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Devtome Navigation

Solutions for navigation and management of a large volume of articles, from various writers in multiple categories on Devtome

History

Until more recently, many of the writers adding content to Devtome were individuals already involved in the Devcoin community, with a better understanding and possibly better communication with each other than is currently available. This level of Intra communication required less public communication on Devtome in order for information to be shared but the growth of Devtome and the number of new writers makes one to one communication a time consuming and inconsistent method of communication into the future.

The following aims to address the need for consistent, accessible information using automated methods where possible.

Challenges

User Experience

The first thing users notice is that every page of Devtome is the same, including the home page and information pages. There is no defined “authoritative” area where new writers can access the information they need in a consistent way and there is not really an explanation of what Devtome is, or encouragement for the user to click any further.

The welcome text on the home page currently reads:

Devtome is a rapidly growing, open source wiki where the contributors earn Devcoin by writing. When adding a new article, please link to it from the Most Recent section below. Later, an admin will add it to the link tree of the Topics section, which is organized like the Open Directory Project.

The only real encouragement here is to categorise your articles by going to an alternative website to work it out then come back and link it to the recent articles page. This is confusing for anyone just passing by looking for something to read and (from personal experience) even more confusing for new writers.

Devtome is fairly undistinguishable from any other wiki currently online unless users/writers know the purpose behind it and why it is different.

No opportunity for visitors to contribute to building a more accessible user interface without becoming writers.

Fact Vs Fiction

Developer works lost beneath a mountain of fictional and opinion pieces

Fiction works perceived as lower quality contributions

Categorisation

The following table shows the ratio of articles to articles categorised, showing that at least half of the articles published on Devtome in the last 3 rounds are not categorised.

Data taken from http://dvccountdown.blisteringdevelopers.com/devtome with thanks to HunterBunter and Blistering Developers (original data can be found in the devtome_xx.csv files here)

While categorisation by writers is a step toward dealing with the problem shown above, without total involvement by all writers, categorisation in its present form assists more with filing articles, than ensuring consistency.

Category Definitions

Because the current categories do not have clear definitions (on Devtome) it can be difficult for a new writer to know how to categorise their work. An opinion piece on the financial state of Zimbabwe on a full moon in Aries could fit into Zimbabwe (the country), Economics, opinion, review, astrology and even paganism (full moon reference).

A writer usually has an intended audience - it is not surprising they would categorise their work in a way that catches that audience - but at the end of the day, the only one who can really determine if an article is relevant is the reader/audience it actually reaches.

For example; a new visitor who wanted to find out more about Devtome might search for the word Devtome. The search results - while well written - are not all strictly relevant and not broken into any useable tree so the user needs to search deeper to find what they need. (Assuming they want to know about Devtome, not how to write for it or a biography of someone who did)

A search for Devtome does not simply return articles ABOUT Devtome, although they are all relevant because they somehow incorporate Devtome. As I can find no clear definitions of each category on Devtome, it also would be safe to assume that a percentage of articles which have been categorised in other categories are also in the “wrong” category simply for wont of clear definition of what that category means.

Proposed Solutions

User Experience

  1. Visually define the home page and category definition pages. (Devtome banner inserted as header?)
  2. Lock homepage and category pages.
  3. Layout the home page in such a way as to guide visitors to explore further by including:
    • A brief history of Devtome, its aims and ambitions.
    • Get involved as a Writer (Writers Guides
    • Be part of the audience. (how to find articles, feedback link)
  4. Install a voting/rating system for article categories in the form of a small link at the bottom of the page explaining this is an Open Source project and community input is necessary to make it work, please help categorise articles, is this article in the right category? If no, there is a text box for readers suggested category. Articles flagged for category change return the suggestion to the writer’s page for consideration. After 3? votes the article is flagged to admin for consideration.

There are currently plugins that could achieve this if compatible with Devtome's wiki or the article voting plugin could be configured?:

Define Navigation Pages

  1. Show category tree top level - linking to definition page for that category showing sub categories.
  2. Create New category and subcategories:
    • Devtome
      • History
      • Development
      • Writers Biographies
      • Devtome Writer Guides

Dokuwiki has a function for this: https://www.dokuwiki.org/index

There are also menu plugins for Dokuwiki that can be used to achieve this and auto generate the menu or it could be done manually by adding each page but would need manually monitoring as well

Fact Vs Fiction

Fiction articles only listed in Fiction categories (define by additional categories under fiction) using the voting system outlined above to verify.

Categorisation/navigation

Existing articles need to be categorised manually. This will be time consuming for one or two (or 5!) people but the articles can be identified by the writer, by using the categorised payouts for the last round. As data only exists for the last 3 rounds articles that are not identified as uncategorised can be left to be collected by the voting system outlined above.

An announcement in the forums to remind writers to check their articles and that ratings will be deducted for no categories might reduce the workload.

Once up to date, ongoing categorisation will need to be monitored but if the methods outlined here are implemented, the time taken to administer articles flagged to admin level for re-categorisation would be minimal.

By leaving the option to vote for a category change at the bottom of each article, Devtome also allows for future growth and new categories in the future.

Devtome Writer Guides

  • There are some very informative articles on the subject of writing for Devtome and moving these to the category “writer guides” under Devtome would make would make navigation much easier for new writers.
  • Establish a method of communication between writers - (currently being addressed by new Devcoin forum?) - Separate from the trading and development of Devcoin. Access requires username and login used for Devtome.

Devtome Writers Biographies

Writers could list the categories they write under, and link back to their articles list. These could be used to form a search menu by category via plugin.

These need not be articles, the existing user pages would allow writers to set out a basic biography at the top of the page or a more comprehensive one as a linked article. Optionally there could be nothing more than the writers article list for those enjoying anonymity.

By using these existing pages, the audience has an alternative/additional search method by writer.

An example of a writer page with an in place Biography :

An example of a writer page with a linked biography :

Additional links:


devtome | devtome writers


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