We are planning a round of improvements related to the "Explain your changes" field that you see on edit pages. As most of you know, entering something in this field means that your explanation will be included in the activity feed item, e.g. "fixed typo in source" in:
Traci Thiessen edited the Biography for John Winston Lennon (1940-1980). (fixed typo in source)
Among the planned changes:
- Add the explanation field to free-space profile editing pages.
- Add it to the page for editing marriages.
- Add it to the page for adding and editing family members.
- Repeat the field below the text editing section so that it appears twice on the profile editing page. (And, if we make the policy change described below, it would appear again in a prompt if you save your changes without an explanation.)
Many of these changes have been requested here in G2G in the past, and I apologize that we haven't implemented them sooner.
Included with these technical changes, if the community supports it, would be a significant policy change: making the explanation field required on profile editing pages. It's currently optional. Going forward, you would always need to explain your changes.
There would likely be exceptions for private profiles, and this would only apply to profile editing, not editing relationships. (It's already required for merges and Last Name at Birth changes.)
This policy change has been discussed a few times in the past. Most recently it was proposed by Robin Lee here.
From my perspective, the main reasons to do this:
1.) It would make activity feeds more useful and enhance collaboration. Right now you see a lot of "edited the Biography" lines and you have no idea what was done unless you click over to see the details. A lot of members don't bother. Even if you do click over to see the details, they can be hard to understand if there is a long string of changes made by one person. You have to page through them all.
2.) It would discourage saving too often. Some members are in the habit of saving their changes every minute or two. This is probably a good habit they developed to avoid losing their changes. Most members wouldn't see any reason not to do it. It's what they do on their home computers. Plus, members who care about their contribution counts know that it helps boost their stats.
The problem is that frequent saves have hidden costs. It crowds activity feeds and makes change histories harder to understand (#1 above). And there is a financial cost to WikiTree. It's more data that we need to process and save forever. (We actually save a complete version of all the profile data every time a change is saved. This is what enables the details pages and reverting to previous versions.) These costs are small but they add up.
There can't be an objective or universal rule for often you should save your changes. Some members will want to save more often than others. But right now, most members would see no reason not to save. There is no cost to the individual, just to the community. This policy change would provide some balance. You wouldn't save unless it's worth it to you to include a few words of explanation. If it's not worth explaining, it's not worth saving.
Do you have thoughts? If you're not already in the habit of adding change explanations, maybe you could try it on all your edits for a little while and then come back and comment about your experiences.
I'm answering this question with a "Yes, I support this change" and a "No, I don't." Please vote up your preference and comment with an explanation.