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A very important suggestion for Instructables Answered

Hello,

I'm a researcher interested in wiki-based problem/solution management (Instructables is exactly an example). I have found a big problem with such sites and how to solve it:

Problem base (PB) wikis already exist, such as WikiHow and WikiAnswers. But I think they're not well-organized enough. For example, WikiHow has a category called "Air Conditioning" which collects solutions related to air conditioning:

http://www.wikihow.com/Category:Air-Conditioning

As you see, there are no subcategories in this category. All solutions are just listed in A-Z order. A person must scan these solutions one by one to find a solution that matches his problem.

What's the ideal PB in my mind? Under a topic like "Air Conditioning", the PB should further categorize problems in three ways:

1. By symptom ("What's wrong?")

2. By task ("What do you want to do?")

3. By component ("What component is your problem in?")

Each of the above can walk a user down several levels of subcategories until actual problems come into sight. This is what I call "well-organized".

"By symptom" and "by task" are actually approaches that categorize objects (here, objects are problems) by function, while "by component" is an approach that categorizes objects by structure.

(Visit https://plus.google.com/u/0/102291835965130378165/posts/V6pMGuQcBuJ for my original post on this.)

Best Regards,
Ziyuan Yao

Discussions

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mh76dk
mh76dk

8 years ago

1) What are you suggesting? you only explain the problem and a vague direction to take to solve it

2) If you expect the same people that post the information to also catagorise it, then you will have the same mess, only now they can also mess up the catagories

3) Please do not use phrases like "very important" when it really is not

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Lithium Rain
Lithium Rain

Reply 8 years ago

3) is just plain stupid. Relative importance is inherently subjective and as such, you have no place telling someone else not to call something "very important."

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mh76dk
mh76dk

Reply 8 years ago

Then we will end up having everyone posting UPPERCASED VERY IMPORTANT posts because it is obviously important to them - so no, there is nothing stupid about asking people to stick to facts and not dillute it with words that adds nothing.

But that was just a minor nitpick, The most important part was that i was interrested in how he planned to proceed with this, given that this site does not have the same goal as a wiki (usually) do.

But again, what is stupid about requesting (not telling) plain ontopic no-nonsense subject lines for peoples posts?

If one had to be very anal about this, he does infact not have the right to decide if his post is important to its target or not, the target of the post is the one making that "decision"

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Lithium Rain
Lithium Rain

Reply 8 years ago

Must be nice getting to declare who can say what's important.

Back in the Real World, everyone is equally free to say something is important or not important, and telling them not to do that is stupid.

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mh76dk
mh76dk

Reply 8 years ago

You started this thread under my comment doing exactly that. you declared my small minor nitpick was stupid - are your opinion on this somehow better than mine? you have not even explained what possible good can be in having the phrase in the topic. (the poster and i however moved on to discuss the project)

if everyone is free to say something is important, i am equally free to suggest it really is not important.

I do not really see why you take offense to me asking quite politely not to use superflous words in a topic - you are ofcourse free to do so, i just do not see why you prefer a mess of topics with no relevance to the post itself

Have a nice day

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caitlinsdad
caitlinsdad

Reply 8 years ago

< filed under relevant topics; importance; donkey millinery and haberdashermongering >

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yaoziyuan
yaoziyuan

Reply 8 years ago

1) I'm suggesting three ways to categorize problems (by symptom, by task and by component).

2. OK. I agree categories may only be maintained by super users.

3. OK. But I personally think it's important.

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mh76dk
mh76dk

Reply 8 years ago

1) I agree having catagories could help people - that is not really a question - you just only suggest the catagories, not how to implement them (or who)

2) who are these super users? are you suggesting whoever owns instructables hire (more) people to catagorise when most of what you are looking for can be solved with a decent site searchengine? or are these super users volunteers given the rights by the owners? How likely do you think it is to get a decent amount of people to do this, that is both willing and able - but at the same time trustworthy with the job?

In short, you might have a solution, but you have not even hinted at how it should be carried out

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yaoziyuan
yaoziyuan

Reply 8 years ago

I think, generally, it should be carried out just like how Wikipedia is operated.

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mh76dk
mh76dk

Reply 8 years ago

See, now we are getting somewhere, do you care to elaborate how that would fit into instructables?

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yaoziyuan
yaoziyuan

Reply 8 years ago

Create a wiki. Foster a community like Wikipedia's. On Wikipedia, users do have privilege levels.

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mh76dk
mh76dk

Reply 8 years ago

This site already have a very wellworking community. and a non-wiki approach. I really fail to see the problem - infact I fail to see what wikipedia-like approach has to dowith your initial suggestion at all.

And how do we get from where we are now to this other way?

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Lithium Rain
Lithium Rain

8 years ago

Instructables isn't wiki-based.

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FoolishSage
FoolishSage

8 years ago

I understand what you are saying but you seem to base this on the assumption that people come to instructables with a problem in the hope of having something fixed.
I think allot of users (perhaps even most users) come here to see projects people have done either to do the project themselves or as inspiration for a similar project they may be working on.
For these people the symptom/task/component categories make little sense because the effects people try to obtain, the methods they use and the materials they use are just so incredibly varied. Each instructable would end up having a unique subcategory for itself which would end up making browsing more difficult rather than easier.

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Kiteman
Kiteman

Reply 8 years ago

+1

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caitlinsdad
caitlinsdad

8 years ago

The problem is, you are trying to think logically and impose a system that is not unlike calling tech support on the phone which you have to endure a myriad array of touch-tone choices before you get to speak to a live person or get returned to the initial menu choice. There is no doubt there are benefits to having a well organized database but I think most people will just try to search on keywords or phrases to mine the data and get at their solution. Good luck in your research.

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yaoziyuan
yaoziyuan

Reply 8 years ago

This is true. If we can find a problem using a quick keyword-based search, we won't have to go through categories and subcategories. But if keyword-based searches can't catch our problem, going down categories is worth doing.