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Proposed: Put users into a People or Users web

The basic proposal is to change the name of the "Main" web to "Users" or "People" to more clearly reflect how it is commonly used.


After reading the discussions that follow, please post your vote regarding this proposal. Of course, also feel free to add further comments!

5 RichardEllery 01 Oct 2004
3 RafaelAlvarez 01 Oct 2004
5 PeterMasiar 01 Oct 2004
5 TorbenGB 01 Oct 2004
4 CrawfordCurrie 01 Oct 2004
4 FranzJosefSilli 30 Sep 2004
2 PeterThoeny 30 Sep 2004
5 MatthiasThullner 16 Okt 2005
5 MattWilkie 30 Sep 2004
5 MichaelDaum 29 Sep 2004
4 DavidBright 29 Sep 2004
5 LynnwoodBrown 29 Sep 2004
5 SueLocke 29 Sep 2004
5 MartinCleaver 29 Sep 2004
5 WolfgangAlper 28 Feb 2005

Do you agree or disagree? Please select one of the radio buttons below and click the button.
I 1 - Strongly disagree   2 - Disagree   3 - am Neutral   4 - Agree   5 - Strongly Agree  

Average agreement: 4.5     Number of votes: 15

Please? Dakar?

-- MartinCleaver - 28 Sep 2004

How to do this on your own server

  • In principle easy: just perform a RenameWeb
    • BUT there is no official automated procedure for this. GlobalReplacePlugin might help, but it seems overkill for what might be a inherent operation.
    • Manual change is straightforward enough IF you do it before using the wiki:
      1. Change TWiki.cfg
      2. Mv data/Main to data/People
      3. Mv any pub/Main to pub/People
      4. Change every reference in WebNotify from Main.TWikiGuest to People.TWikiGuest
    • The later you leave this, the more effort to search for the references, and the more effort it will be for existing users to change.

Results to date

  • A clear majority has emerged, but I don't know how much support we need. Please add your vote, and get others to vote too.


Ah, this issue has been bugging me BigTime. :^)

I think:

  1. users & groups would be better in a separate Web with other site-wide settings such as TWikiVariables and TWikiPreferences and that whole web should be protected such that only the TWikiAdminGroup can edit them.
  2. The TWiki Help files go in a web separate to anything site specific.
  3. The Web* files to be called something that intrudes less on the namespace of the web in which they are placed. Ideally they would go to the bottom of the container and they have a prefix that prevents them being created (not edited) by anyone outside the admin group.

I hope this helps...

-- MartinCleaver - 13 Feb 2001

On the same note....

I also vote for a Users ?web? (or should I rather call it logical partition), instead of relying on the Main entry point for Users and Groups. It just makes administrative sense to have all the user files grouped together, instead of having them interspersed with all the Main web topics (and no, I'm not in a power distribution company, so I have no problem with the "Main" name).

-- EdgarBrown - 19 Feb 2001

Perhaps all the webs that are prepackaged with TWiki should be prefixed with TWiki?

-- MartinCleaver - 20 Feb 2001

Martin: Now there's an obvious idea to make it less confusing for first-time users! :o)
Interesting discussion, BTW, such a seemingly small thing blowing up...

-- JanGB - 26 Jun 2001

I like the idea of using TWiki as the web for plugins. Perhaps the TWiki web should be renamed to TWikidocs or similar, since it does look a bit like the 'top' or 'main' web if you are not familiar with TWiki, due to its name.

-- RichardDonkin - 08 Jul 2001

(Copied RichardDonkin's text from PluginPackagingHowTo)

I like Richard's idea of renaming the TWiki web to TWikidocs. Currently the TWiki name is used for the tool name and the web name which can be confusing. Comments?

-- PeterThoeny - 06 Jul 2001

On balance a good idea. It will leave a few oddities like TWikiPreferences and the variable TWiki06x00 should arguably be renamed. Putting the Plugin documentation there makes sense, but now that settings are in the plugin topic, does that really count as documentation?

-- JohnTalintyre - 10 Jul 2001

This would get confusing fast, what about any the following naming alternatives:

Name cognitive problems that I see
TWikiroot root of the whole TWiki tree (i.e. Main)
TWikibase Some sort of database
TWikimain ?
TWikifolder ?

Should we add some votes to this???

-- EdgarBrown - 10 Jul 2001

I think there are two to seven special functions that should be "isolated" in one or more special purpose webs. Part of the specialness is that TWiki uses them for some purpose. (Thus, in many cases, user interaction (creation or editing of pages) should be limited.)

These purposes are:

  • User and Group organization (home pages, user list, authorizations)
  • Repository of "default" blank web pages, for incorporation (or use by reference) in new webs (the Web* pages).
  • System level stuff to help make TWiki function (I can only immediately think of TWikiPreferences, but I think there are others).
  • Plugins
  • Documentation for using TWiki (reading, searching, editing, etc.)
  • Documentation for installing TWiki (only on twiki.org or mirrors)
  • Documentation for maintaining TWiki (only on twiki.org or mirrors)

I would like to see these functions "isolated" in webs with names that at least hint to the user that he doesn't normally need or want to be there.

For example, I'm creating a TWiki "WikiLearn" with the purpose of helping people to learn free and open-source related topics (like Linux, Perl, KDE, GNOME, ...) -- I have webs named for each of those. People coming to the site in order to learn Linux or Perl should not normally go to the webs that serve the functions listed above (except the User and Group organization function to, for example, view or modify their home page after it has been automatically created), or TWiki doc to learn about using TWiki (which perhaps suggests another distinction -- docs for learning to use TWiki vs. docs related to installing TWiki, which I would probably not install at WikiLearn.)

Thus I'd like to see names that hint at that. I can imagine as few as two webs (Users, Contributors, People, or ?? as the name of one, and something like TWikisys for the other) or as many as five -- one for each of those special purposes, something like:

  • Users, Contributors, People, or ?? (Not Main) (Even TWikipeople, although that's a long name, but then for WikiLearn I'd want Wikilearnpeople, which is even longer, and thus worse)
  • TWikiblanks
  • TWikidoc
  • TWikisys
  • TWikiplugins

(or, possibly for twiki.org)

  • TWikiuserdoc (or TWuserdoc) (Maybe starting a convention of prefixing all TWiki "system webs" with TW, thus TWusers, TWblanks, ...)
  • TWikidevdoc (or is that the same as Codev? Not quite, but maybe Codev is sufficient)
  • TWikimaintdoc (or is that the same as Support? Again, not quite)

Maybe three seems nice:

  • Users, Contributors, People, or ??
  • TWikidoc
  • TWikisys (with plugins, blanks, TWikiPreferences, etc., combined)

-- RandyKramer - 11 Jul 2001

How about People instead of Main? Can we please get this in Cairo?

-- MartinCleaver - 07 Feb 2004

Yup, I use People too. Much more intuitive.

-- CrawfordCurrie - 07 Feb 2004

Also, I am not even clear what I need to do to safely use a People web instead of a Main one. Can anyone help?

-- MartinCleaver - 28 Sep 2004

As the original poster said, what is wrong isn't the name of the Main web, is it's purpose. The User and Group pages should be separated from the main content in the site.

  • Oh, I agree. That's all I keep in there. -- MC

In some other topic (that I can't find right now) someone issued a patch to have a configurable "Users" web. As the "Main" web is already configurable (our "Main" web is named after the company) it should solve the problem.

  • Ok, will find it. Thanks. -- MC

In our company, we use the "Main" web to store information related to all the groups (birthdays, corporate news, etc), and specific webs for each project/group.

  • Main is too generic, IMO. -- MC

-- RafaelAlvarez - 29 Sep 2004

Please note that the discussion on top is based on the time when the content of Main and TWiki web have been in just one Main web.

At my workplace we have users, groups, office locations, AIM screen names, and some general overall company related content in the Main web. I am not aware of any complaints on the "Main" name. I find the name good fit for this purpose. Granted, it would look better of you type User.JaneSmith (or People.JaneSmith?), but this is a minor detail.

  • Minor detail to existing setups where people are used to it, but needless confusion for new installations. -- MartinCleaver - 29 Sep 2004

-- PeterThoeny - 29 Sep 2004

Have replaced the scale as per Peter's now deleted request, and removed some really obsolete stuff. I think there might be a better topic for this Linkert voting scale but I do not recall the name of it.

-- MartinCleaver - 29 Sep 2004

Just found this topic after posting something in eaxcty this topic under Usability Ideas. I'm still having problems with people being confused about the use of Main for the web that manages users further complicated by the user registration and password management functions being on the TWiki web. I would vote for a changed web name for Main to People and for the TWiki web to be renamed Documentation - users get confused by the use of the term TWiki to describe both the technology and the name of an actual web. I'm noticing that the users' ability to get a mental map in their head of which web does what that sticks in their head as they move in and out of the site is a key factor in the usability of the site. The structure has to be transparent. At the moment the naming and registraion/user listing split functions of the Main and TWiki is making for some dark spots.

-- SueLocke - 29 Sep 2004

I agree there can be a problem with the name "Main". It is central part of the installation, and because of this people will more likely create a new web with their main content than put their stuff into Main. So there is a twiki website with the directory Main that does not have the main content - that is in another directory. So the name People or Users is more intuitive and does not distract from the main content directory.

I am less sure about renaming TWiki to Documentation, because it also is used for setting site wide preferences (in TWiki.TWikiPreferences and in plugin topics). Documenation would sound you could do without, but the twiki site would break then. Something along the lines of Core comes to mind.

-- ArthurClemens - 29 Sep 2004

I thought the poll was clear for the issue of users in Main... if you have an opinion on this add your vote.

-- MartinCleaver - 29 Sep 2004

That's one of the first things I changed on the NatsWiki installation: create a separate web called Users which is assigned to the MAINWEB variable internaly and leave the Main Web for the site presentations. Thus I simply don't use the variable MAINWEB any more cus it is not the Main Web but the Users Web here. I completely rooted out documentation from the TWiki Web and put it into a Support Web with additional FAQs and stuff like that.

All this is quite obvious to do, isn't it. Should be the default setup of TWiki ...

-- MichaelDaum - 29 Sep 2004

I did some minor refractoring in an attempt to better utilize our new polling feature. Reponding to Arthur's comment above, I hope that this does not in any way discourage anyone from adding their thoughts but simply encourages folks who don't have much to say to still register their sentiments on the matter.

-- LynnwoodBrown - 30 Sep 2004

But... I don't want the "Main" web to contain users. I want separate webs for "Main" content and "Users & Groups" content. More so, I would like to have the choice whether the main web is the user web or not.

If you use TWiki as an intranet (as we do), then your main web will have a lot of stuff related to the company (or department) as a whole: News, a calendar of events, corporate policies, link of interest, etc. And all this information is mixed with the peoples homepages.

So, IMO, renaming "Main" to "People" is like attacking the symptom instead of the illness.

-- RafaelAlvarez - 30 Sep 2004

I simply want the default place for user accounts to be a People web. And I acknowledge that this would be a pointless exercise for TWiki.org

-- MartinCleaver - 30 Sep 2004

People will always have difficulties to choose the proper web for there content cause people tend to think very diverse. We never will find a solution that meets everybody's requirements, that's for sure. smile

I propose the following webs to be delivered by default:

  • People - about Users & Groups (incl. Registration)
  • System - about TWiki itself
  • Sandbox - for playing around

For twiki.org I imagine the following webs:

  • People - about the Community
  • Core - about the systems development
  • Extension - Plugins, Add-Ons and Skins
  • System - the systems configuration (incl. settings and documentation)
  • Support - supporting users
  • Sandbox - for testing puropses

In my companies installation I have the following webs:

  • Main, TWiki and Sandbox
    • cause its anoying to exchange web names frown
  • Products - describing our products
  • Projects - for project tracking, using naming conventions, forms and searches
  • Support - don't know yet if this will be necessary

As I said above: There never will be agreement on names, but it definitely should be possible to change them.

  • BTW:: Has anybody heard of and practiced Information MappingTM?

-- FranzJosefSilli - 30 Sep 2004

Thanks for your points Franz. At the moment I don't want to broaden the issue. Very simply to leave the vote about moving users out of Main into a People or Users web.

There is clearly agreement from most quarters, with only Rafael voting strongly against it.

Yet even Rafael says though he wants a separate web for users and groups ... as I read his comment he simply wants to have Main as well. That's my bad for an inadequate statement... (Hmm... how to add that as an option?).

  • The confusion arises from the fact that there exists a variable MAINWEB - this is the one that determines where user topics get written to.

Rafael - perhaps you can refute or concur with my reading of your preference?


PS. perhaps you can start an InformationMapping page Franz?

-- MartinCleaver - 30 Sep 2004

Let me explain my vote: I disagree to rename "Main" to "People" because I want to have both "Main" AND "People". So, yes, you are right about my preference smile

My proposed solution (haven't mentioned before, my bad) was stated in another topic: To have preferences to indicate which is the main web and which one is the users web. I don't really care how it's named in the distribution, but I wanted to raise the alarm bell on the subject.

As soon as I find that other topic, I'll post the link here.

-- RafaelAlvarez - 30 Sep 2004

Ok, with that noted Rafael, are you inclined to change your vote?

-- MartinCleaver - 01 Oct 2004

I changed my vote to "3 - Neutral". I'll search for that other topic I mentioned and continue the "User" web preference discussion there. I feel that I generated too much noise in this topic, so I apologize.

-- RafaelAlvarez - 01 Oct 2004

Its good to hear all the points of view and to tease out the parts of the issue. Even though I want to have the user and group functions in a separate web - People for example - it strikes me that a central part of the TWiki mission is to have users as the focus of the TWiki and that's how I pick up the spirit of having users and groups in the Main web. I appreciate that spirit. Having said that I'd still like to see the users and group functions split off, with the Main web then being able to pick up the role of being the entry web for a TWiki - e.g., doing some of the things that Rafael refers to - intro to organisation, etc.

-- SueLocke - 2 Oct 2004

I tend to use a Welcome web as an entry point, I agree that some entry point is good - even TWiki.org doesn't use Main, in fact it doesn't even use TWiki: its a static webpage!

(I guess this is for performance reasons?)

-- MartinCleaver - 24 Oct 2004

I'm a new user of TWiki and this issue has confused me mightily. It took me a long time to understand (and explain to others) why there are several existing webs in the twiki, most of which have nothing to do with our actual content (company intranet). I tried to rename the main web to our company's name, but as I'd added content and users already, I didn't succeed, and had to put it back to Main and make a separate web for our content.

I vote for putting people in People or Users and making a fresh install of Main contain nothing (except maybe links to the other webs, but in a non-intrusive way). Then people populate that main web, rename as desired, and things work out nicely.

-- GaryOberbrunner - 04 Nov 2004

  1. Thanks for your views, Gary, don't forget to put a formal vote above as well.
  2. I conclude that there is overwhelming support for the move of user accounts from Main into People.

I am sure it is true that Peter is "not aware of any complaints on the "Main" name" at his organisation, but I would hazard that this is largely because everyone has got used to it. For new installations it is needlessly confusing: we are all agreed that BetterDefaults will help adoption.

I thus propose we change it in the DevelopBranch, and anyone wanting the old behaviour can change it in their own installation.

-- MartinCleaver - 04 Nov 2004

Would UpgradeTWiki be able to handle this? Maybe it would be worth waiting until it can.

In the spirit of CoolURIsDontChange, and assuming that a new Main web would not be created on upgraded installations, it would be nice if there were instructions on how to set up apache redirects so that requests for Main web could be redirected to People. Or would it be easier to have TWiki do it?

-- SamHasler - 05 Nov 2004

Attached to this topic is a patch agains DEVELOP Revision 3249 with the following changes:

  1. Adds a setting to TWiki.cfg to specify the web where users and groups shold be ($usersWebName)
  2. Changes the resgistration process to store users topics in the users web.
  3. Changes AccessDotPm to look for groups and users topics in the users web.
  4. Changes TWikiDotPm to add the Main tag
  5. Changes UserDotPm to find the user topic in the users web.
  6. Changes PrefsDotPm to find the user preferences in the users web.

This patch is NOT commited (yet) to the DEVELOP branch.

Hopefully, this patch can solve this issue.

-- RafaelAlvarez - 20 Nov 2004

People sounds good for Main. I've been thinking of the TWiki web as the place where all site config goes, so perhaps Configuration or SiteConfig or some variation on that theme would be appropriate.

-- KennethPorter - 20 Nov 2004

Us old UNIX hacks expect to find ...

  • All system configuration information under /etc
  • Users own per-user configuration and personal data files under /home or /usr/home
  • Information and manuals under /usr/man or /usr/doc
  • Logs do not polute any of the above name spaces, they are under /var/logs


  • The list of users, their passwords is a configuration item
  • Manuals, FAQs and Help are not grouped together with the configuration information.

And yes, I am a long standing member of the Slash Etc Purity League. At one time (V6, V7, SYS III and yes I used them too) configuration files were all over the place and there wasn't a /home. OK, there may be a "var" or an "opt" in there to spread the load across file systems.

UNIX had to bite the bullet on these changes and is the better and more comprehensible for it. I've pointed out in a number of other places that apart from the current "user topics" like %Main%.AntonAylward users may want to create some personal "home pages".

Having webs called "Etc", "Home", "Docs" would offer a degree of familiarity to UNIX users and a lot of the above argument wouldn't exist - the UNIX cultural context would tell them where things were and were supposed to go. Windows, VMS, MVS, VM/CMS and other platforms that support Apache and Perl? Sorry. But at least the compartmentalization and division of functionality is there for you.

-- AntonAylward - 20 Nov 2004

After haveing carefully read the discussion, i agree to have a dedicated user / groups web especially for new installations.

-- WolfgangAlper - 28 Feb 2005

I also think everybody should set up a web for each project or department or what ever. This leaves Main web with only users and groups, therefore it should be renamed. My suggestion is Users

BTW: comment plugin did not work??

-- MatthiasThullner - 16 Oct 2005

Main in distributions/svn causes many problems

A quick list off the top of my head:

  • Changes in Main topics causes issues, sometimes quite difficult ones, for people who are upgrading.
  • svn up messes up Main topics, or
  • svn complains if you have symlinked the Main web to another location (as I have, so that I can use the same webs with more than one code base)
  • Main is overloaded, not to mention misnamed.

-- MeredithLesly - 09 May 2006

Note: Peter decided to move this, despite the fact that where "users" live isn't the only issue regarding Main.

-- MeredithLesly - 09 May 2006

Did try the rename web feature of the latest beta (beta2) on %SYSTEMWEB% and %USERSWEB% and somehow some of the installed plugins survived (the old fashioned ones (I call them: Peters wink ) and others (the new and promising ones (I call them: Crawfords smile ) ceased to work, which caught me somehow surprised. Any ideas what could have caused that? (did reinstate the old directory structure and configure settings and everything worked again as expected) -- I know, too little data. -- Just wanted to share some frustration of beta testing on virtual environments (btw: how to turn off speed-cgi on TWikiVMDebianStable wink )

-- FranzJosefGigler - 10 Oct 2007

For a couple of clients we were also facing the problem, that Main-Web is not a good label for what we wanted to put there. Up to now, the label we decided to use was always different, so I am short of a standard-suggestion. I have heard, that it is not easy, to rename the web, by our programmers also. That is why we have just changed the labels in the navigation, in these cases.

I would welcome a feature, that let's you freely rename the main web.

-- MartinSeibert - 02 Aug 2008

Martin, as long as you don't have any reference to Main in your topics, just changing %USERSERB% in config a and renaming the Main web directory should be enough (I have been running that setup since the commit that added the UsersWeb setting).

-- RafaelAlvarez - 04 Aug 2008

Topic attachments
I Attachment History Action Size Date Who Comment
Unknown file formatpatch RenameTheMainWeb_DEVELOP_3249.patch   manage 9.5 K 2004-11-20 - 17:29 RafaelAlvarez  
Compressed Zip archivezip dataTWiki.zip   manage 131.2 K 2000-07-22 - 20:46 UnknownUser  
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Topic revision: r74 - 2008-08-04 - RafaelAlvarez
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