Information Management Discussion

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This page is for the purpose of discussing ways to improve information management and user-interface of OWW.
To post comments, please type *'''~~~~''': followed by your comment to get example below.
Jennyn 16:16, 25 February 2006 (EST): Hello World.
Jennyn 16:18, 25 February 2006 (EST): Hi back!

Possible New Look

Front page layout/color

Right is a possible "new look" for the main page. Please post your comments/suggestions.

  • Jennyn 16:23, 25 February 2006 (EST): I made this to compliment Jen's new emblem.
  • Johncumbers 19:42, 25 February 2006 (EST): Hi Jenny, it looks great with the new logo. I just finished the news section Novel_uses_of_OpenWetWare I think that the news panel could move from the bottom to one of the panes in the main page and could include thumbnails as links to the stories, what do you think? At the moment it is hidden at the bottom and I often forget to look at it. It could still include links to the news, e.g
    2/24/06: ABC lab joins OWW
    2/22/06: ChIPOnChip Protocol added
    But also have links to maybe two photos in it, I think it would be nice to have some photos on the front page. I'd show you what I mean, but I have not had much experience of laying out columns and photos so would prefer to leave it to somebody who has..
    cheers, John
  • Jennyn 20:06, 25 February 2006 (EST): Good point. I will play around with this template and see how I can incorporate News on this so that it stands out. I'll look into adding images.
  • Jennyn 04:38, 26 February 2006 (EST): I went ahead and changed it. If anyone has any objections, feel free to revert back to old or edit as necessary. I am working on getting the thumbnail news to a panel spanning the top.
  • RS 12:30, 26 February 2006 (EST): I love the new look! Great job Jenny! We should extend it to the Protocols and Materials pages. And probably other common pages as well under the Shared Resources section. Can we make it a template very easily? And then have a placehold for inserting the text graphic at the top of the page and column contents and news? I am not sure whether the advantages of being able to make general layout changes in one spot outweigh the lack of customization of each page. I could imagine that new protocol announcements and requests for protocols would go in the news section of the Protocols page.
  • Jennyn 12:37, 26 February 2006 (EST): The template is definitely applicable to other pages. I am currently collaborating with George Ahunov to see what types of software he can develop so that we can deal with less code with managing our information. Will work on Protocols and Materials.
  • Jasonk 14:38, 26 February 2006 (EST): I didn't see this discussion page before, hence my comments over here. if people are in favor of the color scheme then feel free to flip it back. Thought it might be worth waiting until the logo colors got finalized though.
  • Smeister 14:47, 26 February 2006 (EST) Hmm - For what it's worth: I kind of liked the green - it was friendlier and more inviting.
  • Jennyn: We can just wait until the logo colors are finalized, and I can adapt the pages accordingly. The logo should be in its final stages now since we are all starting to agree on one emblem design. In the meantime, I will adjust the Protocols and Materials to the column scheme and keep the gray/blue scheme for now.
  • RS 15:22, 26 February 2006 (EST): I wonder if on the protocols page, the announcements section should be a strip across the top or bottom instead of a column? For some reason, it seems more natural to me. Then the four columns could be In vivo, In vitro, In silico and Other. We could even make Protocols in Progress a separate category to continue using the split columns.
  • RS 15:22, 26 February 2006 (EST): As for the color scheme, I think it should be whatever we agree on for the final logo.
  • Jennyn 15:29, 26 February 2006 (EST): Good point on the Announcements! Will do that.
  • I love the colors, but I wonder if they might be a little too bold. I was told that the colors should be secondary to the content. Now that we have narrowed down a logo, I will suggest some colors for the rest of the site on the logo and poster discussion page. -JenCC
  • Jennyn: Jen, the colors in the image to the right are DEFINITELY too bold, and when I did change the main page to those colors, I toned them down A LOT compared to this picture (this is an old one). However, we're going to wait for your "go" on the website colors.

News section

  • RS 17:08, 27 February 2006 (EST): Various people have suggested it already, but I'll go ahead and post the idea again here. I think we should put the community news section at top of the [[Main Page | OWW Main Page like it is on the Synthetic Biology page. Since it is the most dynamic part of the page, it should be at the top.
  • RS 17:08, 27 February 2006 (EST): Another idea (I can't decide if I like it or not actually) is to have the most recent 2-5 changes to the site show up on the main page ... somewhere near the community news. Thus, as soon as people go to the main page, they can see what people are working on at the moment. It might emphasize the dynamic nature of the site and encourage people to go check out what people are editing. And Austin just showed me how to do it: {{Special:Recentchanges/limit=3}} gives
List of abbreviations:
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23 February 2024

     15:25  User:Ernesto Perez-Rueda‎‎ 2 changes history +45 [Ernesto Perez-Rueda‎ (2×)]
15:25 (cur | prev) 0 Ernesto Perez-Rueda talk contribs
15:25 (cur | prev) +45 Ernesto Perez-Rueda talk contribs
     12:21  BioMicroCenter:SingleCell diffhist −65 Neil98 talk contribs (→‎10X CHROMIUM X)
  • Johncumbers 20:35, 27 February 2006 (EST): Hey, sorry I forgot to watch the page and come back. I like those last 3 changes thing, I agree, the community news and this should be at the top, most dynamic things first. Jenny, where are you posting the latest changes, you said you went ahead and made them but I can't find them? cheers.
  • Jennyn 21:28, 27 February 2006 (EST): Reshma, I like that idea of putting the most recent changes on there, reminds me of MIT ringtone competition on H-Lounge where they post recent uploads and recent comments on the main page to encourage people to explore others' music. That's what I was working on here trying to figure out a way to make it look like the Wikipedia Sister format on top. What I was planning on doing was replacing the description of OWW from the main page (since it is in about section, and most people who are using OWW have an idea of what it is, and if they don't they will usually be inclined to find something on the page that says about), and moving About OWW to the top of Meta, and then having the news in that place (top), so that when someone opens the main page, you can see the logo, the news, and the columns. John, I have not posted it on the front page yet. I am still trying to figure out the most effective format to use that will be the most userfriendly for users to update. Right now, having a vertical column is the EASIEST way, but having a horizonal column is more desirable to most users. Please see Misc for the updates on that progress --and the progress of all page format tests, essentially.
  • BC: I do like the idea of highlighting the dynamism of the site, but I think there are some possible downsides to putting recent changes up on the main page. Firstly, it might be intimidating to new users as they play around with formatting. Secondly, its a less than positive image of OWW if the three recent changes are Barry correcting Barry's typo's. Maybe a prominent link to recent changes below the banner titled "Whats happening on OWW right now!" or something less lame. I like the idea of community news being more prominent and maybe also if we gave extra prominence to active discussions, such as the logo discussion or the getting started tutorial. That could be our version of the featured article box on wikipedia's main page. Stop press, I really like this version of the main page on Misc.
  • Johncumbers 08:41, 1 March 2006 (EST): I've changed the icons on the fronpage to link to the highlights that I wrote about them, so comes up with the story before the page it is talking about. Highlights is the name I came up with for the 'newsletter' type things. I think this will work better than a news letter. but it could complement it. If you have new ideas for highlights, please suggest them in the discussion. cheers, John

Icons on front page

  • George 04:07, 28 February 2006 (EST): Icons have been added to the main page categories. Due to the nature of the "heading" tag, it's not possible to add an icon in front of it without modifying the source code. It is possible, however, to imitate the format via HTML but in that case, the section partitions are lost. ("edit" links that used to appear to the right of the section name). It is also not possible to use anchors since the <a> tag is not allowed in wikitext. Let me know if the visual appeal is worth the inconvenience of not being able to edit the section directly. While user usability is the primary goal here, considering the frequency of how often main categories are updated, it might be worth it. An alternative look is available here.
  • Jasonk 09:34, 28 February 2006 (EST): I like the icons, but not at the expense of losing the "[edit]" boxes. At some point the main page will probbaly be a well-controlled advertisement for the site (a la wikipedia's), but for now I think we benefit from having labs be able to easily add themselves, etc. Clicking the top edit tab on the main page gives a pretty intimidating source text.
  • Jennyn 09:52, 28 February 2006 (EST): Jason has a really good point, but I really like the icons even at that expense. The front page looks friendlier and more inviting, as opposed to a page full of TEXT! I admit, the source code is pretty intimidating, but maybe we can use more documentation to help users find specific places. I, particularly, never use the "edit" boxes because you cannot see the entire page's change when you hit "Show Preview," where you see no color, individual columns (so you can adjust amount of text written to fit the formatting), and at the very bottom you see source code that is not actually shown when you click save and view the entire page. This could possibly be more intimidating because the user might think that he/she deleted a tag? At any rate, the main page contents are not changed often (except for Labs) and if someone messes up, it can be fixed. I don't see a problem in keeping the icons. MEANWHILE, we can figure out a way to get the "edit" back while keeping the icons. Oh, the alternate main page makes me feel like I'm in the industrial appliance store, George
  • Jgritton 10:15, 28 February 2006 (EST) It's a bit of a hack but I put the edit boxes back in by sticking in empty subsection tags. Seems to work OK but it's a bit funky, you see the header for the following section for example. At least it simplifies editing a section.
  • BC - I implemented a different version on the first two sections of the Misc page. It puts the edit box back on top and you don't see the following section. It uses the html tag, which allows use of anchor tag.
    • Jgritton 10:44, 28 February 2006 (EST): A definite improvement Barry.
      • BC 11:52, 28 February 2006 (EST): I applied the html icons to the main page, thanks for neatening them up further Jenny.
    • Jennyn 10:36, 28 February 2006 (EST): Barry, did you know you're the ONLY ONE on this entire page that is not following the "standardized commenting format"? I'm sad.
      • BC 11:52, 28 February 2006 (EST): If you're , I'm . Hopefully, now that I'm conforming, you'll and that will make me .
  • Kathleen 10:54, 28 February 2006 (EST) Didn't see this before. I think we should keep the "about" info displayed on the main page for now. We are actively recruiting users at this point, and it will be easier for them to figure out what is going on with this site if they don't have to search for the info.
  • George 13:30, 28 February 2006 (EST): I aligned the icons with the category title after the new changes. That was a neat fix, Barry :).
    • Jgritton 13:37, 28 February 2006 (EST): George it seems that adding the tables to align the images messes up the edit boxes. I suggest either rolling back to Barry's last change, which is a shame since the alignment does look better, trying the empty subsection tags mentioned above, or???
    • BC 14:21, 28 February 2006 (EST): There seems to be a browser issue, adding the tables improves alignment on Safari but doesn't seem to change it when using Firefox. Aligned or non-aligned I think it looks pretty good.
    • George 16:20, 28 February 2006 (EST): Yeah, Barry's fix doesn't seem to be work inside tables. I guess we'll revert to this morning's version with misaligned icons for now. I'll play around with that more later tonight.
    • Jennyn 18:55, 28 February 2006 (EST): See George, this is what happens when we are perfectionists, we spend too much time on something most people don't really care that much about, when we should be doing other things...more important SIFR support!!!

Mini logo/support OWW graphic

  • Jasonk 15:23, 26 February 2006 (EST): Random thought - it might be cool to have a little box that says, 'Join OWW' or something with a graphic. Sort of like the "I support PLoS" box on this page. Although, I would make it smaller, something that could fit on the lab's homepages. That way if they are dewikified, outside visitors would still realize the lab is part of OpenWetWare (a concern brought up by Smeister in the OpenWetWare:Ideas discussion area.) Might make sense to do this when logo is finished, but wanted to get the idea down.
  • RS 15:56, 26 February 2006 (EST): Great idea! It would be awesome if people could download it and put it in their presentations and/or posters and on their static websites (since many people have separate wiki sites and static sites). And of course, we need to get T-shirts!
  • Jennyn 16:48, 26 February 2006 (EST): Jason, that sounds like a really good idea --good marketing mechanism! I will look into it once we get a logo. Definitely like the T-shirt idea!

Calendar events

  • RS 14:26, 27 February 2006 (EST): I spontaneously decided to make a calendar event template in order to make adding events to the Calendar easier and improve standardization in event descriptions. Feel free to edit/revise it if you don't like it. If you do like, try to port some of the events on the Calendar over to the new format. Some questions I have are (1) Does it take up too many lines? (2) Is it pretty obvious at which institution an event is taking place (by the host line)?

OWW Structure

  • BC 11:59, 1 March 2006 (EST) - Watching the changes and discussions that have been going on over the last few days has been awesome. One thing that I think might help everybody would be to centralize all of these discussions into somewhere like the Community Portal. Now that things are starting to look aesthetically pleasing, maybe organizing how we discuss and implement changes to the structure/appearance of OWW would be a high priority. For example Jenny's "standardized comment format" does make it easier to track a discussion of some proposed change. Further developments like that would be very beneficial. Maybe redoing the community portal's organization would be the best place to start. What do others think?
  • RS 12:36, 1 March 2006 (EST): I agree. One thing that is not really obvious is where comments on OWW should go. For instance, there are talk pages, Information Management Discussion, Roadmap, all the ideas pages Kathleen created off of the OpenWetWare steering committee page and OpenWetWare:Ideas. For newcomers to OWW, it is really not clear where feedback about OWW should go. So for example, this is my take on each of the discussion pages.
    1. Talk pages: for page specific comments.
    2. Information Management Discussion: for information related to content organization and layout. Centered around Jenny's work?
    3. Roadmap: for George and Jenny to coordinate on what needs to be done and what has been done.
    4. OpenWetWare:Ideas: for high level ideas related to OWW.
    5. Ideas pages linked off of OpenWetWare steering committee page: at least one of these is redundant with this page ... OpenWetWare steering committee/Data management. But it is not clear if these pages are just for steering committee members or what should be out on these pages.
I think the community portal would benefit from a more organized structure and naming scheme to the discussions. For instance, every OWW-related page should be prefixed with OpenWetWare: as I mention on the Talk:Highlights page. Perhaps existing discussions could be merged as appropriate? Also, if we could make the community portal shorter with less text, that would help. Right now, there is too much text for people to read through. That being said, all the ongoing discussions that have been going on about OWW are great and unorganized discussion is better than no discussion!
  • Jennyn 18:36, 1 March 2006 (EST): Reshma is right. We should definitely merge all the similar pages, which will be my exciting project for the upcoming days. I STRONGLY AGREE with Reshma in that the Community Portal needs to have less text. I admit, I have not read it because it is too long (and has no images!), nor have I read Step#3 from Getting Started . So, to encourage more users to read these pages, I will work to abridge them, and then merge similar pages (or someone else can do it if they want).
    And yes, all these discussions are very exciting ESPECIALLY SINCE WE'VE STANDARDIZED THE COMMENT FORMAT!!! I'm so proud of everyone!
  • Austin 19:20, 1 March 2006 (EST): You may have noticed the extra navigation automatically added at the top of all pages now due to the WikiDrops extension. Basically, a back link is created to the page that has the most links to the given page until it reaches the main page. Let me know if you think this extension is useful. On some pages, it seems to go on strange paths. But if it usually guesses correctly or if we can coerce it to guess correctly, than it saves lots of organization/linking work.
    • Sri 20:05, 1 March 2006 (EST): I don't like this extension. Especially since it is not optional (you shouldn't have to turn it off, you should have to manually turn it on). I think it general, extensions that affect all pages should be discussed before they are installed. I think other extensions, like the recentchanges and the calendar are local and optional, and thus don't need such a high barrier to be installed. I just feel like adding something to the top of everybody's page is not something everyone has signed up for.
    • Austin 20:21, 1 March 2006 (EST): Well it's now off as it was causing other problems also and it seems to make some weird paths. But there's no other way to test an extension like this. I'm also not sure how adding links to the top of all pages is any different than having links in the side bar. I personally think an automated navigation system would be extremely useful. For example, if it kept track of your click path so you could go back to any point, that could be useful. I think the right version of this extension would be a page rank version that links to the most prominent page instead of the page with the most links to the page or if it suggested similar pages. It should certainly be a user preference to turn on or off, if possible.
  • Johncumbers 20:20, 1 March 2006 (EST): I'm struggling to keep up with the discussions going on everywhere, would a message board like this not be better to group all these discussions together? any thoughts, I find it very slow chatting with people over discussion pages, or trying to scan these pages for new comments, are there any tips to speed it up?
    • Jasonk 22:22, 1 March 2006 (EST):Agree 100% -- I think it would be nice to keep the discussions on OWW though. Has anyone seen a good extension for this sort of thing for Mediawiki?
  • Jgritton 20:32, 1 March 2006 (EST): Hat's off to Barry for spearheading the community portal. An unanswered question, at least to me, is what exactly is it for? and how is it different than OpenWetWare:Getting_started_3? Also, we definitely need a better way to manage discussions. This subsection has forked into at least three directions (community portal, extensions, and discussion management). I suggest we define a namespace (steering committee?, sc?, ???)for all of these types of discussion. Then we can link to a limited recent changes page from the community portal and getting started 3. Then at least it will be easy to find the active discussions.
    • RS 23:49, 1 March 2006 (EST): I would say that all discussions should be in the OpenWetWare: namespace rather than creating a new namespace. As for your other point, in my mind, getting started 3 is just a quick how-to to tell people (if they're interested) how to begin to get more involved in the OWW community. The community portal should be the central gathering point for discussions about OWW (directions, administrivia, content reorganization, layout, new extensions etc.).
  • Jennyn 21:26, 1 March 2006 (EST): Good point Jeff. Can we can make due without the Community Portal? The contents of the it can easily be distributed amongst Discussion (main page), Highlights, FAQ, and Getting Started 3. I think this would eliminate the need to update multiple pages, and would be less confusing to new users. I think a namespace might be a good idea, because then we can see RECENT CHANGES for our discussions rather than everything else going on with OWW. Then, we can dedicate the entire space to discussions, and therefore make it easier to navigate and keep up with different discussions. A forum would defeat the purpose improving the interface of the wiki, so I think we can mimic forums just as well using what we currently have. Plus, I'm sure George can figure out something with forum-like wiki-ness.
    • Jasonk 22:15, 1 March 2006 (EST): I think we need the community portal, at least in some incarnation. It's purpose (as I see it) is to address the question: How do we encourage users to move from just editing in their "lab space" to contributing to communal protocols, materials, etc? i.e. how do we build a base of "power users"? It is essential that the number of power users scales with the total number of users, if we hope to keep up with contributions. Jenny, in particular I think this is one of the major goals within Information Management, how the heck are we going to manage all the information that is getting dumped in an unorganized fashion from many different users and labs? The community portal is (hopefully) where we build the community that is going to hack out the ideas to address that problem. I think it's one of the most critical issues we're going to face as the site scales up.
    • Jasonk 22:15, 1 March 2006 (EST): That said, I think you're right some of the stuff in the Community portal should get out of there - and other stuff should move in. For instance, anything that would fit in the FAQ or Editing Help, etc should be removed. Also, I think for now its OK for the discussions on the main page to be about OWW itself but in the future they should probably focus on scientific topics. Discussion about OWW itself should be housed somewhere else -- like the community portal.
    • RS 23:49, 1 March 2006 (EST): Agreed and agreed (to Jason's above two comments).
  • George 22:33, 1 March 2006 (EST): There is a forum extension available (demo) but it comes with a bunch of bugs and german-only language support. I am working on fixing it up right now. It should be a good start for now, it can always be extended to include more options as they are necessary (categories, etc).
    • George 23:26, 1 March 2006 (EST): Here is a quick semi-translated demo that I've uploaded to give an idea of what it is. I'll wait for your feedback about whether this is the direction in which we want to go. There is a lot of things that can be added - categories, private discussions, etc. (To emphasize, this is just a concept demo... Please ignore looks, bugs, language, and all other things that are currently wrong with it =P).
    • Jennyn 10:31, 2 March 2006 (EST): I like it! All we need to do is add a couple of cute icons and we've got ourselves a nice wiki forum.
    • Austin 11:18, 2 March 2006 (EST): One feature that would be nice is threaded comments. Currently, when you hit reply, everything will get added at the end of the thread. Something like slashdot would be nice. Come to think of it, can we embed parts of slashcode in mediawiki?
  • Johncumbers 18:33, 2 March 2006 (EST): nice George, I agree, better if we can keep the discussion in the wiki, if you could find a way to compact the postings that would be good, maybe you can take some of the white space out, it would be easier to read if it was compact. Also a nice feature of the forums like php board is that it can watch a thread and have it mail you if it changes. any way to do that with wiki pages?
  • George 03:54, 4 March 2006 (EST): The first phase of forum development is complete. Feel free to play around and post your feedback here. You can check the roadmap page for features that are currently being worked on. I decided to go with the casual forum appearance and a familiar vBulletin style look. This should certainly simplify the transition and make things more intuitive. There is probably a couple hundred different options that are included in bigger bulletin boards such as phpBB, vBulletin, etc. that time will not permit us to implement, but anything that you think is worth having, please feel free to suggest. Also, should the wiki model be followed where all users are allowed to edit any post or is it better to place access restrictions based on authorship? Version 6 of the logo was used for the header with a couple additions, I hope you like it.
    • Jennyn 08:58, 4 March 2006 (EST): I love it! As I do with all of your work. Nice additions on the logo header! When are we going to be able to see these changes on openwetware?
    • Jasonk 12:17, 4 March 2006 (EST): Looks really great. Noticed that the posts aren't interpreted as wiki markup (e.g. I couldn't link to another page on the wiki) - I don't think this is a huge deal, but if it's easy to add it might be nice to be able to link out to other pages.
    • Austin 13:20, 4 March 2006 (EST): I agree that wiki markup is needed and it should be easy to do (just add $wgOut->parse($whatever);). Couple other issues: do we want changes to appear in Recent changes? There's not really a "history" like the rest of the wiki, so the ability to edit existing messages essentially means that you cannot be guaranteed that you can always return to the previous state. I'm not sure how important being able to edit previous messages is anyway. Other features: it'd be nice to be able to see the current posts when writing one and to automatically return to the thread after posting. Having a edit preview would be good. Another possibility for a forum that may be more wiki-like and perhaps easier in various ways is to do something like what the calendar does. That is, every comment is basically a wiki page itself (e.g. something like Forum/category/thread#/post#), you can then take advantage of the existing wiki code for most of this (such as recent changes). You just have a front end that does a pretty display of this.
  • Austin 13:25, 4 March 2006 (EST): Something else regarding standardizing style. I've personally hacked my edit toolbar to add a button that automatically adds the appropriate text for adding a comment in this style '''~~~~'''. I'm currently just using the same icon as the existing signature button. But in making it easier for people to do things, you may want to consider whether it's worth redesigning an edit toolbar with perhaps new icons and other standard text.

Why Join? page

  • Sri Kosuri 19:43, 28 March 2006 (EST): I think the OpenWetWare:Why join? page needs a complete redo. Right now it is possibly the worst way to recruit people to join OWW. What do people think?
  • Kathleen 19:56, 28 March 2006 (EST): I agree that some fancification is in order. This should be where we are advertising how great OWW is, while addressing concerns people may have. Maybe we can try to put all of the good points up front and address concerns afterwards instead of the mixed "format" we have now. Also, some pretty pictures/icons won't hurt.