Wiki Life: What do you put in the See Also section? Should every article have one?


This is part of the UX Guidelines section, Links and Accessibility.

Here are the different link guidelines:

  • Article table of contents
    • This is the "In this article" section under the introduction section.
    • See Page Layout above for detailed instructions on how to create this section.
  • 'Return to Top' links
    • These links exist at the bottom of every section (above the horizontal rule) and link back up to the very top of the article (and not just the TOC).
  • In-line links
    • In the introduction section, include an embedded link (when possible) to the parent topic.

  • <Product Name> Wiki Pages section
    • Pull it into a Portal page if >10 links.
  • See Also section
    • This is a link list at the bottom that links to domain parent articles (and related articles) in TechNet Wiki.
  • Other Resources section
    • These are the external links, including links to Microsoft and TechNet sites that are non-Wiki.
  • References section
    • Use this section if you pulled source material and ideas from other sites, blogs, or forums. Make sure you have permission from authors to use their material.
  • TechNet Resources section
    • This list is specific to TechNet resources found on the topic. 

  

Today's article is about See Also. The last one in this series of Navigational Guidelines was about Inline Links: Wiki Life: What are in-line links?

 

The See Also section is supposed to be links just to articles in TechNet Wiki. This is exactly the way that Wikipedia works.

Yes, I think every article should have one of these sections! Ideally, every technology should have a portal. See the Portal of TechNet Wiki Portals to make sure your technology has a portal!

So then at the very least, each article should use the See Also section to link back to the portal about that technology!

This helps connect the articles together! Along with the inline links, this is what makes a good experience as you navigate around on TechNet Wiki.

For example, last week I was searching on Wikipedia for info about super heroes. I soon had dozens of tabs open for me to read more about more heroes! As I found inline links and See Also links, I ended up wanting to read more about more heroes and terms later on (after I finished the current article). That's the way TechNet Wiki works too, if we help put the links in and connect the articles together.

If you have external links (that go outside TechNet Wiki), please use a References or Other Resources section instead.

  

And as a hint, it's a great way to increase the quality of your articles in the TechNet Guru competition!

 

 

What do you think? Do you use See Also links? What do you put in your See Also sections? Do you think every article should have one?

 

 

Jump on in. The Wiki is warm!

   - Ninja Ed

Comments (27)

  1. pituach says:

    Great discussion

  2. Funny. One of my comments above got flagged by the blog and wasn't posted. I had to go unflag my own comment to get it posted.

    Guess which one it was! ...

    The one with three Wikipedia links in the one comment! =^)

    Hmm. That's interesting.

  3. Andy, thanks for creating the Silverlight portal!

  4. Continuing that topic:

    But what if an article truly has no companion or parent articles? A good place to find the misfit articles is in the Miscellaneous category of TechNet Guru, so let's look at March 2015:

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/30122.technet-guru-contributions-march-2015.aspx#Miscellaneous

    First, we have Zen Coding with Visual Studio. There are many Visual Studio portals:

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/20459.wiki-portal-of-technet-wiki-portals.aspx#Development

    By digging into those portals, you'd see you could link to one of the portals, and to some similar articles.

    Second, we have XAML guy's article about how to convert Live Meeting recordings to video files. We were using the recording feature in our Summit presentations, and we had a tough time getting a nice recording from the tool. He found the solution and wrote
    up the process for us. I suggested he add the great article to the Miscellaneous category. Here is his article:

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/30328.convert-and-edit-microsoft-office-live-meeting-recordings.aspx

    It seems like there are no sister or parent articles to something like Live Meeting. Right? But a quick click on the tag tells me otherwise:

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/tags/Live+Meeting/default.aspx

    Next, we have your astonishingly thorough Silverlight article:
    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/30387.silverlight-trouble-shooting-installs.aspx

    Wow! What a big topic too! It seems like Silverlight might not have any parent or sister topics. Well a quick click on the Silverlight tag tells me otherwise:

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/tags/Silverlight/default.aspx

    Looks like three pages of articles. But how many of those are in English? Let's filter:

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/tags/en_2D00_US/silverlight/default.aspx

    We're down to 2 pages. That makes more sense. Surely there is one worthy article to be linked to?

    But if not, then it's not the end of the world. But if there was a Wiki portal article on Silverlight, I'd expect to find your article prominent on that page, and a See Also link to the portal from each of the articles on that page.

    That alone has value... it makes it far easier to navigate and explore the articles!

  5. Durval Ramos says:

    Ed, Excellent post ... and comments !!! =^D

    You are very inspired... and this content will surely inspire us.

    I agree with all your comments... I use a lot "See also" and "References" sections, because I think It's important to highlight content those who inspired me and also similar articles on TNWiki to keep different readers looking more information on our articles
    !!!

  6. Shanky_621 says:

    That is great piece of information. Thank you

  7. Andy, good questions and thoughts.

    First, No, I don't think it should be placed empty. Some people do that, and it's not a bad idea, but the goal should be to fill them in.

    I don't think that's necessarily true, that you write about articles that would have no portal. There should always be a portal or parent article. For example, if it's a category in the TechNet Guru competition, like Visual C#, then the first article in the
    See Also section could be the Visual C# Portal article.

    For example, here is the Development category of portals:
    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/20459.wiki-portal-of-technet-wiki-portals.aspx#Development

    And if there isn't a portal article, there should also be an overview article, like what you'd see on Wikipedia.

    So if it's in the Miscellaneous category, you might create a portal for the random technology and use a See Also link to point to that portal. A portal about a technology can be entered in the "Wiki and Portals" category of TechNet Guru (that's why the category
    exists -- to encourage people to keep building out and evolving instructional and navigational articles about the Wiki). For example, Benoit and I created two articles that are portals for random Microsoft Office-like technologies that started to amass enough
    articles to warrant a portal (Skype and Yammer). And then I added them to the Other Subjects section of the Portal of Portals:

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/20459.wiki-portal-of-technet-wiki-portals.aspx#Other_Subjects

    Usually when there's no See Also section, it's not because there are no related articles to link to, it's just because the author doesn't understand, value, or know about the existing articles and/or see the value in linking to them!

  8. Andy ONeill says:

    Sorted now.
    They couldn't find any reason.
    Sounds reasonable that it could be just something to do with migration glitching.
    Fingers crossed.

    It'll be great if the 7 clicks to save bug goes away.
    Still hoping both galleries and wiki take the same code block formatting though.

  9. Saeid Hasani says:

    "See Also" is so important section! I fill it with "T-SQL Portal" ref and few related WIKI articles ref. It is not only for navigation, but for encourage reader to visit other related concept. For example, when I add a new article about T-SQL error handling,
    I add other T-SQL error handling articles. Thanks Ed for sharing this! 🙂

  10. Andy, by 7 clicks is that on the Gallery too, or just the wiki?

    Yes, the wiki should clear up with the new platform.

  11. CONTINUING:

    Third, on Wikipedia, we have the "External links" section, underneath "See also" and References:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Small_Basic#External_links

    Hey, we should have the forum on there too. We'll see if we can get it added by someone in the community. Oh, and I noticed the "Principles of Programming" link is dead now too. I'll also let the community folks know.

    This "External links" section is the least valuable to Wikipedia, but it's still very valuable and worth it to them to have it. But it takes people off their site and doesn't exist to uphold the structural integrity of the page. So they put the section at the
    bottom and don't put as much of a focus on building it out. (It still gets built out naturally, because the community is motivated to include the other links.)

    So there you go! That's what we dug deep on back in 2010... how Wikipedia works and why. And also, they are the standard of wikis, so people are used to navigating their way. That was another thing we took into consideration.

  12. I wrote, "There should always be a portal or parent article."

    That's actually not true. There is usually one and should usually be one. But there is probably an exception. I just couldn't find one in my attempt above. And if there are truly no related articles on TechNet Wiki, I'd just omit the See Also section. But,
    as I mentioned, I actually can't find an exception right now.

  13. Andy,
    The Gallery is also migrating, so it might be involved with that.

  14. You're welcome, Shanky!

  15. All that on your first topic!

    Now, you brought up a second great topic: Why have two separate sections of links? One for internal Wiki links (See Also) and one for external links not on Wiki (Other Resources).

    This topic of debate started back in 2010 when we created the Wiki. It started with a thorough assessment of Wikipedia.

    For example, let's look at one of my favorite articles on Wikipedia, Small Basic:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Small_Basic

    Let's pop to the bottom:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Small_Basic#See_also

    We have three different sections of links to other articles. That's navigational power!

    First, we have a See Also section. It was so varied that I divided it into two parts: Related Microsoft technologies and Related languages. Why? Because they were mixed in the list, and it was weird. Looks like someone recently added Gambas. Interesting. I
    just clicked the link and learned about another language. Their navigational system already hooked me. =^)

    They start with See Also, because it's the most important section to them. They want to keep people on their site!

    Under the See Also section, we have References. This is the second most important one of these three sections (to Wikipedia). Why? Because it's vital to maintain the credibility of the article. Where are the references? What's the proof that any of this is
    true. They spend a TON of time pushing on this point. Why? Because if they don't maintain credibility, then their whole system falls apart! How many times have you heard someone say, "Oh, it's on Wikipedia. So it MUST be true! Hahahaha!" Right? And the first
    thing my university professors said was, "Wikipedia is not a source!" Well, they have to fight that thinking with every single sentence, every edit, and every statement put on their site! And the References sections are awesome! Back to the university example.
    Even though I couldn't use it as a source, I found it to be the fastest way to get to reference articles that I could use as a source! That helps prove the power of this section that Wikipedia maintains!

    And specifically, what do you see when you look at the References on the Small Basic article?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Small_Basic#References

    You see links to all the official Microsoft MSDN Small Basic blog posts that tell the story of Small Basic! Oh, my goodness! Small Basic 1.1 is already on there! (Someone already added it in. I love the Community!) And yes, my name might be on a few of those
    blog posts.

    So I'm already having fun with the References section as well!

  16. Andy ONeill says:

    I think the MS naughty-stuff detector must be in overdrive or something.
    A sample I published to the msdn gallery has been locked.
    And when I try contacting the administrator the email just bounces.
    Rather offputting really.

  17. Durval Ramos says:

    Ed, Thanks for sharing the "Live Meeting" portal... I needed a lot of it a few months...

    ... and I believe you can help others members in next events.

  18. Power? To unflag my comments on my own blog?

    Thanks!

  19. Andy ONeill says:

    Some of the stuff I write, the reason I wrote it is because there is no other reference to put in the see also.
    It's a subject nobody else has written about.
    I put an empty heading in?

    I don't follow why you'd want the non wiki stuff in an entirely different section.

    Why is that?

  20. Saeid, that's a great point! If you see a portal or another article on a similar topic to the one you wrote, then that inspires you to write more topics! In a lot of ways, the See Also section helps guide you toward gaps and content needs!

    Great insight!

  21. Andy ONeill says:

    Lucky you have the power Ed.
    Okaydokes.
    I've a bunch of articles to update later then.

  22. CONTINUING:

    And all Wikipedia's reasons for all three of those sections also exist for TechNet Wiki. We DO want our readers to stay on TechNet Wiki and see all the other great content there, to help edit it, and to help fill in the gaps by adding more content! So we want
    the See Also section to be first at the bottom of the section lists, and we want it to have some prominence! In order to do that, we agree with Wikipedia and think it should stand out and be its own section. Similarly, we want References and we want that called
    out and clear for the structural integrity!

    A similar decision is that we followed a Wikipedia (and other wikis) standard by including a little arrow image where a hover tells you what's an external (non Wiki) link that will send you off the Wiki. That also adds to the concept that you can click around
    and navigate the Wiki effortlessly! And it makes it far clearer what's on the Wiki and what's off the Wiki.

    Not everyone is going to agree with all the decisions like those ones we made and Wikipedia made.

    In fact, one way we disagreed with Wikipedia is what to call our External Links section... We thought "External Links" was too harsh. In fact, it's not true for us. What if the link goes to a TechNet blog or forum or an MSDN Library article? Is it truly external?
    That becomes debatable. Even "Links" seems harsh. Yes, they are links. But the "See Also" section isn't called "Internal Links." Why? That doesn't seem very enticing. We want the external links section to be as enticing as it actually is. So it's not just
    a list of links... it's a list of "Resources"! So that's why "Other Resources" was the winning name for that section.

    We also disagreed with Wikipedia's capitalization of sections! They use "See also" with sentence casing. We use "See Also" with title casing. It might seem silly to think about such details, but I think our See Also section has a much better pop to it (aided
    in part with a better font and bigger H1 font size)!

    So there you go. Lots of exploring and history to that one! Is it perfect? Maybe not. Will everyone agree with every single one of those decisions? Definitely not. Did we even agree with our own decisions? No. In fact, I think we changed the name of "Other
    Resources" quite a few times before we found that name to be the best balance.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The discussion started in this previous blog post:
    Wiki Life: What do you put in the See Also section

  24. Anonymous says:

    This is a continuation of my previous blog posts in this series, Navigational Guidelines:

    Wiki

  25. anonymouscommenter says:

    I'm following up my earlier Thursday post: Council Spotlight - Who will be crowned the last TechNet

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