Author Topic: Help on amending old reference lists please...  (Read 2309 times)

Janet Jaguar

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Help on amending old reference lists please...
« on: October 05, 2015, 06:12:26 pm »
We moderators are needing and amending all of our reference posts to enlarge them to include Whaling.  Which brought up the idea, maybe we should also reorganize.  All four of the posts I've been mostly responsible were written in 2010 and 2012 (although all updated this year) and appeared when there was need.  So the question is, should any of them be merged?

Randi is taking over the Glossary I started and really wants there to be only one document, merging it with OWpedia possibly.  So the only question there is:
Should the new terms unique to whaling (and not just sailing) be in their own section so as to be read by newbies in whaling to take in all the vocabulary or should it all be just one alphabetical list?
I'm not the one doing this so I want won't make the decisions, but I'm interested is what you all would find easier to use. 

As to the the posts I've been authoring or maintaining, I really cannot see a simple enough way to truly merge any into a single flowing document - too much going on learning how to moderate Talk.  So mergers will be assembled in titled sections or chapters, which in Talk cannot have separate links.  (Reply posts are never assigned their own links in that platform.)  I'm primarily concerned with two things:
  • Reducing clutter and condensing the number of titles to look for
  • Preventing each topic from getting so long and complex, newbies won't think to scroll down to read the second list that's added on to the first.

The four lists are:
Beaufort Weather Code Charts (this one will be reformatted)
Reading Wind
Cloud Types Listed
and the only non-weather one:
Sea Ice Types

Which of these would you find easier to use if merged into singe post?  And which one would you like to have right on top?  Thinking a bit like newbies if you can.

Thank you very much.

mapurves

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Re: Help on amending old reference lists please...
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2015, 08:50:13 pm »
This is a question that I find most interesting, and I think it is very important to getting it right. Of course, I don't know the various limitations of the new system etc, so I will outline some of my frustrations with the old system and hopes for the new one.

My main frustration with the old, or current, system was that I found it difficult to find my way around. I realise that is was due to the system that was used and how that required the way it was set up, and I do not fault anyone involved for this. The system just kept growing and growing by necessity. I think all of you do a wonderful job in trying to keep it going.

There are the general subjects, which contain good information, and then there are answers to questions that are somewhat "hidden" in different places. As a fictitious example, someone would ask a question about wind in Concord Discussion and Comments, and it would be answered there, but that answer might or might not show up in the main post about Winds.

Personally, I like webpages (HTML or Wiki) that are fairly short and have links that burrow down into a topic. I would like to see these set up in a way such that if someone asked a question about wind in the Concord Discussion and Comments, that point would be answered there, but also appear in the Wiki or HTML page.  I really would like to see links somehow tied to the data entry boxes so that, when I am entering data about ice, I could click on a "?" or "Help" key and I would be taken to the OW wiki or HTML page about ice. If there was nothing there to answer my question, I could ask it somewhere, get an answer, and then that answer would be entered on the page about ice.

When we set up the webpages for the Yukon Weather Centre, our goal was to make our website as user friendly as possible. We wanted to keep the information about any topic contained on one page. We did this by keeping images to a minimum, unless they were vital to the subject at hand, and usually there was just a link to the image. We also grouped items, perhaps alphabetically, with links to those items.

When our office was being closed, the people in the main computer centre called to tell us that our webpages had the highest number of hits of any website belonging to Environment Canada. Not only were we number one, but our total was greater than the sum of the hits from numbers two, three and four combined. Our pages were not glamorous, but they were fast and easy to use.

Earlier in this phase, I set up a dummy website as an example of what I would like to see. The link is here.

This is just an example. In the new world, a "Help" key on a data entry box would link to the appropriate page in this system.

For myself, I have downloaded the names of all the ships in the various navies. Sometimes when I struggle with bad handwriting, I can make out only part of a ship name, and I have a script wherein I can enter part of a name and I get a list of all the USS ships with that string as part of the name. I do the same thing with Matteo's list of places. For example, Concord mentioned a US Submarine and I could really only make out ~ike or ~eke. My script got me this:
Quote
$ USS ike | cut -c1-55
A-5      (Submarine # 6, later SS-6), 1903-1922. Named Pike
Pike     (SS-173), 1935-1957    http://www.history.navy.mil/p
Pike     (Submarine # 6, later SS-6), 1903-1922. Renamed A
SC-1062  (1943-1945). Later became USCGC Air Shrike (WA

By the dates I knew it was USS Pike. Looking on the internet for US Submarines operating in 1905 was fruitless. A new system should be able to have this sort of functionality. A similar system for place names would be most valuable. I find the huge lists awkward to navigate.

Perhaps under Glossary there would be links such as:
  • People
  • Places
  • Nautical Terms
  • Whaling Terms
  • Geographical Terms
  • Weather
  • Wind
  • Ice
  • Ships

Under People you might have links to Crew Lists to various ships; and ranks and ratings etc
You might also have links to ranks and ratings under Nautical Terms.
Perhaps under People, Ships and Places you could have very elegant search functions.

Janet Jaguar

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Re: Help on amending old reference lists please...
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2015, 08:59:19 pm »
I hate to tell you this Michael, but the Talk system is less organized. 

Right now we are up to our eyebrows setting up what we have for the next couple of months, but I'd love to read what you said when there are fewer needs crowding other thoughts out.  It is something that will very much catch my interest.

For this coming move, are you saying you like the information broken up into 4 clear posts and categories?  I'm reading into your "that are fairly short and have links that burrow down into a topic" as "keep them separate and make a big deal of an index like Transcription Help - Index of Helpful Topics only concentrating of informational background references?

mapurves

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Re: Help on amending old reference lists please...
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2015, 10:31:19 pm »
Yes, I like the idea of the General Page on Transcription Help. That's a great place for people starting out! I see two needs, or maybe three:
  • Beginners who don't have much of an idea of what they're looking for, or what's available, etc. The General Page on Transcription Help is ideal for this, and they can spend time reading all the various pages underneath it;
  • Older hands who are stumped by something that isn't readily available. They know what they want, and they don't want to take a long time hunting around various places to find it: i.e. is it USS ~ike, USS ~~ike, USS ~eke, or USS ~~eke;
  • People looking for entertainment/distraction, like HatterJack's excellent posts on various things.

It would be really great if there was a place on the web that could hold our own (by that I mean OW whalers or OW4) webpages whether they are in Wiki or HTML format, as well as for files in tabular format so that they could be easily searchable: i.e. lists of US Navy ships, geographical places, lists of people etc.

I found searching for ships and places frustrating enough that I downloaded lists of ships and places and wrote a couple of scripts to do my searches for me. It makes things so much easier and faster in the long run. Trying to find the name of a US Navy ship with eke or ike in its name on the web is very time consuming.

I don't envy you trying to set up the new system and cope with all the competing needs! I'm glad you're on our side, "Hooray for you!"  :) :) :)

Janet Jaguar

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Re: Help on amending old reference lists please...
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2015, 10:59:11 pm »
Well - setting up a stickied index is on the list of possibles then - definitely doable on our time line.  I'd like to see what others think makes finding and viewing easier.

mapurves

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Re: Help on amending old reference lists please...
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2015, 11:16:02 pm »
Well - setting up a stickied index is on the list of possibles then - definitely doable on our time line.  I'd like to see what others think makes finding and viewing easier.

Indeed! Let a thousand flowers bloom!  ;)

Danny252

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Re: Help on amending old reference lists please...
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2015, 10:54:49 am »
I'd also be up for a new system that avoids a) too many indexes and b) many reference posts covering similar topics. I sometimes have great trouble finding information because I neither know which thread it's in, nor which list of reference posts to look in to find said thread - and I use this forum daily!

Another thing in reference posts is that many have a lot of fancy formatting, links to different posts in the thread, and so on. I find these very hard to follow, I suspect mainly because the forum simply isn't very good at displaying "complex" information. For example, I find the Type What You See thread very confusing, with links, quotes, and random sections spread everywhere, when quite a lot of the information could simply be condensed into an FAQ (e.g. "Number of Weather Entries" could simply be answered with "Yes, please transcribe all weather entries", rather than a long string of semi-related posts quoted verbatim).

I think what I'm getting at is having "simple" lists of information with an obvious purpose, all linked from some central index. I like the Sea Ice post, for example, and think it should be left as a standalone post, linked to from some central location. However, redundant or overly confusing reference topics should be merged and their purpose made clear, such as the Glossary and OWPedia as you suggest. I'd also say that contributions for information should be encouraged in a separate topic, because topics where information and questions/contributions are combined aren't very good for referencing (see e.g. this topic, which looks like it's trying to be a list of terms, but with three or four posts between each part of the list!).
« Last Edit: October 06, 2015, 11:01:51 am by Danny252 »