Talk:Meta:Structure and Organization

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Todd made a great suggestion that it's much easier to make decisions about the wiki's structure and organization while it's still young--and before we add a bunch more folks to the barn-raising.

So I wanted to invite people to offer their thoughts here and suggest guidelines for how the site can be shaped to grow in a scalable, meaningful way.

My only random thoughts at this moment:

  1. Good idea to keep most pages as flat and unstructured as possible, then do organization through categories etc.
  2. Would be helpful to discuss a blueprint for general site sections--a kind of informal roadmap for what we'd like to see here
  3. I've had a random thought that it would be neat to provide links to where people can buy cool stuff (space pens, moleskines, etc.) online and in major metropolitan areas

What are you folks' thoughts?

--Merlin 13:55, 28 Jan 2005 (EST)

I agree on most of your points, but when you take the third into account, you could end up with too much links - I'm from the Netherlands and I could buy lots of stuff from Amazon or whatever, but often the postage is very high, compared to the price. Also, there is discussion every now and then on GTD mailing lists on things like manilla folders - I don't think they sell them here... So maybe omit it, or add a section on international stuff (not only inches, but also centimeters, things to use when you cannot buy manilla folders, online shops that ship cheap etc.)

--Mylene 14:00, 8 Feb 2005 (CET)

The thing about wikis is that they are very organic. Think of a root system, where the "rules" for how they grow are set at the beginning, but what they actually look like once the process has been going on for a while is not really definable. Of course, roots have a hierarchy of sorts, though it may be hard to figure out at first glance.

A couple of things to rely on are the Categories and good interlinking. Also, the Main_Page is I imagine overwhelming for a first-time user, particularly one who isn't familiar with wikis. Perhaps a cleaner and shorter front-end with category links, but keeping just enough explanatory text of what this place is and how you get around, would be spiffy.

--RobertDaeley 18:33, 21 Mar 2005 (EST)


Contents

[edit] place for random lifehacks

What's needed is a place to put in non-GTD lifehacks--- things like the one spoon rule. These are very hard to categorize and by their very nature, you can't search for them. Until you read them, you don't know what they are. So there needs to be some kind of flat, unstructured listing of things like that, where people can put a link to their hack. Then they just put the hack under that name. Or something.

(I just noticed that Merlin and I both use the words "flat" and "unstructured." They must has slipped into my subconscious. Yeah, but there ought to be some kind of structure. Computer vs. non-computer, GTD vs. general organization, etc.)

Sounds like you'd either want a single lifehacks page, or, if there are a large amount of them, just title them as whatever (e.g. one spoon rule) and then make them category:lifehacks. If somone wants to find a lifehack for a specific purpose they can then go to Category:Life hacks and browse there...or if we get a large amount of these we could always make even more divisions (Category:lifehacks-email or Category:lifehacks-word processing, for example). Note that with a lot of these, we'll get them turning up on Random Page a lot, which IMO is a Good Thing. When I'm bored and clicking on the random page link in wikipedia I'm loking for a short, interesting article that will make me think. Akchizar 03:40, 21 Mar 2005 (EST)
Howzabout Unsorted life hacks? We can capture them, then break them out and organize them later. Whatcha think? --Merlin 11:43, 21 Mar 2005 (EST)

[edit] NPOV

I was wondering what your view on NPOV (Neutral Point of View) was. It's very easy for one enthusiastic user to provide a biased viewpoint on one program or technique, which doesn't help those who are looking for an objective view on things. Particularly, I'm thinking about when it comes to programs that are competing for the same task (e.g. Launchbar and Quicksilver. Would it be possible to stick a "testimonials" section on the end of the article where users can voice their opinions? --Akchizar 04:10, 21 Mar 2005 (EST)

What a terrific point. Yeah, absolutely. My feeling is that there will be a rush of activity here in the next 2 weeks followed by lots of "gnoming" for the people who hang around thereafter. I esp. like your suggestion because it encourages my own goal of helping explain who certain apps are good for (not just "why" they should win some arbitrary religious war).
One thing I also really like, just in general, is keeping one long page on a subject until there's a reason to break off, Would you agree that's a good idea? --Merlin 11:46, 21 Mar 2005 (EST)
Depends on your definition of "reason". I can see, for example, Talk:Main Page devolving into a massively long discussion-fest. Splitting sections like The Rules and Talk:Meta:Structure and Organization is a good idea to keep everything semi-organised...we should possibly post links to here from 43FoldersWiki:Community Portal so that we don't lose track of what's where. OTOH, I don't think every single tiny life hack needs its own page. --Akchizar 06:04, 22 Mar 2005 (EST)

[edit] Case Studies

Everyone approaches organization a little differently. It's true that there are some common categories that tools and techniques could be broken up into (like the ones you've already started to establish in the wiki), but it might be valuable to provide an area where users could just detail in full the way they organize their lives. That way users can see how the individual techniques interact with each other to form a cohesive whole strategy. Each user-contributed case study would be different of course, which also helps readers decide which techniques might work for them and which might not depending on how similar their situation is to that of the case study. Have the case studies link outward to those parts of the wiki that discuss in detail those techniques which are used in the case study. And have the detailed areas of the wiki link to those case studies where applicable.

For instance, I write a case study about how I've organized my life (it could happen) and I mention my use of the 43 folder tickler file. My case study links out to the wiki entry for the tickler file, and the tickler file entry links to each case study in which it is mentioned. This way, when people read about the individual techniques, they can instantly see an example of that technique in use. It could prove to be a logistical problem making sure that everything is all linked up the way it should be, but it could be worth a shot. --ThePolack

It would be quite easy to create, for example, User:Akchizar/Case Studies and then expand from there. I can easily see a Case Studies heading at the bottom of the technique, which can then quite easily link to people's case studies of it. --Akchizar 03:28, 22 Mar 2005 (EST)

[edit] Links Sections at Bottom of Pages

I see pages now with a "Links" section at the bottom that seem pretty cumbersome really. The current model appears to be a big header that reads, "Links" and two subheaders that read "Internal Links" and "External Links" with info getting filed under each accordingly.

It would make more sense (especially to people who don't normally read wikis) to have the main header read "Related Information" or "Related Resources". Then have all of the internal links listed under that main header followed by a subheader of this section that reads "External Resources" or "Outside Resources" or "Resources Outside of This Wiki" even (clarity is key in this instance) and have the external links listed under that subheader. Notice there is no "Internal Links" header proposed in this model. Just put the internal links under the main header and only explicitly declare which links are external.

This way the concept of "Internal Links" will not have to be pondered by a user still unfamiliar with the concept of a Wiki (after all, that header could easily be interpreted to include articles on the main 43Folders site since the term "Internal" usually refers to resources found under the same domain name as that is how most sites are organized). Even if this weren't a Wiki, I'd still favor this method of structuring the "links" info. When dealing with a wiki, which is by it's very nature a collection of links, the user should always assume that a hyperlink leads to an internal resource unless it is indicated otherwise, and thus, all wiki software is built on this assumption (hence the automatic adding of the little arrow on external links).

By telling the user what they already know (these links are not going to go outside the wiki), you're challenging that assumption. The user is used to knowing that all links are internal unless told otherwise. When you tell them that a link is internal, you are adding superfluous data. The user wonders why. You are now telling the user that you have to explicitly tell them what links go where. The user starts to question if their original assumptions are safe because you are now explicitly indicating internal links, something that you shouldn't have to do. Now, they're going to wonder about any link that isn't clearly labeled as either internal or external, whereas before they knew that all links were internal unless otherwise explicitly indicated.

Sometimes being explicit is really good. Sometimes you don't want to trust your users' assumptions. Other times, their assumptions are healthy and beneficial (links are blue underlined text, we all know that, and it makes hypertext a hell of a lot easier to read and write). I say foster this one assumption. Let's not explicitly label any internal link as being an internal link. This will make editing the wiki as a whole a lot easier and will also make it ultimately easier to navigate for a reader (especially new users who really do tend to think a lot more than we give them credit for. Don't give them useless info until they're ready to identify it as useless or else you'll just confuse them).

It might be a good idea to provide a template for links sections to try and help make the site as consistent as possible.

--ThePolack 19:26, 25 Mar 2005 (EST)

You'd be referring to....letmesee...Meta:Software template. It's still under-construction-ish...feel free to leave a note there for discussion and critiquing. I've only just put it up, and it'll be good for it to get some criticism. --Akchizar 22:55, 25 Mar 2005 (EST)
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