Art of compiling
|Warning: Some of what's described below is outdated and being kept around for historical purposes.|
Compiling here refers to gathering information, not compiling the viewer.
Why is compiling so important?
Connecting help resources makes them more usefun (useful + fun), so you get the answers you want/need, and you walk away with greater satisfaction. You may even be well-prepared to teach someone else.
Simple example: you're on a webpage that you learned the basics of building in Second Life from. Now, you want to find out some tools to do sculpted prims with. Problem: there's no link to there! You try searching, but you aren't very adept at it, and you give up. DEAD END. FAIL.
The basic-but-big lack of a hyperlink or sentence of explanatory text can break your further pursuit of a subject. While we don't want you to drown in links, especially on this wiki and other hypermedia, it's so important to have the choice to be curious and linksurf. Compilation pages are a foremost example.
Another reason: giving someone too much to read at once is ineffectual. Benefit them with some main points, and after that, they can link onwards and self-educate at their own pace. That's part of why most wiki pages aren't sprawling behemoths.
Why call it compiling?
The name fits the game. Think of a "Greatest Hits Compilation" of music, where all your favorite songs are conveniently accessible on a single CD, or iPod. Similar principle with a compilation page: lots of relevant links in a single place. While compilation pages aren't strictly called out on the wiki (yet... that may change) and other compilations are listed as "Related resources" or "See also" at the end of a page, they're always there to help guide your way.
What are some examples of compiling?
You can find them all over. Infact, this wiki's main page lists portals with gateways elsewhere.
The Basic Resource Toolbox is another one, initially put together for our Volunteer Mentors to share with those who they help, but useful for anyone who, well, finds it useful.
Speaking of Mentors, the Help Portal primarily driven by Gally Young, Zai Lynch, and has contributions by Kuraiko Yoshikawa and others is an exemplary, well, example of a compilation portal: an easy summary of links that enable and ease you to get where you want to go.
Torley has assembled/edited/amended dozens of compilations. The most popular is the Video Tutorials page (which grew so much it needed sortable tables and tags), but you can also find Texture Tools, Clothing Tools, and other creative highlights. There's also been Accessibility, Discovery, and Limits (which isn't strictly links but an assemblage of common rules which "govern" our virtual world). On the WindLight project page, Torley compiled numerous links to related feature knowhow. Needless to say, he's done a lot, and he wants you to gain from this, too.
What makes a good compilation?
- Clean formatting - Don't throw styles all over the place, but as you'll note, Torley's compilations feature links to other pages in bold, and a short description afterward. Just like this list.
- You can use nested bullet points as necessary.
- Fills a substantial gap - Torley heard a lot of complaints that it was difficult to find links having to do with disability issues, so he started Accessibility to assemble them on a single page. Thus, the actual content can reside elsewhere, but the compilation provides an at-a-glance summary. If you don't see something you're passionate about covering, go ahead and do it — odds are no one else will if you don't kick things off.
- Invites others to contribute - Quality compilations always benefit others, saving cumulative time.
- Regularly updated - Stale/deprecated info should be removed ASAP, as fresh data should be sifted and included. If you have a few min., you can do a lot to clean up a page. And if everyone does it — not that it's going to happen, but it's a nice thought — the results will be multiplicious! Yes, it can be a pain, but it's less painful than a lack of caring.