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Old 07-22-2005, 03:00 PM
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journals index

Sometime in between re-coding the journal software, chasing database bugs, doing backups, keeping track of messages, rescuing Ozzies and that mundane life stuff, how about adding an index to the journals? The current journal.php?action=showall page just gives name, number of entries and number of views. That doesn't tell what a journal is about. Take ZipZ28 as a random example. It's about a '41 Chevy. A single line in an index could show that. It would take several lines to summarize what's in wilys36@aol.com's journal. In both cases, though, the summary would be more useful for browsing than any of the information currently displayed, such as name, views, entries, largest, most popular.

Maybe a form could be devised so that each journal owner could create their own index summary. This would maintain enough control to keep it useful and keep it from bloating the database, while at the same time lessening the burden of creating that index of summaries.

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Old 07-22-2005, 03:17 PM
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My thought was that we would do some sort of indexing through the new KB: http://www.hotrodders.com/links . It's up to 250+ links so far, we can probably launch it when it's around 1,000.

We could have users enter a one-line journal summary upon journal creation, and then auto-enter new journals into the KB. The KB search feature would pick up keywords in the journal summaries.
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Old 07-22-2005, 06:47 PM
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That links page sort of resembles a wiki. Is that how it's going to operate? People add links and descriptions to it?

A journal summary at creation would likely be wrong. Check those most popular journals. I'll bet you the owners didn't know where each would go when they created them. The index needs to be dynamic, IMO, to be most useful to people. It could appear as a special entry to the journal owner, to be updated as needed. As projects are added or dropped, the index entry could be changed. This would not interfere with the searches, but could significantly change the usefulness of the journal front page and therefore the amount of traffic.
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Old 07-22-2005, 07:12 PM
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Not wiki in the sense of auto-linking words, but yes, wiki in the sense of group-generated knowledge. We'll have a system of "editors" who normalize, categorize, and approve links.

I disagree that the journal owner would periodically update his summary. I don't see it happening on a large enough scale. I think the journals cover too much ground to be manually single-sentence indexed. I'm thinking a search engine that searches the entire journal text, with greater weight given to journal titles, is the way to go.
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Old 07-22-2005, 07:47 PM
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Ah, but the search engine is the tool someone uses when they're looking for something specific. I'm thinking of those who are just 'browsing', visitors and members alike. It wouldn't be a single sentence summary.

My own journal, for instance, was going to just be about that '49 Olds but instead includes the Olds, a toolbox, cobbled-up compressor, a 4CV and a motorcycle trailer. All of that could be put on one line, certainly, and would be more useful to a browsing visitor than "grouch's journal -- yadayada entries -- yadayada views". Just listing the things included in wilys' journal might take several lines, but that's an exception that would only apply to mature journals. Would you guess, just by looking at the name, entries and views, that you can find model-making and custom intake casting in there?

I'm not down-playing the value of a search engine; I'm just pitching for a more descriptive listing of the journals on that showall page. Something closer to an overall table of contents that will cause someone to say, "hey, that looks interesting". After all, it's not the user names people are looking for, except possibly existing members checking out another member's journal.
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Old 07-22-2005, 08:46 PM
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OK, I think I see it more clearly now. A big, juicy page that briefly lists each journal and the basic contents of it. It would be an ideal journal entry point for a casual browser who wants to gulp down journal info.

Scalability is a concern. I see two problems. First, the showall page is already a bit large. What to do when it's got 1000 journals? Divide it up by pages -- 100 journals/page? That could be reasonable, but we'd need to make another decision around 5,000 journals.

Second, there has to be a viable way to distribute the task of reading every journal, and updating the journal summaries. There's going to be too many to do it centrally, where an "editor" reads journals and updates the summaries. The user would have to do it. How can we encourage the user to periodically update his journal? Maybe a reminder every time he reaches a certain number of entries? So, perhaps for every 10 entries made in the journal, the user gets a PM requesting a journal summary update? Recall also that we're looking at including "sub-journals", so we would need to integrate that concept into this as well.
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Old 07-22-2005, 10:39 PM
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Yes! A page or pages (I admit to not having considered scalability there) that shows the same info showall is now displaying plus a user-maintained description.

Examples (apologies if these are real user names):

foobar's journal | 2 entries | 20 views | no description
frantic fred's journal | 342 entries | 34200 views | 33 Hupmobile, 1903 Little, 72 UniMog, brazing a space frame, cobra kit car, 64 Imperial Low-rider

There's a simple way to handle the maintenance of such descriptions: don't. If the journal owner doesn't care that it says "no description", then nobody else should, either. I wouldn't even bother with auto-reminders.

The form used to update the summary could strictly limit the number of characters allowed, to avoid database bloat and avoid swamping the index/contents page(s). Something like 'j_sum' varchar(127) default 'no description'.

That initial page for journals wouldn't need to be touched; only the "showall" page. The journal listings in "showall" could continue to be ASCII alphabetical but could be paged with 50 per page. That avoids oversized pages even as it scales. You could jump to "a|A" or do "previous", "next", or a specific page number.
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Old 07-23-2005, 08:58 AM
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I'm still not convinced that the journal owner would update the summary. That's the crux of this issue -- getting that summary.

Maybe the default summary could be: "$username has not yet entered a summary. If you are $username, click here to enter your journal summary".
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Old 07-23-2005, 10:53 AM
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I guarantee you that "frantic fred" above would want the world to know that he made a low-rider out of a 64 Imperial and hotrodded a Unimog. Half of it is an ego trip anyway. A hotrodder begins with the idea that he or she can improve on what a multi-billion dollar industry produced. Then they want to show off the work. Those who go to the trouble of creating and filling a journal have already demonstrated that they are at least somewhat motivated to present their work to the world.

The ones who would not put something in such a summary, after seeing that it is used to get more people to look at the journal, are probably the ones who would start a journal and let it stagnate anyway. There could be some kind of prompt at the time of starting a journal to get an initial description summary. I think after that it would be updated whenever the journal maker has something he or she wants everyone to notice.
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Old 07-26-2005, 11:27 AM
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True that. I guess it's a job of leveraging that personal pride into a situation where a proper percent of the group is taking the time to update the summary.
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