Open Uru Site Styling and Organization (was Wiki Main Page)

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Re: Wiki Main Page

Post by Mac_Fife » Thu Jan 06, 2011 4:59 pm

JWPlatt wrote:It just didn't work to declare the table at 100% width and apply percentages to the columns, adding up to 100%. It exploded if I declared all the columns that way.
The 100% applies to the content area (I think) so as soon as you add borders, margins, padding, etc., the content area drops below 100%. The problem you then have is that with borders and padding defined in px it becomes impossible to predict a percentage value for the content areas. I've had the same problem myself. With three columns you can usually define two of them (maybe at 30%) and leave the third as auto. Even at that you might have trouble if the auto width colum doesn't have enough "filling" to force it to use all the width available.
JWPlatt wrote:Also, there are certain things like padding that refuse to be applied to the whole table. I had to do it row by row. There are either a lot of idiosyncrasies, or just my own preconceptions leading me astray about how scope or classes work in scripted display languages versus OO applications.
I haven't looked at the generated html, but it's possible that styling is being applied on a row by row basis, overriding what you declared in the table heading.
JWPlatt wrote:Now explain to me why the leading/padding works in the Getting Started body cell (the space between bulleted lines of text), but doesn't, or is different, in the About and Resources cell? Argh! :? :lol:
:roll: They're all working the same. You just put extra new lines in between each item in that first one :lol:
Edit: BTW, padding will pad the boundary of the cell, not the rows between the contents of a cell, so the bulleted list will appear further from the border, but the separation between the bullets won't actually change.
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Re: Wiki Main Page

Post by JWPlatt » Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:09 pm

Mac_Fife wrote:
JWPlatt wrote:Now explain to me why the leading/padding works in the Getting Started body cell (the space between bulleted lines of text), but doesn't, or is different, in the About and Resources cell? Argh! :? :lol:
:roll: They're all working the same. You just put extra new lines in between each item in that first one :lol:
Oh. :oops:

Heh, it was 3-freakin-am, and I didn't type those extra lines - the editor put them there at some point and I thought, okay, if it wants them that badly, fine! LOL.
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Re: Wiki Main Page

Post by Mac_Fife » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:43 pm

JWPlatt wrote:Also, there are certain things like padding that refuse to be applied to the whole table. I had to do it row by row. There are either a lot of idiosyncrasies, or just my own preconceptions leading me astray about how scope or classes work in scripted display languages versus OO applications.
It's not really your preconceptions leading you astray, it's the underlying CSS.

If you create a "regular" table then you'd prbably find that the styling elements you apply at the table level e.g.

Code: Select all

 {| padding="0.5em" |
would apply to the whole table. The new table insertion tool that comes with the Usability Enhancements inserts tables that have the class "wikitable" attached. This makes the default table look prettier, with borders shaded headings, etc., but what maybe isn't obvious is that applying the CSS class ".wikitable" to <table> elements infers that <th> elements will inherit any defined ".wikitable th" class, <td> will inherit ".wikitable td", etc. If those classes contain any of the same properties that you defined in your table styling, then the class definition will take precedence since it is invoked later (i.e. the current object's properties override any inherited properties).

You could override the CSS styling by re-writing the .wikitable and all related classes in Mediawiki:Common.css or Mediawiki:Vector.css but that would apply globally to all tables, and probably isn't what you want. Better to create custom classes in Mediawiki:Common.css to do what you want. You'll still need to style each row, but it'll be in a more shorthand form.
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Re: Wiki Main Page

Post by JWPlatt » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:27 pm

Nalates, I'm not going to take up space with quotes, but these are my responses, in order. Please keep in mind that while I answer personally, it might not indicate the direction OpenUru.org should or will take. It's path will be defined by the people who use it and affect it, including any guidance you have to offer. Also, these answers are just stream of thought. I'm not trying to make this a treatise to be written in stone.

On with it...

I don't know SEO the way you do, and I'd appreciate any advice you're willing to provide. I've taken a more organic approach to OpenUru.org by letting it live on its own merits (or suffer from any lack thereof). So any search results coming out of that are just dumb luck. I've been concentrating on getting the resources together here in a maintainable fashion. I'm an engineer, a developer, and I somehow manage to operate my own company to do those things with a little bit of common sense. But I'm not a marketing guru. I've always gone by word of mouth. I've never done anything wondering how it would look on Google. Thinking with the frame of mind about how to pitch this site to attract search engines to attract people is not in my nature. Of primary concern is providing something people would like to use. And if I do that riight, my thinking is that grassroots is enough. This isn't something like a business that needs anything to survive, except monthly hosting, and it's very affordable. That said, the measure of success for this site will be how well it is used. And to be used, it needs people to find it, and want to use it. So I know what you're talking about - I just don't have the talent or the will to do marketing/SEO. For that, we need folks, like you, who might enjoy working on those things. If I'm doing it alone, that's not measuring up for success anyway.

With some recent changes, I'm hoping the Community Portal is even more useful to you now. I hope you'll also tell us what you think of the Main Page now.

The variety of posting permissions is a good point. That's true because each project can define its own set. The only place to reliably post is in non-project sections (i.e. domain, resource, and open forums sections). I have a global announcement trying to explain that. I would like to know how better to solve introductions.

Does the new organization of the forum main index now help or hinder? What would you do? Might it be that putting the deeper subforums into the main index helps the search?

Goal: To bring together a community of Myst/Uru development and creativity, and help those who might not either be able to afford hosting of needed resources or might not have the technical knowledge to set it up even if they do have the money. Plus to provide information and documentation toward open source efforts. And then there's the mission statement on the home page.

Heh, what is not working is that the open source has not yet arrived. We've stressed that activities here are to be legitimate from Cyan's point of view. That leaves OU with not a whole lot to do until open source, except for projects like yours which don't depend on the existence of the source code. The GoW is doing what it does best, so the traffic is there. As far as that goes, OpenUru.org - the organization itself - is not in the same space as the GoW. OpenUru.org is not about developing anything, per se, although it might choose to, except the infrastructure and resources to manage and support projects like Open Uru. Independent projects which form a synergy has been the theme. Something like the GoW would be a project, just like anyone who might come here to work on any aspect of Open Uru. As I define the scope, as you know, that includes projects like Hypergrid/OpenSim. Whether Open Uru will be of general interest to a wider world than just our small community - when it happens - is the Million Dollar Question. If it - the wider world - is interested, we'll see more arrivals from search. If not, things will pretty much stay as they are and OpenUru.org will not have not a lot to do.

We don't want to minmize time and effort spent on the site. We want to spend our time efficiently and put it where it counts first. As I've said, that's so far been infrastructure more than making things pretty. I've just begun to think about site navigation and such. But no big strides should be taken until we know where we're going with open source.

The Point

I already asked what you think of the new main index from a search point of view. What do you think of it now aesthetically?

Until open source arrives, I don't think building up search has much point. When open source is here, yes, I think it's extremely important to let the world know we're here. That means we should plan ahead, but the uncertainty keeps us from doing much about it yet.

What is desired is knowledge and advice on how best to proceed in terms you understand. ;)

Do we want more people using the sites or not care or something else? More!
Are we trying to provide an alternative development group? No, an additional development environment!
Where will visitors come from? The community and search hits on "cyan open source uru myst..."
Are there enough people in the world interested for the effort to be worthwhile? Yes, if the Plasma platform can become more useful than just Uru.
With Myst-Uru style modeling now in Blue Mars, OpenSim, and SL do we try to interest those Myst fans? Yes, if they are interested in Open Uru or the Plasma platform generally. Also, like Hypergrid/OpenSim, it is of interest if it also helps Open Uru.
What is the typical visitor/user’s likely level of Myst-Uru knowledge? My guess is community, or just curious, to start.
Which pages in the sites do we want to bring new visitors to? A web site front end would be nice. It will take time and effort. Otherwise, wiki and forums so that they can read about the resources that are available here. The site navigation menu should help a lot.
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Re: Wiki Main Page

Post by Mac_Fife » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:17 pm

The discussion here is broadening out beyond just the wiki main page: To some extent that's OK because once you start saying "The wiki Main Page will serve this purpose" then you also have to consider what the other primary landing pages are going to do, to avoid redundant repetition. But I'd suggest that if we're going to start discussing in detail what's on the Site Home Page, for example, then that needs to go in a new thread (because a forum about the wiki is clearly the wrong place for that). I think we're gradually working up to accepting that some level of overall "styling" is going to be needed, but it's never been much of a priority.

So, getting back onto topic, I think that what JW has done in tidying up both the Main Page and the Community Portal has improved the appearance significantly, and given the main page some "function" which it previously lacked. But I'm another engineer, rather than an artistically creative type so other people's opinions on that are valuable.
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Re: Wiki Main Page

Post by Nalates » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:03 am

Mac_Fife, most of what I have in response is general, so I’ll not start a new thread.

SEO for JWP or Mac’s, and many other’s purposes here, is more of a rain drops approach. Each little thing you can do adds up. On the wiki every link should use the primary keywords. It needs to make sense to readers, but use keywords whenever possible. As an example ‘Getting Started with The Wiki’ does nothing for your search placement. Rewording it to say ‘Getting Started with Open Uru Wiki’ gets an occurrence of important keywords into a link. It makes sense to the reader and provides a match for the search engines. No real magic.

That you want to be found in search needs to be a consideration in the title of any post, wiki page title, category name, and on and on. SEO is not a big deal, just persistence in details. Search engines match words and series of words. Give them matches. We tend to use pronouns for common terms and the game. Search engines really don’t do pronouns. It is most important to use keywords in the first sentence of any paragraph. Dropping to pronoun use later in the paragraph is a small thing.

The only technical things that need to be done on the wiki is add the meta tag: <meta name="robots" content="INDEX, FOLLOW" />

Pages need meta descriptions but I’m not sure we can use them on the wiki. If there is a plugin that generates different descriptions for each page then it might help. But, the same description on multiple pages annoys Google. So, we don’t want to repeat that meta tag unless we can change the tags content.

The same is true of the meta keyword tag.

None of those is going to do anything amazing, but they are a help and each little thing builds up.

The home page of the wiki is better. Most of the writing is obviously written by a technically educated person that reads tech stuff and papers. That is not a bad thing. But we should consider our demographic. Current stats suggest many game players fall into the 40 year old with some measure of tech background. So, if we think that is right… the wording works. If we are thinking a younger or less educated demographic then it probably should change.

If you want to promote the services the site provides… venue and resources needs to be spelled out. In ad terms provide a good first punch. So, I might write:
OpenUru.org provides free blogs, wikis, forum space, project management and other resources for Myst-Uru projects.


This is less about what you do than what will catch a reader’s attention and possibly match a search query. Free tends to jump out at people and stick in their minds.

For OpenUru.org a possible keyword is modding. People from other games call age building modding. In our community we seldom use the term. Try a search on Uru Modding. My blog post is in 3rd position. OU should be able to get good position easily because my post is NOT a heavy weight piece of optimized SEO spam.

The home page of the wiki assumes the reader knows what the Myst World is and consists of and why one might want to use the wiki. As redundant as it is I would spell it out. I would list all the Myst games to give search more matches.

If these are things you think you want to do I can make up some examples of what the page might look like.

Forum
This is a challenge for me. Considering your answers to my questions, the forum home page reveals lots of information. I can’t see a better way to arrange it. The limitations on where one can post remains a problem.

No matter where explanations are placed or how frequently people don’t read instructions until they have to. Then they usually can’t find them. I don’t have an easy solution. All my ideas would greatly complicate future upgrades. I’d make php changes to generate more seo friendly stuff.

About the only useful change I can think of would be to add keywords to the main topic titles. I suggest adding Myst or Uru wherever it is appropriate. So, Open Uru News & Announcements in place of just News & Announcements… etc etc

Shallow links are better. So, Myst/Uru-Style Hypergrid & Open Simulators has a better likelihood of good placement than the Hypergrid & Second Life subsection. As long as the top level sections have keywords we’ve added the most boost we can. Some where there is a line between trying for placement and using the forum.

Blogs have Pretty URL’s. If the forum software has that option, it would be good to turn it on.

Some of these recommendations may not work for you in the wiki or forum for various reasons. But, you’ll probably see the pattern and ideas.

Open Source
Yeah… no license or code is a problem. That means there is little to do. So, there is no rush.
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Re: Wiki Main Page

Post by Mac_Fife » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:00 am

Hmm... "SEO" is something of a swear word for most people running forums,etc., over the past couple of weeks ;)

Here's a question (thinking out loud): Is it better to have people find a specific page in the wiki via some external search, dip into it, then disappear again (as I, and I suspect many others, do with Wikipedia) or have them drawn in to some key landing page(s) that gives them greater awareness of what we're about and invites them to explore more?

Page titles need to be adequately descriptive to avoid confusion (e.g. "Walkthrough" vs "Ahnonay Walkthrough" vs "MOUL Ahnonay Walkthrough", etc.), but getting too expansive has the penalty of making it harder for someone writing a link in another page to get it right without reference. But since material ought to be read more often than it is written, the priority is on the end-user experience. If that helps to boost search ranking then so much the better.

Adjusting page titles is not entirely intuitive in the wiki: You need to "move" the page to change it's title, but this then leaves people asking themselves "If I do that, might I be breaking any existing links to this page?", so they don't do it. However, the wiki creates a re-direct from the old page to the new page in this case, so it's no biggie. Just so you know.

My feeling is that OpenUru.org isn't trying to be "just another fan site": I'm not saying that we don't want to have participation from all corners of the community, but I think that we maybe expect a different demographic than, say, Uru Obsessions. This site was created with the idea of assisting people who wanted to be active in developing MOUL, MOUL content and other loosely related things under the Open Source banner - people we'd generally expect to be more technically savvy than the average fan (and that's not meant to imply any form of elitism) - so a more technical/businesslike style seems appropriate to me.

I'm not sure I'd get too worked up over adding meta tags to help search engines. I think most of them nowadays are "scraping" their own keyword indexes from the pages that they spider, so keywords in the content are possibly more relevant. Also, a lot of the ranking comes from popularity determined by the number of backlinks to OpenUru.org, which is something that we can't (ethically) control other than by making this somewhere that people want to create links to. In the case of my own website which has had no particular promotion or conscious search optimization, Googling the key term for that activity returns the top four links being links to my home page, about page, forum index and wiki index (and I still get frequent offers from shysters who wish to "help me improve my search engine rankings" :roll: ).

Edit:
Something that came to mind: One of the other things that makes people visit a site is change, something we haven't had a lot of here in past year (until very recently). A forum with few or no new posts, or webpages that never get new content pretty quickly become stagnant, and people stop visiting. I'm not sure if search engines use the 304-Not Modified response or some other tracking of last change date to factor "relevance" when ranking pages, but that could compound the stagnation issue.

But then again, I have to ask, are we really in some kind of popularity competition? Is it possible that a site can stand on its merits rather than its search ranking? When I'm looking for something I rarely just go for a link that comes in the first half-dozen returns of a search: I look at the titles, the URLs, the excerpts and may well go several pages down or adjust my search terms a few times to find the "right" thing. Mostly the top ranked links are sponsored, commercial sites that I don't really want to see anyway.

Hmm... I'm drifting off-topic as well... Who opened this can o' worms anyway? :P
Last edited by Mac_Fife on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Reason: Added afterthought
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Re: Wiki Main Page

Post by JWPlatt » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:49 pm

A couple of quick comments for now:

There's a lot of common sense in what you say about simple pieces, Nalates, especially something like this: "OpenUru.org provides free blogs, wikis, forum space, project management and other resources for Myst-Uru projects." Yeah, "venue and resources" is fairly pedantic and vague sales-speak compared to how you have written it. I loathe meaningless brands terms like "Xfinity" (Comcast's package) because they say absolutely nothing about what they do. I should know better.

Forum permissions: This might only be solvable via general policy. An idea I just had is the concept that that any forum visible to you is postable for you. This is, of course, beyond the basic prove-your-not-a-spammer self-elevation to the Member usergroup. What it means is that every project would be required to have a "lobby" which is postable by any OpenUru.org member. There would be a notice posted in every lobby explaining that additional subforums are available as a member of the project. Some projects work this way now. Project leaders control project membership. There can be exceptions, but by policy they'll be explained in the lobby. This seems like a natural solution when you realize every business has a public entrance that people can enter for information and appointments. It's just being friendly and open to the community.
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Re: Wiki Main Page

Post by Nalates » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:01 am

Mac_fife wrote:Is it better to have people find a specific page

It is best to get them as directly as possible to the information they are looking for. People coming from a search engine are looking for something. Trying to point them in a new direction or put anything else in their face just doesn’t work. It is amazing how hard it is to keep bounce rates down even when they are looking for something your site has.

As your question is framed, suggests one thinks they can control the visitor. Just saying… The ‘back’ button put control of the Internet firmly in the control of the user and their mouse. The site owner can best influence the visitor by providing them what they need.

Wiki pages and titles… I guess until I look into the code and DB I’ll be at a loss as to what they are doing. I just try to make my title search friendly… I mostly remember to do that.

Yes, … ‘a more technical/businesslike style seems appropriate’

Meta tags are not as important as they once were. The follow/no follow tags are respected. The description meta tag is used by Google. I forget how many characters are used but Google uses the description in their results page. If you repeat the description on multiple page and check Google’s analysis of the site, in Webmaster’s Tools, you will see it complain.

Keywords is a meta tag that is often abused. While Google and Yahoo will not give great weight to the keyword list they will use the list in conjunction with their page scrape. All the stuff I read through basically says they use them as a hint.

Incoming links and internal links are the most influential single item in the rankings, until one goes over the top and gets classed as a link farm or being in a link farm.

Yes, ‘than by making this somewhere that people want to create links to.’ But, you will find I often add words to the subject of a post here when I link to it. I do that with several sites. So, Myst and Uru are often added even if not really important for the human reader. While there are only ‘us’ doing that, we can be smart about how we link here. Over time our links build up and it helps. I usually make any link to an Uru map on the GoC site include the words Myst, Uru, and Map. Search on Uru Maps. Over the years I have come to own those terms. It builds up over time.

Whether a site stands on merit or search ranking is not a good way to look at things. If you have a great site and put loads or work and information into it every day, does it matter if no one every sees it? Unless the site is just for the author’s entertainment then it is all about visitors and people using the site. A poor site can have lots of users and become popular just because it has good search placement. Once a forum or wiki has lots of visitors and contributors, the more likely they are to make it into a great site. So, there is a catch-22 type thing.

Forum permissions… the lobby thing might work well for people. My concern with hiding the sections that one is not signed up for, is that it would probably also lock out the search engines and prevent indexing of the good stuff.
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Re: Wiki Main Page

Post by Mac_Fife » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:19 am

Nalates wrote:Forum permissions… the lobby thing might work well for people. My concern with hiding the sections that one is not signed up for, is that it would probably also lock out the search engines and prevent indexing of the good stuff.
In phpBB3 there is a specific membership group for approved Bots, like Google, Yahoo, etc., (you'll often see them listed in "Who's Online" list, with a different colour). This allows you to set forum permissions to allow the Bots read access to "hidden" forums so they can index them. Quite often, I've come across hits in Google for forum posts that look interesting, but when you follow them you end up simply on a index page: I think this is what happens when a post in a closed forum is indexed but you don't have permission to view it. From an end user experience point of view, is it helpful or counter-productive to index hidden material if this is what happens? I don't know. In some ways, it'd maybe be better if the forum threw a "403-Forbidden" instead of being clever and taking you to somewhere else.

You're right about getting people to the information they're looking for as directly as possible - I was just throwing out random thoughts for discussion. I suppose there's the possibility that searches may not be turning up exactly what someone is looking for, so if the correlation of the hits to the search terms isn't high, I think I'd prefer that a "root" page was ranked higher than a specific page with only some vague relevance to the query, as that may be the quicker route to the desired information. Dunno, thinking out loud again.

That opens up another issue, that of local searches: The wiki has a search tool, the forums have a search tool, etc., but each has the scope limited to only the material contained within that application's database. Someone used to using forums may not think to search the wiki for what they're looking for, and it's a pain to expect people to search several different tools. To get a universal search you need to go to something external. I know Nalates (and others) use that as a workaround for the "broken" search on the MOUL forums, and there are switches you can set to only search specifc sites, but I don't think a lot of people a) know how to do that or b) can be bothered to type in the extra parameters. OK, this probably wants to be a new topic in "Suggestions" - A site global search tool. :)
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