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Archive:Simplification

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This is a workpage. Feel free to expand, mark it up, add discussion, and generally get your hands dirty, just like you would an old-fashioned WikiWikiWeb page.

Let's use this page to brainstorm and start to implement ideas for simplifying the CZ: namespace offerings. CZ:Home has many links to CZ pages. You can find a complete list here and various organized lists via the "Other" links on the "Community Pages Templates," such as the yellow-colored template you see at the top of this page: Category:Organization (or at the bottom of the present page!).

General problems to solve

Here are tasks we need to do and problems we need to solve:

  • Make brief versions of very long pages, like CZ:Neutrality Policy; see CZ:Article Mechanics for an example of how this can be done.
  • But certain other pages, like CZ:Editor Policy, might need to be broken into more than one page.
  • Make a kick-ass "getting started" page, a single page that we can always send people to, with the recommendation, "If you just read this short page, you'll basically know everything you need to know to get started." It is important that we not jump willy-nilly into writing that page. We need to think carefully not just about what it should include, but also what it should exclude. Cf. CZ:Getting Started; the new page should go right at the top of that page, and should also of course be linked from Main Page and the sidebar.
  • Consider the ideas on CZ talk:How To. Would it really improve things to organize our CZ: namespace pages into a subpage hierarchy? Maybe, maybe not. Content hierarchies like this can wonderfully clarify things, but they also tend to ossify, and unless they're beautifully designed and carefully maintained, they usually end up being a mess. Notice that CZ: namespace pages are already arranged into groups, as you can see on CZ:Home.
  • Here's a prior question that we need to think about. It is useful and important that we have guidelines when they are needed. But having too many guidelines evidently makes people think, wrongly, that they have to be familiar with all of those "rules" in order to get to work. How do we make the CZ: page structure (and content?) simpler and more user-friendly? Yes, we know it needs to be simpler and more user-friendly. But what are some general principles we should follow in simplifying?

Specific page tasks to do

Here are some specific tasks for specific CZ: namespace pages. Do what it says, cross out, and sign your name:

Endless sidebar fiddling

Please put ...with subpages back in. It is soooo much nicer to start an article with subpages with one click instead of going to another page and then finding which of the two links on the subpages section to click. Removing this option from the left sidebar will only make more people start without the subpages. David E. Volk 11:16, 20 March 2008 (CDT)

Well, I hacked and slashed at a bunch of things that were not as important as other things. Omitting that link, and a bunch of others that were in the previous version, is the price we pay for simplicity. I figure it's just one more click from "Start article"...and how often do people really start new articles anyway? --Larry Sanger 11:21, 20 March 2008 (CDT)


CZ:How To vs. CZ:FAQ vs. CZ:About

I desire to make a complete distinction between CZ:How To and CZ:FAQ / CZ:About. The FAQ/About is full of trivia, like why join, why this is better than WP, why donate, etc. Basically, general questions about the project.

In contrast, I want none of that in the CZ:How To page. The How To shouldn't answer any of these types of questions, and should only tell a person how to actually accomplish specific tasks, like making tables, symbols, and finding people. That is, when a person wants to do something, but doesn't know how to do it, the How To page will explain it or have a link to another article that explains it. David E. Volk 11:31, 20 March 2008 (CDT)

Well, that's actually tolerably clear to me! But, if "How To" is reasonably brief (as I think it must be, to be useful), i.e., if it directly answers only those questions that can be answered briefly, and otherwise points people to other pages for answers, then it would make sense for that content to be included in the FAQ, because people look in a FAQ for "how to" info. But I don't feel strongly about this. I might be just as comfortable with a prominent link from the FAQ to the How To page. If we did want to include the info on both pages, we could transclude it from a template both to the FAQ and to "How To." Just an idea. I honestly don't know what would seem simpler and better from the user's point of view. --Larry Sanger 12:25, 20 March 2008 (CDT)

I disagree about the brevity of the How To page. The only thing it needs to be useful is a TOC at the very top so a user can click right to the section of interest, and include back-to-top links to get directly back up there in a flash. The Sidebar should have a "How To ..." link on it, perhaps under the Start article section. The biggest issue I had starting this project was finding the actual directions for doing anything and everything, and even after a year with the project, I still have trouble finding some of the pages I need. Even if I have seen the thing I need before, remembering which of the twenty or more guides contains the actual information is hard difficult. David E. Volk 16:18, 20 March 2008 (CDT)
The approach taken is very reasonable and user-friendly, and there is support for it. --Robert W King 12:27, 20 March 2008 (CDT)

What approach is that, Robert? (Did we discuss the approach you mean above, or are you just bringing up a new subject?) --Larry Sanger 12:29, 20 March 2008 (CDT)

Did you read the CZ:Howto talk page before swooping in? --Robert W King 12:32, 20 March 2008 (CDT)
Are you addressing me? Maybe not, because if you read it, you would have noticed that I myself wrote on CZ talk:How To? Anyway, it would be most efficient if you just stated what your point is. --Larry Sanger 18:47, 20 March 2008 (CDT)
I like the "prominent link from the FAQ to the How To page" approach. J. Noel Chiappa 16:01, 20 March 2008 (CDT)
That probably is simplest. --Larry Sanger 18:47, 20 March 2008 (CDT)


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