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Level 1 tasks: functionality issues / wish list[edit]

  • Printer friendly pages. We desperately need a printer friendly page version that does not include external hyperlink addresses. See e.g., the printable version of 1 Ne 2:16-24, which has lots of usable hyperlinks. Brent thinks he can write code to do this.
  • Paragraph spacing. I think we need bigger spaces between paragraphs. Spacing might (or might not) currently be sufficient between two paragraphs that both begin with a colon ':', but after paragraphs that start with a bullet '*' the space is definitely too small. Spacing should be the same following both types of paragraphs, and I think it should be larger since we do not (and I think should not) have indenting to help users find the beginning of each new paragraph.
You can see how the space before this paragraph is very small.
But the line before this paragraph is larger, perhaps even adequate.
  • Random pages. This function currently selects from all content pages. It selects from "All" pages but should not. It should also be limited to pages at least 25k in size. This will ensure a better experience.
  • Text searching. The current search box in the top right corner of each page can search only for page names. Go to "Home > Special Pages > Search", and on that page there is a box that allows you to search globally for any text string on all pages (not even case sensitive). I call these two different ways of searching the "Search Box" and the "Search Page." The Search Box is a great way to jump to the page addressing a particular verse without even thinking about it and without having to wade through the many other results that merely reference that passage. But there is also a need for text searches so that people can find where a particular discussion appears.
Because the Search Page can find undisplayed code (a functionality I really value for site maintenance), I assume that users who search for text that is partly hyperlinked will at times be frustrated. So maybe we need a third type of search for text on printer friendly versions of all pages (WYSIWYS: What You See Is What You Search). I do not know if printer friendly pages either are or must be generated on demand as opposed to being created at the same time a page is saved (which I think would be more efficient).
I have implemented an imperfect solution by creating two redirect pages called "Search" and "ZZ". So in the Search Box type "search" or "zz" (not case sensitive) and you land on the Search Page. But this is a secret for initiated power users, not something new users can quickly and easily see.
I would like to implement some way of having at least two and perhaps three types of searching more easily available, possibly as two boxes, but probably as two or three radio button options on a single box. The options could be called "Jump to page" (default), "Search for text", and "Search for code".
  • Anchor list. I would like the ability to have the software generate a list of manually created anchors (or divisions). The Search Page provides a way to manually find all manually created anchors by searching for '"'<'div id'=' ..." and then to manually find all links to each anchor by searching for "#anchorname", so there must be a way to write code that will collect those results and generate a list of the pages on which those results appear. Any manual or instructions on this topic may refer to them not as anchors but as divisions. It would need to exclude anchors called "Outline" or "Discussion".
  • Images. Where and how do you save a picture to the site so you can then link to it per Hebrews? I do not like pictures on scripture commentary pages (they greatly increase page loading time, and they eat up space on a small mobile screen), but on resource pages about people and places they would be great. Also issues with relevancy and being fiction.
By the way, there are some articles on books of the New Testament at Special:ListFiles. There is no attribution and no link to them. Without really reading any, they appear to be useful, but we are not making any use of them. How can we make use of them, and how much use can we make within copyright rules.
  • "All" pages. I am not sure if the "all" pages still work now that wiki pages are also hierarchical and not just sequential peers, and now that many wiki pages include more than one chapter. These currently constitute about 1,500 of the 2,500 content pages on the site (ignoring Jeremiah, etc.). There are several problems I can see:
  • Keeping the list properly updated
  • especially including the subpage discussions
  • When a chapter is combined with others, so what you get is ALL of multiple chapters, especially when the pericope break falls in the middle of a chapter
  • Is by chapter even the right way to approach this since chapters often do not match pericopes
  • What do we do now that there is a lot of content on book and multi-chapter level pages
  • Pages to delete. Go to "Home > Special Pages > Short Pages" for a list of all content pages sorted by length. At the top of the list are about 30 pages that can be deleted. I am not sure that deleting most unused pages is any better than simply turning them into redirects. But the pages I have reduced to a size of 0 will never be used because they (1) are spam ads; (2) use the full name of the book for a verse level page instead of the book's abbreviated name; (3) include a three-digit verse, two colons, or some other clear error of syntax in the page name; or (4) in a couple of cases identify a span of verses that cuts across a clear major dividing point in the text.
* also MamieFeq Talk, which is a Jenny Craig expose, not a community user
  • Sunday School pages. We need to take a quick look at the Sunday School lesson pages, especially the Book of Mormon, and just make sure that they are still working correctly after all of the page regrouping. It looks like they dynamically adjust, but I do not know for sure, and it may be quickest for Matt to just handle that himself.
  • Top six pages. I would like the top six pages (Home, OT, NT, BM,, DC, PGP) to be more visually engaging. This would involve the services of a webpage designer
  • SEO. This also probably only involves the top six pages, plus making sure that all 900 content pages are visible to indexing robots.

Level 2 tasks: page formatting[edit]

  • Refresh / update page formatting globally
  • Resource sections in OT, NT, DC

Level 3 tasks: content: vision / contributor guidelines[edit]

  • Scattered pages with thoughts tat ought to be moved into a central place. I expect there are others I have missed.
  • This is what to contribute. Wiki Markup is how to contribute. Both should be linked from the Home Page.
  • Doctrinal orthodoxy. This is a simple non-negotiable starting point.
  • Is it worth a discussion of what is doctrine and doctrinal orthodoxy?
  • Audience. I believe we should think in terms of four audiences. If the needs of all of these audiences are served, then I cannot think who else's needs we have left unmet.
  • Recently returned missionaries. People who are newly excited about understanding what the scriptures say, but who do not yet have a lot of accumulated knowledge or experience. I start with the premise that there is very little, if anything, that is so deep or complicated that someone who is 22 years old must wait until they are 50 in order to comprehend it. Perhaps you need to have first accumulated some information, or perhaps even some life experience, but not usually to understand it when pointed out by others. If something is not written in a way that it can be understood by a college undergraduate, then I assume that the problem is with the writing and not the depth of the content.
I Think we ought to be teaching these people two things:
(1) Answers, or information. Both doctrinal answers and answers about what does this passage mean.
(2) Methods, or how to acquire answers for yourself. But this needs to be by example, not pedantic. And the endless lists of questions with no answers frustrate me to no end. They do more to put people off than to help. Pages must have at least as many answers as questions or the balance will be off and the visit will not be satisfying for people in this group, who far outnumber those in the next, and who must be brought along if they are in fact to join the next group.
A collected discussion of methods ought to point to examples. But how much of a discussion of methods do we want to host, or instead point users to external postings? We ought to have a least one page that talks about (or at least links to) discussions about the purpose of the activity (scripture study) that this site is built to facilitate, but I do not know if we want more than just the one page.
Another way to think of such a page is as the basic understanding that we assume a reader has when they visit the site. For example, I see no point in explaining what chiasmus is every time a contributor refers to the concept. On the other hand, should we have a place where the concept is explained once that can just always be linked to? Why not?
At one point the very first thing anyone looking at the Book of Mormon wiki pages would see was the question, with no suggested answer and not even any definitions, whether so and so was right that 1 Ne 1:1 was a colophon. This is off-putting and does nothing to help BYU undergraduates to more quickly join the ranks of members with mature understanding. I am a lawyer. Federal judges tend to be smart people. But even they need things explained from the beginning and in baby steps so they can understand and reach the same advanced conclusion that you are trying to share with them.
Contribution criteria: After reading this page, would a recently returned missionary be no longer alienated from the passage that is covered and say: "Now I get it, and I am comfortable with it."
  • Older mature members. There is no reason why much of the best thinking in the church about a particular passage cannot be gathered on this site so that it is worth visiting even for these people.
One of the functions this site is well designed to accommodate is serving as an index to articles on a particular passage. It is poorly suited to serving as a topical index.
Contribution criteria: While reading this page, how many times would a fairly knowledgeable member say: "I am glad I read this page and read that."
  • Those in need of support. This group includes new members who live in Los Angeles or Wisconsin and have no family support network. It also includes members in Utah who have doubts about their testimonies. These people can be served in two ways.
(1) By helping. By providing sensible understanding and answers about how the gospel can be understood and how it can function in your life. I am not talking here about gushing, but about explaining.
(2) By doing no harm. On the one hand, it is great to have a no-ideas barred discussion about a topic. On the other hand, when that discussion is conducted on a public platform that you know will be visited by people with weak testimonies and perhaps no support, it expresses a callous disregard for their welfare to not stop and think: Have I phrased this is a way that will help or hurt someone who is struggling? Many of the thought questions in particular have not been vetted with this in mind. Also some comments are frankly critical of the entire world-view of the scriptures and need to be edited or erased. This can be seen as censorship or holding back thee discussion from its potential, but I think the operators of utilities have obligations to the public good, and I hope this site will become a ubiquitous utility for those who want to understand the LDS scriptures.
Contribution criteria: After reading this page, will a member with a struggling testimony have been helped or hurt by reading this page?
  • Teachers. Teachers have two sets of needs:
(1) Content. Simply to understand the text and the doctrine that they are going to teach and how it can be applied to the lives of their class members. The wiki can provide this.
(2) Presentation. Teachers also need to figure out how they are going to present the material to their class. I am not yet fully settled whether this is something the wiki should try to tackle. I tried once and thought it caused the site to lose focus. But we ought to somehow have an easily found link to somewhere with lessons, even if it is just a link from the home page to
Personally, I never study anything unless I intend to understand it well enough that I could turn around and teach it.
Contribution criteria: After reading this page, will a teacher understand the text, the doctrine, and the application of that doctrine clearly so that they can now teach it to a class? And maybe we venture into pointing people at lesson plans, or may be we don't.
  • Purpose.
  • Get Bill to weigh in on the purposes of teaching in the church. We ought to at least be thoughtfully aware of those purposes. It seems that the purposes of teaching and the purposes of study ought to be about the same.
  • I think the Book of Mormon and the standard works in general serve as a "standard" in three ways. It brings the Holy Ghost too prove the truth of what the scriptures say and of the Restoration. It teaches correct doctrine. And other teachings can be compared against it when evaluating the truth of those other teachings. This site should help people to do those three things.
  • We study for three reasons. Feel the Holy Ghost, learn doctrine, and find personal application. The site should foster all three.
  • Teach how to study. Lots of background. Then the D&C bookshelf. Then three methods.
  • Think about the article on what makes a good commentary.
  • This is not the Anchor Bible. I sometimes read the Anchor Bible. But it is often a summary or suggested answers rather than a critical presentation of the correct answers. Frankly, my ideal is to be better than the Anchor Bible by rethinking what this collaborative commentary ought to be.
  • Format.
  • Why a wiki?
  • Better than blogs because updatable and a single best edited statement rather than a common law history of the evolution of the thinking.
  • Forever editable. You can contribute as little as an insightful bullet point and let someone else develop it. You can go back and elaborate. So can others. It grows to reflect the thinking of a group of people and not just what one individual can come up with. Groups can be smarter. Others may be able to better articulate or add other insights that tie in.
  • You do not have to write and polish the whole book, just the parts you care about or can see. Others do the same, and it becomes more than the sum of the parts.
  • Only one place to go find things where people collaborate, instead of many smaller sights where people compete for SEO.
  • Efficiency.
  • Page layout.
  • Start with what we do know before confronting people with what we do not know.
  • Text, Co-text, Context.
  • getting rid of the five-verse horizon and making it hierarchical.
  • To some extent this will always be a hodge-podge lacking smooth transitions. So the format needs to facilitate the low level of editing that I anticipate. I have tried to facilitate this be formatting content in a way that allows each individual comment to stand on its own and indicates to the reader that this may well be the case.
  • Miscellaneous
  • Footnotes. Facts needs footnotes.
  • How to footnote and give credit
  • Say that someone contributes to the idea, or that more on this idea can be found at ... There is not a problem with acknowledging that someone first published an idea, but it cannot become a report on what other people have said. It must be able to be edited for both clarity and improved understanding.
  • If Joseph Smith said something, then that is authority worth noting that it was him who said it. But most "appeals to authority" should instead be allowed to stand on the merit of what was said rather than who said it. Especially when the person who said it was a scholar rather than a church leader.
  • Page length and parts.
  • Pages can be subdivided when needed. Often around 50-75k? Or 15-30 minutes? Based on answers and not questions.
  • Discussion tabs. Respect ideas but improve phrasing? When change the ideas, justify it on the discussion tab. Think of it as your justification to the person whose work you messed with.

Level 3 tasks: content: things for me to work on[edit]

  • Summaries
  • Indexing
  • Resource pages
  • Pages to focus on
  • Gen, Ms, Abr
  • OT Resource pages: Clean up Geography, Place Names, and Foreign Nations, then Covenants and Observances
  • Historical Overview of the Restoration Scriptures: Finish writing content & footnoting
  • BM Unities: Edit and add links
  • BM History
  • OT: Redo Daniel & Minor Prophets, including footnotes
  • Editing guidelines
  • Isaiah 28 - repeating outside commentaries without additional thought
  • 1 Ne 1:1-4 - too long by far
  • Subpages like:
  • Global pages
  • Edit_commentary - Do we need this page to be a separate page? I think it can be eliminated as we consolidate global pages.

Model Formats (this is out of date)[edit]

  • BM direct address to reader: Ether

Pages to think about -- Oops[edit]