Search Guidelines

You may have heard people say they can't find anything in the Wiki. There are reasons for this. There are also things you can do to make navigation easier and more productive for yourself and for your team members.

"One of the major and universal frustrations heard from Internet and intranet users alike is that corporate search engines "suck". But, are search engines the real problem, or is the issue more complex? Despite "leaps and bounds" progress in search technology, which is quite advanced, compared to other Web technologies, inaccurate and irrelevant search results continually defeat users performing search queries. Though some search engines may be sub-par, the more likely problem is an absence of people processes and rules for managing information."
-- Toby Ward, President and Founder of Prescient Digital Media

Imagine, if you will, that you're staying at a friend's house. He's not very organized. His guest bathroom doubles as a darkroom; you can't use the shower. He keeps his crackers in the freezer, the peanut butter next to the bed, and his tea in a canister marked "eye of newt", He doesn't have any mugs, jumbles flatware and cooking implements together, and doesn't own a can opener. You're having a hard time finding anything.

"Search is not very effective today unless you know specifically what you're looking for. If you're a little vague, search will give you nothing (or too much)."
-- Ramana Venkata, Chief Technology Officer, Stratify (a taxonomy software company)

"People are remarkably cavalier about their information and how it is stored."
-- Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

"I think searching has become a more difficult process for everyone; this has less to with the quality of search engines and more to do with the meteoric growth in data. With more to search through, it's difficult for search engines to maintain high levels of both precision and recall."
-- Josh Mugele, Director of Product Management, Semio, (aan indexing and categorization technology company)

Many wikis, grown under the typical anarchic, everyone's-a-webmaster model, tend to be something of a disorganized mess. It's difficult to find something when you have no idea where to look! (It's even more difficult when you learn, after searching for a while, that what you're trying to find doesn't actually exist.)

Don't despair. You can help make things better.

Plan ahead to make your pages findable. When you create pages, be sure to follow topic guidelines and naming conventions.

When you search, consider your search terms. If you want to find something about (say) Project Kumquat guidelines, note that "Kumquat" is probably more specific than "guidelines". Try several searches and look for pages that come up several times.

If you find the page you're looking for and think it should have had a more obvious topic name, remember that you can make an "alias" with another name. (You can't do that in your friend's house!) See Redirect Plugin for details.

Finally, it could also be that the information you're lookng for isn't in the Wiki yet. That's OK. It's a wiki, so you can add a new topic yourself.

References

The Search Isn't Broken. We're Broken.

Topic revision: r1 - 04 Mar 2013, VickiBrown
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