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Thoughts on the Help menu page

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posted on Sep, 15 2007 @ 10:58 AM
William One Sac and others,

Concerning the general topic about having a well equipped portal page for users and contributors, I am thinking that perhaps it is worth considering adjusting the Help page (the menu page that has a link in the sidebar). I notice that for example the Help desk (which hasn't been used in ten months) has a link with formatting like an external link when it is in fact an internal link (the difference is the arrow icon that shows up on the right side). Perhaps some of the elements on that Help menu page could be moved onto a/the Community portal page, and the portal could then get a link to it from the Help page.

This is just a thought I had right now. What do you think about this?


posted on Sep, 15 2007 @ 02:01 PM
I think that is fine, and I definitely think that the portal page you created should be linked from the help page. But I do not think we should remove links from the help page. (If I am understanding you correctly). If anything, I believe there need to be more links on the help page. This is an area that I think I really need to improve some things in, but of course anyone is welcome to jump in. Some of the pages that are linked from the help page just contain a list of links. These pages are not really intuitively helpful, and I think this may discourage new users from editing the tinWiki.

As for adding links to the help page, I am thinking along the lines of pages like the participation page that IssacKoi created. I also want to create some new pages, for example, a page on creating a related links section in an article. And drawing very detailed instructions on everything from formatting, where in the page this needs to be placed, as well as what types of pages we like to link to. On this page I will explain how to search for websites with related material, like on google and different search engines. While some of this material may be very elementary to most of us, and perhaps some of it is redundant within tinWiki itself, I think it will encourage users to create content, especially when they may be new to the concept of a wiki, and might be hesitant to contribute for fear of making a mistake.

On a sidenote, I fixed the help desk link.

posted on Sep, 16 2007 @ 10:43 AM
I agree about the links, that there should be more and not less. It was when I started reading from the top of the page, the text section there, that I sort of had the impression the text perhaps should be placed somewhere farther "in", I mean not be the first part on the Help menu page. What I mean is something like, if someone click a link that says Help, the page should as accurately as possible fit its title, so that people see all the things they expect, and don't have to read things that (I, at least, felt) are at least somewhat beside the topic of Help. I mean, the text introduction is something more like a description of tinWiki, which could be reserved for some page that was called (like one is) What Is tinWiki, or something, and which people only see if they actively seek it out or click on a link. I did actually write a text introduction on the Community portal experimentation page, which may or may not be a better place for such a description text of what tinWiki is.

My general thought is something like, in the "outermost" pages, the menus and such pages that people will perhaps see first, the content should be as precisely labelled as possible, and should offer those things that the visitor might want to see, and not have too much content which is not precisely on topic for that page, on the page.

Not sure how well I described what I mean, hope it did make some sense.

I like very much what you say about linking to the Participation encouragement page by IsaacKoi and also linking to the Community portal experimentation page, from the Help page. And your new page ideas for the detailed descriptions sound like a very good improvement of, or addition to, the Help section.

About the pages that are linked to from the Help menu page, those that just contain lists of links and are not intuitive and so on, perhaps they could be edited a bit, having the links sorted in a better way, and maybe having some accurate headers and perhaps some short descriptive texts added to them. That's just something I'm thinking right now, though, I must admit I haven't looked through all the Help pages recently.

I think it could be a very useful improvement of tinWiki, improving the Help menu page, adding some new pages to link to and editing some of the existing ones perhaps, and sort of co-ordinating the general help "area" among the Help menu (or whole help pages "section") and the new experimental Community portal page. Anyway, that's just my impression as I'm thinking about this right now. And if the sidebar link can be updated later, that's great, and if it doesn't happen in the near future, that's basically also alright. Maybe it can get a sort of appropriately prominent location and/or appearance on the Help page.

Anyway, the Help desk link looks much more right, I feel, without the arrow and with bold font. I could of course have formatted it myself, as an internal link, but I think I feel a bit reluctant or something about going in at all and editing those more central pages, maybe. Anyway, I'd say the Help menu page looks better already.


posted on Sep, 16 2007 @ 11:13 AM
Thanks for your ideas Optimist. I think a revamp of the Help page is in order. One of the pages that I felt needed some improvement was this one:

Getting Started

Originally, when you clicked on it it was just a list of links. I added an introductory paragraph to the page so that it doesn't feel so barren. That paragraph is wide open for editing, so if you feel anything needs to be added or detracted, jump right in. I did some work yesterday on the help topics, but there is still room for alot of improvement. For example, I changed the background color of the stub banner:


I think it looks nicer now. I also feel it helps it stand out more. I would have preferred changing the background color to a shade of yellow, but I was afraid that that might hide the icons that you made. So I went with a shade of blue. Let me know what you think of the new stub banner. I got the idea from a page that I came across here:


That page is not easy to find. And it seems to just be a copy of the main page description, but I like the idea it has links on the page. This is another page that I feel can use some improvements. It is just a bunch of links without any descriptive text to give the reader what the page was craeted for. Policies

Also I created two new pages yesterday. One detailing how to make a related websites section in an article and one on creating a relevant discussion thread section. It's not a big deal really, but it goes along with the idea I have had about improving the help section.

Related Websites

And please, don't feel funny about making changes to the help section. I have full confidence in you.

edit to fix a link.
edit more links

[edit on 9-16-2007 by William One Sac]

[edit on 9-16-2007 by William One Sac]

posted on Sep, 18 2007 @ 06:27 PM
William One Sac,

I for one think this is exciting. :-)

The new Getting Started version is way superior to the previous one, with these new introductory descriptions. I agree that an introduction makes the page more informative and help people get on the right track as far as what the page is about. I want to try and make an introduction text for Policies, like you have made now on Getting Started.

I think it's a great idea to use color actively like you have done now in the Stub banner. As for the icons making it impractical with a yellow background like you originally wanted, here is a blue version of the icon, which I made right now. You can see here how it looks on the same yellow hue as the new background in the About table. If you prefer this combination, I will happily change the Stub accordingly. I think it looks kind of cool, myself.

The content of the About page is something I noticed is like you say, when I was looking at the version history of the Main Page, I mean I realized that the texts are pretty much the same. The About page, which as you may know has a small link at the bottom of every tinWiki page, is one I have started using fairly much recently, like a sort of menu; the See also section was added by me, and I put a couple of links there which I felt were central in some way, but that perhaps weren't available many other prominent places. It sort of works like a sketch community portal for me, right now, I guess. :-)

The new pages, Relevant Discussion Threads and Related Websites, are really nice additions to the Help section. I feel there is absolutely use for the new pages since they talk about the creation of quite central parts of basically every article page. I definitely think new contributors will appreciate them, and really they are handy for existing contributors as well. One edit I thought of while looking at the pages, that I want to make, is to change the appearance of the code examples, either by using the < t t > < / t t > or the < c o d e > < / c o d e > tags, so the code examples look like how text appears in the editor.

Anyway, I feel these are some exciting and significant steps, what you have done here, concerning improving the impression tinWiki users and contributors get.

A somewhat unrelated idea, although not totally, that I had the other day and which I want to mention, is I thought of making a page called something like
alette, where I want to create a presentation of the colors we like to use, to put it like that. I believe such a page could be a practical tool for getting more aware of the colors and styles aspect, which would then make it easier to be more deliberate in the use of visual effects in tinWiki. This was just a thought I had though.

Anyway, lots of interesting things going on here now. :-)


edit: unintended smiley -- therefore checked Disable smileys
edit2: no avail

[edit on 18-9-2007 by Optimist]

[edit on 18-9-2007 by Optimist]

posted on Sep, 19 2007 @ 11:43 AM
reply to post by Optimist

By all means, create an introductory paragraph for the Policies page. I think that a summary of some important points would be alot more helpful for the page than the way it is now. I think the idea we have in mind is to make the help section as helpful as possible, without overloading new users with too much information at once, which may be too much information at once for people who aren't familiar with the tinWiki experience at once.

As for the stub banner, I appreciate the effort you put in to creating a new one with inverted colors, but in all honesty I prefer the blue background right now. Maybe in the future that can change, but the edges of the triangles around the little (blue) workmen seem to blend in with the yellow too much the way it is now. As I said, it is a work in progress.

That was a great idea you had for putting links on the about page. I mean, what would be the purpose of it if it is just a copy of the main page. So I think that it would be a good idea to mull this page over in our minds and see if we can make improvemnets of any kind to it.

I did not realize you can use the code like you pointed out for the help page. That is really good to know and something I will keep in mind while making changes and improvements in the future.

I am curious about you idea for a Palette page, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with when you create it!

posted on Sep, 20 2007 @ 07:14 PM
William One Sac,

I feel the topic about keeping the Help pages simple and to the point is quite important, and I certainly agree with your description of that concern.

Regarding the About page, since there is overlap between that one and the Main page, I wonder if perhaps it could be a good idea to think about those two pages both when considering improvements. I am thinking of the idea I had a while back of looking at ideas for possible improvements of the Main page, which I also created a little experimentation page for. Anyway, the name of the About page should make a fairly good starting point for deciding how the page should be, and of course the contents must also be decided keeping in mind what similar pages exist that serve related purposes. That's how I think about it now, anyway.

Anyway, in addition to writing a short introduction for the Policies page (and also taking the opportunity to categorize it as well), I went ahead a made that Palette page. It turned out pretty much as what I was picturing, and I have got to say I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, the general 'concept' of it, or such. I am hoping that you as well will feel it serves a purpose.



As for the Stub banner, I was fiddling around a bit after I read your thoughts on the light border of that blue icon I made the other day, and in case you want to see some other versions, here (imageshack) and here (picoodle) are two new icon versions with dark borders, and here (picoodle) is a new screenshot of them on that yellow background with the same color as in the About page. I think it's fairly interesting to try out little ideas as far as those appearance aspects, so if you have any comments as far as that or ideas which you could use help with, please let me know and I will be happy to see what my very basic image editing knowledge can do. :-)

edit: tried to correct a link code problem

[edit on 20-9-2007 by Optimist]

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