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Nice new search engine results! They're apparently sorted alphabetically, which is sufficient right now. Perhaps, as the wiki grows, it would be useful to have more options available, e.g. sort by date, sort by file size, sort by author, etc. (by author can be done with regexp already, but I don't really expect newbies to want to use regexp) Matthias Gutfeldt
A subpage has a slash at the beginning of its name. In searches and recent changes listings, the subpage name is appended to the parent page name. On the subpage, the parent page name appears in the top bar menu, right after HomePage. Subpages could give automatic indexing through the Category tag, and provide more helpful search listings with subpages grouped after the parent page in the listing. The goal is to come up with a FAQ page format that takes advantage of wiki structural features (like the new search listing and the click-title function) to automate the TOC and index maintenance. -- Jerry Muelver
I've started a page on Matthias Gutfeldt/Quality Assurance (it's just there because I couldn't find any logical place to put), and I'd really be happy if somebody could put a few more pointers there. QA seems to be an exact science, but I guess a few practical tips and articles would be quite sufficient. Thanks. Matthias Gutfeldt
- Nice one, Matthias! Web site QA is a Very Hot Topic with me at the moment, as I am struggling with IT rules on the one hand and client needs and inexperience on the other. I'll be in on this one in a couple of days. Jerry Muelver
Matthias -- Every time I check in, I find you doing something interesting and enviable. Now you've got a whole damned page of links that's going to take me weeks to work through! Jerry Muelver
- Hehehe. But which page are you talking about? I'm like a hamster, running through the web like crazy, collecting links left and right and dumping them all over this comfy virtual den :-) Matthias Gutfeldt
I'm talking about all of it, but most recently your Bookmark page. Some reallyreally quality stuff there. Makes me want to buy a new computer and start over fresh and clean again. Jerry Muelver
eeek. I've just registered and added a couple of comments, and now I see my "actions" are showing up on the RecentChanges page - the only non-Jerry or non-Matthias name around. Should I have marked my stuff as "minor update" to prevent it from showing up?
aside from that... the fact that visited links turn to black make it difficult for me to find my way back to a page I "walked" to - because the links I followed the first time don't stand out anymore.
of course - my opinion on all this is "quite excited"! Stephanie Booth
- Should I have marked my stuff as "minor update" to prevent it from showing up?
- Nope -- I'd see it anyway. You can set your view of Recent Changes in Preferences to show all changes, not just minor. That way I can keep track of the some the back-and-forth interactions better. Welcome aboard! How'd you find us? Jerry Muelver
Okay - I was a bit worried, because the only names in the recent changes seemed to be yours and Matt's, and then *blam!* mine.
- Don't call me "Matt".Please. Or I'll send the black helicopters. Matthias Gutfeldt
- Oops sorry Matthias. My sister's ex-bf was called Matthias, "Matt" for short. Guess that's what did it ; ) Stephanie Booth
I'd seen you mentioned in ciwah/s a couple of times, but never really dug into the site. This time, Brucie mentioned allmyfaqs to me again, so I thought I'd go and have a better look - and here I am!
- Things go in cycles. Right now Matthias is hot on Smart Tags and building a collection of high-quality bookmarks from his home page. Isofarro is pondering the construction of an alt.html FAQ as a focused spin-off. Phil Hayz is... well... Phil Hayz. Brucie warps in and out depending on the most recent gravity flux. You'll see a lot of familiar names here.
- I like the way you dug in and offered direct, helpful markup and explanation. That's where we're heading with this -- replace the reference links with dynamic information of our own, and put the references as "See Also" comments. The Chat archives from Talk To Me tell the story of AllMyFAQs evolution. Jerry Muelver
Is there a specific place devoted to "meta" comments? I mean, a place for discussion on the mission and the methods of the site, etc? Or should I give all my "feedback" here?
- I think this is the place for feedback, at least it says "Talk to me" at the top :-). Matthias Gutfeldt
I noticed that there doesn't seem to be much emphasis put on giving standards-compliant solutions (or at least labeling hacks as such), or linking to relevant parts of the w3 specs... [well, that's what I've observed on the small number of pages I visited].
- If you want to point to the relevant spec, or maybe mention that there's a more standard-compliant way to do it, then do it. I certainly do when I think someone's solution is too un-standard for my taste. Matthias Gutfeldt
- First hack on this wiki was to grab all the relevant FAQs on the Web, dissolve their DNA, and recombine into similar questions and FAQ links. Second hack is to evaluate all such links, and provide caveats or corrections where needed. Third hack is to provide all original answers, better than the exisitng FAQs. Fourth hack is to refactor everythign for accessibility, using wiki conventions and tools. We're still on Hack One. Jerry Muelver
- Hm, I guess I'm complaining about Hack Four level stuff then? Imho, the "hacks" need not be "watertight" - I mean, if the FAQ is to be usable before it's "finished" (is anything ever finished?), we're bound to mix up stuff from different "hack levels", huh? Nothing wrong for me with the "hacks plan", but I'm the sort of person who likes to tie up loose ends before everything is done *grin*. Stephanie Booth
OK - I'm sticking this here because I'm not sure where else to put it *grin*. When I arrived here yesterday, I bumped in a few *cough* usability problems (meaning: it took me some time to figure out what to do and where to go).
- Is the "splash" page really useful? Why not give direct access to the Home Page to people who type http://allmyfaqs.net ?
- Search bots need an entry point, with more than just links to the inside. The info there also serves to help set the tone. Editing suggestions are welcome! Jerry Muelver
- Didn't get that one. What problems would (for example) direct links to the faq categories on the "first page" create for search bots? Imho, all the better if the first (splash) page is well-linked. A lot of the stuff that is on the HomePage could go there. Stephanie Booth
- I'd really love to have a Page Index link on each page, instead of having to go back to the home page each time I want to browse.
- I'm not sure what you mean by "page index link". Give us some ideas? Some options:
- Look HTML Forms. It has a Category link at the top, and a link back to HTML FAQs at the bottom.
- Take one of the "Archive" links at the top of this page. Look at the menu now. It has a link back to this page. Subpage links act that way. Matthias has a bunch of them on Matthias Gutfeldt.
- Experiment with the Category links, like Category Category (Click on Category in the Recent Changes menu).
- See the [How to search]? page for tips on using Search. Jerry Muelver
- I think the links to the FAQs could be even more prominent on the HomePage (e.g. higher up, at least in a very shorthand form?) - maybe I'm missing out on some wiki history here?
- More like, "inertia". The original home page was really ugly. I redid it to entice newbies to try a search, figuring they would most likely have been directed to one of the internal pages, and got to the home page to find out what was going on with the rest of the site. What did you find most useful the first time you popped in here? Jerry Muelver
- Well, the very first time I came, I think I followed a link to an article. Maybe I wandered around a bit, but in any case, I completely missed the whole concept of the site. I didn't notice I could edit the page I was viewing, for example. It looked like "just another FAQ".
- When I came this time, Brucie had mentioned "adding new ressources to allmyfaqs" - so I had a better look. Then I saw "edit this page" at the bottom of a page, and I thought "gosh! I can change this page? there must surely be lots of rules about who/what/where/how much etc...". I took the "tour", but it did take some time to sink in (and I'm usually rather quick-witted *g*).
- For me, the most useful thing would be the lists of FAQs by category. The second most useful was the [Page Index], so I could get a global view of what was on the site. Maybe a page for "first-time visitors" with slightly more detailed information on how the site works, how to find information, how to contribute? If the pages exist already (some do, I know), maybe point to them with such a label? Taking stuff which is useful only (mainly) to first-time visitors off the HomePage would leave more space for what is useful to "repeat visitors" or "community members". I think that for a community, it is particularly important to focus on the people who "know the place" (to some extent). Stephanie Booth
- This is interesting -- separate section for first-timers. I think you can see we've been leaning toward satisfying the needs of rank newbies and old-time regulars at the same time. We will continue to drift that way. You could always set up a page or set of pages yourself! Even among wikis, allmyfaqs is a strange bird. Jerry Muelver
- I'll think about it! I do believe that people who land on a site for the very first time have needs which are different from other users, and probably only need to be answered to once. Stephanie Booth
- Maybe this would break a "wiki convention", but is there a reason for the (diff) link on the RecentChanges page to be at the beginning of the line? It would make scanning easier if it were after the page title (which is the important - and variable - element). Stephanie Booth
- Recent Changes is a complex piece of programming, with the output format arrived at by evolution from experience with other wiki engines. The "diff" makes it easy to zero in on changes on a big page. It's easy enough to ignore if you don't want to use it. The output for searches is already a rewrite from the original engine (it's not in the download from usemod.com), and serves admirably here, especially with the Category links and the question at the top of each page to be pulled into the Search summary.
- I'll take your word for it - I'm not ready to dive into Perl! Stephanie Booth
- Some good thinking going on from your end. I appreciate it. Please don't think I'm discounting your suggestions. It all goes into the coprocessor to affect the shape and behavior of the wiki. Jerry Muelver
- No problem. I don't feel like you're discounting my suggestions. You can expect some more thinking on the "comments on comments on comments of something" phenomenon (or "lists of lists of lists") one of these days ; ) Stephanie Booth
Question: when should I sign my name, and when should I not? For example, I just added stuff to Using tables for layout - as the FAQ wasn't signed, I didn't add my name either. But on the other hand, I appreciate knowing who wrote what I read... Are there any "wiki guidelines" or does one simply do as one pleases? Stephanie Booth
- There are some guidelines, suggestions actually, at [Wiki style]? here and at http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?StartingPoints at Meatball (where all the really profound wiki-community meta-ratiocination occurs). But doing as one pleases is pretty much the way to go. If enough of the wiki community likes it, and emulates it, the personal style becomes the norm.
- I'm aware of that, but even in the most liberal communities, a culture builds up (that's the whole point, isn't it?). So an outsider who isn't aware of the cultural norms (even if they are flexible!) runs the risk of "putting the wrong foot forward". See what I mean? Even though I know I can do what I please, I like having information about what "usage" is around here.
- Of course there are community norms and expectations -- anarchy is not a society. However, a wiki is ultimately an extended collaboration, a merged culture. Norms are descriptive, not prescriptive, and change the minute someone comes up with a better idea, style, or manner of interaction. If you are completely comfortable with the status quo, you would make no changes, and would in fact resist any changes, even improvements. A wiki is something like a jazz combo, a group collaborating on something new, based on some shared understandings, but with an inspirational component of unpredictablility, uncertanty, and freedom of expression. Jerry Muelver
- I get it. I've been doing a little MeatBall reading ; ). I guess it's part of my personality that I'm afraid of "doing things the wrong way" and getting people mad/irritated at me (which happens easily if I don't pay attention, as I have rather strong opinions and don't hesitate to voice them). Stephanie Booth
- You have two weeks' worth of diffs at all times. Mistakes, graffiti, egregious social transgressions can all be undone in a click. (Hey! I just invented a way to do threaded discussion without indenting over the horizon!) Jerry Muelver
- You see signatures (or more likely bylines prepended to an article or comment or code snippet) if I have swiped something from a newsgroup. I feel obligated to attribute such re-use. Unsigned articles and contributes are usually considered fair game for editorial improvement by any passer-by, whereas signed contributions will more likely be annotated rather than edited. Jerry Muelver
Concrete suggestions (may be good or bad, you tell me!):
- Think "search engine". Now notice the use of keywords and phrases on the page and the clever use of ".htm" for the page filename. A redirect would lose those engines who avoid redirects.
- Thinking "search engine": I'd say the most relevant stuff for a search engine is on the HomePage (names of sections, etc - it's simply closer to the actual content, whereas the actual "splash" page is simply one "click" further away... not that I'm a click-counting junkie btw).
- As for the redirect, I wouldn't be too afraid: if major search engines function like google, they'll crawl and crawl starting from any page you give them (ie: not just the "index" page) - you could rely on "outside" linking to ensure the site is crawled (but having not seen the referrer logs, I can't really speak on that topic).
- Oh, just a thought: if redirecting is a problem (it's not a great favorite with me, I have to admit), why not move the Home Page stuff to allmyfaqs.net, then?
- I don't get your ".htm" comment : (
- add a [PageIndex] link either on the top navbar next to [Preferences], or in the footer next to the search box (and if that makes the current PageIndex link redundant, remove it...)
- Page names/titles are not written with indexing in mind, I'm afraid, which makes the index display a useful reference mostly for spotting redundant or lost pages. If the pages were named "HTML:Frames:Links:Two pages at once" or somesuch, kindexing would be more germane. but in a wiki, what kind of index do you want? See http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?action=browse&id=IndexingScheme&oldid=IndexingSchemes for more ideas along this line.
- Actually, I was simply thinking of the current one. It's like, when I put my hands on a book, I like going to have a peek at the table of contents or the index, to get a "feel" of what stuff is inside. I get an idea of what questions are answered, I spot some minor pages I might never have got to otherwise, and I also get an idea of who the players are...
- Yup. Jakob Nielsen shows that a prominent Search function is critical, since folks would rather use Search than use navigation for our kind of information. Also people don't mind scrolling if they are doing it for content.I had a Search box at the top for a while, but it added an extra line of space, and the coding was a pain to replicate when a new version of the software came out.
- I'm not sure how this answers my First Time Visitor page suggestion. I'm all for search at the top if it's possible - my concern was more that most of the stuff I get on my screen when I go to the Home Page is useless to me unless it's my first visit. And even when it is my first visit, it's not obviously enough indicated that it's for me (nitpicking, I know, that's what I do best!)
- I started with the Meatball homepage as a model, and have been pushing things around with newbies in mind ever since.
- I wouldn't want you to feel that I'm criticizing your organisational decisions. I'm aware that this wiki is still very much in the making, that there are "historical" (and perfectly valid!) reasons for things being how they are. Do you think my suggestion would improve things for newbies, or not?
- eventually, a link to that page could be available on each page? (thinking about people who will land in the middle of the wiki with the help of search engine results or direct links... like I did when I first arrived. Though maybe we should trust such people to look at the home page *wink*)
- Can't trust people to do the right thing -- you can only hope. Renaming the homepage is one possibility --"Start Here" or "Main Page" or....
- Start Here is not too bad I must say : ) Stephanie Booth
Oh, and of course, don't feel bad about rejecting these suggestions. I won't take it personally. Well, at least I'll promise to try not to. Stephanie Booth
- I love 'em! I hope my balancing comments help refine them. Keep those cards and letters coming in! Jerry Muelver
Reworked the splash page, HomePage, First Time Visitor, and What AllMyFAQs is and is not. Jerry Muelver
- Whee! this rocks : )
- You mean, to HomePage?
- No, that's already there! I mean to the index for HTML FAQs, CSS FAQs, etc.
- Oh, the main topic pages. That's not too bad an idea. We metnion the topics, and could make the mentions into links. But then you've lost the detour through the wiki-intro stuff, except the First Time Visitors page. I think anyone who visits the site would likely bookmark either HomePage or (like me) RecentChanges, to the splash page.
- I think it's a bad idea to think about "forcing" visitors through certain pages so that they get information. If I'm visiting allmyfaqs, and I manage to find something interesting quickly, I'll hang around to see what it is about. I'd say that any page between the visitor and what he is trying to get at is a chance to "lose" people. One thing that struck my while visiting meatball is how richly interlinked all the pages are. That's good : )
- Also, when one first visits a site and lands on a "splash" page, one will rarely read it. I know I didn't. I just clicked the only link I saw and then wondered where I was supposed to go. Stephanie Booth
- Meatball is a different critter, and the linking is veryvery wiki. We are are linked only sortofwiki, due to the hierarchical nature of the data presentation. The wiki part we rely on is the easy editing and updating functions, and more and more the auto-indexing via Category tags.
- The splash page is for search engine consumption, and a basic guide for those arriving via search. My original thought was that people would post their own questions, like on a newsgroup, but that vision (thankfully) did not solidify. I could even see changing things so only contributors could edit the pages (a simple password system is already built in), to make allmyfaqs reference-only for seekers, and easily updated by contributors.
Can we have anchors, please? Something like <a href="#blah"> and <a name="blah" id="blah"> wouldn't hurt, esp. since we've already got <em> and <strong> etc. It would make it easier to point to specific items on a long page, because it's not always possible/sensible to put the content on separate pages. Matthias Gutfeldt
That request has been posted with Clifford Adams for some time. It would be easy enough to implement by enabling full HTML, but what a can of worms that could be! Jakob Nielsen says people will scroll if they are going for content, though I agree anchors would make it easier. OTOH, everything you hardwire into a page makes less reusable. I'll ask Cliff again. In the meantime, adroit use of rational subheads makes page referencing, and indexing, easier. The search engine here likes subheads. Jerry Muelver
I think it would be a big crazy mess if you give full HTML support. So many people, all with varying ideas, there would be very little consistency to pages. Personally, i think there should be a page identifying Wiki commands that are available and there effects. Bodidily
You mean, like http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?TextFormattingRules ? Or, we have our very own Intro and Tour. Jerry Muelver
Erm, yeah. I knew there would be one somewhere! Thanks Jerry Bodidily
Does anyone agree that Richard Formby has the most interesting page in the Register? and Jerry, why are some people missing from the GR? Brucie isn't there!
Jerry Muelver: RF's page is brief, and to-the-point. I hope we haven't offended him.... Brucie's there -- he's just not there. You have to keep checking, in case he phase-warps through.