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Too many links

I did a quick count using a crude "grep" and there are over 500 links on Azimuth. The point is less the number, but the question of "is it overwhelming". I begin to think there are too many low impact pages, and that core issues like say "action plans" should or will assume priority. The main thrust of the conversation is now on the blog, the wiki and forum seem secondary, aide memoires almost.

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  • 1.
    edited November 2010

    I did a quick count using a crude "grep" and there are over 500 links on Azimuth.

    By Azimuth you mean the blog, right? Azimuth is the name of the blog.

    I begin to think there are too many low impact pages, and that core issues like say "action plans" should or will assume priority.

    Now you're talking about the wiki, right?

    The main thrust of the conversation is now on the blog, the wiki and forum seem secondary, aide memoires almost.

    A blog is where people have a conversation. The data gathered from the conversation goes to the wiki. The forum is where we talk about building the wiki.

    This is how it works (quite successfully) on the n-Cafe/nLab/nForum, and the same thing is happening here. The nLab is now the world's best place to learn n-category theory; you might look at the page on mathematics at the nLab to see what I mean. None of it will make any sense to a nonmathematician, but you can see it's a rich mine of information.

    In 5 years I hope the Azimuth Project will be just as useful. By that time it will be hopelessly difficult to find information on a given desired topic on the blog. The blog is a big rambling conversation. But much of the information from those conversations will be on the wiki, in an organized form. So then, people who want to learn things will go to the wiki.

    I feel puzzled by your comments:

    1) It sounds like you want fewer links on the blog... or did you mean the wiki??? I don't understand that. What's bad about links? By "links" do you perhaps mean "pages"? (A link connects one page to another page.)

    2) It sounds like you think there are too many low-impact pages on the wiki. I'd rephrase it this way: we haven't built up the high-impact ones yet - the reports, action plans and climate models. We haven't given them the prominence they'll eventually deserve.

    Right now I'm beginning to go through action plans on the blog, and use this to develop the corresponding articles on the wiki.

    Comment Source:>I did a quick count using a crude "grep" and there are over 500 links on Azimuth. By Azimuth you mean the blog, right? Azimuth is the name of the blog. >I begin to think there are too many low impact pages, and that core issues like say "action plans" should or will assume priority. Now you're talking about the wiki, right? >The main thrust of the conversation is now on the blog, the wiki and forum seem secondary, <i>aide memoires</i> almost. A blog is where people have a conversation. The data gathered from the conversation goes to the wiki. The forum is where we talk about building the wiki. This is how it works (quite successfully) on the n-Cafe/nLab/nForum, and the same thing is happening here. The nLab is now the world's best place to learn n-category theory; you might look at the page on [mathematics](http://ncatlab.org/nlab/show/mathematics) at the nLab to see what I mean. None of it will make any sense to a nonmathematician, but you can see it's a rich mine of information. In 5 years I hope the Azimuth Project will be just as useful. By that time it will be hopelessly difficult to find information on a given desired topic on the blog. The blog is a big rambling conversation. But much of the information from those conversations will be on the wiki, in an organized form. So then, people who want to learn things will go to the wiki. I feel puzzled by your comments: 1) It sounds like you want fewer links on the blog... or did you mean the wiki??? I don't understand that. What's bad about links? By "links" do you perhaps mean "pages"? (A link connects one page to another page.) 2) It sounds like you think there are too many low-impact pages on the wiki. I'd rephrase it this way: we haven't built up the high-impact ones yet - the [[reports]], [[action plans]] and [[climate models]]. We haven't given them the prominence they'll eventually deserve. Right now I'm beginning to go through action plans on the blog, and use this to develop the corresponding articles on the wiki.
  • 2.
    edited November 2010

    I think I disagree with Walter, apart from possibly in the case where what would be desired on an Azimuth page already exists in a stable form on an external form, eg, wikipedia. Maybe doing some of existing pages might work as direct links to such sources. Even then, one of the advanatages of having small pages is that they provide a quick way to point someone at what the (current) view on some minor point is. (For example, it might serve future discussions to have a small page on "Jevons paradox" to summarise how it interacts with other topics, as evidenced on the blog here.)

    I do think that, as John points out, in time there'll be great utility in overview pages that show which few pages are really important in the big narrative. One of the problems with a wiki is figuring out when a term is linked "for completeness" and when it's something you should really read now to understand the current page.

    Incidentally, I'll say that I have been consciously trying to "expand" the focus of the wiki beyond just "scientific plans for AGW", because I think that they'll be as important in practice. (Eg, the Pareto front page is an attempt to bring in how to make decisions in the presence of incomplete agreement on facts.)

    Comment Source:I think I disagree with Walter, apart from possibly in the case where what would be desired on an Azimuth page already exists **in a stable form** on an external form, eg, wikipedia. Maybe doing some of existing pages might work as direct links to such sources. Even then, one of the advanatages of having small pages is that they provide a quick way to point someone at what the (current) view on some minor point is. (For example, it might serve future discussions to have a small page on "Jevons paradox" to summarise how it interacts with other topics, as evidenced on the blog [here]().) I do think that, as John points out, in time there'll be great utility in overview pages that show which few pages are really important in the big narrative. One of the problems with a wiki is figuring out when a term is linked "for completeness" and when it's something you should really read _now_ to understand the current page. Incidentally, I'll say that I have been consciously trying to "expand" the focus of the wiki beyond just "scientific plans for AGW", because I think that they'll be as important in practice. (Eg, the [[Pareto front]] page is an attempt to bring in how to make decisions in the presence of incomplete agreement on facts.)
  • 3.

    David wrote

    One of the problems with a wiki is figuring out when a term is linked "for completeness" and when it's something you should really read now to understand the current page.

    I find that the Wikipedia articles on math tend to have too many links that you need to read to understand the page you're reading now. Despite my comment to Walter, it is possible to have too many links, due to this effect. But I don't think the Azimuth Project suffers from that.

    Of course this is especially a problem in math, where the definition of "scheme", say, invokes 5 other terms, each of whose definitions invoke 5 more, etc. But I've been deliberately avoiding this problem on the Azimuth Project. There are lots of rules of thumb to follow:

    1) read the article and see if it sounds like something you'd enjoy reading without clicking on any links

    2) don't use acronyms that aren't defined on the page you're reading

    3) don't hesitate to briefly explain terms, even if they're explained in more detail on another page

    etcetera.

    Incidentally, I'll say that I have been consciously trying to "expand" the focus of the wiki beyond just "scientific plans for AGW", because I think that they'll be as important in practice.

    Yes, I like what you've been doing. General concepts and methodologies for "doing things well" can be very useful. A faithful reader of the Azimuth Project should come away smarter, with more tools for tackling big problems.

    For example, it might serve future discussions to have a small page on "Jevons paradox" to summarise how it interacts with other topics, as evidenced on the blog here.)

    I was thinking of creating one, after you-know-who claimed nobody knew about this issue.

    Heck, I'll do it right now: Jevons paradox. Maybe you can flesh it out a bit.

    Comment Source:David wrote >One of the problems with a wiki is figuring out when a term is linked "for completeness" and when it's something you should really read now to understand the current page. I find that the Wikipedia articles on math tend to have too many links that you need to read to understand the page you're reading now. Despite my comment to Walter, it _is_ possible to have too many links, due to this effect. But I don't think the Azimuth Project suffers from that. Of course this is especially a problem in math, where the definition of "scheme", say, invokes 5 other terms, each of whose definitions invoke 5 more, etc. But I've been deliberately avoiding this problem on the Azimuth Project. There are lots of rules of thumb to follow: 1) read the article and see if it sounds like something you'd enjoy reading without clicking on any links 2) don't use acronyms that aren't defined on the page you're reading 3) don't hesitate to briefly explain terms, even if they're explained in more detail on another page etcetera. >Incidentally, I'll say that I have been consciously trying to "expand" the focus of the wiki beyond just "scientific plans for AGW", because I think that they'll be as important in practice. Yes, I like what you've been doing. General concepts and methodologies for "doing things well" can be very useful. A faithful reader of the Azimuth Project should come away smarter, with more tools for tackling big problems. > For example, it might serve future discussions to have a small page on "Jevons paradox" to summarise how it interacts with other topics, as evidenced on the blog here.) I was thinking of creating one, after you-know-who claimed nobody knew about this issue. Heck, I'll do it right now: [[Jevons paradox]]. Maybe you can flesh it out a bit.
  • 4.

    John wrote:

    ...it is possible to have too many links...

    There must be some upper limit of the percentage of links that the average reader follows, but I don't know it. For an encyclopedia, it is necessary to define everything only once, on the appropriate page, and reference it everywhere else, to ensure consistency.

    For a text like a newspaper article that an interested reader is supposed to read from beginning to end, it should not be necessary to follow any links in order to understand the text, only if one would like to know more about a topic mentioned in the main text.

    In short: I like it best when there is at most one link after each paragraph where I can find more details, possibly after I finished reading the whole text first.

    Comment Source:John wrote: <blockquote> <p> ...it is possible to have too many links... </p> </blockquote> There must be some upper limit of the percentage of links that the average reader follows, but I don't know it. For an encyclopedia, it is necessary to define everything only once, on the appropriate page, and reference it everywhere else, to ensure consistency. For a text like a newspaper article that an interested reader is supposed to read from beginning to end, it should not be necessary to follow any links in order to understand the text, only if one would like to know <i>more</i> about a topic mentioned in the main text. In short: I like it best when there is at most one link after each paragraph where I can find more details, possibly after I finished reading the whole text first.
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