Welcome to Wiki Life Wednesday.
Okay. So this topic isn’t new. =^)
But it’s still something I have to chime in on. So, do me a favor. Leave a comment below with links to other Wiki articles and Blog posts that are also on this topic, and I’ll add them to the See Also section at the bottom. Thank you!
What currently exists on TechNet Wiki for navigating content?
The reality is that we have a few more features than Wikipedia (although we are missing their “Categories” feature). Although I’m listing these out, I still agree that other feature ideas would be incredibly valuable to add. Here are several methods to navigate the content:
(1) SEARCH. The TNWiki search is pretty nice. It depends on your connection speed how nice, but it features real time results dropping down as you type. You type in the search box at the top, which specifies “Search TechNet Wiki” so you know that you’re not searching all of TechNet. You still can’t click that magnifying glass button (you have to press Enter). I know that was written up as a bug. Then you can filter the results by the Most Recent tab (last edited) and Alphabetical. You can also get an RSS feed for future updates. There are some legacy options that should be removed… Advanced > Search In… Advanced > Authored By… Highest Rated tab… Plus the dates don’t line up. They seem to be stuck at June 18th and earlier (might be a new bug). So we have a few bugs I’ll follow up on. That said, it’s a very efficient search engine, and it has those nice sort features (date and alphabetical) and the RSS feed.
(2) TAGS. This is decently unique to TechNet Wiki. You can create your own buckets via tags. They can be topical, by language, or special use tags. We’ve got tags to track what articles use TOCs, what articles are in which languages, what articles were translated into what language, what articles have a See Also section in them, what articles have been featured on the home page of TNWiki, what articles were written by who, which articles contain comments, and even which articles are part of a series of articles (like a category). We even have a feature where you can filter by multiple tags (I wrote that up based on Craig’s work here: blogs.technet.com/…/wiki-life-how-to-filter-wiki-articles-by-more-than-one-tag.aspx). So that means you can filter by just the Japanese articles about PowerShell, or just the English articles about Hyper-V. Or you can filter by “troubleshooting” and “SharePoint” to just get those articles. You can filter by many tags together (not just two). There are millions of tag filter combinations! You can browse the tags in the Tag Cloud. See
(3) RECENT ARTICLES LISTS. This is also decently unique to TNWiki. On the home page of TNWiki (social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki), you can click that “More” button at the bottom under “Recent Activity” and get a nice long list of recent articles. Likewise, click on over to the “Featured Articles” page (social.technet.microsoft.com/…/default.aspx), and you get a “Wiki Articles” module on top, which includes lists of the most recent articles. It includes “All Pages.” “New Pages” (that haven’t been updated yet), “Updated Pages” (not the new ones), and “My Pages” (just the articles you’ve authored or edited). See
(4) ACTIVITY & ACCESS TO PROFILES. This is very unique to TNWiki. We’ve basically combined the two important social features from blogs into the world of Wiki… comments and profile links. You can see who authored the article, who edited it last, and in the History tab, the editors are listed more prominently than other wikis. Add to that the ability to find those profiles via three different Wiki Leaderboard lists. On the Home page (social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki), you’ll find the most Popular Contributors of the week. On the Featured Articles page (social.technet.microsoft.com/…/default.aspx), you’ll find the Top Contributors of the week (most edits) and the Top 5 Authors of the month. So why this is valuable (having all these profile links), is for quick and easy access to the Profiles, which is unique to TNWiki. And the profiles are also unique, because they give you direct access to the users’ Activity tab, where you can find what they recently authored, edited, commented on, and which articles recently achieved Recognition Milestones. So while this cannot be used as a direct alternative to Personal Lists (see that above), it is still a way to explore and discover great content.
(5) TNWIKI PORTALS. This is more of a “best practice” than a feature, because it’s manual. However, it’s a fantastic way to find content, and it’s something that we recommend you use and help us build more of. We feature 8 core portals on the home page of TechNet Wiki (social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki). They are in the blue boxes at the top. You’ll also find portals all around TechNet Wiki that act as category lists. You’ll find them per technology (like PowerPivot) and per topic and area. You can make your own or add new sections to existing ones. They one thing that we want to keep separate and clear is the difference between Portals and Survival Guides. Survival Guides are unique to TNWiki (you won’t find a Wikipedia article with 400 links that tell you to leave Wikipedia to go find information), but Portals are used commonly in Wikpedia. They act as lists to other articles on the wiki. So we recommend that you add your articles to the existing lists and to make your own portals. See
(6) SEE ALSO. Another best practice used by TNWiki and Wikipedia, “See Also” is a section at the bottom of an article where readers can go to find similar articles. We recommend linking back to associated portals, overviews, and category lists.
(7) IN LINE LINKS. Another best practice used by TNWiki and Wikipedia, in line links are hyperlinks of key words that go to the overview articles about the topic (which act like portals to other articles). You typically want them near the top of your article. For example, an article about DAX in PowerPivot should include the word “PowerPivot” in the first sentence, which should be a hot link back to the PowerPivot overview article. See
What kind of additional features for searching and discovering content should there be on TNWiki?
Two features we’ve discussed in the past are…
(1) PERSONAL LISTS. Like your list of articles you authored, seeing lists of articles authored by other people. Or allowing people to create their own lists (IMDB lets you create lists of people and movies). Currently the “work around” for this value is to use personal tags (to make your own lists via tags), to create articles that include or feature link lists to a set of articles, and to check someone’s profile activity to see what articles of theirs that they might have recently created, edited, or had achieve milestones (but this can’t be relied on because the Activity only lasts for 100 items across all social apps).
(2) CATEGORIES. Wikipedia uses this. You can drop an article into a category bucket, which acts like an index across multiple articles. It shows up as an expandable box at the bottom of the article. They made it at the bottom and a little different in order to differentiate it from the TOC, which links to the sections of the article. Currently our “work around” is for us to manually make these articles and sections that act as “categories.” And then each article can link back to the category parent article.
What other forms of navigation should we have?
Come on in; the Wiki is pretty fan… wait for it… tastic.
– Ninja Ed