Portal talk:Contents

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Portal milestones
February 5, 2008 Peer review Reviewed
This is not the page to ask for help.
This page is just for discussion of the Portal:Contents page itself, You may be looking for one of the following pages:

See also:


To-do list for Portal:Contents:

Please put this portal and its subpages on your watchlist and monitor them for vandalism. Thank you.

For tasks pertaining to Wikipedia's contents system as a whole, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Contents.

[edit] Moved project-level discussions to WikiProject Contents

Having a bonafide project page is more intuitive. Editors didn't seem to be finding the Contents project, since it didn't have a WikiProject page. Now it does. See Wikipedia talk: WikiProject Contents. The Transhumanist 01:50, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

I also moved the discussion archives there as well, since most of the discussions are system-wide in scope. The Transhumanist 02:05, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Topics-based contents pages project

Based on a continuing interest to improve how readers can browse contents pages by topics, it looks like a good time to work on another project. This page can be used as the main location to coordinate the related development activities. I added a to-do list at the top of this page to help plan activities and track their progress. RichardF 16:17, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Since I didn't agree to TT arbitrarily moving my comments and recommendations, I'm moving them back here.

I created Portal:Contents/Arts and culture as a mock-up using basic portal elements to build the page. I believe this is the most adaptable and accepted structure for building pages in Portal: namespace. RichardF 05:51, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

I didn't move your task recommendations, I reverted them. You displayed them on a to-do list template, which implied they already reached consensus when they hadn't actually been discussed at all. On retrospect, I should have moved your task list to this talk page so they could be discussed, and I apologize for not doing so. The Transhumanist 15:41, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Splitting tables of contents up by subject on to seperate pages defeats the purpose of tables of contents in the first place, and begs the question of why those subject-based contents pages aren't comprehensive (which is the purpose of the lists on those subjects). For example, a contents page specifically on Art is redundant with List of art topics and List of basic art topics and begs the question why the articles links on those pages aren't merged into the contents page to make it comprehensive. Nor is it immediately obvious that the links on the contents page are all to lists (which is obvious on pages titled "Lists"). The Transhumanist 15:41, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
It's nice to have all portals listed on one page, so the whole selection of portals can be easily browsed, rather than having to check a dozen pages for them. The same goes for browsing topic lists, basic lists, glossaries, and categories. Having a master list of glossaries, for instance, seems better than splitting it up into subpages. The Transhumanist 16:02, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Nothing is hidden here and a one-person project certainly doesn't represent the views of Wikipedia's editors. Since this page is in Portal: namespace, I see nothing wrong with expanding it with subpages, just like any other portal. I'm curious to read what other editors think about this proposal. RichardF 16:07, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
The project's discussion page is a general discussion with lots of contributors. Note that I changed my comment above before you posted your reply to it. I initially thought your proposal had to do with topic lists in general, and removed that part of my post. The Transhumanist 16:32, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Expansion is fine, but your proposal is a combination of split proposals and merge proposals, and links to this split/merge discussion should be posted using the appropriate templates to the top of the respective pages. The Transhumanist 16:37, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm not proposing to split or merge anything. Moving sections to subpages and transcluding them back, by itself, doesn't change how to read a page at all. It's just and editing tool. Nothing is being split from the current pages. Creating new contents subpages doesn't split anything either. They're new ways to look at existing content. That's what transclusion is all about. RichardF 17:34, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
You mean, place the content of each of the sections on subpages, and then use those subpages to build new pages? I have no problem with that. Good idea. Head-smackingly good. Thank you for clarifying your plan. Now I wish I'd left them on the to do list! Therefore, I've put them back. The Transhumanist 18:14, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Need help?  :-) The Transhumanist 18:34, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, you know how hard it is to see someone else's castles in the sky! ;-) I really would like to hear from some of the folks who were participating in the Main Page discussion at Talk:Main Page#Portals on the main page to find out if there any other question/concerns/objections. The biggest "challenge" I see is the variety of page formats in the Template:Contents pages (header bar) group. The easiest way to edit the subpages would be to make those pages more like regular portal pages, at least by using Portal:box-header / Portal:Box-header-watch so they can be easily edited and watched. Since I have lots of practice, I'm certainly willing to set up all the new page elements. If you agree with using full names for the pages I suggested, I can get those going. If you agree with putting the current sections in boxed subpages, I can at least get the easy ones started. The other stylistic thing that's easy to see at Portal:Contents/Arts and culture is different subheader styles. That needs working on. Another thing I didn't mention on the to-do list is making good introductions for each page. Starting with portal intros might be the way to go and then improve them from there. Is that enough to start? :-) RichardF 19:02, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

The Portal:Contents topical TOC could look something like this. RichardF 02:34, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Portal section transclusion and box test

I tested putting a current contents page section on a subpage and then transcluding it into a portals box. The results are here. It seemed to work fine. I also transcluded that same section to a new, topical contents page. The results of that are here. That worked fine too. For now, I don't see any major technical issues for the topical contents pages proposal. For now, it just seems to be about agreeing on new page naming conventions to get the new pages set up. After that, stylistic question are about things like whether to use boxes on the existing pages and section subheader conventions. RichardF 23:29, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

I completed all section transclusions for Portal:Contents/Reference, Portal:Contents/Arts and culture and Portal:Contents/List of glossaries. That means...the other existing contents pages have transcluded "Reference" sections, where applicable, and transcluded "Arts and culture" sections. As soon as someone seconds the remaining new page names, I'll start on transcluding to those contents pages. RichardF 04:19, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Seeing no objections...yet...I decided to second myself and move ahead with arranging the boxes. The real issues are about what goes into the boxes anyway! ;-) RichardF 17:27, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

All the page type contents pages (glossaries, etc.) are transcluded to their own subpages and corresponding topical contents pages. Most of the topical pages still need intros. After that, it's things like formatting issues on the original pages and all of Quiddity's points. RichardF 04:01, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Things to consider

Essentially, I'm thoroughly intrigued, but cautious. Some wine-marinated thoughts and observations:

Selection of contents
  • Current items included are haphazardly added/selected, to different degrees, at the Overviews and Topics and Categories pages, and need trimming.
  • importance vs quality vs interest vs ?
    • I'm worried that we're giving the impression that these are scientifically selected, or are somehow representative of importance within their topics, or of quality within Wikipedia.

(see old threads: Archive 3#Sections or topic headings and Archive 3#"Best articles").

Think about checking our contents/groupings against these lists:


    • All of these comments are very relevant at a broader level than this activity. I agree they should be addressed as a collaborative, long-term process, such as Wikipedia:WikiProject Contents RichardF (talk) 04:11, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Header template?

Contents · Overviews · Topics · Basic topics · Glossaries · Portals · Categories
Reference · Art · Geography · Health · History · Mathematics · Science · People · Philosophy · Religion · Society · Technology

We'd probably have to retire/replace the {{Browsebar}} though, too similar/confusing. Also, it breaks at 800x600.

    • I agree such a navbar is a bit much. Based on a review of a recent WikiCharts - Top 1000 articles listing, I recommend we go with something more in tune with reader browsing patterns, such as...

Sex · Other

RichardF (talk) 04:11, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
LOL. The Transhumanist 00:14, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
  • We, who make these pages and stare and poke at them for hours, need to make sure we're not overwhelming the various audiences. We're making a nav system for the nav systems, which is already self-reflexive enough!
    • I agree. That's why creating a set of topics-based contents pages will be very helpful. They are much more intuitive than page-type contents pages. RichardF (talk) 04:11, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Keep in mind the possibility of changing the Main Page navigation links (thread). Ideally, any replacement will be just as simple as it is now.
    • A simple substitution of a nine links topical TOC on the Main Page is here. RichardF 04:44, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
    • A twelve links version is here. It doesn't cause horizontal scroll on 800X600 displays. RichardF 13:07, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
  • The Nuvola icons still worry me greatly. Too cartoony, too unprofessional; but again, what are we trying to portray here? Family-fun or intellectual rigor?
    • I agree those icons are a bit goofy, but my pc is plastered with goofy icons from all over. I see the use of icons being much more reliable in TOC sections than the words, which change willy-nilly. As a counter balance, I made sure all the images in the new page intros were not these icons. RichardF (talk) 04:11, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
  • There's no rush to go live, so let's try to get it slowly right, so whichever projects copy us first don't have to copy our mistakes too.
    • I see a fundamental difference between this new set of contents pages and a long-term Wikipedia:WikiProject Contents. The Topics Navchart clearly demonstrates the existing contents page structure is based on a two-dimensional classification system – topics by page type. All this proposal does is give the readers the option of navigating the existing sections by either classification dimension. As I commented earlier, the topics-based set of pages is much more intuitive than the current set of offerings. Because of this intuitive advantage of the proposed over the current contents pages, I still recommend the following steps be taken relatively quickly.
      • Add the topical TOC to Portal:Contents, such as here.
      • Propose making links to the completed topics-based contents pages on the Main Page. Have a discussion at the Village pump or wherever between the nine links version and the twelve links version. Either one already is a vast improvement over the current portal links.
    • Long term, I support continued work on coordination improvements to what should be the columns (page-type pages), rows (topics pages), and cells (section contents) represented by the Topics Navchart. The inherent conflicts among the various Wikipedia classification systems never will be "fixed." The best a contents project can hope to do is gradually bring some additional clarity and usability to what already ties the encyclopedia together. RichardF (talk) 04:11, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

-- Quiddity (talk) 21:18, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Whoooooweee!!! ;-) RichardF 01:03, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
My two-cents...
  1. We should consider getting rid of the Overviews --> each section has the same scope as a basic topic list. A couple missing basic topic lists would need to be built, but that's easy. On the subject-based contents pages, their redundancy becomes blatant. Also, the links are to articles instead of lists, which may confuse some users. But most importanly, since the links are to articles, it's incredibly easy to add more links, and the section could grow as large as the basic topic list on that subject.
    1. Getting rid of Overviews is fine with me. RichardF (talk) 02:15, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
  2. I agree that the subject TOC should be displayed on Portal:Contents sooner rather than later.
    1. Cool, my trigger finger is getting itchy! ;-) RichardF (talk) 02:33, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
  3. Standardize the subject category names on the menus, so they match on all the page type contents pages.
    1. See TOC names for my suggestions. RichardF (talk) 02:33, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
  4. On the subject contents pages, in each section place an "all" link after "edit" and "watch". The all link would lead to the corresponding page type contents page.
    1. I think it would be more obvious what it meant to put that link closer to the title, like this Overviews (all). Plus it would be a lot easier to implement! Of course, then the corresponding Reference (all), etc., links should be placed on the other pages. RichardF (talk) 03:19, 6 December 2007 (UTC) Update: I added these links to the template page and started building in parameters. These links work on most of the pages now and they will work on the others as I build in more parameters. RichardF (talk) 04:09, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
  5. The set of subject contents pages should be a different color than the page type set.
    1. I agree. See my suggestions at Page color schemes. RichardF (talk) 02:33, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
  6. Come up with better names for these two sets of pages. (that is, what we refer to them as)
    1. All of the portals use the term, "topic" for article pages, so the proposed group should have that in the name somewhere, not "subject." RichardF (talk) 03:23, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
  7. Find a better set of icons. Or set up a project for Wikipedians to make some from scratch.
    1. Personally, I think icons are useful. To me this set is about as good as any other I've seen on commercial software. I'm not at all confident a wikiproject would develop a "better" set. RichardF (talk) 02:33, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
  8. Refine the pages and let them season for at least 3 or 4 months before making a proposal to replace the portal links on the main page with links to them. That will give time for the community to get familiar with them, and to provide feedback.
    1. The new pages already are just as good or better than anything else out there, IMHO. I say add the TOC here real soon now, start a conversation a the Village pump shortly after that, and continue to work on the broader classification issues Quiddity, TT and others have been working on for quite some time. RichardF (talk) 02:33, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
The Transhumanist 00:14, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] TOC names

I added a TOC names chart at the top of this page to help track where they stand. Please update it as any changes are made. RichardF (talk) 01:54, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

  • "Health and fitness" works for me. RichardF (talk) 02:11, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I can live with "History and events" for Portals. RichardF (talk) 02:26, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I'd like to see the "Natural Science..." topics called "Natural and Physical Sciences." Those are the two general types of sciences included in those sections. Also, the "...and nature" headings sound too redundant to me. RichardF (talk) 02:00, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
  • "Philosophy and thought" makes more sense to me than "...and thinking" because the related article is Thought. RichardF (talk) 02:15, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
  • "Religion and belief systems" is broader than "...and spirituality." RichardF (talk) 02:15, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I don't have any problem with splitting "Philosophy, Religion, and Spirituality" at the Glossaries and Portals pages. RichardF (talk) 02:17, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
  • "Technology and applied sciences" is just okay. The "Applied Sciences" article is a stub and the category seems weak too. "Engineering" is too specific. "Technology" seems more on-point, but it's not a two-parter like the others. RichardF (talk) 02:05, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Transhumanist, how does changing "Arts and culture" to "Culture and art" "fix grammar"? What is the violation that needs fixing? RichardF (talk) 01:53, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Topic labels

I added a chart at the top of this page, /TopicLabels, to help keep track of how the topics' long names and short labels match up. Please update it as changes are made. RichardF (talk) 12:36, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Page color schemes

Obviously, I'm partial to the "Wikipedia Blue." ;-) I would like to see that on the main contents page and the topical pages because I believe they are more intuitive than the others. Having all the other pages one different color scheme makes sense to me. I would go for the green at Basic topics, assuming the hues match. If not, adjust them a bit. RichardF (talk) 03:03, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Two-tone is fine by me. -- Quiddity (talk) 07:43, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Unless I hear otherwise, I'll work on blue for the main and topics pages plus green for the page type ones. RichardF (talk) 08:05, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Green is okay with me. The Transhumanist (talk) 06:45, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Topical TOC on main Contents page

I made the TOC live here to see if it makes the wikiglobe explode. If you revert it, please give your reason here with a summary of the conditions under which you would agree to put it back up. :-) RichardF (talk) 04:01, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

I took the TOC off after I did some Contents pages category organizing. RichardF (talk) 07:07, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
It looks identical to, and is thus utterly confusing with, the TOCs in the various contents-by-type pages. I object until they are different from each other. -- Quiddity (talk) 07:43, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Unless I hear otherwise, I'll assume contrasting the two groups of pages by color, blue or green, will be enough to remove the TOC objection. RichardF (talk) 08:08, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Nope, I think Portal:Contents/TOC is fundamentally flawed whilst it shares the same outline/form/wording/icons/etc (but different links), with the ToC in pages like Portal:Contents/Overviews. -- Quiddity (talk) 20:41, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
I respectfully disagree. I believe it's fundamentally sound because it reflects the inherent two-dimensional nature of all these content pages. It is simply descriptive. If you want to fundamentally change Wikipedia's navigation structure before any changes are made, then I can go off and do something else while you all figure that out. RichardF (talk) 20:56, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
One solution would be to get rid of the "page-type contents pages" altogether, and just have the "topics-based contents pages", as you alluded to above. I'm not sure about this either though. It all needs more input than just us 3. -- Quiddity (talk) 22:04, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
If we ask specific people to comment, maybe some of them will. I also added requests for others to add comments at the subpages, related projects and Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)#Coordinating Portal:Contents pages. RichardF (talk) 15:22, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Resetting the question. I adjusted all the page-type contents subpages to a green palette. All the topical contents subpages have the same blue palette as the main Contents page. What other distinctions between these two sets of subpages need to be made before a topical TOC can be added to the main Contents page? RichardF (talk) 12:55, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Richard, what I think Quiddity is referring to is that the function of the TOC on the contents page isn't intuitive because it doesn't work the same way as the TOCs on the contents subpages. On the various contents subpages, each link in the TOC (and the links in the TOCs of every article on Wikipedia) lead to subjections on the page. Whereas the TOC on the main contents page would jump to different pages. It will probably be confusing to a lot of people. But there are many alternatives, with the goal being to make it intuitively obvious that it navigates off the page (header bars do that, and footers, and info boxes, etc., so it shouldn't be that hard for us to come up with something. The Transhumanist (talk) 13:02, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Since all these pages are now Portal pages, I'm mostly thinking like a portal designer. Subpages for display on their own often are linked by tabs across the top. Because there are 12 topical subpages, I took the lazy route instead of trying to figure out how to do 13 tabs! >;-o) Conceptually, that was my first choice (but not anymore). The way subportals often are linked is in a box somewhere, like how I proposed to do it. The thing to do this way is come up with the snappy box label, Right now, I'm using "Topical contents pages" at the bottom of each of those pages. To make it look more like a navbar, it could be placed above the page headed and under the current navbar. That could stay the same, get a snappy new label like "Types of Contents pages" and stay put, or... get put in the box above the page header. All that still probably still will be too confusing for some. What I think I'll try next is a "TOC navbar" that combines the two. I'll start with the four lines of links with no icons. That might be the best way to go for all 19 Contents pages. ;-) RichardF (talk) 16:18, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Ok, the TOC navbar test is here. Like Quiddity said elsewhere, the topics line wraps on 800X600 displays. But whatchagonnado, leave it two lines and goofy for some or make it three lines and a little more annoying for everyone? I think this is the best approach so far. I hereby drop my proposal for a big box on the main page and get behind the same, complete navbar on all 19 contents pages. :-) RichardF (talk) 16:50, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Contents pages layout

I reworked the Portal:Contents/Topics layout style a bit to be more like the main contents page while still using the portal box-header template approach. Based on this way of building pages, it should be realtively easy to establish a consistent layout style for all contents pages. RichardF (talk) 07:58, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

I added all 19 Contents pages links to Portal:Contents/TOC. It's style and placement at the bottom of Portal:Contents/Topics layout is consistent with the usual "Related portals" box on traditional portal pages. RichardF (talk) 19:13, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Structure duplication

Having the subpages transcluded via another transclusion (e.g. Portal:Contents/Reference/Topics from Portal:Contents/Lists of topics/Reference) means there are twice as many pages to watchlist for vandalism, and the "watch" links (e.g. at Portal:Contents/Reference#Topics) don't work as intended (and possibly the compilation pages won't purge themselves properly, as their immediate subpages will never show as having changes?). Could you eradicate half, in some way, or is there a specific need that these duplicates are trying to address? -- Quiddity (talk) 01:41, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

The proposal isn't about needs, it's about choices. If you want to get rid of half the pages, get rid of the page-structure pages. What does an organization like that have to do with content? RichardF (talk) 02:07, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm not addressing the pages themselves in this thread, just the transcluded items they're made up of. I had to spend 5 minutes just finding and watchlisting all the 160 subpages we now use; there is a huge potential for abuse in this. Eliminating half (which only act as redirects, e.g Portal:Contents/Reference/Topics), and thereby making the embedded "watch" links work properly, would be a good step.
I was asking you to do it purely because I was hoping you had the whole structure in your head more coherently than I do, and so could fix the problem in the least number of steps (plus my fingers hurt, RSI). Hope that explains things :) -- Quiddity (talk) 20:46, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm sure I'm going to butcher techie terminology here, so my apologies to anyone who notices. In a nutshell, my proposal is based on analogies. In effect, I'm proposing upgrading the collection of contents pages from a flat file system to an object-oriented relational database management system. The current pages are organized along two dimensions – page types and topics. Template:Topics Navchart does a good job of representing that two-dimensional relationship. A similar chart could be constructed that included column headers that linked to type contents pages, row headers that linked to topic contents pages, and cells that linked to the corresponding type-by-topic subpages. A fully-formed table would have 6 X 12 = 72 subpages that actually contain Wikipedia navigational links. Subtracting a few red Xes and combined topics gets us 65 subpages to start. Changing the number of rows or columns would change the number of cells/subpages accordingly.
The benefits of upgrading from flat file to object-oriented relational database management systems include having virtually all unique data in exactly one place. That means all of the inherent problems in managing duplicate data in multiple locations are eliminated from the start. From these sets of related data, multiple reports can be generated that focus on the best ways to present the data for the intended purposes. By analogy, that's what I'm proposing we attempt to accomplish here. Store the unique data (links to Wikipedia articles and related pages) exactly once. Report the unique data from multiple perspectives for multiple purposes – give the readers choices on how they prefer to navigate contents pages (without duplicating the underlying links).
From the perspective of editors and readers, I believe this proposal has its most compelling potential benefits. By placing the existing sets of page-type links with each other on topics-based pages, the redundancies and glaring omissions become blatantly obvious. Such arrangements should make it much easier for editors to notice, discuss and resolve major contents navigational issues. As these issues are addressed and resolved, the experience for readers should be vastly improved. These navigation issues already exist. The fact that even the mock-ups of this proposal help focus the issues attests to the benefits of putting something like this online.
I developed a single layout page for topical contents pages that links to a transclusion page for each subsection. That's where the extra pages you (and I) don't like come from. I would make a complementary layout page for the type-contents pages too. I probably can figure out how to get the edit and watch buttons in each topic-contents page header to go directly to the type-contents subpages where the article links actually sit. That will eliminate all of the unnecessary pages no one really wants to watch. I'm pretty sure I know how to do that, but if I run into trouble, I'll ask for help. I'll start with a few extra parameters on the layout page to see if I can get that to work, then take it from there. (If that was your only concern for this section of the discussion, then ignore all the rest of this! At least this gave me a chance to describe my proposal in a little more gory detail. ;-)
Y Done That was too easy! What was the question? ;-) RichardF (talk) 01:11, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
I think the rest of the organizing pages are pretty much needed for an arrangement like this. If someone knows how to cut them back further, let me know. Another comment I have is that if I'm just spitting into the wind on this, I don't see much point in taking the mock-ups much further. For a proposal, I think I've taken it far enough for others to see what I have in mind. If someone else has a better idea, I'd love to see that too! :-) RichardF (talk) 23:18, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Top of page navbar

I've been using Portal:Contents/TOC navbar at the top of the proposed pages. As I write this, it has 19 links on two lines that do not wrap on my 800X600 display, e.g., here. There are lots of ways to go with a navbar like this. Is ther any consesnus? :-) RichardF (talk)

A 95% version for both lines is here. A 100% version for both lines is here. RichardF (talk) 23:15, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

I added the contents navigation line from Template:Contents pages (header bar) to Template:Browsebar to test how they worked together. You can see it here. Obviously, John Gohde didn't like it, so I reverted it. (He also seems to be claiming Portal:Complementary and Alternative Medicine as his own, by the way.) I still believe a complete Contents pages navigation bar is the best way to go, even if it takes up more than one line. Any comments on this? RichardF (talk) 16:28, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Another, weaker, way to do this is at the "crossover" page, Portal:Contents/Portals. This is the one page both navbars have in common. It forces a reader to go to that page, instead of any page either one is on now, but it's better than nothing. In case it gets reverted, the example is here. RichardF (talk) 17:54, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Order of page sections and navbars

The order of sections on the original page-type pages is fairly routine – Reference then alpha order by topic. I don't think anyone cares to make a big deal about that. The order of the sections on topical pages started by following the order of the Browsebar - first article space pages, then portal pages, then category pages. Since Wikipedia is nothing without the articles, I can see the logic of listing them first. John Gohde has argued to move the portals section to the top of the page. Does anyone have any specific alternative proposals or suggestions they want to offer on this? RichardF (talk) 05:14, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Coordinating Portal:Contents pages

A group of editors is working on coordinating Portal:Contents and all of its subpages. This activity has two basic parts. The simplest part is to coordinate their presentation, such as page layouts. Most of the discussions about how to accomplish this are at Portal talk:Contents. The more involved part is to coordinate their substance, such as what gets linked from the pages and their classifications. Most of the discussions about how to accomplish this are at Wikipedia:WikiProject Contents and related projects such as Wikipedia:WikiProject Lists of basic topics, Wikipedia:WikiProject Lists of topics, Wikipedia:WikiProject Glossaries, Wikipedia:WikiProject Portals and Wikipedia:WikiProject Categories. Please feel free to join in on these activities. RichardF (talk) 12:49, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

  • I was asked by RichardF (talk · contribs) to come here and provide some feedback, but I think I've been working too heavily on portals lately myself and have seen this page before, what I think you need is a fresh look. I would suggest grabbing a friend of yours who has never edited Wikipedia before, and taking them to this Contents page and asking them how the layout looks and what can be done to improve user friendliness. For one thing, the list format is kinda simple and plain, a more attractive style might be to structure it itself like a Featured portal, with four or more subdivided sections/boxes. Cirt (talk) 11:22, 8 December 2007 (UTC).
Thanks Cirt. I did already show my non-techie wife and asked her what she thought. She said, "That's nice dear." I also think it would be easy enough to portal it up a bit more after a basic navigational structure is accepted. Before that, I keep humming tunes to myself that feel like they go well with arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. ;-) RichardF (talk) 15:28, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Good point. (Page formatting is much more labor intensive). The Transhumanist (talk) 06:35, 12 December 2007 (UTC) 13:28, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Redundancy

Speaking of redundancy, Portal:Contents/Health and fitness repeats the same topic six (6) different ways. You got one display box for each.

I think any visitor trying to use this type of a setup will have a mental melt down. And, after giving up will go for the section on the very top of the page. Being that portals are next to last, this will effectively remove Portals completely from the scene.

So, why are Wikipedians busily creating 100's of portals, if only a handful of people have the power to give them the ax? I see no consensus of thousands, here. Just a couple of guys, in charge, intent upon giving portals the ax.

The only positive that I see is that the consensus of opinion is that categories are next to useless when compared to the old fashion list.

-- John Gohde (talk) 13:21, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Essentially, I agree. The same goes for giving the "Overviews" section the complete ax (as suggested above). I don't think shuffling/duplicating content around is going to fix it (but I don't have a better solution this morning, either). -- Quiddity (talk) 20:53, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Considering I've probably developed more featured portals than just about any other editor at Wikipedia, I consider John Gohde's comments quite ill-informed and disrespectful. It looks like a good time for another wikibreak. RichardF (talk) 21:00, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

He has no reason or obligation to be aware of your/our backgrounds. He was just giving an opinion. Wikibreaks are always a good thing though, come back refreshed :) -- Quiddity (talk) 21:17, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Whatever. I have no intention of allowing anyone to accuse me of conspiring to sabotage portals or any other part of Wikipedia without being called out on it, if I so choose. RichardF (talk) 23:03, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

I do not see anything wrong with [The Original Wikipedia:Main page alternative (portals)]. You have a slight variation of the browsebar on top, with a slight variation of the {{Contents pages (header bar)}} on the the bottom. It looks almost identical to the current main page. All it requires is a little detail work. -- John Gohde (talk) 01:29, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

My newly created portal can still function as a doorway page in Google. It was crawled on Dec 2nd. In a few months, I will be able to determine how well it ranks for a few keywords. So, all is not lost. :( -- John Gohde (talk) 23:08, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
How do you determine how well it ranks? The Transhumanist (talk) 08:15, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

John, this is all hypothetical. We're speaking mostly in terms of this new prototype (the subject-based contents page set).

We're hands-on and like to tinker, to see how things will look and feel. That way, benefits and shortcomings become more readily apparent. Think of the prototype as clay. We can just as easily glop back on any chunks that we tear away.

With respect to changing the Main page or deleting major pages like Portal:Contents/Overviews, wider discussion will be required, so there's nothing to worry about. We're not at the proposal stage yet.

Well, back to tinkering...

The Transhumanist 10:16, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Is there a way to integrate these without making the presentation too busy? The Transhumanist 10:16, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

To integrate which to what? -- Quiddity (talk) 22:40, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

RichardF: It's a fascinating proposal, with an elegant design, that opens a lot of possibilities for multipurpose content usage. However, I'm still gravely concerned about the redundancy with the existing portals, and would be happier to see the existing portals get more attention. Could we feasibly integrate these contents into the actual portals, whether as subsections or subtabs, instead? e.g.

etc. Thoughts? (Sorry I haven't been more active in helping, just critiquing. It's a very busy season in my household, and this project has too many ramifications to keep easily straight ;) -- Quiddity (talk) 22:40, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] How do you fork a nav header?

With two subsets of pages, "Contents" would be on two nav headers, but only one of those nav headers would be on the Portal:Contents page. So if nav-header-A was on Portal:Contents, and you happened to be blowing across nav-header-B, once you clicked on "Contents" you'd be stranded from nav-header-B, the nav header would appear to change abruptly, and you would have to resort to the backspace key or the back arrow on the browser toolbar to get back to it. Not good.

So, how could we have the two nav headers linked together by sharing "Contents" without the user getting stranded, and without expanding beyond one line?

How about the word "(Types)" in parentheses after "Contents"? It would be a redundant link that would lead to the first page in the page type contents subset (Overviews, or whatever). This is assuming that the main nav bar would be subject-based. "(Types)" could be left off of the page type nav bar, to help differentiate it from the subject-based nav bar.

One potential problem is that a user might interpret "types" as applying to the Overview page's contents rather than to the set of pages on the nav bar.

Any thoughts?

The Transhumanist (talk) 13:24, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

What are portals: "Portals are pages intended to serve as "Main Pages" for specific topics or areas. ... The idea of a portal is to help readers and/or editors navigate their way through Wikipedia topic areas through pages similar to the Main Page. In essence, portals are useful entry-points to Wikipedia content." Wikipedia:Portal Is that true or is it not true? If true, then clearly portals positively should be stressed. At the very least they should be referred to as Introductions in any one line navigation bar and placed near the start of that single line. -- John Gohde (talk) 16:37, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
I've now convinced myself the 19 Contents pages should never be separated in any navigation schemes on those pages! :-) At the time I'm writing this, Portal:Contents/TOC navbar for the tops of pages and Portal:Contents/TOC for the bottoms of pages both have all 19 links. You can't get much more unambiguous than that for showing the navigation scheme. As far as them being "too much," line wrapping and such, they is what they is. That's the actual complexity of what's already out there. Einstein said, "Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler."
Believe it or not, I also agree portals are the best thing that ever happened to Wikipedia to help readers navigate around this place. I created an intro section in Portal:Contents/Topics layout to serve the same purpose as any other portal – introduce the topic. To keep the navigation style compatible with regular portals, the right footer link should go to the main article(s). I added a left footer link at Portal:Contents/History and events to add the main portal links. I'll do the same for the other proposed contents pages. Eventually, I could add a layout page for these intros too. RichardF (talk) 20:24, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
All of these intros now have what appear to me to be the main portal links, if any exist. RichardF (talk) 22:31, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
I counted fifteen portals linked by this method in the new contents pages. That's a two-thirds increase from the current portals browsebar. RichardF (talk) 05:02, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

The simplest approach here might be to include both navigation bars only at Portal:Contents/Portals as a linking/crossover page. It's the same concept as a key record to match up tables in a relational database management system. An example of that is here. RichardF (talk) 04:28, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Good idea. We should try it. The Transhumanist (talk) 07:13, 12 December 2007 (UTC) 06:29, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
It was a good experiment, but it doesn't work too well. The portal browsebar, which now links to subsections of the portal contents page, is redundant with that page's Table of Contents which is already at the top of the page. So I've removed it. The megaportal solution discussin in the section below should fix the problem, by turning all the portals on the browsebar into subject-based contents pages. The Transhumanist (talk) 19:09, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I hope you mean "merging into" instead of "turning [into]". We need to integrate the "Contents" content into the existing portals, not create a whole set of new portals. At least, that was my understanding of the proposal below. -- Quiddity (talk) 20:21, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Yep, merging. I'm with you. See Portal:Technology The Transhumanist (talk) 21:13, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I've also removed the word "Portals" from the browsebar, because all links on the browsebar are to the subsections of that very same page. So it's already covered. The Transhumanist (talk) 19:12, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Personally, I see not "problem" with the "Portals" link on the browsebar. In fact, I see it as a benefit by showing the relationships among the two navbars. Obviously, others interpret this differently. Down the road, this whole 19-pages-navigation thing should be one of the discussion topics in the Magaportals improvement drive. RichardF (talk) 23:26, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Megaportals

I was reading a comment by Anarchia who was pointing out two portals with too much overlap and wondering why this new proposal was creating even another redundant portal. Shortly after that, I realized he was right. The more I worked on the new contents pages, the more they started looking like "regular" portals, and Cirt was wondering why they weren't even more so. Then I started thinking about more of our big ideas here. To paraphrase... John Gohde says make portals the real windows to Wikipedia. Quiddity says take all of the topics groupings into account. The Transhumanist says put everything into a list. I say use a two-dimensional organizer of page types and topics then build everything up from those subpages. And so it goes.

If we did all that, we would come up with a number of what I'll call megaportals – comprehensive portals that cover the landscape on high-level topics like those listed on the Main Page. Two examples of what might be closest to that idea right now are Portal:Science and Portal:Religion. Using the ideas listed above, megaportals would be developed by enhancing existing portals, when available. They would be prominently linked from the Main Page and other navigation tools. They would be selected from a common core of important topics. They would include unduplicated versions of the contents pages lists. And these lists would be transcluded from the applicable subpages.

All of these pieces already are in place to one degree or another. The trick is to align comparable elements from contents and portal page designs, pull things together or fill in the gaps where needed, and have an overall way to encourage collaborations in the efforts.

As part of that process, here is a chart that compares the elements of contents and portal page designs. Starting with the contents pages, corresponding portal sections include Topics, Lists, Related portals, and Categories. Everything on a contents page has somewhere to go in a regular portal. In fact, these corresponding elements should have the same content. An activity here would be to merge the common elements into a single subpage, like at the contents pages now.

The twelve sections of the contents pages correspond, in varying degrees, to one or two existing portals. Some of these portals are well-kept, some aren't. That portals quality issue pretty much is the main motivator for all this activity to "fix" things. It would be quite an activity to look at all the article classification systems out there to settle on the portal candidates for something like this, but it's still doable and worth it.

Because the main activity here would be to raise the quality of some group of portals, I suggest this be done primarily through the portals project as a portal improvement drive. Use the portal peer review process to develop consensus at various stages for the improvement drive as a whole and for specific portals. Some aspects of the process, like which topics and overall navigation schemes could go to the contents project, but it still only has one member. That's why I think checking off most of the steps through the already operational portals processes is a solid approach.

This all started for me when David Levy said he wouldn't buy links from the Main Page to sections of the portals contents page because they would be too redundant. That proposal was an extension of switching the portals browsebar to the portals contents subsections because many people don't like the quality of the existing portals. The "simple" solution for me was to create expanded versions of those sections that also included the comparable subsections from the other contents pages. One thing led to another and as these new pages were portaled up, they started looking more and more like another set of incomplete and redundant portals. When Anarchia pointed that out, I saw what I was doing was just another dog chasing its own tail. In any event, I hereby drop my proposal to create a new set of topical contents pages. Sharing the common elements between existing contents and regular portal pages would be a much stronger approach. Any interest in looking further into something like this? RichardF (talk) 04:23, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Portal designers will copy the megaportal design. Redundancy with topic lists will grow. There will be the temptation to fold topic lists into portals. But portal space is not included in default search settings, and if it was, search results would become cluttered with portal subpage names. To get an idea of what that would look like, take a look at the portal namespace via the all pages special page. Also, portal design is not standardized (nor should it be), and some include topic lists and many don't. Therefore, topic lists should remain in the main namespace. Portals should link to them or transclude them, but building redundant topic lists in portals should be discouraged.
How the megaportals are designed is crucial.
The Transhumanist (talk) 08:43, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Those all seem like reasonabale expectations to me. I'm not following the lists-in-main-vs-portal-space debate, so I don't have much of an opinion about that. However, since all the lists I'm discussing already are in portal space, this proposal doesn't adversely affect that position. In addition, this proposal would have us transclude lists to portals from wherever their primary location might be, just like the previously proposed set of pages do. Since this proposal is about lists, all of the proposed portals involved would include those lists. In addition, every portal is expected to cantain lists of topics and categories. There's no departure from any portal design expectations here. Any redundancy among portals is inherent in their main topics. If the topics overlap, then the lists should be expected to overlap. That issues isn't about lists, it's about redundant portals. Redundancy in main portal topics should be kept to a justified, consensual minimum. RichardF (talk) 13:16, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
In any case, the page-type contents pages should be kept, as it is useful to have all glossaries listed in one place, etc. The Transhumanist (talk) 19:56, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree. :-) RichardF (talk) 20:02, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
A portal magnum opus. Sounds perfect :) -- Quiddity (talk) 00:45, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

One "megaportal" completed. See Portal:Technology and applied sciences. The Transhumanist (talk) 01:15, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Nothing to it! I cleaned up the wikimarkup a bit, used widely accepted section naming conventions and removed the "Technology and applied sciences" portion of new sections because it's redundant in a portal. The main portalish faux pas I saw was the lack of icons for the related portals. This wouldn't cut the mustard in a featured portal request. Other than that, the stuff is there! :-) RichardF (talk) 03:23, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Second "megaportal" completed. See Portal:Health and fitness. The Transhumanist (talk) 07:31, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Cool, but I'll wait to consider a megaportal to be "completed" until it receives one if these. →Featured article ← ;-) RichardF (talk) 04:44, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] The portal namespace improvement drive: Contents and megaportals

I added The portal namespace improvement drive: Contents and megaportals to the portals project discussion page. Feel free to chime in. :-) RichardF (talk) 04:36, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Main topics classification systems

At the top of this page, I added a first-draft chart of the main topics classification systems Quiddity mentioned (minus those without topical lists). I'll putz with it as time goes by. Feel free to join in the fun! ;-) RichardF (talk) 03:39, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

I added the chart, Main topics TOC systems by Fundamental categories, to the top of this page. It organizes the main topics TOC systems by the group of Fundamental categories. It demonstrates the twelve current topical sections for Contents subpage TOCs can be used to organize all main TOC topics. It also highlights the value of futher discussions about what names to use for some of the TOC section headers. RichardF (talk) 22:27, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Navigational templates and subpages

At the top of this page, I added a chart of the navigational templates and subpages used on the pages related to this improvement drive. More food for thought! RichardF (talk) 06:09, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Portal peer review: Contents and megaportals

Check out the Contents and megaportals portal peer review. RichardF (talk) 08:25, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

[edit] Wictionary link

I'd like to suggest adding a link to Wictionary under the Glossary head, maybe "Also try our sister project Wiktionary"--agr (talk) 17:39, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Done. -- Quiddity (talk) 23:17, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Navigational lists - namespace discussion

Just a pointer to Wikipedia:Move navigational lists to portal namespace, which has been in discussion since January. -- Quiddity (talk) 00:06, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Major rename proposal of certain "lists" to "outlines"

See Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)#Major rename proposal of certain "lists" to "outlines".

The Transhumanist    21:48, 11 June 2008 (UTC)

JELLYBEAN BAHBEE.xStrike-through text —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:44, 15 June 2008 (UTC)