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Terminology on history page
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Author: ken.worthy

For years, the diction used on the history page software has caught my eye.

Where it says
"(last) = difference with preceding version"
the word "last" is incorrect.
It should read, "(prev) = difference with previous version" (and then all the
'(last)' in the list of versions should be changed to '(prev)'".

"Last" is synonymous with "Final"; do you want to imply that no further changes
are possible?!


Version: unspecified
Severity: trivial



Event Timeline

bzimport raised the priority of this task from to Low.Nov 21 2014, 9:18 PM
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ayg wrote:

One definition of "last" is synonymous with "final". Another is synonymous with
"previous". This is reflected in common sentences like "So what did you do last

ken.worthy wrote:

Yes, the prior comment is correct, but when used in the second sense (synonymous
with "previous"), "last" is always relative to the time of writing or speaking.
I.e., I can as of the moment of this writing refer to the week of Monday, July
10, 2006, as "last" week, but in several weeks hence, as this enhancement is
reviewed and debated, "last" week will no longer refer to said week, but rather
to another week entirely. When in the future you refer back to what I today mean
by "last week" (relative to my current moment of writing this), you will not say
"last week" but rather "the previous week". (This is what I read from Oxford
English Dictionary.)

Referring to every member of a sequence of things as "last", as does the wiki
history page, sets up an ambiguity. This can create actual confusion, as it did
for me when I years ago first viewed the history page. When I was new to
Wikipedia, I thought that the comparison of "last" would be with the "final"
version. The term "cur" refers to the current version in a way that is not
relative to each version in the list, but rather relative to the moment of the
viewer/user. So, I initially interpreted "last" the same way.

Of course, when I eventually read the key ("(last) = difference with preceding
version"), I understood. But wouldn't we rather have the terminology be as
self-documenting as possible?

The term "previous" ("prev") would remove this perspective dependence and
possible source of confusion. "Previous" anchors the perspective to the version
in question; there is nothing absolute in it.

And, when writing software, don't you use "first", "prev", "cur", "next", "last"
as names of pointers to items in a list?

I offer this enhancement suggestion because this is such great and useful software.

ayg wrote:

Hmm, okay. A reasonable point.