Wiki Life: The Magic of Cross Linking – who needs search or a table of contents?

Welcome to Wiki Life Wednesday!

There is bit of a debate around perspectives of how to find content in the World Wide Web.

Some folks are all about Search. They're search-tastic.

Other folks are looking for the TOC, like in a Help file. They are lost because they cannot navigate.

Well, the world is changing a little to a flatter structure tied together by a search engine and tags instead. So the Navigators need to become Search-tastic. Isn't that how you navigate Wikipedia? You start with a search?

To help the people out who want TOCs, we built you a nice portal system on the Wiki home page.

Go there and click a blue box, like Technologies.

See Wiki Life: Microsoft Portals - Technologies, Platforms, Development, Cloud, Virtualization, Security, Management & Troubleshooting.

Gives you a nice TOC you can browse through.

Wow, I'm so glad somebody thought to link from the top of that article to this one about the Technology Tags. I love it when the community works together like that!

So you can obviously spend hours browsing through the different tag combinations as well.

See Wiki Life: Tags on a Wiki? Why Tags help make TechNet Wiki as AWESOME as it is!!!

And check out Wiki Life: How to filter TechNet Wiki articles by more than one tag.  

Seems like I'm writing a series of blog posts on Wiki navigation, eh? =^)

Well, if you think about it, what's the #1 way that you navigate in Wikipedia? Is it by search?

Maybe initially. Then probably not.

Is it the See Also and TOC-like lists at the bottom? Some I'm sure.

But I think the #1 way we navigate is by cross linking.

You don't believe me? Go to any Wikipedia article. Yeah, go. Open a new tab, type in the "W" word and go there. Do it! Now! Have you never read an ornery blog post before? Well here's one! Stop being lazy! Go open a tab and go to Wikipedia!

Are you there? Good. Now navigate to your favorite topic. Yeah, search.

Are you there? Now what do you see in the first sentence or paragraph? Do you see a link? Click it.

What you just did was follow a navigational path set up by the Wikipedia editors. Cross-linking exists to send you to the parent article (usually in the first sentence) and sister articles (sprinkled through the page).

Check out my article on TechNet Wiki: PowerPivot: Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) Language

What do you see in the first sentence? Yes, below the TOC. 

You see the parent technology, PowerPivot, with a link to this article: PowerPivot Overview

And on that page, in addition to overview info, you see links to all the other PowerPivot articles.

That's it! So simple! In one simple step, we can make each article easier to navigate!  

I just realized I've got an example on this very blog post! What do you see in the very first sentence of this blog post?

A link to the tag for this day of the week, so that you can browse all the Wiki Life articles. Cross-linking is magic! =^)


Leave a comment below if you tried cross-linking on your TechNet Wiki article! And paste in the URL of your TechNet Wiki article so that we can go check it out!

Jump on in! The Wiki is warm!

   - Ninja Ed


Comments (4)

  1. if it wasn't for tags the connection between articles wouldn't be the same. It's very important for a Wiki site. Great blog post Ed!

  2. Thanks Tord. This isn't everyone's favorite topic to discuss (a manual process and not very interesting), but it's super valuable and taken for granted!

  3. yeah, search-tastic, I don't know. What are you guys at MS thinking, last time I checked the Web PI Installer was app-licious, is it the food in Seattle 😉

  4. Margriet, you must be a Navigator and not Search-tastic. =^)

Skip to main content