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Eric Myers
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Message 10793 - Posted: 8 Jun 2007, 15:29:38 UTC

This is a continuation of a converstation begun on the talk page of the Main Page of the Unofficial BOINC wiki.

I've purchased the domain names boinc-wiki.info, boinc-wiki.net and boinc-wiki.org (and also the same thing without hyphens, since Chris does not like hyphens :-) and I've just now completed directing the DNS to the existing wiki.

Chris, you need to configure virtual servers on all those names to just do a permenant redirect to the one true name we want to use for the wiki.

Which one should it be? Perhaps boinc-wiki.info is the best choice, but whatever it is the others should just redirect to it so that everybody ends up on just that one name.

-- Eric Myers

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- William Butler Yeats
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Lee Carre

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Message 10803 - Posted: 9 Jun 2007, 8:28:52 UTC - in response to Message 10793.  

This is a continuation of a converstation begun on the talk page of the Main Page of the Unofficial BOINC wiki.

I've purchased the domain names boinc-wiki.info, boinc-wiki.net and boinc-wiki.org (and also the same thing without hyphens, since Chris does not like hyphens :-) and I've just now completed directing the DNS to the existing wiki.

Chris, you need to configure virtual servers on all those names to just do a permenant redirect to the one true name we want to use for the wiki.

Which one should it be? Perhaps boinc-wiki.info is the best choice, but whatever it is the others should just redirect to it so that everybody ends up on just that one name.
I strongly advise against using names which specify a particular technology (such as MediaWiki). Something more generic will have a longer life, eg after the MediaWiki system is no longer used lol.

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Eric Myers
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Message 10806 - Posted: 9 Jun 2007, 13:09:00 UTC - in response to Message 10803.  

Lee wrote:
I strongly advise against using names which specify a particular technology (such as MediaWiki). Something more generic will have a longer life, eg after the MediaWiki system is no longer used lol.


I agree with this in spirit, but I picked names which match the existing name to get started, and then we can work on a better name as we go along. I got several variations of the domain, but we should standardize on one and redirect the others to it.

So perhaps we start with boinc-wiki.info and eventually it becomes known as the "BOINC info" site, and we can then drop the "wiki" part when/if appropriate?

I don't like "Knowledge Base" because that also implies a certain kind of structure (based on how HP and Apple and others do theirs), and usually a more non-collaborative format. I've argued with Jord that the FAQ is really a Knowledge Base because some of those questions are not so frequently asked. Even so, making that information easily available is very important whatever it's called. I'm sure this debate will continue.

The nice thing about using "wiki" in the name is that it suggests the collaborative nature of the thing, based on the model of Wikipedia, which I don't think is going to disappear anytime soon.

I have a similar naming problem on the I2U2 project. On both the mock-up site I've set up for I2U2 and on Pirates@Home I call the attached wiki the "glossary", but the content is actually much more than a collection of definitions of words (though it has that too) and I would like to find a better name for this which does not use "wiki" in the name. (One practical reason is that there are also other wiki's involved. For BOINC we have the Trac wiki, while for I2U2 my collaborators and I are doing some of our development using a Twiki based wiki.)

-- Eric Myers

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- William Butler Yeats
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mo.v
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Message 10807 - Posted: 9 Jun 2007, 13:43:15 UTC
Last modified: 9 Jun 2007, 13:51:54 UTC

'Knowledge base' could sound rather scary to newbies. The last thing we should do is to frighten members off by the very title of the help web pages.

We need to make the explanations and fixes accessible and comprehensible to as many members as possible. One way to solve this problem is, when a selection of methods/fixes is available, to classify them for different levels of user competence as MikeMars did here:

http://www.climateprediction.net/board/viewtopic.php?t=5895


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Lee Carre

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Message 10813 - Posted: 9 Jun 2007, 21:15:40 UTC - in response to Message 10807.  

'Knowledge base' could sound rather scary to newbies. The last thing we should do is to frighten members off by the very title of the help web pages.
I agree that things should be usable and non-intimidating, but what makes you say that "knowledge base" would be frightening/off-putting, yet "wiki" (an unknown term to most users) wouldn't be?

We need to make the explanations and fixes accessible and comprehensible to as many members as possible. One way to solve this problem is, when a selection of methods/fixes is available, to classify them for different levels of user competence as MikeMars did
Categorisation is good, but it should be done at a higher level; rather than marking questions based on target audience, make seperate "FAQs" (or whatever's appropriate) for each audience level and only include questions relavent to each.
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Lee Carre

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Message 10814 - Posted: 9 Jun 2007, 21:24:52 UTC - in response to Message 10806.  

Lee wrote:
I strongly advise against using names which specify a particular technology (such as MediaWiki). Something more generic will have a longer life, eg after the MediaWiki system is no longer used lol.

I agree with this in spirit, but I picked names which match the existing name to get started, and then we can work on a better name as we go along. I got several variations of the domain, but we should standardize on one and redirect the others to it.

So perhaps we start with boinc-wiki.info and eventually it becomes known as the "BOINC info" site, and we can then drop the "wiki" part when/if appropriate?
The reason for suggesting this was to avoid depending on dozens of domains (once you publish URLs you can't then render then to produce a HTTP 404 (by removing content)).
I would also suggest choosing the most appropriate name we can think of as early as possible (obviously if a better name is thought of later, then that should be used as time goes on).
This avoids "moving" the site from domain to domain, which has odd effects for things like google rankings (I assume we want documentations sites to be as high as possible?)

I don't like "Knowledge Base" because that also implies a certain kind of structure (based on how HP and Apple and others do theirs), and usually a more non-collaborative format. I've argued with Jord that the FAQ is really a Knowledge Base because some of those questions are not so frequently asked. Even so, making that information easily available is very important whatever it's called. I'm sure this debate will continue.
well, it doesn't have to be "KB" obviously something more appropriate and descriptive, my point was don't include "wiki" because most user's don't know the term, it doesn't describe what the site is about, and is technology specific; the name should describe the purpose.

The nice thing about using "wiki" in the name is that it suggests the collaborative nature of the thing, based on the model of Wikipedia, which I don't think is going to disappear anytime soon.
To those who know what a wiki is, yes. But how many average users will make that connection? Surely a descriptive name will serve the purpose better, and remove various questions/doubt?

I have a similar naming problem on the I2U2 project. On both the mock-up site I've set up for I2U2 and on Pirates@Home I call the attached wiki the "glossary", but the content is actually much more than a collection of definitions of words (though it has that too) and I would like to find a better name for this which does not use "wiki" in the name. (One practical reason is that there are also other wiki's involved. For BOINC we have the Trac wiki, while for I2U2 my collaborators and I are doing some of our development using a Twiki based wiki.)
In a way this shows exactly my point, if you base a name on technology, your 3 options are;

    *you have to keep changing it as the technology used to run your site changes
    *leave the name as-is for stability, but when the technology changes, it'll be incorrect
    *use a name which describes the purpose (the "what" rather than the "how") which if chosen wisely, should never have to change as long as the purpose remains the same


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mo.v
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Message 10823 - Posted: 10 Jun 2007, 2:47:33 UTC

Whatever name is chosen, I don't think it would generally be a good idea to have different compilations/collections for different levels of competence. I suggested above that when more than one method or fix is possible, they can be categorised by level of difficulty. But I meant within the same collection so that the choice available is clear.

Complete newbies can often encounter exactly the same problems as experienced members. The explanation of the problem may be too complex for many members to understand, but the solution should in most cases be simple enough for most people to understand. Click by click if necessary.

Navigation within the collections is of paramount importance. I must admit that although I recognise that there's a vast amount of invaluable information in the Boinc Wiki, I have never learned to navigate it properly or even form a mental image of its structure.

I have the same problem with the Boinc website. I have the impression that there may be large parts of it that I've never discovered, and that what I do discover is more or less random. Maybe the problem's within me (ie my own random access memory), not within these websites.
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Lee Carre

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Message 10827 - Posted: 10 Jun 2007, 6:45:14 UTC - in response to Message 10823.  

Whatever name is chosen, I don't think it would generally be a good idea to have different compilations/collections for different levels of competence. I suggested above that when more than one method or fix is possible, they can be categorised by level of difficulty. But I meant within the same collection so that the choice available is clear.

Complete newbies can often encounter exactly the same problems as experienced members. The explanation of the problem may be too complex for many members to understand, but the solution should in most cases be simple enough for most people to understand. Click by click if necessary.
good points, i withdraw my previous comments, and now agree with this idea, but it will only work if done very well, making it very clear who each level is intended for (with explanations beyond the short names; "IT literate" could cover a whole range of skill-levels). The other problem is that many people would think: "'IT litterate', I'm not computer litterate, therefore that doesn't apply to me" sort of thinking, so the wording used to describe each level needs to be carefully thought through, but it's possible to make it effective. Perhaps just base it on difficulty (eg "easy" "intermediate" "advanced" type thing) rather than trying to assume what level of experience would be required. An example of why, being that if a user is experienced but only in one area of IT, that doesn't mean they'll find another area easy too. Eg if they're experienced with using a computer, that doesn't mean they know how to troubleshoot and fix hardware issues.

Navigation within the collections is of paramount importance.
of course, this cannot be understated

I must admit that although I recognise that there's a vast amount of invaluable information in the Boinc Wiki, I have never learned to navigate it properly or even form a mental image of its structure.
Agree, it seems that the system tries to remove any form of hierarchy (sp?) to the extent that in wikipedia, custom mini-navigation aides need to be created for related articles (take a look at the various networking articles, especially protocols). I think this idea stems from an odd view of hypertext theory, in that the web is in some ways structureless (you can jump from random location X to random location Y with just one link), but that's only really appropriate between sites. Within the same site, structure, information architecture, hierarchy etc. are all critically important for a sucessful user experience.
A simple case being the awareness of where you are in the overall structure, which again, the mediawiki systems seems to avoid, you could be anywhere in the overall structure, unfortunetly i think that's by (poor) design.

I have the same problem with the Boinc website. I have the impression that there may be large parts of it that I've never discovered, and that what I do discover is more or less random. Maybe the problem's within me (ie my own random access memory), not within these websites.
the boinc site is a classic example of a bunch of pages stuck together without being made to form a coherent, cohesive whole. The same problems apply but for different reasons.

Both cases need to be avoided. I wouldn't be surprised if many people didn't use resources like the boinc wiki due to it's lack of structure and poor usability. As I've said before, these issues need to be resolved for it to be useful and effective/secessful in it's goal(s).
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Keck_Komputers
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Message 10830 - Posted: 10 Jun 2007, 12:08:07 UTC

I like boinc.info for the URL, that should cover any future changes well and get the point across quickly.

I must admit that although I recognise that there's a vast amount of invaluable information in the Boinc Wiki, I have never learned to navigate it properly or even form a mental image of its structure.

I have been an editor there for a long time, probably since it was created, and I still have trouble navigating to the page I want sometimes.
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Eric Myers
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Message 10836 - Posted: 10 Jun 2007, 16:12:26 UTC - in response to Message 10823.  

mo.v wrote:
I have the same problem with the Boinc website. I have the impression that there may be large parts of it that I've never discovered, and that what I do discover is more or less random. Maybe the problem's within me (ie my own random access memory), not within these websites.


The problem is not with you, I have had the same impression. I think both wiki's need better organization, to help you find what you are looking for (even if you don't quite know) and to give you some confidence that you are able to easily find everything available.


-- Eric Myers

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- William Butler Yeats
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Eric Myers
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Message 10837 - Posted: 10 Jun 2007, 16:21:43 UTC - in response to Message 10830.  

JKeck wrote:
I like boinc.info for the URL, that should cover any future changes well and get the point across quickly.


I like that too, but it turns out it's taken. If we can persuade the person who owns it to point to the wiki then we can use it. If not, we'll have to pick one of thhe others.


I must admit that although I recognise that there's a vast amount of invaluable information in the Boinc Wiki, I have never learned to navigate it properly or even form a mental image of its structure.

I have been an editor there for a long time, probably since it was created, and I still have trouble navigating to the page I want sometimes.


Me too. The overall organization is the biggest problem I'd like to tackle.

One thing we might want to point out is that searching the wiki is different from Google. It first tries to find a page with an exact match to what you entered. That failing, it looks for pages which have a partial match in the title. And then it lists matches in the article body. I think this is actually the right way to search the wiki, but some people seem to have a problem with it just because it is different from Internet search engines. We might look for a way to help make this point visible.

Searching on the Trac site is another thing. Ugh. You don't just get wiki articles, you get the revision log, bug reports, the kitchen sink. Even searching the Berkeley site with Google set to their domain gives message board postings and boinc_dev e-mails. There needs to be a way to easily search *just* the documentation pages.
-- Eric Myers

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- William Butler Yeats
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mo.v
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Message 10845 - Posted: 11 Jun 2007, 0:48:56 UTC

I think that means always-visible and all-embracing menus and tree structure, which is perhaps what's lacking or only partially-implemented at the moment.

This can only be designed by people who, unlike me, understand what boinc consists of in its entirety, and how the different aspects subdivide.
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Eric Myers
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Message 10847 - Posted: 11 Jun 2007, 2:24:56 UTC - in response to Message 10845.  

mo.v wrote:
I think that means always-visible and all-embracing menus and tree structure, which is perhaps what's lacking or only partially-implemented at the moment.

Partly implemented, I'd say. And I'll have more to say about that in a bit.


This can only be designed by people who, unlike me, understand what boinc consists of in its entirety, and how the different aspects subdivide.


I don't think so. I don't think you have to understand all the details to start with the general picture.

If we start at the top (or the base of the tree) then we can break things in to smaller parts, then those into smaller parts. You don't have to know where everything will end up to get started organizing this way. What does help though is to talk it through first and get the general idea layed out.

On the Trac wiki at Berkeley there are three main links on the first page. The first link is for participants (volunteers, the users who run the client), the second for those who want to create projects or applications, and the third for code developers. I think that's a pretty good start at dividing things up by intended audience. Most people will quickly follow the first link, but knowing the others exist doesn't hurt unless it's confusing.


I mentioned on the Unofficial BOINC wiki that I've been playing with a draft version of a new front page. It's on the Pirates@Home glossary under Welcome to the BOINC wiki I tried out the same divisions, with some graphics and supporting text to try to make it a little clearer. Again, volunteers should then quickly follow the links in the first category.

Now you don't have to know much about code development to know the division exists, and you can contribute to just the sections where you do have some knowledge.

Then each of those categories needs to be divided up in broad terms. That requires knowledge of those areas, but one person doesn't have to be an expert in all of them. Like distributed computing, we can divide the task at hand an conquer it.

-- Eric Myers

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Lee Carre

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Message 10855 - Posted: 12 Jun 2007, 10:32:05 UTC - in response to Message 10830.  
Last modified: 12 Jun 2007, 10:43:42 UTC

Keck Komputers wrote:
I like boinc.info for the URL, that should cover any future changes well and get the point across quickly.
Agree completely, but if it's taken then a "boinc*.info" domain (* = any) would be the next best thing.
This is where the purpose of the site is important, if "boinc documentation" or similar isn't appropriate or desired (as peaple have said is the case with "knowledge base" - but see my comments about KB vs Wiki) then what would be appropriate?

Keck Computers wrote:
[quot=mo.v]I must admit that although I recognise that there's a vast amount of invaluable information in the Boinc Wiki, I have never learned to navigate it properly or even form a mental image of its structure.
I have been an editor there for a long time, probably since it was created, and I still have trouble navigating to the page I want sometimes.[/quote]I think that says it all lol - about the site navigation i mean, and that it must be extremely lacking if a long-term editor has trouble. New visitors really wouldn't stand a chance in that case.
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Message 10856 - Posted: 12 Jun 2007, 10:38:12 UTC - in response to Message 10836.  
Last modified: 12 Jun 2007, 10:40:03 UTC

Eric Myers wrote:
mo.v wrote:
I have the same problem with the Boinc website. I have the impression that there may be large parts of it that I've never discovered...
The problem is not with you...
Considering you can't change users, and even if you could that's the wrong way to go about it; it's usually always the site nav being unusable, or at least hard to use.

Eric Myers wrote:
I think both wiki's need better organization, to help you find what you are looking for (even if you don't quite know) and to give you some confidence that you are able to easily find everything available.
Agree entirely with the principal, however the current navigation system is inherent to mediawiki isn't it?

So unless the wiki system can be changed (so we can have a proper information architecture with proper URLs) then another CMS is needed instead. That alone won't be an easy thing, that is if we want the output to be good quality, efficient code, accessible etc.
However, there are some rather good open source CMS packages out there.
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Message 10857 - Posted: 12 Jun 2007, 10:53:12 UTC - in response to Message 10837.  

Eric Myers wrote:
Keck Komputers wrote:
I have been an editor there for a long time, probably since it was created, and I still have trouble navigating to the page I want sometimes.
Me too. The overall organization is the biggest problem I'd like to tackle.
Good navigation is critical to a usable site. It's good that fixing it is desired, but it should also be a "MUST" item on the ToDo list, as a requirement. There's not much point without it.

[quoteEric Myers]One thing we might want to point out is that searching the wiki is different from Google. It first tries to find a page with an exact match to what you entered. That failing, it looks for pages which have a partial match in the title. And then it lists matches in the article body. I think this is actually the right way to search the wiki, but some people seem to have a problem with it just because it is different from Internet search engines. We might look for a way to help make this point visible.[/quote]This is all about how the results page is presented. If it's not clear how the search was performed, then the results will be confusing.
The one issue with this method is that it seems to be a workaround to the google approach of trying to return the most relavent results (well, at least google tries to give relavent results), but again, this comes down to information architecture and having a good search system, neither are easy or simple things.

Eric Myers wrote:
Searching on the Trac site is another thing. Ugh. You don't just get wiki articles, you get the revision log, bug reports, the kitchen sink. Even searching the Berkeley site with Google set to their domain gives message board postings and boinc_dev e-mails. There needs to be a way to easily search *just* the documentation pages.
Completely agree, the Trac system feels very fragmented, and that it's trying to be too many things when using seperate systems would do each section better than a general purpose one.

Trac is much improved compared to some bug management/tracking systems I've seen, but I agree there's still much room for improvment.
Obviously general improvements should be made to the Trac source (eg, applied to the actual project source) rather than the BOINC specific implementation, however I can imagine several BOINC-only improvements being benificial.
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Lee Carre

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Message 10858 - Posted: 12 Jun 2007, 10:58:13 UTC - in response to Message 10845.  

mo.v wrote:
I think that means always-visible and all-embracing menus and tree structure, which is perhaps what's lacking or only partially-implemented at the moment.
Exactly, that's at least one way of going about it, and generally the most commonly used which means it's a good choice because people are most familiar with it.

mo.v wrote:
This can only be designed by people who, unlike me, understand what boinc consists of in its entirety, and how the different aspects subdivide.
Being an area of such critical importance this needs to be planned well on many fronts, my notes on good planning process point out that purpose, goals, scope and content should be established before you can expect to design a good architecture or navigation system.
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Message 10859 - Posted: 12 Jun 2007, 11:18:49 UTC - in response to Message 10847.  
Last modified: 12 Jun 2007, 11:24:22 UTC

Eric Myers wrote:
mo.v wrote:
I think that means always-visible and all-embracing menus and tree structure, which is perhaps what's lacking or only partially-implemented at the moment.
Partly implemented, I'd say. And I'll have more to say about that in a bit.
Partly? The wiki system produces a flat navigation system though? Unless I'm missing something here.

Eric Myers wrote:
mo.v wrote:
This can only be designed by people who, unlike me, understand what boinc consists of in its entirety, and how the different aspects subdivide.
I don't think so. I don't think you have to understand all the details to start with the general picture.
Disagree, to design a good architecture/structure, you really have to have a pretty good understanding of the essence of the project. One of the main reasons is that your information architecture (and thus your site structure) shouldn't just be designed for today & now, but allow flexibility (eg, in how you name & organise things) to expand gracefully in future, and by gracefully I mean not having to drasticly change URL structure, or "redesign" the site.

Eric Myers wrote:
If we start at the top (or the base of the tree) then we can break things in to smaller parts, then those into smaller parts. You don't have to know where everything will end up to get started organizing this way. What does help though is to talk it through first and get the general idea layed out.
To an extent I agree that people dealing with, or responsible for a particular section don't need to know what's going on in other sections, but it makes a significant difference to the site appearing an a coherent and cohesive whole. When initially designing the basic structure, a good, detailed knowledge of how the site should work, and the essence of the content is needed if the design is to be good, effective, future-proof, usable, and generally high-quality.

Eric Myers wrote:
On the Trac wiki at Berkeley there are three main links on the first page. The first link is for participants (volunteers, the users who run the client), the second for those who want to create projects or applications, and the third for code developers. I think that's a pretty good start at dividing things up by intended audience. Most people will quickly follow the first link, but knowing the others exist doesn't hurt unless it's confusing.

I mentioned on the Unofficial BOINC wiki that I've been playing with a draft version of a new front page. It's on the Pirates@Home glossary under Welcome to the BOINC wiki I tried out the same divisions, with some graphics and supporting text to try to make it a little clearer. Again, volunteers should then quickly follow the links in the first category.

Now you don't have to know much about code development to know the division exists, and you can contribute to just the sections where you do have some knowledge.
A good point about this style of division was made about the FAQs. Dividing by target audience is the simplest method, but in many ways it's very limiting, you're leaving it up to users to decide on their level of knowledge (eg, basic/beginner or intermediate/advanced - I'm sure you can imagine a user going into a section which doesn't meet their level of experience, such as when a user doesn't consider themselves a "computer person" therefore they must be a novice type thinking, or similar (such as the reverse lol).
A generally better way is to divide by subject (or similar, whatever's appropriate) and then the user can decide on an article-by-article/topic-by-topic basis if the content is beyond them.
A point about dividing by subject, obviously the content should be as simple as possible (possibly with links to sub-pages with more technical detail to satify the more technical folk) because more knowledgeable people generally don't mind an article which is aimed at less experienced users as long as it still gives the answer(s) they were seeking.
So it's quite possible to divide by subject, which is generally more effective - imagine that the answer a user is looking for is in the "advanced" section due to it's complexity, yet their looking in the basic/novice section, but are capable of applying the fix/work-around which could be quite simple in comparison to the problem.
Basically it comes down to; how do you decide what experience level something should be categorised at? Considering that something which is easy for people knowledgable about programing, might not be easy for people knowledgable about networking. Or vice-versa.
The reverse is also true, what if the answer I'm looking for is actually in the "novice" section, but I'm in the advanced section because that more closely matches my experience level? One solution is to duplicate content between sections divided in this manner, but that brings non-trivial problems of it's own. Again, I'm lead back to recommending that content be divided by subject (or similar).

Eric Myers wrote:
Then each of those categories needs to be divided up in broad terms. That requires knowledge of those areas, but one person doesn't have to be an expert in all of them. Like distributed computing, we can divide the task at hand an conquer it.
The point about knowledge of multiple areas comes back to the issue of making the site a coherent/cohesive (I'm sure my spelling is appauling lol) whole. So that different, but related articles feel like they tie together, and there's no "content gap" which seems to occour often enough for it to be a problem in such an editorial system.

Also, how is quality assurance and/or quality control going to be maintained (eg, good content) with different people making random edits to different sections? This is again why having a good overview produces a better structure, because that person is much more aware of how changes to sections for example, affect the site as a whole.
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Eric Myers
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Message 10966 - Posted: 16 Jun 2007, 13:28:37 UTC

The domain name www.boinc-wiki.info now points to the Unofficial BOINC wiki, and changes even when the IP address of that server changes (which is often).

Is this the name we want it to have now, unless boinc.info becomes available to us?

-- Eric Myers

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- William Butler Yeats
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Lee Carre

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Message 11615 - Posted: 14 Jul 2007, 8:09:47 UTC - in response to Message 10966.  
Last modified: 14 Jul 2007, 8:34:18 UTC

The domain name www.boinc-wiki.info now points to the Unofficial BOINC wiki, and changes even when the IP address of that server changes (which is often).

Is this the name we want it to have now, unless boinc.info becomes available to us?
Sensible enough for now, however although the DNS redirect works (eg DNS CNAME is in place) HTTP redirects are lacking which is bad on many conuts


    *caching is defeated, same page with different URL is re-downloaded
    *search engine rankings; google punishes the "multi domain" approach and sees it as an attempt to increase rankings.
    *confuses users;

      *are they actually the same?
      *are they the same site, or is one a copy of the other?
      *which is the true/proper/correct name?




adding HTTP redirects solves/prevents all of these problems


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