Please Review: design doc for Project Ideas web application

Murray Stokely murray at
Sat Mar 22 07:16:08 UTC 2008

[CCing current ideas.xml maintainers and heavy contributors]

I've written up some design thoughts and developed a mock web
application in Python/Django to demonstrate the direction that I think
we should move the ideas database to.

The main drawbacks I see with the current system include :

    * Strict XML schema requires careful text editing in a tedious
file format to add new ideas to the list.
    * Anyone can propose an idea, but there is no feedback mechanism
to separate the good ideas from the very bad ideas on the list.
          o Some very senior developers have vehement objections to
prominently placed items on the current list, but have no avenue of
listing their alternate point of views on the project.
          o It is not possible to see the ideas with the most recent
"buzz" of users commenting/voting positively on them.
    * There is no notification mechanism when new ideas are added to the list.
    * Searching / sorting is primitive.

And some of the many new features that I think a web app would give us include :

    * Allow anyone to propose a new idea online.
    * Allow anyone to comment and vote on previously proposed ideas.
    * Provide an RSS feed of the newest ideas.
    * Provide an RSS feed of the comments/votes for any specific idea.
    * Export the entire ideas list to something closely approximating
our existing ideas.xml file (so that we could augment rather than
replace the current system, if desired).
    * Allow one to sort and search the ideas list by category,
proposer, votes, summary title, or full text.
    * Anonymous ideas/comments are hidden by default until cleared by
a moderator.
    * Moderator bits to be set for certain users so that they can
moderate the above (can subscribe to an rss file for unmoderated ideas
and comments needing their attention).
    * Import functionality to import the current ideas.xml file.

Screenshots and details on the wiki here :  Most of the above functionality
was implemented in a couple of hours based on the existing static CSS
stylesheets from for the presentation.
Login/authentication is a big remaining hurdle if we want to avoid
making everyone create yet another account.  I will look at
integrating it with OpenID later this weekend.

Would like to hear additional ideas about this proposal, and any
concerns about replacing or at least augmenting the static xml system
we currently use with a web application.


      - Murray

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