The Orion's Arm Universe Project Forums

Giving the EG a Bit of a Remodel
So, this came to mind during the discussion about modosophont capabilities. Or more accurately, the discussion of modosophont capabilities finally pushed me over the edge on an issue that has been an annoyance for some time now: The many outdated EG articles that we have scattered throughout the EG.

Extherian has had the misfortune to run into this quite a bit lately, but it's been an ongoing problem for some time. Some of the issue is just older articles that haven't been touched in a long time (Hmm - a notion occurs..). But some of it is (IMHO) a result of the way we've structured the EG and our tendency to never want to throw anything away.

More specifically, the overall way that we've set up the EG is with a basic framework of Topics that loosely organize a vast number of Articles,each of which has some number of in text and post article links to other articles. Whenever we want to expand upon or modify a given subject covered by a given article, our tendency is to first generate another article to add to the subject. Only under fairly rare circumstances will we flat out replace one article with a new one, or totally revamp an old article to make it current with new information or a new 'take' on a subject by the project. And it takes something pretty extreme to get us to flat out delete an article completely.

While this approach has worked reasonably well over the years, it has some downsides, the biggest probably being that over time different articles of different vintages can start contradicting each other (which can be confusing to new members, or even experienced members, depending on the subject matter).

The second biggest is IMO, the difficulty in then trying to justify or reconcile the many different viewpoints that these different articles can present. We may end up tying ourselves in knots because of this - as well as probably making ourselves look less than great to members (new and not) when we have to keep saying that Article X is old and doesn't represent our current take on things and we really need to update it someday.

Which leads to the third biggest issue - trying to do a true update on things when our information on a given subject may be spread across 6-26 different articles, some long, some short, some totally contradicting each other.

Finally, there is the issue that trying to impart information about the setting on some subjects in the form of multiple short articles is perhaps not the most efficient or effective method. It is one thing to have 20 different articles about 20 different solar systems or 20 different alien lifeforms or the like. It is quite another to have 20 different articles about Economics.

Finally, finally, there is the issue of how we actually talk about the setting, and how the EG presents some information. Again, our initial way of structuring things has served reasonably well, but could probably be improved - maybe by a significant amount.

With all that in mind, I would like to suggest that we:

1) Do a general sort of high level review of the structure of the EG. Do the current Topic and Article structures still work well? Or could they be made more effective, either with a different structure, or even with something as simple as a name change?

For a specific example of what I'm talking about here, I would like to suggest that we restructure the current Technology Levels subtopics from 6 (Prim Tech, Low Tech, Middle Tech, High Tech, Ultra Tech, Transapientech/Godtech/Clarketech) to 4 subtopics (Modotech, Ultratech, Transapientech, Godtech/Clarketech). The reason for this is that we more commonly refer to 'modotech' or similar than to 'prim, low, middle, high tech' and the new structure should be simpler and easier to read through. Also, as a high technology, far future setting, I'm not really seeing the value of having entire topics devoted to primtech and low tech - a view which is further supported by the fact that we apparently have added almost nothing to either Topic page since their initial creation - and much of what is shown on one Topic page is replicated on the other.

Further, I would like to suggest that for items classed as Ultratech that we replace/modify the opening Topic level verbiage with the Transapient Derived Technologies article and add an indicator for each technology classed as Ultratech as to which kind it is (High Ground, Middle Ground, Low Ground), with the classification verbiage configured as a hyperlink back to the revised Topic verbiage. This should address the recurring issue of what Ultratech is and the different types of ultratech in play in the setting and - in particular - which ones modosophonts can use or invent and which they can't.

2) Review the various 'overview' articles that may be found under a given Topic, determine which article or articles best fit our conception of that Topic and then either fold the remaining articles into it, or eliminate them entirely. Followed by replacing the opening verbiage of that Topic with the verbiage of the article.

As mentioned above, this would be the case for subjects that are not given to lots of versions such as Economics. Specific examples of something relating to the Topic (The Trading Houses of System XYZ) would still exist as individual Articles under a Topic as a they do now, for the most part.

If/when we decide that our 'take' on a given Topic needs expansion or revision, then that process would be applied to the main overview article, rather than generating a separate article that a member would have to first locate and then read to know about. Article updates would be documented via the Forum and the What's New page for existing members. For new members the revised article would be what they would find if/when they read about that topic. All authors for all the different existing articles would be credited in the new revised/combined articles if their content was included, in whole, or in part.

3) Make greater use of lists of in text links in the 6 main Topic intro texts blocks that correspond to the main Topic intros in the EG (Culture and Society, Galactography, History, Science, Sophonts, Technology).

For a current example of this, see the Galactography page in the EG. I think that might do with some updating as well, but it represents more of what I'm thinking of for the revised structure of these pages. Rather than just a high level intro to a main EG topic and then a lot of sub-topics and articles filling in all the details, the goal would be to use the main Topic page to help a reader rapidly come 'up to speed' on that particular element of the OA setting. Sort of like the theory behind the Primer, but operating 'inside the Fourth Wall' of the setting and perhaps a bit more subtle since it would be using EG articles to provide information (which is really what they're there for, of course).

As far as how to do about doing all this, I have some ideas on that as well, but will stop here and see what folks think about the general concepts and the goal of making the EG more user friendly (I hope).



Messages In This Thread
Giving the EG a Bit of a Remodel - by Drashner1 - 04-08-2018, 08:31 AM
RE: Giving the EG a Bit of a Remodel - by selden - 04-09-2018, 04:04 AM
RE: Giving the EG a Bit of a Remodel - by Rynn - 04-13-2018, 06:49 PM
RE: Giving the EG a Bit of a Remodel - by Rynn - 05-09-2018, 04:32 AM
RE: Giving the EG a Bit of a Remodel - by Vaktus - 05-10-2018, 03:07 AM
RE: Giving the EG a Bit of a Remodel - by selden - 05-10-2018, 06:38 AM
RE: Giving the EG a Bit of a Remodel - by Vaktus - 05-23-2018, 01:53 PM
RE: Giving the EG a Bit of a Remodel - by selden - 06-24-2018, 04:46 AM
RE: Giving the EG a Bit of a Remodel - by selden - 07-01-2018, 10:55 PM
RE: Giving the EG a Bit of a Remodel - by selden - 07-22-2018, 03:30 AM

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