From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This information has been archived from User:Luccagenes for the period from May 3 to Nov 4, 2014

Previous information (Mar 5 to May 3, 2014 can be found in User:Luccagenes/Archive01 which covers my initial involvement with this wiki and the daily reports for a FamilyTree project which is now abandoned.

May 3, 2014[edit | edit source]

Top of page

I have not forgotten about my original project. Just finished my first wiki article, “New to Genealogy - Beginners First Step” which was easy to write but terrible to find the right links to use on the page (the beginners category needs a little reorganization).

Anyway, have the keyword list compiled (600+) and I’m figuring out how to group them (less pages needed, ~100 pages). I will have to make a test page with actual information to work out the bugs. I have also worked on the multi-lingual aspect for the keyword pages using “uncreated” template links that will be activated as different languages are added. By pre-making the link on the keyword page the template can be created by clicking on the links as needed but they will automatically be linked back to the correct spot.

Of concern is keeping up with new feature additions to Family Tree but will ignore this for now as they can be added later. Another concern is watching what the state of the art is for the help capabilities being implemented by FamilySearch itself (involving “help”). Do not want to create a redundant system if it is of little or no value. I am assuming they are at least one year away (probably more) as it was stated in a GetSatisfaction discussion in early March by an employee that their option was only in the planning stages.
Luccagenes 07:25, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

July 15, 2014[edit | edit source]

Top of page

I have again gotten sidetracked off my original project and onto other projects such as helping Linda with her assignment to redesign the Wiki Support introduction pages. We came up with a nice design using a “bullet hub” image (using an image map) wherein the bullets link to various subject articles and one of the bullets leads to another hub image where all the wiki support function links could be found. Linda worked on The Support Center (tool box) aspects while I worked on the Fundamentals page. In the process we started the EasyAccesSeries of articles (update: this article naming was approved by Sandra) to see how it would be accepted and if other areas could benefit from such a design. For my part several tables were prepared while updating the different pages that were linked to from the bullet hub (created tables for the policies page, the guidelines page, condensed the links on an article about governance, and made a listing of "volunteer opportunities” for the help wanted page)(update: the list was removed from original page so the new link to template is here. The opportunities list was also reformated for the current "narrow" page format per Caleb's request and it was ultimately made into a template for easier installation and editing (update:sentence added 20140725).  In the process, also made several images that were added to these pages to update the style. Giuseppe liked Linda’s redesigns and our work went “live” on 5th June.

Also, got caught up in the “future” page designs frenzy (for the new MediaWiki version) and I created 4 interlinked mock up pages of the mainpage and the next 3 second level pages while trying to achieve the "look and feel" of the FamilySearch webpage designs. Passed these suggested pages onto Giuseppe and Caleb but they decided to go with the page redesigns they had already started with. I have decided to continue my effort in my sandbox (in MyWikiWorld) by making the pages fully functional by completing the next level of page links. In the process, came up with an interesting way to “liven up” the Community page (Get Involved page) by using a “poor man’s JavaScript” to change parts of page every day, advertizing news and project status, by using templates and parser functions. In addition to the “advertizing boxes” and the associated template overlays (14 templates), the other pages that have resulted are so far are: Navigation Basics, a table addition to the Genealogical Terms Page, and a “next level” page those “new to genealogy”. Will continue to work on the “New to the Wiki” hub and the “Get involved” (Community Center) hub until they are fully developed and any necessary pages have been created. Oh, somewhere in the middle of all this I was given reviewer and moderator rights so I could upload my own images and my edits could be bypassed during patrolling.

Currently testing a “World Locations” table (temporary location) wherein a list of all countries and misc. locations will show a listing of all wiki links related to each location. This is slow and tedious and will take awhile to complete. This is just an extension of the world cities tables mentioned much earlier (made a mock up to show Giuseppe back on April 4th) but it did not interest anyone. Interestingly enough, just recently there have been discussing about “do not make pages for every city in a county” and then a comment was made about how would users know what city is in what state or county; duh. Anyway, eventually I may continue the locations theme with this table and then make something for MN cities (all 3500+ cities) although the countries table is getting quite large (byte-wise) so its completion as a single table may be impossible.

So anyway, original project is on the back burner but not forgotten. Interestingly, the FS site recently upgraded their help section and I was worried that maybe they had accomplished the same thing. But no, they are apparently going in a direction which is not like my idea although they appear to be offering a local help button now on the Family Tree pages (as was suggested). So while there are no plans to completely abandon the original project at this point, it has just been put on lower priority as it was probably an insane idea in the first place. In contrast to my anticipated (novice) view of the wiki, I have to rethink the idea that the community would help maintain such a system (much less that it would help to create it in the first place). So far I have seen little if any coordinated effort where the general population (more than a few people) could be focused on achieving a single task. The only exception was a significant effort to reduce the uncategorized files but that effort was focused within the support group itself which consists of missionaries whose “job” (or vocation) it is to maintain the wiki. The reality is that getting the general public to participate in this original project is unlikely at best and is probably impossible. The only other alternative is to do it myself which could take a year or more, therefore the question is, is it worth it (especially in the light of how easily the wiki can become outdated versus the rapid changes to the Family Tree software in recent months; Family Tree was also having difficulty keeping their own user’s guide pdf updated).

In reference to the outdated issues, with the push to get the community “involved” I found it ironic that the list of Wiki Projects and the Community News page were severely outdated. Of the 16 wiki projects listed, 13 were last worked on from 1 to almost 5 years ago based on their history pages (which is not immediately evident when looking at the article itself) but they are being referred to as “current” projects. The community news page was also seldom used with the last update being almost a year ago. I reported this latter issue and I thought it was to be updated, but nothing to date. It appears to be common knowledge that there are issues with outdated pages. As a side note, the statistics page lists 150,000+ registered uses but only 300+ active users (last 30 days) which is about 0.2 percent of the users so it is easy to see how pages can get overlooked without some mechanism to highlight the history dates. There has to be a way to monitor and update critical pages (possibly a small, unobtrusive icon to put on critical pages, instead of the maintenance template used to manually designate an outdated page). Possibly by using a template where one can add a parser function for a time limit. For example, this Community News page has had no activity in the last week, or that Wiki Project has been idol for over a month. Use a template input value to set the various time limits. Interesting idea, will have to try something like this and play with it some more.

I also made a couple bullet hub images for Wilma (per Caleb’s suggestion). I told her the first draft was just a conversation starter as I had no idea of what she wanted. Wilma sent back some info (suggestions) so I made another draft to send her. She appreciated it but indicated she would have her people take it from there so I have no further involvement in this.

At Linda’s suggestion I also looked at a question posted by Giuseppe on Yammer about how the wiki’s pages are distributed by topics. Initially Giuseppe mentioned something about missing pages (getting the page totals to equal the 152,000 listed pages in the statistics page). Giuseppe had posted a list of category results for the wiki and out of curiosity I wanted to see if I could put it into a sortable spreadsheet format using delimiters (a learning process for me). The result was good so I sent it back to Giuseppe but he asked if I could put it into a Google sheets format so naturally I had to learn the Google spreadsheets next. This was also posted on Yammer with a request that others help to make it searchable by “topic” (a fairly easy job) but have gotten no takers (another example of getting the community to help achieve a common goal as referenced with my original project). I also did a searchbox summary of all the pages (using Boolean search functions) and came up with a total number of pages per namespace (every namespace plus redirects, deleted pages, etc) that was pretty close to the mark of 150,000 articles. Granted that that was not what Giuseppe was looking for, curiosity on my part, but I later determined that the search box function could also give him the topic distributions he and Danielle were looking for. I posted some examples of my results on Yammer but I took it no farther as there seemed little interest by this time (although Giuseppe did give it thumbs up).

Just recently I rewrote the Help: Image map page after the previous image map editor was shut down and was no longer available on the Internet. The initial conclusion was that we would have to wait for the higher ups and engineers to figure out what to do about it but that seemed illogical to me (since this was an external link to the wiki and in no way should it affect the wiki itself). I asked Warren at the July 10th tech meeting and he said there was no problem finding another external link. I tested and wrote the instructions for the new editor and upgraded the existing Image map page to reflect the different editor (posted its availability on Yammer).

So that is the summary of the last two months (I should really do this more often so it is not so long). PS, also had some medical issues during this time frame. I will have to also check out "archiving" as this page is getting quite long. Forgot to sign name earlier: Luccagenes 21:03, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

July 22, 2014[edit | edit source]

Top of page

Just finished making a template called Template:Auto-outdated with the objective of finding a way to monitor time sensitive articles like Community News or WikiProject status. A secondary objective is to use it on any (or all pages) with set points anywhere from 1 to 730 days. This way, over the course of two years every tagged page would at least be reviewed occasionally. The template has a time trigger which will install a category to the page, Category:Auto-outdated, where the outdated article (based on a typical trigger of 1-365 days from the last revision) can be reviewed and updated. Besides a technical issue of controlling the input for parameter one (limit numbers <=0), the other issue involves the universal acceptance of using this template and actually performing the monitoring. It potentially could become a problem wherein the listing is ignored until it becomes a huge task to reduce the size (like what happened with the uncategorized files recently).

The template and the category have been created and the template has been installed on a few pages so the next step is to see how well the template triggers (initial results had the 4 tagged pages show up in the category after the 1 day trigger expired).

This has been an attempt to address the outdated aspects of the wiki articles which currently relies on someone to add a template (someone knowledgeable, thorough, and patient enough to actually add the “outdated” template to the page in question) and then assuming that support will find the time to address the issue. I am getting the impression that this idea will be viewed by support as something that will make their jobs bigger rather than as an aid to getting the job done more thoroughly (they might be right as it will result in another category they would have to watch). Again this falls back on the fundamental problem of how to get a coordinated and consistent long term effort from the general community and the support personnel with a high turnover rate. Support has enough priority issues to deal with and I have yet to see enough general population involvement to be effective. I am not even sure there is a general population out there to draw from as was indicated when looking over some Wikipedia stats yesterday. It appears that only 0.2 percent of the registered users actually contribute on a regular basis (this wiki has similar results) and this has be seeing diminishing returns over recent years. Therefore, other than monitoring this system to see how it performs there will be limited further involvement and there may never be an answer to totally fixing the issue of outdated information and inoperative or misdirected links (other than applying brute force over a finite amount of time by support; as was recently done with the uncategorized files). Luccagenes 23:57, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

July 25, 2014[edit | edit source]

Top of page

I have successfully added the parser functions and calculations to extend the timer out the extra year (to 730 days). It was relatively easy but each additional year will require a new option be added to the "Switch" function so I am stopping at a two year interval (the most practical range anyway). Wikipedia functions like "AgeParse" may or may not be available with the new version and it would eliminate these issue by calculating the time between any two dates. Using the "1970" based calculation will not work as the parser functions cannot store a variable (would require Javascript).

I have also successfully added the subcategory option wherein the outdated page name can be put into one or two additional (specified) category pages to filter the results to certain groups or individuals. These designations can be made by using parameters 2 and 3 for the template. There are some technical issues that have to be addressed (limiting the parameter one values to numbers greater than zero) and the unusual glitch that was uncovered (see the following note). I have posted a request for assistance from Steve Cottrell but he appears to be "off-line" for the last couple months so I will have to wait and see if he responds (if not I will ask Warren at the next Technical meeting but Steve is the template expert).

Note posted on Steve Cottrell's talk page: Steve, I also found something unusual (a glitch) with the operation of this template although some of it may be a common occurrence with the server. When the timer expires, the display will change (from OKAY to Expired) and the category is added to the bottom of the page (after about a 1 hour delay which appears to be normal and consistent). The concern is that the page that now has the “auto-outdated” category on it is not being added to the actual category page, Category:Auto-outdated, even a whole day later (have tried several means to refresh the page). The only way to get it to display correctly is to edit and save the template itself at which point any and all expired pages are instantly posted on the category page. Afterwards, when a particular article page is then re-saved (the timer being reset) that page will be automatically and instantly removed from the category page as it should (this problem only occurs in the other direction).
Luccagenes 14:04, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

July 28, 2014[edit | edit source]

Top of page

Found the answer in Wikipedia article and eventually in a wiki article. This is apparently a known issue with no work-around. Have added the following "Ambox" alert to the category page. Will continue to check the proper operation of this template over the next couple weeks.

Luccagenes 16:51, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

Sept 10, 2014[edit | edit source]

Top of page

I waited way too long again to update these entries so this is a summary of the last month and a half.

Aug 8th Testing the beta version. Suggested using a division box to encompass the entire page and limit the expansion to 1000px (1200 with left menu) at least for existing pages. This is about the right size for the older small screens anyway. Found a couple issues which were emailed to Warren. Tested Wilma’s new Illinois page in to the beta and had to find the extra div tag which was also messing up the beta left menu. Tested a couple of other pages but found no major issues other than the expected nuisance issues.

Aug 19th I’ve been casually considering the idea of how to create a centralized help page (“Help Central”). Collecting info (2000+ links) and testing page designs that might work. This is turning out to be a long term project.

Aug 21th Joy reported an issue with the new image map editor on the Aug 7. Eventually I was able to repeat the result and it appears to be an issue that occurs if the editor is not refreshed before each use (which it normally would be) and appears to be associated with the polygon construction and not for the circles or the rectangles. A note was added to the Help:image maps page to reflect this conclusion.

Aug 24th Personal Note: Ran into my first “Fixer” in Family Tree who is changing things just for the sake of changing them. Actually some of the changes appeared to be an attempt to get the names in the correct format to do temple work but most were changes in the birth records which were wrong and did not make sense. For one thing, she was using the modern name spellings instead of the correct spelling for that region and time period in Switzerland. Had to correct a couple dozen entries. I see why people do not like the open edit format in FT but at least the restore function works.

Aug 25th Pulled together a list of things that had occurred during the period from Oct2013 to Aug2014 as they relate to the Community News page (the last entry was Sept2013). Initially I sent a note to Linda on Aug 4 and she brought it up at the next meeting. After a couple of weeks the issue was forgotten again. I’ve been thinking about a way to keep reported issues from slipping through the cracks while at the same time making sure the information is readily accessible (many of the meetings had no recordings or minutes written). It was interesting that while I was compiling said list by looking back through the last year’s meeting minutes (~30 items not put on the News page) that several things that are being brought up in the meetings these days were also brought up anywhere from 6 months to a year ago.

Submitted four suggestions to the Governance Council (per the discussion at the last contributors meeting). They included the Auto-outdated (Giuseppe likes), the Community News list (Caleb likes) and a way to get everyone to give input about things that should make it to the News page, another suggestion to use a centralized template to record items that need more follow-up at the meetings, and finally asked if a “newsletter” email list was an option for the wiki (like on FS) to notify users about updates to the Community News page (such a list would also give a better idea of the size and vitality of the wiki community),

Aug 27th The subject of a sortable categories list in a Google spreadsheet came up again in a Yammer discussion. I reminded Giuseppe that such a list was already prepared back in late June (see a previous entry above about that work).

Aug 28th I had a meeting with Giuseppe and Caleb after contributor meeting. They asked if I could convert my sandbox pages to the narrow page format so the design could be evaluated as live pages. Giuseppe indicated that the new wiki version will not be ready by late Sept (more like the end of the year). Giuseppe wants to get some changes made ASAP but wanted to see some other design options other than my current “bullet hubs” (“the little circles”). I said I would try to whip something together. As long as I had their ears at this meeting I also suggested separating the search function on the new version into two separate functions but do not know if that is possible. The general search versus the page creation search are incompatible within the same operation as these two operations have opposite objectives (one is to find everything while the other operation imposes restrictions as it is supposed to find if an exact phrase has been used before as a title). Not being privy to exactly how the search program is designed may mean that I could be totally wrong about this but they did not think that separation was possible anyway because the programmers are having enough issues to deal with in the new version.

Aug 29th Evaluating category reorganization. Started a Word file for a possible wiki page to identify some “quick pick categories”. Should I create a page for picking the very best options (lets say the top ten for each page type (image, template, article, etc)? Then users could check with such a page if they have no idea about which category to use (been there, done that; usually omitting the category).

Aug 31st Finished creating the new images for Giuseppe and uploaded them (seven design possibilities) and made the test pages per Giuseppe’s and Caleb’s request (Test page). These pages are in the narrow format as it appears the new wiki version may be delayed a few more months. Provided the seven page design options for them to look at (plus made my “fake main page” in the narrow format too). Sent Giuseppe a note about adding a fourth main page box called “New to Research” which he first brought up but he meant as a possible option to replace the term “New to Genealogy” while I thought he meant it as an additional link. I made a quick mockup to visually demonstrate the idea and Giuseppe liked it.

Sept 3rd Created Template:News to publicize, Template:Support Meeting Followup, modified FamilySearch Wiki:Community Discussions and Proposals|Contributor Discussions and Proposals, and the existing Template:Community Wiki Support Agenda. These were based on the suggestions made earlier to the GC but I figured that I should test them out in the real world instead of just making the suggestion. The new templates were put on the meetings pages so I will have to wait and see if they are effective or not. Also made a substitution template for the Template:Contributor Meeting Agenda to make its duplication easier. Will do the same for the Tech meeting pages later as Warren is not back yet (out of the country) and no meetings are scheduled.

For the immediate future I am concentrating on the narrow page format per Giuseppe’s and Caleb’s request. Four of the five wide format pages have been converted for the current version (narrow) and three are fully functional. The new to the Wiki page needs hub links and I’m working on the last one (which has to be built from scratch, subject matter and all) since this “New to Research” page is a newly created. I will not redo the Get Involved wide format, which was still a work in progress, as I linked to Caleb’s current live page. At this time I’m only considering using the bullet hub design (circles) as these were already done and the other optional page layout designs would require image and image map creation to replace the bullet hubs (See the temporary list which links to all seven options). Although I have received no feedback yet (and I don’t really expect to), a very interesting look (image 2) was encountered during this exercise wherein a background image was overlaid with boxes so someday I will have to figure out where to use such a design (a very appealing look). I don’t think it will work here because there is no logical order visible but it may work for something where several related subjects can be unified when the order is not important.

Based on Giuseppe’s posting of my mockup test page for the “main page” on Yammer, someone asked if “Help Central” was a real thing. I explained that the image was posted on a personal page only (now public) and that it would be a couple months before “HelpCentral” was ready for the page creation phase. I guess now I have to get it done.

Sept 4th Created the “DIY checklist” (on the mockup pages) which is just a short list of things for the new user to do immediately. It appears that many new (and old) users do not even know where or what their “talk” page even is, much less how to create a user page (I can relate to that as it took me two weeks to find my talk page). I’m just hoping that by putting this list of “things to do” prominently on the initial wiki pages (the mockup main and hub pages) that maybe more users will see it and react to it. By the way, I had initially created another list called “One on One help options” that lists all the common links that are available to find help. The two lists are displayed side by side.

Since these narrow page conversions from a wide format were a quick and dirty test per Giuseppe’s request the pages were thrown together for the visual effect only. I had to go back into each page and debug the coding before they would be ready for possible use on a live page (had to reorder much of the division box coding to get them standardized). The mockup main page (except for two links) is fully functional. These two missing links include the official “searchbox” link which I am not authorized to use (a fake image was created but I’m still looking for a work around code) and the “access namespace search” link (which is a link I would personally like to see installed to eliminate many of the steps involved in getting to this page which I use 99% of the time). Two of the four next level pages are also fully functional.

Sept 5th Suggestion (not made yet): The engineers should add a category selection to image upload special page and or the user upload page. Maybe an automatic “default” for images which the submitter can change if desired. Would that work for the article and template pages as well? Have to think about it some more.

Started updating the Community News page as apparently nobody else will. I’m also curious if it is true that I am the only person that thinks this is an important page. I was very disappointed when I found out it was abandoned a year ago as I find it disheartening that it is virtually impossible to find out what is happening within the wiki. To be honest, this was one of the three reasons I almost walked away from the wiki a month ago (notice the gap in entries for early August). The other two reasons being that it is extremely difficult to find technical answers as I spent the first month looking for answers every time I ran into wikitext coding issues (maybe a HelpCentral will be beneficial) and the other reason is the fact that the feedback and progress is exceedingly slow or non-existent. I suppose this is normal in the corporate world; “hurry up and wait” but that’s enough complaining for now. Concerning the updating of the Community News page, I can understand that nobody wants to be assigned to be the news reporter that has to find and write the news items (I do not like it either) so hopefully the “News to publicize” template will be a way to spread the wealth (get everyone involved just a little). I also added a link directly to the next level pages (mockups) to increase the exposure of the Community News page therefore I also fixed up it up a little by removing the TOC (pointless for this article) and added images and an ambox to liven it up a little (looks a little better). Eventually I will also add the long list of things that happened over the last year (Sept 2013 to July 2014 which was blank).

Sept 6th Trying to flush out the subject matter for the New to Research page so I activated the talk page and will have to wait to see if anyone has suggestions. Actually I cannot wait that long (not getting any younger) so I’m scanning the wiki to find articles that might fit. This is reminiscent of starting the New to Genealogy - Beginners First Step article in that even though it is implied that writing an article is not that hard it really should be hard. Finding the right links is difficult while the actual jotting it down on paper is relatively easy and straightforward. The first section for the bullet hub (may be moved or changed later) is “The beginning series” where another page should be created to access all the articles like “Beginning English research”. This would be split into a location and a topics segment. Other possible areas (still speculating) are Utilizing the Wiki, Research Aids, Research Analysis (is the source relevant), Research record types, Research forums, Tracing immigrant origins (migration routes), On the ground (leg work), Further reading, Utilizing stuff outside the wiki, and Foreign language wikis. Nothing set in stone yet as I’m just trying to figure out the eight (or so) bullet hub positions.

Created the page for the new section, New to Research, and found a couple great images for the page. Using the theme of “Digging for treasure”, it has the image of gold coins on a pile of rocks and I modified the image of the Tutankhamun mask by making the background transparent (white). Used Tutankhamun mask as it is obviously one of the best recognized buried treasure finds and Tutankhamun is after all someone’s great great ancestor (while doing genealogy we are all digging for buried treasure). The page looks great but now I have to figure out the subject matter!

Sept 7th Have a possibly stupid idea about how to potentially direct users in a logical direction (a path) throughout the wiki but I still have to create a working example to see if it will fly. I was thinking about a “follow me” ambox that could be put on the desired pages (possibly using the Beginners First Step as a test case in conjunction with the New to Genealogy mockup page). The idea is to have an ambox with something like: a subject line (new to genealogy), a “Follow Me” here link if interested in subject #1 or “follow me” here link if interested in subject #2, a return here link (to previous article), and finally a return to “start” link. Sounds like this is getting very complicated. At first I dismissed the idea because there was no way to connect all the “follow me” amboxes on the various pages but then this morning I woke up with the question: Could a common template, a “pathfinder” template, be used to interconnect all the “follow me” links? This may be a stupid idea and it is only minutes old so I have not thought it through yet but it is just being written down here so I don’t forget it. Hopefully, more later.

I liked Danielle’s recent posting of a Google spreadsheet recently for keeping track of issues related to the beta wiki (I had posted the same suggestion to Warren on his talk page). I also liked Danielle’s earlier changes to the feedback link; there is a lot of potential good from this as long as the feedback results are promptly regurgitated back to the community. I have just checked the link and it appears that no results were updated in the last month (PS. the posting of results, if there are any, would be a good addition for Community News). On a similar vain to the Google docs, concerning the reorganization of the categories, I have suggested at one of the meetings (I think on the 28th of Aug) that a common Google doc be made for this effort so that everyone does not go off in their own directions, and so anyone can check out such a page and figure out exactly where things stand. This has been the overriding issue I have encountered since getting involved with the wiki back in April: How to find out what is actually going on in the wiki, without the need to dig through the articles and projects for days trying to figure it out. This applies to any team effort from the categories redesign evaluation all the way up to management’s fixing the wiki so it is not “broken” anymore. It is virtually impossible to figure out who is doing what and what is high priority versus what is no longer of interest (case in point was when I made the categories list sortable but it then sat idle for two months until it came up in the discussions again). C'est la vie (to put it politely).

Sept 8th Last night I got the main page fully functional (as a mockup). The link to “Access Namespace search” had to be an external link as the internal link did not work (maybe internal links cannot call up a page that technically does not exist until you call it up; catch22). Also found a search box on one of the wiki pages (an input box) and adapted it for use on the mockup main page since, as mentioned earlier, the official “searchbox” was not authorized for use on that page.

The links for the “New to the Wiki” page have been added to the bullet hub template and the image has been redone to match the links. Will have to start on the links for the “New to Research” next. The “beginning” series mentioned above (Sept 6) will probably not work after all. In scanning the search results many were developed pages but some were just duplicate form copies with one or two words changed (the name of the country). Too many were missing. Will have to rethink this one.

Sept 9th As posted on Yammer today:

Virtually all the links on the mockup pages (main, 2nd level, and 3rd level) are now fully functional. The section “New to Research” is still being developed and is subject to change, so opinions and suggestions are welcome either on Yammer or on its wiki talk page. Also note the “DIY” checklist on all the initial pages which is an attempt to get new users properly orientated into the wiki (should anything else be added to this DIY list?)

There is not much more I can do with this so I believe it is done, for now.

Sept 10th There was an interesting comment on Yammer (from Jane):

And, as an aside, I don't necessarily think the home page is the initial contact point for most new users. I would guess if we had numbers to go by, most people end up in the wiki on a specific page as the results of a Google search.
My response: That is a valid point I had not considered as I assumed, like me, that most people entered from Family Tree which brings you to the home page (plus you are already logged into your account). So if someone new comes into the wiki from Google they probably do not have edit capabilities until they register. Do they end up on the home page after creating a new account or are they sent back to the Google search page they started with?

So my next questions are, Can someone (new or old user) use the wiki without ever seeing the main page?, are they like me who probably only casually saw the main page a couple times without ever really looking at it once the initial search gets one into the wiki? An interesting point is how does Wiki Support make contact if new users do not even know what their talk page is, as was recently demonstrated at one of the meetings.

Jane:I think, although it has been a long time, that if they register they then go back to the page they were on. However, I'm not at all certain about that. But, if they arrive at a page from Google because they searched, they don't necessarily have any reason to register. If they are looking for information, they can do everything they want without being signed in. I think the real magic would be if we could find a way to capture those Google searchers and get them committed to the wiki, no matter what their point of entry is.
Giuseppe: and for this we should consider having in each page a visible link to the main hubs that we have in the main page. This does not alone necessarily will bring more committed people, but it may help
My response: Just another thought: Rather than having a campaign to get help (from the general public; those that enter via a Google search) would it be a better idea to offer them something instead. For example, have a spot on the sidebar and or an information box on each page, per Giuseppe’s comment, that basically says “the benefits you gain if you register”? The goal being to get anybody or everybody to create an account. Benefits could include: 1) using the watch function for getting email alerts, 2) using the talk page to ask questions or share their opinion, 3) gives them access to the sandbox to play in, 4) gives them access to Family Tree. Is there anything else that non-registered users cannot do? Then once they are registered they would be exposed to the other areas like: editing, contributing, or helping with support issues. The subject of “do you want to help?” should not be brought up during their initial contact with the wiki.

Obviously I do not yet have the big picture to how bad the wiki is “broken” even though the Research Wiki is probably not an isolated example; I thought I read that Wikipedia is suffering from a similar decrease in contributors over the last few years. This is obviously only a personal opinion (and obviously I do not know what I am talking about) but at least the new beta left sidebar has the wiki “home” link up near the top for each page instead of the “search” being on top of the current right sidebar. The upper left is where I always look for “home” but again, I may not be a typical user (don’t know). Maybe it would be useful to have a Research Wiki icon there instead of just the word “home”, something like the “FamilySearch” icon. I agree with many comments on Yammer that the wiki is not well publicized but that is beyond one’s control and as I have mentioned earlier, my biggest issue was that my first two attempts only resulted in me getting lost after leaving the main page. Based on those recent Yammer comments, if most users are coming into the wiki through Google searches, do they ever become registered users and to a lesser degree do they ever become contributors? More questions than answers.

I just attended a very interesting and enlightening meeting on categories (Sandra, LaVera, Wilma, Charles, and myself). Notes: Sandra started out explaining previous portal use on this wiki (now discontinued) and how proper categories selection increases the efficiency of the search engine (a counterpoint is that bad category selection for an article can really mess up the search engine). According to Sandra the search engine looks for exact title, keywords (content), and category. The main conclusion from the meeting was that the category hierarchy should use the sidebar terminology to determine the subcategories. This may take time to achieve BUT as I commented, then the contributors will have a ready made source to determine the correct category for a new page by just checking the appropriate sidebar (e.g., England) and finding the lowest common denominator. I suggested this technique could be added to the category help page and Charles suggested that a tool tip could be added at the page bottom to explain this and that a drop down menu (if the engineers get involved) would also be another option. I was thinking, possibly something (an ambox?) to the effect of: Select a category for your article based on the sidebar topics (if available) on the page you are writing the article for (e.g., Ramsey county, MN cemeteries would use “cemeteries” in the Ramsey County sidebar). This is a better way then the Quick category pick page I was contemplating but the “Quick category picks” may still be beneficial for things like images and templates (etc) that will not have a sidebar. Plus, such a page could also give examples of how to use the sidebar concept.

Sandra provided links for the page comparisons that she follows for creating the appropriate (missing) categories. She indicated that not only are there a lot of less useful categories (1 or 2 members each) but that many of the sidebar topics do not have the corresponding category so those have to be added. Overall, 8000+ categories are not too many but we just have to make sure they are the right ones. An example of the three pages she compares follows: from Sandra Pond to Everyone:
Article by topic
Category England
England Genealogy
Luccagenes 02:15, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

Sept 12, 2014[edit | edit source]

Top of page

Long day yesterday, too many meetings (or at least I talked too much at the meetings). It was good to see the tables being used during the support meeting and Wilma had me explain them at the contributor meeting (no time last week due to guest speaker). I checked in to see if Warren was back even though someone said there was no Tech meeting. Warren and Jim were indeed there so it was still a productive meeting. I told Warren that from what I heard that the launch was pushed back until at least the end of the year (Warren had initially reported the end of Sept before he left the country). I told him that at a previous meeting someone said it was due to issues between the new editor and the FK editor (they specifically said it was not the FCK editor). I also showed Warren the Google doc page that Danielle had set up so Warren added the item I had emailed him earlier, about the TOC inadvertently picking up the bold typeface from the articles. I also mentioned the new idea that came up that morning in Yammer about a universal banner on the pages (like in Wikipedia) which could be used to address new users who come to the wiki via a Google search. Warren added that to the Google doc too. I showed Warren the charts I added to his agenda template and he said he will start using them. Today I also added a request to the Google doc for a link in the beta sidebar that would access the “Namespace Search” page but will have to wait to see what Danielle thinks about it.

After the meeting I did see that Warren edited those table templates but I also could see that an error had occurred (I had seen this before, sporadically) where the RichEditor was destroying a link and adding a space which messed up the page. I moved the bad link off the table template and put it on the agenda template and then fixed all of Warren’s agenda pages that had gotten messed up. Hopefully that will keep the problem from occurring again. The editor occasionally drops the name prefix (Template: or FamilySearch Wiki:) which makes the link inoperable. Sent Warren another email about this problem too.

Late last night I also figured out the problem with the table that LaVera had Charles looking into. I offered to waste my time on it as Charles said he already spent too much time on it. For me it was a fun (at times frustrating) challenge but it turns out that apparently the current wiki version could not “wrap” a super long link title unless the underscores were replaced with blank spaces. There were two different spots in the table that were causing the problem but now it is behaving normally. Weird, but it could also have been a new issue with the FCK editor which seems to be falling apart lately. By the way, Warren did mention that he would have to bring up the previous decision about not fixing the richeditor anymore in light of the fact that the launch for the new version keeps getting pushed back more and more.
Luccagenes 01:23, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

Nov 4, 2014[edit | edit source]

Top of page

Sept 18th

Based on discussions in yesterday’s contributor meeting I will not be doing any further modifying of my narrow format mockup of the main page until I get more feedback from the powers that be. At the meeting I suggested working on the wide (not narrow) version since the anticipated use of Amazon Cloud may speed up the introduction of the new version. Caleb said he would ask Giuseppe if it is better to develop wide page now. I suggested a test page in this wiki version (with an extra div tag like on Wilma’s Illinois page to drop sidebar) which could be periodically dumped into the beta to check performance.

A quick note about irony: An interesting point happened when people were commenting on Yammer about changes to the mockup main page. Giuseppe posted something which said that the library people were very adamant that the books image should be removed and that the page was too wordy. I was amused when I saw how ironic it was that “library people” don’t like BOOKS or WORDS. I will remove some of the excess wording (not necessarily the suggested wording) but removing the books image would destroy the page as the narrow version is just a scale down of the wide version. The image is an integral part of the wider format and it was designed to emulate the “look and feel” which was the craze back when the page was started. Have also found a compromise for those that thought the colored box shadows should be removed. I set the shadow level to near zero which still gives the softening effect I was looking for but the shadow is barely noticeable.

I suggested finding a good guest speaker for the Oct 2nd contributors meeting which is the Moderator and Adopter meeting at the beginning of each month. Wilma suggested a panel discussion about the Adopter program and Giuseppe indicated the Adopter program may have to be re-evaluated concerning future continuation. What were the original expectations and why it isn’t working (or is it working, that is the question). I have no idea and cannot figure out what is specifically involved with either the Moderator or Adopter jobs so I presume it is difficult for anyone to want to volunteer for those positions (I know that I am reluctant). I did notice that adopters can be individuals (not just societies) but the requirements seem too stringent to interest me. Why do individuals have to be vetted to prove their research knowledge while societies do not? Why do you need extensive research experience just so one can officially “watch” and take care of a particular page? There should be no probationary period for individuals; if one does not perform then take it away from them (that goes for societies too). How does moderating a state page differ from an individual adopting that same page? Important question to know before someone can volunteer for something like this.

Sept 26th

I reported an issue on Yammer on the 21st about the fact that the beta version is showing up on the Internet searches using the prefixes of “stage” and “training”. Nobody knew what the prefixes are for but Giuseppe indicated that the site hits were recently cut in half possibly due to these other sites. I had provided an email to Warren and the subject also came up in the last Tech meeting as well. At the meeting the search link I used was also provided to Warren which verified this was still happening (reproducible) as of the meeting on the 25th.

Charles has create a lesson page on using Infoboxes which sounds like it will be interesting as a possible way to introduce the use of a variable in the wiki. The wiki does not use JavaScript so the use of variables is not an option.

Sept 29th

Decided not to attend the support and contributors meetings this last week but I did go to the Tech meeting as there are a few loose ends I want to tie up (note that the contributor meeting apparently only recorded 7 seconds and the wrong recording is posted).

I just finished modifying the Auto-outdated template and its category page based on some suggestions during the Tech meeting discussion of Sept 25th (this template is an attempt to deal with the outdated pages issue). The contributors meeting just before the Tech meeting was apparently used to “fix” random pages and the Community News page had this template on it (for test purposes) but no one knew what it was. Charles changed the parameter from 1 day to 30 days (which was okay with me as I am done testing it). I have since made the template into a collapsible table to hide it as someone wanted it invisible but that would complicate its addition to pages (would not know if it was already on a page or not). Now it is less noticeable (less distracting on the page as it is smaller and I also changed the background color to white). I had to set up a switch function to display the text name of the revision month (it was difficult to discern the date in number format) and also moved the set point text that shows the parameter setting to a different location and added a count down sequence (e.g., “Article review is needed in 11 days”). This last addition also has the advantage that once “expired” the template will register negative numbers to indicate how overdue the review actually is. Also added a link in the template to Category:Auto-outdated so it is easier to check the category page. In the Tech meeting two issues were brought up with Warren: first, the category page does not update automatically when the category is added to a page; a null edit or dummy save has to be preformed along with a page refresh. Secondly, I mention that the beta version is actually worse in that only a dummy edit will work and the null edit has no effect. Warren will check this out but I will have to push the point (low priority). I also added a line of instruction at the top of the category page (first thing in red) as apparently when people were trying to figure out how the template worked they did not read the full description (message boxes) on the page; hopefully it is less confusing now. Also asked Warren if the MediaWiki function “AgeParse” would be available in the future (to eliminate several lines of parser and calculation equations) and he said he would ask the specialist about it.

For the last few weeks I have been working on something related to a new project to reorganize the categories (eliminate as many of the 8000+ categories as possible). Earlier I had mentioned the first meeting (on Sept 10th) and based on that meeting I drafted an article called “Category Quick Picks” in my sandbox and created an associated Google spreadsheet with sheets covering “by location”, “by topic”, “templates”, “images”, and “misc”. This was done to help define the current category hierarchy and I passed along the links to the article and the spreadsheets at the meetings the following Thursday so the others could review them before I discussed them at the next category meeting on the 24th. What I failed to mention in the earlier post (Sept 10th) was that there was a tiny bit of tension at the start of that meeting because the meeting was supposed to be missionaries only even though it was posted in the Contributors meeting minutes as open to the public. I was invited back for the next meeting but the access number was apparently changed so I was not allowed to attend the meeting on the 24th (I was very disappointed but apparently it is still for missionaries only). Despite this setback I will finish the article and make the category adjustments on my own as I believe such an article would be a very useful addition to the wiki (most of the hard work is already done and at worst I could just keep it in MyWikiWorld). By the way, I also made contact with Steve Cottrell who said he would look over the spreadsheet for the template categories which is the one area I was having trouble organizing and it would definitely benefit from his expert advice since he created most of the templates.

Oct 2nd

I passed on the meetings again today and the Tech meeting was cancelled. I have been playing with a couple beta pages the first of which was the mockup main page. Had to work out some kinks with the new version after moving the page to the beta but completed it this last week. Also made a “stretchable” copy of the main page but unless a way can be found to auto stretch images there is little point in pursuing this as the page distorts too badly. I heard from the meeting recordings today that there are big issues with the editors not working correctly on the current server and it (the beta?) will be switched to a new server. There are definitely going to be a lot of issues finding the bugs in the 150,000+ pages especially if something as simple as line spacing is yielding different results in the two different versions. The second mockup was of the Minnesota page so I sent the link to Wilma for her opinion (update: beta link may now be inoperable). Even though I based this page design after her Illinois, United States Genealogy and Arkansas, United States Genealogy pages it is a bit different so I do not know if it would be acceptable outside the “standardized” design.

I also noted another disappointment in that something I had previously added to the wiki has now been removed; I do not really know why as it was initially “liked”. I could start an edit war but at this point in time there is little incentive left. I just do not understand why there was no discussion or consultation before it was removed after all, it could have been “fixed” if something was wrong or confusing (I guess this is just the way the wiki works although I would not have done it this way). I’m also debating whether to complete the category article I have started as it was mentioned at one of the meetings today that management has their own plans for something similar (?). As I have mentioned before, my biggest problem with the wiki is trying to figure out what is going on and not being allowed to attend certain meetings (meetings that are not recorded) is only making it worse.

Oct 9th

Yesterday I did attend the category meeting which now only has three people participating (Caleb, Danielle, and Sandra) as it was apparently decided that too many people were involved. I did not know if I was supposed to be there or not as I may have been inadvertently invited when I supplied my email address to Sandra. I was playing catch up most of the meeting but in some follow-up questions in Yammer it appears they are no longer pursuing Sandra’s initial idea (which I thought was great) of using the sidebar topics to assist in category selection so this virtually negates the article I was preparing. I will have to determine if any part of that test page is worth pursuing.

Did not attend the support or contributor meetings again but did listen to the recordings. At the Tech meeting it was basically stated that all future engineering involvement will deal only with the beta startup issues and there will be no response at this time to other issues that are brought up. Based on that there is probably little reason to attend future Tech meetings either at least until the beta work is completed and the new version is up and running. It was also noted that the beta is apparently shut down (pages cannot be found) so any further evaluations of the beta have stopped as well. May or may not attend the next tech meeting.

Oct 16th

As of today the beta is still inaccessible. Does this have anything to do with the engineers fixing the Internet search issues with the beta versions that had the “stage” or “training” prefixes? At the tech meeting Warren showed the response from the engineers which indicated that this was done intentionally to stop the other issue with the other prefixes. This is a little confusing since the beta is still working and it is only the wiki beta that has the issue. They indicated it could be turned on when external testing is needed but that means that the “beta testing” by the general contributors is no longer possible.

The topic of the VisualEditor was briefly discussed and I questioned how it was different from the RichEditor as far as handling routine things like table construction and manipulating. I mentioned that the new editor is lacking in this regard as there are no control options in the menu for tables and this could be a problem for the novice user. We walked through an example to show the deficiencies. I suppose it is a mute point since the RichEditor is so corrupted at this time that it is dangerous to use it so anything is better than nothing. The VisualEditor appears good for changing or adding text and links but this means that contributors will be required to learn wikitext coding to manipulate or design pages. After the meeting I searched MediaWiki for info on the VisualEditor and found that they are aware of these deficiencies but are only now starting a limited effort to address these issues. Next weeks tech meeting is canceled so this may be the last meeting for me.

In listening to the meeting recordings, there was a discussion about the legality of using screenshots and it was interesting because it was the same discussion as occurred 4 months earlier. I still have an open case on this question from 5/20/2014 which was eventually escalated to legal back on 8/29 but it is just sitting there. At that earlier discussion Giuseppe indicated that screenshots should be used (with or without permission) as long as they are not derogatory and if objections are received they will be removed. On a related note, there appears to be no way to fix the issue of the same questions being asked and discussed repeatedly over the years (as I have seen several time, this being just another case). I do not know if the “follow-up” tables added to the meeting agendas are going to help or not. They are good for searching for past activities but only if one is willing to search for the answers. “It is easier to ask a question than to look up the answer”. The irony is that this same issue was the reason I came to the wiki in the first place (to create and test a HelpCentral for Family Tree). One needs a way to search a term within an article (most people will not read through a TOC in something like the “known issues” article and the TOC would get truncated anyway if part of the article is archived. In the recent past I have dug through the “known issues” article (and all its archives) looking for a particular issue which was supposedly reported there (it was not), so believe me that it is a pain to look for answers. There has to be a better way to find out if an issue (question) has already been resolved, but what.

Oct 23rd

Again, I was not included (at least not invited) to the category meeting which means it was evidently a mistake that I was there the last time (it is still a restricted meeting for missionaries only). Via Yammer, Sandra had indicated that the group is no longer pursuing her initial idea of using the topics sidebars as a means of helping users select the proper category for a new article (which I thought was a great idea). Therefore, I have abandoned the article on Category Quick Picks so no further activity on categories is anticipated. It is ironic that the first group effort that I was really interested in (as well as numerous other volunteers) has been restricted to only a few so it can get done faster. Does it really make sense to turn away volunteers?

Listened to the support and contributor meeting recordings and there is no tech meeting today. Apparently, Danielle will be organizing the wiki projects since she is now working for Giuseppe (shows what I know as I always thought she worked for Giuseppe). I was disappointed to hear that the metrics work she was involved with is on the back burner now as I have been looking forward to hearing the results; as referenced back on Sept 7th. It sounds like there will be no more metrics testing and no follow-up on the previous testing unless Danielle can find the time. This means we will never hear the results of the novice user testing, Wilma’s Illinois test page results, the testing done on the new feedback page Danielle created, the feedback of the beta evaluations, etc. Sadly, this lack of follow through appears to be normal (both here and in the general corporate world) so I was really not expecting to ever see these results anyway. It makes one wonder if a “Community governs” effort would truly be any different as I have read that Wikipedia has problems of its own.

As mentioned, the mockup pages on the beta site for a Minnesota State page and for the mockup of the Main Page (both fixed width and an attempt at an adjustable page for the main page mockup) had been started. I had asked Wilma’s opinion of the MN page to see if it would be acceptable based on her standardization of the state pages. I received a delayed response from Wilma (since the beta site had gone down) and I asked her some follow up questions; waiting for a response. My initial feedback (critique) from Linda had significantly helped revise the page but since then the beta was shut down permanently so no further activity is anticipated. The mockup Main Page testing I had done had found that the adjustable page width in the new wiki version will badly distort complex pages (i.e., pages with fixed position coding and images) since the images cannot be adjusted automatically with the page. I checked this on Wikipedia as well and found similar problems by selecting random pages and then playing with the page width. The distortion can become quite significant if a page is shrunk too small and if set too wide the long sentences are more difficult to follow. It is impossible to control the width variable since it is dependant not only on the zoom factor the user is using but also on the screen resolution their monitor is set at. I have no idea how this plays out on mobile devices smaller than a laptop computer.

The beta site is still down and not expected to be accessible any more (due to engineering issues that were related to the “state” and “training” prefixes). I had been monitoring the aforementioned beta pages via the “stage” web address but apparently that has now been closed down too (I assume it has been wiped clean as the pages no longer exist and it is displaying in the older narrow format).

Nov 4th

It will probably be a while before additional entries are made here as I have barely even logged in for the last month as the beta site is dead and there is little incentive to work on things for 70+ hours per week if previous work is just going to be removed from the wiki without discussion. My original project can now be considered officially terminated due to obstacles previously discussed (it was mistakenly based on an assumption that it could be maintained by volunteers). Any subsequent smaller projects specifically related to this wiki have also been put into limbo for the foreseeable future. Based on a comment made by Linda in one of our recent discussions (finding lost relatives), I am dabbling with a project which may or may not fall into the purview of the Research Wiki. It is being prepared offsite so that even if it does not meet the criteria of this wiki, it would definitely fit somewhere in Wikipedia.

I will continue to listen to recordings, if available, to keep updated although I do not know if the last Tech meeting was recorded or not (have sent two emails to Warren but have not heard back). As mentioned before, Engineering does not want to discuss non-priority issues or be distracted by anything until the new version is launched so the Tech meetings are little more than status updates for right now. I do not anticipate much, if any, activity on my part for the near future, other than archiving this page and cleaning out my sandbox pages. I guess I am in a “wait and see” mode until the new version is launched.

PS. During an internet search today (Yahoo search) I was trying to figure out why some of the wiki pages were not displaying correctly. It turns out that the “stage” prefix is still showing up in current searches and these pages are using a wiki snapshot from last year (like the beta was). It appears there was little point in shutting down the beta since it obviously did not fix the problem.