Talk:WikiLaw (3)

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I'm moving this page to WikiLaw (3) for two reasons: (A) This is actually the third proposal titled Wikilaw, and (B) this is the convention used by other recent proposals [ie. NonFreeWiki (2)]. My apologies for the inconvenience. –MJLTalk 23:41, 30 May 2019 (UTC)

Development wikiEdit

@Capankajsmilyo, Arepticous, and Owen912: I have included my testing wiki in the proposal. I'm currently testing out an implementation of Cargo in order to see if that is a good alternative to Wikibase. A good use case of Cargo is DiscourseDB which utilizes Page Forms. It's not as bad as I originally thought, but I'm still working on ways to improve the interface. –MJLTalk 03:03, 10 June 2019 (UTC)


This proposal should really clarify its scope and how it differs from the countless existing projects. Some countries have sufficiently good public systems. Others have for instance Wikisource,, and , plus several PACER "mirrors" such as , , the Internet Archive etc. Nemo 20:16, 30 June 2019 (UTC)

@Nemo: It is my understanding that what separates WikiLaw from the rest is the structured data portion of it. This will not only make laws machine readable, but it will reflect the law's true nature as an interconnected and living thing always in repair. Plus, having the statutes of many legal codes in one place will allow for easier research and review. –MJLTalk 06:44, 1 July 2019 (UTC)
That's definitely nothing new. Please click the links and study their technology! Nemo 10:47, 18 December 2019 (UTC)
I think a key difference with this project is it won't be limited to US Law. It will attempt to encompass all jurisdictions. There are no services like that. Supertrinko (talk) 19:24, 19 December 2019 (UTC)
Exactly! –MJLTalk 15:25, 20 December 2019 (UTC)

Government Debates leading up to statutesEdit

I'm curious if this sort of thing would be out of scope for this project? The debates that lead up to laws passing or failing to pass? Would WikiLaw hold Parliamentary minutes showing the debates and concerns raised about new laws, debates that could end up affecting the bill before it is brought into law. I think reading such content would be valuable in terms of researching the history and intent of a law.

I think WikiLaw would be a good home to store all parliamentary/congressional/other minutes.

As an example: I could take a Bill raised in Parliament, WikiLaw would hold the initial bill, the parliamentary readings, amendments made to the bill, and the final Act that is passed into law, and then amendments made to that act in future. Supertrinko (talk) 03:25, 13 January 2020 (UTC)

Note that all this is in scope for Wikisource as well, although the English Wikisource has few: s:en:Category:Parliamentary speeches. Have you tried posting a selection of parliamentary debates from some country/topic/law/whatever on Wikisource, to get an idea of how it may work on MediaWiki and what features might be interesting to have? Nemo 09:53, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
While on their own, parliamentary debates would be well placed on WikiSource, combined with the benefits of placing legislation on WikiLaw that have been laid out on this project page, parliamentary debates would be a useful addition and better placed on WikiLaw. It would assist in researching the history of certain legislation, something that is not so easily done on WikiSource, as WikiLaw would be tailored to legislation and legal history. Supertrinko (talk) 20:27, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
@Supertrinko and Nemo bis: My speculation would be that Wikisource would maintain the transcribed record of any debates, while WikiLaw would manage its position in relation to various legal database. For example, I introduce HB-555 in Congress. It gets amended in Committee, and we debate on the house floor. Finally HB-555 would become MJL's Law. Relevant items within WikiLaw's database would likely include HB-555 as introduced, HB-555 as amended, the public act, and the codified statute. A property of these items could be a pointer to the debate on Wikisource. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯MJLTalk 06:31, 26 January 2020 (UTC)
@MJL: It's a good point. While Bills and Acts will be changing based on amendments, and therefore are well placed on WikiLaw. Parliamentary/Congressional debates and readings are unchanging, and therefore are best placed on Wikisource. I agree with this. Supertrinko (talk) 19:17, 26 January 2020 (UTC)

Version ControlEdit

Wikimedia content has an inherent feature that would fit perfectly in WikiLaw. Version control. All changes that are ever made to any page across Wikimedia are extremely detailed in "View history".

Legislation is something that sort of has this, in that every Bill that becomes an Act is attributed to a member of Parliament (I'll use the Westminster system for my example, but I'm sure it applies in other systems).

Every Act could have a history page that shows which politician made each change and when. It could link to sessions of government where the bill went through its readings, the related hansard, what amendments were made, and eventually show the final bill that was enacted into law, amending another act.

Politicians themselves could have their own pages on WikiLaw, where you can research the history of Bills they have introduced, or speeches they've made (assuming we'd want government speeches included).

With this in mind, I'd suggest each section of legislation should have its own page, like what I've done with Pensions Act 1849, s2. If any amendments are made that changes a section, the section can be updated. Then pages like Pensions Act 1849/Whole display the entire legislation.

With this, you'd have a page for a section in the bill it was originally created in, then any acts that use that paragraph would repeat that text.

All this is intended to make tracking changes to legislation much easier, which I think is one of the reasons WikiLaw should be a thing. Supertrinko (talk) 21:48, 27 August 2020 (UTC)

Dev wikiEdit

So at the Development test wiki, I was able to make a pretty good approximation of what I think a page on a single section of a code would look like.

Basically, CGS 1-2z will display a reader-friendly version (mainspace) of some prominent information which is stored in Item:Q5. The mainspace page calls this information (like the text of the section) using the pre-existing parser function {{#statements:...}}. This method has the obvious limitation of not being able to store "rich text" (or mediawiki formatted code), so that will remain a challenge going forward with automatic intrawiki links which is a highly desired feature for this project.

Eventually, as will be shown with CGS 1-1, WikiLaw will be able to generate tables for certain sections which consist of multiple subsections. Likewise, mainspace pages on different legal codes will be broken up as a table into links of its constituent parts. –MJLTalk 04:54, 29 October 2020 (UTC)

@Supertrinko: You might be interested in the above update. –MJLTalk 04:57, 29 October 2020 (UTC)
@MJL:I'm liking it so far, agree that interlinking will be an essential hurdle to cross. Another thing will be making navigating older versions of acts easy (i.e. before amendments), without creating many duplicate pages of the same paragraphs. I suspect item pages may be of help there. Supertrinko (talk) 21:57, 29 October 2020 (UTC)
@Supertrinko: Btw, I've merged your wikilaw testing wiki into my testing wiki and added you as a 'crat and admin there. I hope you don't mind, but I think our efforts should be unified. –MJLTalk 14:07, 3 November 2020 (UTC)
@MJL: After a bit of a hiatus, looking back into this project, Curious of your thoughts on the "Item" structure and how it'd handle amendments. Take SSA 2018 (NZ) s 8, on a particular date, the legislation changed to correct a typo. And of course other amendments can be more serious. Should the version history of a paragraph all be contained within the same item page, or should different versions be their own item? I've created SSA 2018 (NZ) s 8(1) and a new "point in time" property as a test. Supertrinko (talk) 02:16, 6 January 2021 (UTC)
@Supertrinko: Hmmmm... I think the answer depends on how the items get used by the project in the end. For now, I think it works best to have the version history on the item page to let researchers easily see what the text used to look like. –MJLTalk 03:54, 6 January 2021 (UTC)
@MJL:Been doing some testing, I like how the {{#statements:...}} works. I wish though for multi-value statements, it could return just the one with a specific qualifier. I think this works with Lua, but I am having trouble getting that working on the testing wiki. Supertrinko (talk) 22:30, 7 January 2021 (UTC)
@Supertrinko: I am pretty sure you can just set a preferred value in an item on wikibase. Would that work? –MJLTalk 17:54, 8 January 2021 (UTC)
@MJL: You sure can, however that's only useful if I only ever want to use the preferred value. If I want an amendment act to show an older value as at the date of that amendment, and the principal act to show the preferred value (the latest one), then I still need to be able to search based on qualifier. Supertrinko (talk) 08:15, 10 January 2021 (UTC)
@Supertrinko: Hmmm... Not sure. Maybe ask the folks over at Wikidata, English Wikipedia, or Miraheze? –MJLTalk 03:19, 11 January 2021 (UTC)

Using other wiki to power WikiLawEdit

A lot of the basic data we want WikiLaw to hold already exists across different wiki.

Wikipedia: First and foremost, Wikipedia holds pages dedicated to certain acts. The purpose, history, and impacts of legislation. But it doesn't hold the legislation itself, as WikiLaw intends to. Previous proposals for WikiLaw have been shot down on the basis that the idea is in the scope of Wikipedia.
Wikidata: Already on the Test Wiki, Wikibase is being used to store metadata about legislation, including potentially the structure of the law (i.e. which subsections belong to which sections, and so forth). But with an inability to hold rich text, it may not be able to hold text, which may be stored on individual pages. I assume that if WikiLaw is officially adopted, all the data in the test Wikibase would be transferred to Wikidata.
Wikisource: Here, legislation is held too, copies of entire legislative acts as at the date they were uploaded are here, reviewed by others to ensure the text is all correct. Take ws:Pensions Act 1856 as an example. It holds the act as it was in 1856. But, future amendments that changed it will have to be held as different versions, which can be unwieldy to track, and for acts like social assistance, that are amended every year but are largely the same document, means dozens of almost duplicate copies of the same text. I've faced pushback on attempts to upload documents in an easier method because it's not "The Wikisource way."
Wikimedia Commons: As part of Wikisource, original scans of legislation are uploaded to Commons, where they're then transcribed onto Wikisource. It's a fantastic way to hold original sources if they're ever removed from government websites for whatever reason. Linking to these from WikiLaw could be useful and powered via Wikidata.

I think we run the risk that WikiLaw will more be a combination of information that currently is spread across different wikis. Wikipedia/Wikidata tells us about legislation, and Wikisource/Commons holds the actual text. While WikiLaw would present that in a far more legally relevant way, it'd still be duplicate information from varying sources.

My thoughts are that WikiLaw could instead be the engine that builds pages from data that is spread across different wiki. Have WikiLaw pull from these sources to build something coherent.

Want to update who voted on a law? Go update it on the Wikidata page. The history of a law? Update on the Wikipedia. Upload the text on Commons/Wikisource and combine Wikidata with that to create sectioned pages on WikiLaw as we're currently trying to. Information on Wikisource could be machine-readable by WikiLaw if the Wikisource books make use of templates.

Basically, I wouldn't imagine much information would be specifically held on WikiLaw itself, because there's no single component of WikiLaw that doesn't also belong elsewhere. So instead of having wikiLaw duplicate what's already in the wiki space, have WikiLaw pages be automatically generated.

A wiki that you don't directly update won't be unprecedented soon. Abstract Wikipedia will be a wiki that is purely generated from Wikidata and Wikifunctions (Something else I think WikiLaw could use, more on that another time).

When you hit edit on a WikiLaw page, it should push you to a page that asks what kind of thing you want to edit. If you say you want to edit the text itself, it'll push you to the Wikisource page's edit page.

In this way, WikiLaw as a stand-alone project is stands on its own two feet as a viable product, because no single wiki offers what WikiLaw can. A free and open digital law library. And it will work in co-operation with other wiki, rather than duplicating what's already out there.

I'd be interested in hearing thoughts on using other wiki to power WikiLaw. Supertrinko (talk) 01:42, 29 January 2021 (UTC)

extended threadEdit

  Moved from WikiLaw (3)#Discussion. –MJLTalk 21:47, 1 March 2021 (UTC)

  • @AnotherEditor144: The current testing wiki uses Cargo and Wikibase to store items within a database and call them as needed. For example, CGS 1-1 transcludes the text of its subsections from a table stored in Cargo (see page values). mw:Extension:Cargo has more info on that extension.
    We also use Wikibase for stuff, too ([1]). It helps store certain items when Cargo is found not to be useful. Since it's a testing wiki, we're still figuring out which should be used for what for optimal output. –MJLTalk 20:00, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
    MJL, if Wikibase can be a substitute, why not replace Cargo entirely with it? AnotherEditor144 t - c 20:11, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
    @AnotherEditor144: Wikibase has trouble automatically transcluding rich wiki text. Compare CGS_1-1j(a) and Item:Q24 to CGS_1-3 and Item:Q23. –MJLTalk 21:03, 1 March 2021 (UTC)


  • This thread was getting too long. Anyway, MJL, I see no difference whatsoever. AnotherEditor144 t - c 21:06, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
    @AnotherEditor144: We can move it to the talk page if you'd like.
    CGS 1-1j(a) outputs: Each state agency, as defined in section [[CGS 4-166|4-166]]... We want it to output Each state agency, as defined in section 4-166...
    There are also limitations to Wikibase like strings can't be over 400 characters (which is certainly problematic for many laws). –MJLTalk 21:12, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
    That is just some wiki markup (they do the same thing). I will move it to the talk page (whose?) See you tomorrow. AnotherEditor144 t - c 21:16, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
    @AnotherEditor144: I don't think you understand me when I say CGS 1-1j(a) outputs Each state agency, as defined in section [[CGS 4-166|4-166]].... –MJLTalk 21:53, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
    @MJL: what do you mean, then? AnotherEditor144 t - c 07:11, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
    @AnotherEditor144: Try to click the link to CGS 4-166 on this page. –MJLTalk 17:24, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
    MJL, the link works, although there is nothing significant about that. -- AnotherEditor144 t - c 19:14, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
    @AnotherEditor144: I'm talking about the red link that should exist to CGS 4-166. –MJLTalk 19:19, 5 March 2021 (UTC)


@MJL: Why would technical debt be so important to you? AnotherEditor144 t - c 10:15, 6 April 2021 (UTC)

@AnotherEditor144: Important to me? Well, it really isn't. However, I know the developers get upset when people create unnecessary work for them, and I don't exactly like the idea of doing something knowing that would be the case. –MJLTalk 18:16, 7 April 2021 (UTC)
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