From CUNY Academic Commons

Please suggest ways of changing the Wiki to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for.  How should the Wiki’s home page be redesigned to make it clearer and “cleaner”?  Should the four categories of “Featured Resources” be changed (and if so, to what)?  Should the categories (or organization) of the pages linked to these Featured Resources be changed (and if so, how)?

In order for everyone to see each other’s suggestions, please link your page to this one.  Here’s how to do this:  Create a page that includes your name in the title and write all your recommendations or comments.  Then, before you save the page, write the following at the bottom: “Back to Suggestions for Making the Wiki Easier to Search.”  Highlight all the words except “Back to” and click the link button (the button with the globe).  Type “Suggestions for” in the box, and as you type, the title of this page (“Suggestions for Making the Wiki Easier to Search”) will appear. Click it, click OK, and save the page.

Click the link you just created, and it will bring you back to this page. Click the Edit tab on the right and type the name of your page in the list below (underneath Phil’s page).  Highlight the name you just typed, click the link (globe) button, and begin typing your page’s name in the box. When it appears, click it and click OK. Then save the page.

1.Phil Pecorino’s Suggested Organization of the “Online Faculty Resources” Pages

2. To make searching easier, move the search box up.

3. We could also create fewer new pages with overly specific titles. (NB: this item explains why I’m not following the directions above.)

2. Move the search box up.

If the goal is to have more people search more easily, we should consider rearranging the toolboxes in the right-side nav-bar, probably by swapping Personal Tools with Search to make Search more prominent. Personal Tools are well and good for active contributors, but most visitors to a wiki are going to be just that – visitors. They’ll be looking to retrieve information far more often than they’ll be adding it or debating it… if not quite yet, then at least once we’ve built a critical mass of useful pages. And if we’re at the point where we need to worry about “making the wiki easier to search,” that seems to imply that such a critical mass already exists.

Back to list of suggestions.

3. Use flexible, not specific, page names.

While no tool inherently requires one use or another, the defining features of wikis – they are editable by many people, and they store a history of all changes – strongly imply that a) individual authorship is less important than collective understanding, and b) original intentions will give way to later (re)visions. If that’s so, then it’s fairly short-sighted to name pages by a specific author or specific present purposes; both are likely to change, and we don’t want to have to change page titles down the line if we can avoid it. (Other pages use the titles as links, which we don’t want to break or have to remake.) Broad-purpose titles – like the title of this page – will be more accurate over time, and hence more navigable, than single-use titles such as Phil’s above, and such as the instructions on the top of this page recommend.

Moreover, a proliferation of narrowly-named pages will only further clutter the list of all pages, again making it harder to navigate and search. The same is true, of course, of new pages that only *assume* a particular context, such as “an example.” (Students have a hard time with this one, leading to a glut of variants on “my draft” and “My draft,” etc.)

What we can do instead is create jump-links within pages, such as those used to get down to this section of this page and back up to the top. (In fact, MediaWiki is very good at making these automatically, based on header information – as soon as there are more than three headers, a page table of contents will appear.) While they won’t appear in the list of all pages, that’s actually for the good: it’ll lead to fewer distracting false leads. And responses to queries (again, like those on this page) will be grouped together with their origins. 

If we later want to spin a page section off onto its own page, that’s easily done. Uncreating a page is harder, and, I suspect, an option available only to admins. 

Back to list of suggestions.