Categories in the Mac Guides

Discussion in 'Mac Guides' started by Eraserhead, Apr 7, 2008.

  1. macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #1
    The Mac Guides are a great resource for the website, however I think the categories of articles on the site aren't particularly great which makes finding information difficult.

    I'd like to try and improve it, but part of the problem is the front page, which I can't edit and there should be a consensus on something that major.

    There a some categories that contain very little good content, for example the "Companies" category. There are some which are fairly meaningless like the "Guides" category. And there are some which seem a little wishy-washy like the "Digital Lifestyle" category, what should go in there? I think the following categories on the front page would be good.

    Main Categories

    Mac Hardware - Apples Mac hardware and related articles such as the ones for RAM and upgrades. Subcategories for laptops, desktops, and possibly individual models.
    Mac Software - Any software available for Mac OS X. Subcategories for Mac OS X, individual software titles and Programming.
    iTunes - Anything related to iTunes for Mac or Windows.
    iPod/Apple TV - Anything iPod or AppleTV (which is essentially an iPod that doesn't move :p) related.
    iPhone/iPod Touch - Anything iPhone, or iPod Touch related. Subcategories for jailbreaking and individual software titles.
    Gaming - The gaming articles are very popular, and that Mac isn't always the best platform for gaming, so I think it should have its own category, including articles for connecting your console to your Mac. With subsections for iPod Game titles, Mac Game titles.
    Networking and Internet - Internet Related Articles. Subcategory for Software titles.
    People and Organisations - Any articles for companies and analysts and Apple CEO's.

    Special Categories

    MacRumors.com - Same as now.
    Forum Posts - Same as now, but this should be a special category.
    Uncategorised - Anything that doesn't fit in the above categories. Could possibly be renamed "Miscellaneous" or something.

    Finally a link to the [guide]Help:Contents[/guide] article from the front page would be useful.

    Any thoughts? Anything major I've missed?
     
  2. thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #2
    So if there are no objections is there any chance we could implement this?
     
  3. macrumors regular

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    #3
    Hmm, I'm still going around the Guides getting used to the layout and it is kind of all over the place, too many categories and subcategories, and neither of them is particularly strong either, and it follows the exact layout of Wikipedia (same software of course) for categories which is just poorly designed.

    For one thing you should never aim to have a single category for miscellaneous articles, it's poor form, and while it makes for a nice organization tool until something can be categorized, it would make more sense to just categorize something at the articles creation.

    Gaming is a subset of software in this case, games themselves are just software after all, having a subcategory for gaming maybe, but Apple has 0 dedicated hardware for gaming, gaming is just another feature in the case of the iPod or something that their hardware is capable of running such as with the iPhone or Mac OS X.

    The thing that's getting in the way of my ideas for organization is the distinction between Apple's platforms, Macs, iPhones, and iTunes. So I propose they be grouped together to cut down on more useless categories since some of those articles might apply to both Macs and iPhones or both iPhones and iTunes.

    How about this:
    HardwareMac, Server, iPhone, iPod
    You propose subcategories for Laptops and Desktops but Apple's entire Hardware lineup currently consists of 6 computers, 3 Desktops and 3 Laptops. If you want to count in past models then it starts to make more sense, but not enough to call for a distinction between the two, especially since there's no need for separate articles consisting of every single model ever released, so for example, the PowerMacs could be grouped together, the iBooks grouped together, the iMacs grouped together, and all the others. Maybe one more subcategory for accessories but that doesn't draw a clear enough line between Mac accessories and iPod accessories, so stuff like Cinema Displays should just be categorized with Macs and FM transmitters with the iPod category. The Apple TV of course would also go under iPod.

    SoftwareMac OS X and Operating Systems, iPhone OS, Developer, Games
    Mac OS X can cover Mac software, UNIX programs, and Server software, it's kind of a lot to cover though so maybe either UNIX or Server could be broken out into a new subcategory if the Mac OS X category started growing too large. In comparison, the iPhone OS category will probably be much smaller, at least for now, but as a bonus it can also encompass some Web Apps as well. Games should be its own subcategory and cover Mac OS X, iPod, and iPhone games.

    Services
    I don't think this one really needs any subcategories, iTunes might prove large but if it's covering up too much of the category then it might be reconsidered to be broken out into a new subcategory. Otherwise it should be just fine stacking Apple's Services and Services for Mac users in here. Retail would also go here.

    Networking
    Really covers both hardware and software, including Airport, and is basically independent of the barriers between any of Apple's platforms. Can also cover Internet services I guess but that would be pushing it.

    People and Organizations

    Sorry to be so critical but I deeply care about layout and organization in everything, and the guides should be as easy as possible for users to navigate with as few categories and subcategories as we can get away with.

    Sebastian
     
  4. thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #4
    I do still prefer my titles as they are more user-friendly and product centric rather than type centric. For example with your way is that iPod Touch software would be in a different place from iPod Touch hardware. But your layout does have the advantage of less options to click on and it is still a lot better than the existing layout.
     
  5. macrumors G3

    bigandy

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    #5
    I don't believe that either nail it on the head. While they're both a vast improvement, the proposals still need a little work in my view.

    While I don't have anything to lay on the table right now, I'll come back and post when I've had thinkies.
     
  6. macrumors regular

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    #6

    The point was to be type-centric rather than product centric because it can be used as a net for all future products as well, while with your proposal, we might need to be adding or removing categories depending on how Apple changes their product lineup, and this way, we can cover the individual pieces of each product, so for example, the iPod touch software is essentially the same as the iPhone software minus the drivers for a few other pieces of hardware and minus a couple of phone specific applications. So if Apple were to create ANOTHER product that used the same software, we can just add the differences between the software to the "iPhone OS" page. The iPod touch as a subset of the iPhone shouldn't even have it's own page, but instead should be mentioned in the main iPhone article in it's own section and we can set the iPod touch page to automatically redirect to that section.

    Hmm, well I think mine was simple and to the point, but I look forward to your proposal as well, but if you're looking for ideas here's a brief outline of why I proposed a type specific approach:

    1. Minimize Confusion by minimizing categories and subcategories.
    2. Minimize clicks by minimizing categories and subcategories
    3. Maximize the usefulness of the Macrumors Guides to everybody, not just the average user, and not just Macrumors users (it would still drive traffic to Macrumors though).
    4. It would cover a network of related technologies and not just Apple's products and services helping new users get the most out of their new hardware purchase (as I understand it, many new Mac users and maybe iPhone users now also end up on Macrumors looking for help, advice, and to join the Mac User community).
    5. Also serve as a reference for older and experienced users.

    Sebastian
     
  7. thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #7
    Good point.

    I'm not convinced yours will do this to be honest. Your categories don't seem totally clear to me.

    Both of which are essential.

    Btw Other proposals/suggestions are also welcome, however many or few posts you have :).
     
  8. macrumors regular

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    #8
    Thank You.

    I don't think they can be much clearer. Hardware refers to well, Hardware, Software to um... Software. Hmm, maybe I'm looking at it from the wrong perspective though, why don't you think it's clear?

    Sebastian
     
  9. thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #9
    Because most Apple products have hardware AND software so you might not know where to look for your specific issue/for the information you want.

    For example if I was looking up information on the iPod Touch, there will be information on the hardware and information on the software, but they will be in different places.
     
  10. macrumors regular

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    #10
    It is possible to guide the user to the correct information that they're looking for just with decently written Guides and smart use of redirects.

    Example:
    Problem: The iPod touch is a subset of the iPhone and does not entirely warrant its own article.
    Solution: Automatically redirect users from /iPod_Touch to /iPhone#iPod_Touch

    Problem: User wants to look up information on the iPod touch's hardware.
    Solution: Redirect user from /iPod_Touch to /iPhone#iPod_Touch

    Problem: User wants to look up information on the iPod touch's software.
    Solution: Redirect user from /iPod_Touch to /iPhone#iPod_Touch and place an iPod Touch Software link at the start of the section which redirects to /iPhone_OS.

    Err, well I'm not making suggestions that that's the exact place they should redirect or anything, but I'm making a point that it's possible to guide the user to the place that they are looking for.

    Sebastian
     
  11. macrumors regular

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    #11
    I don't have much time right now (I'm kind of in class at the moment) but I think I figured out how to edit categories, just edit the category page like any normal page, I'm going to test it out with a new category later when I have more time to figure out how to delete my test category after creating it (yes I'm very new to wiki editing).

    Anybody care to confirm this before 4:30 PM Pacific time and save me some trouble?

    Sebastian
     
  12. thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #12
    You create a category automatically by adding pages to it. The editing of a category only works to add text or the category that category is contained within.
     
  13. Administrator

    HexMonkey

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    #13
    Only sysops can delete pages. If you want to create a test category I can delete it when you're done with it.
     
  14. macrumors regular

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    #14
    Alright, thanks for the offer, however it looks like Eraserhead already confirmed what I was thinking so I don't think there's a need to create a test one anymore to confirm myself.

    Sebastian
     
  15. thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #15
    You'll probably need to create the page as well as Category:Blah Blah so you can add pages to it...
     
  16. macrumors regular

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    #16
    OK, I've been going through the Macrumors Guides a lot today, and what I'm seeing really sucks in organization, I'm sure you all know that already which is why this discussion is already here, so I wrote a few guidelines, made some minor changes to my previous proposal and I'm resubmitting it here. I'm going to continue going around and marking pages that are Stubs or Out of Date or should probably be deleted so that we have something to work with... we need a general agreement on what makes a good categorization system so that this mess is never recreated again and if possible I'd like to have an agreement by next week so that the changes can be put into effect immediately.

    All of the Sub-Subcategories can be done away with, especially those under Apple Events, most of the Subcategories can be done away with, and all of the main categories can be reorganized and merged with others with a few done away with all together, categories are being treated more like tag clouds even though that's far from the case, they're not tag clouds, they're a hierarchy for useful organization

    1) No Sub-Sub categories. A few subcategories per category is fine, but too many and it makes the Guides harder to navigate. Specific information like whether an app is an Instant Messenger or Web Browser can be included in the article page itself, and speaking of which...

    2) Document information, tips, and guides (if they're not too long, otherwise Subdocument (see #3)) and any other useful information like developer, developer website, manufacturer, whatever the relevant metadata is directly in the page for that piece of software/hardware/service if possible. Creating individual pages for each and every one of these will clutter the categories which is probably what led to Sub-Sub categories in the first place.

    3) Subdocument really long guides into the article page. I'm not entirely sure how this would look, but the general idea is place the Guide directly in the relevant page like say, a tip for making Safari faster (if you have one) would go directly in the article page under a Subheading of "Tips" if it's a few sentences to a paragraph long, but if it's too long and Safari already has a lot of different tips inline, you might want to instead create a page directly for your tip of putting Safari on steroids and then link to that somewhere on the Safari page, I'm not sure where yet but a simple "Related pages" thing wouldn't be good enough, I'm thinking something similar to how Wikipedia users broke the Cell BE page into several, or how they have a dedicated sidebar for related pages to say... Anarchy, or the Democratic Party... anyway I'll work on this idea some more and see if I have a better solution.

    4) Don't be afraid of UNIX, Mac OS X has always been considered UNIX-like and is now certified UNIX with official support for the POSIX API. "Terminal Commands" are not so much Commands as they are individual packages and programs, separating them from the rest of the Software just because they run in the CLI is well, to say the least, annoying. You have OpenOffice.org for example in the main Software Category and that's an X11 program, but all the Terminal programs like man and top are separated from the Software category with the exception of pwd for some arbitrary reason. OK I realize there's a lot of people editing these pages and that inconsistencies are bound to happen, but that's why we need a simpler category page.

    5) There are 3 Games Lists, List of Universal Games, Free Mac Games, and List of Intel Games, I already posted in the discussions of those pages that we need to separate games by genre, not architecture or price.

    A note about Subcategories, is there anyway to make them act more like filters instead that would just limit the items in the list to the items in that category, or will we just have to post the articles under both the category and the subcategory for that to work? If possible, subcategories would be better off functioning as filters, then we could have an inclusive list of hardware and the list could be filtered by clicking on one of the categories, but I'm not sure if MediaWiki allows this.

    I'm sure there's a lot of problems I'm missing from this um, well rant/list.

    1. Hardware- (this would include Apple's hardware, notable 3rd party accessories, processors, internal hardware, Apple's hardware patents, and other hardware data.) Subcategories: Mac, Server, iPhone, iPod. (I'd only agree to those Subcategories if we could get them to work as filters instead, otherwise that's pretty much the entire list subcategorized).

    2. Software— Subcategories: Operating Systems, Applications (including Terminal PROGRAMS and X11 PROGRAMS without any sort of Sub-Subcategorizing here, if a user cares about getting the most out of their computer, they won't care whether it is GUI or CLI), Software Development, and Games (Only if we were to use subcategories as filters).

    3. Services (same as before)

    4. Networking (same as before)

    5. People, Events, and Organizations (would include companies, expos, and of course People, there would be no need for any subcategories here either)

    6. Guides (I didn't touch on this before, but this is for guides that really don't fit under a specific category, maybe meta-guides that encompass the benefits that other guides on other pages provide for example)

    7. Macrumors.com (I also didn't touch on this one, maybe it could be renamed to something else, but since the Buyer's Guide is a tab in itself on the main page and would be included under Guides anyway, probably all the Subcategories could be eliminated and this could serve as a place to store Help pages and Templates for reference, we might as well rename it while we're at it, or create a separate "Editors" category for what I'm talking about and leave this one as it is since I don't really care about the stuff relating directly to Macrumors.com... heh)

    Keep in mind that the Guides are here to help educate the users, therefore there is no reason to shun some things like the UNIX parts out into a sub-sub category simply to keep it user friendly, someone is likely here to learn how to find out how to do something specific or else find other information, and the Guides should be a good information service exactly for that without doing any user-unfriendly filtering for them. :p

    I am open to debate about all of this, but I want to agree to something by next week if it's possible, it is supposed to be a Wiki after all but if it's total anarchy then that's no good either, and after this mess of a categorization system is over with and we have some lightweight guidelines for us and anybody we can recruit to make changes, then we can actually focus on the articles instead of the hierarchy.

    Sebastian
     
  17. thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #17
    ^^ The guides category just needs scrapping, its a complete catch-all and has no meaning. MacRumors.com shouldn't be touched and seems fine to me...

    Definitely separate GUI and CLI applications, there was a massive shift from CLI to GUI with the introduction of Windows and the original Mac OS, they should be kept separate even if CLI applications are just in a subcategory with the GUI applications.
     
  18. Administrator

    HexMonkey

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    #18
    I disagree that we should avoid splitting categories. In many cases, it makes it easier to find articles if they are more categorised. If lots of people are interested in a certain 20 articles out of 200, and they all have a common theme, it makes sense to split them into a subcategory so that they don't have to skim through all 200 article names to find them. I agree with Eraserhead that CLI applications should be kept separate. Most users are not power users and don't want to delve into the command line, so are not so interested in them being mixed with other software. Conversely, those looking for information about Terminal commands won't be interested in GUI applications at that time.

    Clearly there are both cases where there is too much categorisation and where there is not enough. I'm in favour of general guidelines based on the number of articles, ie new subcategories should have at least x articles, and categories with more than y articles may want to be broken up - of course, there will be exceptions, so they should be only very general guidelines.

    I'm open to a big change in the category organisation of the Guides, as it is clearly badly structured in some places. However, any new structure needs to be carefully designed and agreed upon, as it is a lot of work to change and very difficult to undo.
     
  19. macrumors regular

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    #19
    A solution is a solution no matter whether it's the Command Line or a GUI, besides that, a lot of apps also have a CLI equivalent, Property List Editor and defaults, Disk Utility and diskutil, Automator and automator, etc. So clearly articles involving Disk Utility would also need to include diskutil, and Automator would need to include it's CLI equivalent... not quite the same for the Plist editor and defaults I guess.

    Then there is something like Quicksilver, which is kind of a mix between the GUI and the Terminal, well actually I'd go so far as to say it's an interface paradigm in itself. Then there are preference pane apps which aren't full GUI apps, codecs like Perian and WMV Components which also happen to have preference panes by the way, small utilities like Jumpcut which can function in either the GUI or the CLI via the same keyboard shortcut and just extend the clipboard, so it's really hard to create an artificial distinction between them, and then there are X11 apps, and what about online apps like Google Docs? No, they're not Mac specific apps, but neither is something like OpenOffice.org, they just happen to be hosted online and work in a browser, but a solution is still a solution whether or not it's locally hosted or remote, has a GUI or uses the CLI, or has its own unique interface, uses Aqua, or uses the X Window System, or uses your browsers rendering engine.

    On the other hand, if we were to use subcategories as filters, then that would just have the effect of narrowing the list instead of forcing the user to click through to another category to find what they might be looking for so we wouldn't have to create a distinction between different types of Software in the main category.

    So in reality, Mac OS X is a hybrid breed and so you have to look at where the real distinction is, the Operating System provides the software for a functioning computer, Apple provides their Cocoa and Carbon developers with the HIG, and also provides a full UNIX environment that anyone can take advantage of, and also provides a powerful Rendering Engine in the OS that provides an environment for both Widgets and Web-based Apps to run in. Some people are scared of the Terminal, but the Guides are here and they can be a powerful tool for getting people more used to the idea of using the Terminal and getting the most out of their computer, or if they chose too, they can completely ignore it.

    Sebastian

    Overly-general guidelines based on the number of articles is poor structure, if it gets vastly overcrowded then new subcategories should be used very sparingly, but without subsubcategories, a user won't have to click through more than 3 times to get to the article they want from the Guides page, Top Category>Subcategory>Article, and potentially most of the time, two, Top Category>Article, or they'll just search it out which is the most likely, but that doesn't mean a decent hierarchy should be given up since it allows the user to just browse articles of interest.

    Sebastian
     
  20. Administrator

    HexMonkey

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    #20
    I don't think the number of clicks is the best metric here. If there are hundreds of articles in a category, it takes a long time to skim through the list of them. If you can spend a few extra seconds narrowing down what you're looking for, it can be much faster to find something.
     
  21. macrumors 68030

    BlizzardBomb

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    #21
    OK, let's take this one small step at a time and see what we've come up with.

    Option 1
    Mac Hardware - I'm in favour of "Mac Hardware", not just "Hardware". No need to split iPhone/ iPod software apart.
    • Mac Desktops
    • Mac Laptops
    • Mac Servers?
    • Mac Hardware Guides? - e.g. Intel Mac RAM, Buying RAM pages, Which notebook should I buy?, Intel and IBM stuff.
    • Displays and Accessories - ACD, Airport, Mighty Mouse etc.

    Option 2
    Hardware
    • Macs
    • Server
    • iPhone
    • iPod
    Unsure whether the plan is to have accessories and products like the ACD, Newton, Airport etc. floating around in "Hardware" (which would quickly get cluttered as these are not Macs).

    Once we've decided which format of these we'd like to take, the rest can form around it. So if "Mac Hardware" is seen as a better option, it would have "Mac Software", "iPod", "iPhone" etc. If "Hardware" it will just be a simple "Hardware/ Software" split.
     
  22. thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #22
    I believe from a usability perspective getting it down to 5 clicks is good enough, and 3 ideal so certainly sub sub categories would work.

    That can be included as a "see also" link at the bottom of the article.

    I would class a CLI app as anything that has to be run in Terminal/X11 and you can't just double click an icon to load the program (as you do with MATLAB)


    Option 1 looks better, option 2 is trying to use too few categories IMO.

    One possibility for a way forward would be to create a new category called BetaMainPage and then create categories called BetaMac Hardware or whatever and see if it works.

    EDIT: I don't know if it'd be better to do this publicly or privately...
     
  23. macrumors regular

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    #23
    Then that means merging articles wherever possible, and as I suggested before, using the subcategories as filters rather than points of separation. That way we can reduce article clutter while simultaneously avoiding arbitrary separation between different types of software simply because they don't fit the idea of being "Mac" like.

    Option 2 is better, there's no need to add "Mac" to the beginning, nor is there a need to split Desktops and Laptops because Apple has had very few distinct lineups, and not every variation needs it's own article, so all the iMacs would be covered inside a single iMac page rather than splitting them out between G3, G4, G5/Intel Core (2) Duo, and Intel Core 2 Duo (2007 and later) reducing article clutter. It would be pretty much the same idea for the Powerbook line, the iBook line, the Macbook line, the Macbook Pro line, the PowerMac line, the Mac Pro line, etc.

    Servers also don't really fit into the "Macs" subcategory, most of the iPods are not related to the iPhone either, although I don't think the iPod touch really needs it's own article since it just uses a subset of the iPhone's hardware with basically the same software.

    As for where ACD, Newton, and Airport? Err, the Airport wouldn't fit in either, the Newton wouldn't fit into any of those so just leaving them all in the Hardware section is fine since it's basically a footnote in Apple's history, the ACD would go in the "Macs" category since it's a Mac accessory, you wouldn't really use it with an iPhone or iPod and a display is entirely optional on a Server. The Airport would probably be a better fit in the Networking infrastructure since it's entirely platform independent of all of that hardware, but having it on the main hardware page is fine as well.

    Sebastian

    I don't think See Also would really be good enough, it would have to be handled on a case by case basis depending on the article, but a web page does not have to stick to a particular format.

    As for the CLI thing, it's all just software, we don't need to keep them separated by walls of steel from the "Mac" apps since they run native on a Mac.

    Sebastian
     
  24. Administrator

    HexMonkey

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    #24
    How does what I said mean we should merge articles whenever possible? :confused:

    I don't think MediaWiki supports using categories as filters.

    If there's a "Terminal Commands" subcategory of a "Software" category, the CLI applications are still classed as software. By putting them in a subcategory, we are not hiding them, shunning them or separating them by "walls of steel". We are merely putting articles in logical groupings to make them easier to find. They are not split off because they're not "Mac-like".

    A simpler category structure does not necessarily make the guides any simpler to use.
     
  25. thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #25
    Which is absolutely fine, not all applications have command line equivalents.

    Has anyone any objections with the beta category idea? I'd quite like to see what they are like...
     

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