possible to remove the link?


Is the wiki outated? It seems (from the “Recent changes” page) that it’s being updated fairly regularly.

There are recent edits, it’s true. But there are also pages that are misleading because of their age with no clear indication, for example: AlternateLambdaSyntax - Python Wiki

Is there a way to make it clearer how the wiki fits into the Python information universe? Can we add a banner that would apply to all pages?

It fits in as the wiki - that is, as the one place that ANYONE can edit, rather than requiring that people submit pull requests. That makes it a poor choice for authoritative information, but an excellent place for things that are more about the community than the core language.

I think it would be helpful to make it clearer on each page what the reader is looking at. It’s a common pattern on web sites to have banners and common navigation to help place pages in context. As it is now, the wiki pages have a large and visible Python logo at the top, which gives them a certain authority. On that AlternateLambdaSyntax page, the only clue to its age is the very last thing on the page in tiny parenthetical half-gray type: “last edited 2008-11-15 14:00:18 by localhost”

There’s not much to indicate even that the page is editable by the public. The word “wiki” only appears in the URL, not on the page itself.

(BTW: what does it mean to be edited by localhost?)

If someone wants to whip up some nice HTML and CSS, I’m sure the wiki admins would be happy to apply it! I can’t though, I only have minor rights to the wiki (like making editors and such). That said, though, I wouldn’t want TOO much emphasis to be placed on how recently something was edited, since an “edit” might be something substantive or it might be a trivial typo fix.

It’s there, but it’s not in-your-face. The footer of every page refers people to the front page if they are unable to edit. I guess the wiki’s design assumes that there’d be an “Edit” link on most pages, but with the permissions the way they are, what you usually see is “Immutable Page” instead, which doesn’t tell you that you COULD edit it if you logged in. I wonder how hard it would be to change that label… probably not too hard?

The front page itself has a lot of information about it being user-editable, so this is only a consideration with deep-linked pages; but saying “only” there is probably misleading as deep-linking is going to be a lot of people’s first view.

Great question. Looking at the page’s history suggests that there was a sweeping change, probably done by a script running on the server itself, to modernize some aspect of the wiki markup. For most pages, you would instead see that it was edited by some user - not that that’s particularly more useful in general, since, again, that edit might have been nothing more than fixing a typo or some formatting.

Is the wiki still MoinMoin-based? Probably been more than a decade since I did anything with it, but wasn’t there a page template of some sort?

Yeah it is. I’ve never done anything with page templates, but you probably already know more than I would be able to research on this.

It’s on the latest version of MoinMoin (1.9.11, from 2020), and running Python 2.7!

Only 2.7 is supported. In 2018 they said Python 3 would be supported “soon”: python 3 support for MoinMoin 1.9.x · Issue #5 · moinwiki/moin-1.9 · GitHub

The layout isn’t very good on mobile, with most of the screen taken up with the left menu, and often a large section of whitespace offscreen to the right. Can this be improved?

I’ll try and get myself logged back in and take a look.

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Okay, back in, verified that I’m still in AdminGroup and actually edited a couple pages.

I think the general page template might be outside the wiki proper, somewhere in the installed MoinMoin instance. I no longer have shell login access to I’ll see if I can arrange that next.

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I think this discussion needs a reboot.

First of all, it would have been appropriate to reach out to the folks who have maintained the wiki for almost two decades. These details are available on the wiki frontpage.

Essentially, you should have asked on the mailing list for opinions of whether the wiki is still relevant or not.

My opinion on this, as one of the maintainers, is very clear: the wiki is an important community resource and one of the few places where anyone can help to add and modify content, without any heavy processes – very much unlike the website, which uses a CMS for content, to which only a few people have access.

It’s definitely a place that needs to stay for the benefit of the community.

With respect to other comments in the thread:

  • The wiki styling looks very different from the styling, so it’s obvious that people are looking at a different website when going from to

  • The link on to the wiki is buried deep in the community menu. It’s not prominent and I don’t understand how this can be “the first stop when they look for the docs” for many people. There’s a clear “Docs” link at the top of and a “Documentation” menu item, so those will most likely be the first stop.

  • About the wiki providing older information: this is the nature of a resource which is maintained by the community. Pages which are not actively maintained or deal with topics which aren’t hot at the moment, don’t receive a lot of edits.

    IMO, the right way to address this, is not to alienate the wiki from, but instead to provide help with updating the content and/or create more awareness for the wiki on in order to have more editors help with updating or adding new pages.

  • I also don’t think that adding a banner of some sort would help. This would only cause people to interpret it as a warning. Instead, we could have a discussion on how to modify the templates to make the fact that people are looking at the Python wiki more obvious. It is true that this information is currently mostly available in the title of the wiki pages and could be made more prominent.

  • Regarding making the wiki more mobile friendly, there is a separate discussion here: is not mobile-friendly - #24 by malemburg

    and I have put the theme up on github for people to submit PRs against:

    GitHub - malemburg/moin-europython-theme: EuroPython Theme for moin

I believe that most maintainers of the wiki would be happy to work together with the Python Documentation Editorial Board, but you should not forget that people have been putting in a great deal of effort to keep the wiki up and running over the years (it has been running since 2005).


E.g. it may be a good idea to run sprints at Python events specifically with the intent to update wiki pages. This would also provide a very easy way of getting more folks involved with Python, since the barrier to entry is very low.

I will make one comment regarding the nature of

I suspect in this day and age, the bulk of new Python users will never have encountered a wiki in real life or know that they are generally community maintained. Adding to that difficulty, if people happen to land somewhere other than the FrontPage on their first encounter, they won’t see the message at to top of that page, nor the explanation for editing restrictions further down the page. For this reason, something simple at the top of each page like

New to the Python wiki? Read about contributing on the FrontPage.

might be helpful.

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Or rather, they’ve encountered one wiki their entire life and associate that one with the word.


Trying to avoid writing an essay - the wiki is a mixed bag for sure. IMO its greatest value is in actively community-curated lists, such as editors, trainings, books, gui toolkits, as well as the user group area. Most of that (other than the user groups) has other versions on the internet, but often reflect someone’s agenda, or just their knowledge, which is likely to be less broad than a whole community. For this reason I wouldn’t think we’d want to unlink it. As noted elsewhere, the link seems properly categorized, under Community, not under Documentation, I’d be surprised if that was really the first place people landed.

The pure technical content pages are maybe a little iffy. All wikis have the risk of going stale, even having an active moderator group (which we don’t) only tends to cause intervention on pages being edited, not ones sitting untouched. We do get people popping up moderately frequently to fix something, after they landed on a page and see it’s out of date - and that’s often the last activity, just that one page. Just kind of the nature of the beast.

I’m not sure how much can be done to “improve” given the aging tech (*) it lives on (e.g. “mobile friendly” is almost certainly a lift too far), but maybe a banner which makes the state more clear would help some of the concerns: community-driven, you can contribute, etc. plus perhaps a hosting note along the lines of wikipedia’s, like: “The Python Wiki is hosted by the Python Software Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to advancing the Python programming language. You can support our work with a donation.”)

BTW, I would like to dispute one thing from the last comment: never encountered a wiki? Hard to imagine anyone hasn’t heard of or been on Wikipedia.

    • don’t know what happens when it becomes unfeasible to continue to run a Python 2-based system like MoinMoin is; Moin 2.0 still seems nowhere and even it would be a forklift-type upgrade where everything has to be converted.

Something that might be beneficial, if it’s possible: Find someone who’s somewhat invested in Python or the PSF and is willing to volunteer a bit of time, but who has never used the Python wiki at all. Given a set of goals (pieces of information to learn), how long does it take to achieve them, and more importantly, what missteps get taken along the way? That would likely reveal some low-hanging fruit in terms of adjusting wording or formatting to improve the wiki.

If admins can access them, I’d be curious to see the metrics, if available, for how much overall traffic the wiki is getting, particularly the homepage and the more popular content pages, and compare that with the docs. I attempted to do so via the Page hits and edits “tab” of the Info sidebar link, but the image apparently doesn’t load and the resulting page is mysteriously blank.

This would help inform overall cost-benefit of work between the wiki, docs and other resources; suggest the top-priority pages to focus attention on, and (via the homepage to content page count/ratio) tell us how many users are navigating to/browsing the wiki via the link from or a search hit for the wiki itself (as such an investigation would generally resemble), versus just finding a particular content page as a top hit of a specific search.

On the purely anecdotal side, while I do see certain Python wiki pages sporadically turn up in search results for specific topics, and occasionally found helpful content (particularly early in my Python career), most of the pages I’ve come across have been anywhere from moderately to woefully outdated and only marginally useful.

Also, while I have contributed a handful of fixes and improvements over the years, its hard to motivate myself to invest too much time in it given the archaic infrastructure and uncertain long-term future of the underlying wiki platform itself, the much greater relative impact of contributing to the official Python docs, my ever-growing GitHub backlog and responsibilities, and simply enjoying the more social process of discussion, contribution and code review on an active repo.

But comparing these is comparing apples and oranges - it’s different groups of people that maintain the wiki and the docs, for example. So why compare? Let people maintain whichever they are capable of maintaining, or prefer to maintain.

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Indeed; in that particular bit I didn’t mean to imply it should affect current organic volunteer contributions to either resource, as opposed to allocation of high-level Docs EB or PSF-sponsored, resourced, funded etc. efforts to improve them, such as that which @Rosuav had apparently suggested.