Michael's Wiki

Writing

A well-written wiki supports exploration and lookup better than what textbooks or video are capable of. Writing practices are discussed at length in wiki communities; for writing practice details see Wikipedia:Writing better articles, Wikipedia Guidelines, or the Wikipedia:Manual of Style.

Good writing leads to good page structure. Page structure encompasses page length, coherence between related pages, and any namespaces or ontologies organizing pages into categories.

Ideally, the wiki's page structure will allow navigation to information of interest from the home page with minimal hops between pages and no confusion by being overwhelmed with massive directories or lists the user has to navigate through. The sitemap should reflect a strongly-connected graph with small edge count outgoing from nodes.

This is achieved by good writing. A symptom of poor page structure is when users rely on a search engine to find information.

Plasticity

Wiki technology facilitates accessible and dynamic editing of documents primarily through the ever-present edit button. However, additional tools to allow quickly inserting or editing diagrams, mind-maps, $LaTeX$ math formulas, or other media are valuable assets to a good wiki platform.

Page Length

An ideal page length should allow a user to read the whole page in under 10 minutes. Pages that are too short should be included in a larger page as subheadings, usually with a redirect from the too-short page.

Coherence

When a change is made such as integrated one page into another, or breaking a too-long page into smaller pages, providing relevant context between these pages creates coherence to provide context to users and facilitate lookup and navigation.

Page Ontology

An ontology is a hierarchical system of categories. For example, DokuWiki uses a namespace feature to group pages into namespaces. Other ontology systems include the headings and structure within a page, tagging, sitemaps, or other old-school-Yahoo directory lists of content.

Exploration

Exploration is how we describe when a user is trying to learn something new. This is when you are first reading through a textbook: you might skip to a particular chapter of interest or read cover-to-cover, but you are trying to find new information. It's what you're doing if you clicked an Exploration-link and just ended up here for the first time.

Lookup

Lookup is a user action defined by Library Science and Information Retrieval. It is when a user is trying to find some particular information they are already familiar with. This is usually what people use their textbooks for after they have already read them through the first time.