We desperately need to improve the wiki. I have some observations. I think they are credible because I spend a lot of time maintaining the wiki. They are not intended to be complaints.
The editor that Luke has made available makes it easier for people to maintain page-specific content. While that’s clearly important, IMO we have bigger issues with search and structure. The new editor isn’t going to fix those.
Somewhere I saw a list of how wiki prioritizes searches. I can’t find it now, but the gist of it is this:
- Page names
- Heading names
- Page text
You have to know an exact text string to search effectively. Here’s an example. I created a page called Rooms Guide. It lists the sizes and capacities of all the classrooms so people can choose where to schedule their classes. If you search “Rooms Guide” you’ll get a hit. If you search “Rooms list” it offers to let you create a page. Same thing if you search for “Classrooms list”. If you search “room capacity”, it’s the 15th hit. And if someone talked about rooms a lot on a Board meeting, for instance, that page would show up high in the list also.
There is a separate way to browse a category. I don’t know how many people know how to do this, because it isn’t attached to Search. However, if people are diligent about including the category name on their page, then it should show these pages. Let’s choose Machine shop. You could go to “Browse the wiki”, and click on Machine shop. It will list the pages that are categorized as machine shop. But unless the words “Machine Shop” are included in the headers or repeatedly in the page text, those pages may not show up using “machine shop” as a text search. And continuing on with “machine shop”, as I user I would prefer to see anything in the machine shop category prioritized above anything that’s not in the machine shop category. That doesn’t happen. If, for instance, there is a Board meeting where machine shop appears repeatedly in the minutes, that page will appear at the top of the search list.
There is a huge list of pages that have no category attached. If you go to the link Other ways you can help (buried at the bottom RH corner of the main wiki page), you can see find links to see uncategorized pages, pages in the Cleanup Category and pages that are short on content. I stumbled across this by accident and I suspect most people don’t know it’s there.
I’m sure there’s also a way to find pages that aren’t linked to anything. An orphan page has limited usefulness and most people will never be able to find it.
Next on my list is structure. At the dawn of time, when there were a couple dozen members and DMS acted like a club, the wiki was started. The only categories that people envisioned were Meetings, Rules and Bylaws, Projects (which is now mostly unused), Committees / Groups, and Tools. (New Member 411 appears in the main page links, but it is not a category).
Everything else gets lumped into the DMS general category [[Category:Dallas Makerspace]].
Now there is a need for standard operating procedures and business practices as a category. There might be a need for a category related to membership issues, processes, and questions. These process-related things are, IMO, the hardest to find. They don’t tend to have specific page titles, they don’t have a category, and you’d have to guess the exact wording to get a good search. But they are important to a wide swath of members. If we create those categories we need to re-categorize anything existing that is relevant.
The Tools page is one of the most useful things on the wiki. It’s an overview page that everyone can find. A lot of relevant information is linked to it and from it and although it’s not entirely up to date, I think it does help out. I wonder if there is some type of similar DMS-level table (without pictures) that could perform a similar function … sort of like a high-level table of contents all in one place?