first attempt at "article" page layout standards/policy
So... I had been putting internal links under a section (typically somewhere in the middle, often under the "About" section) called "Pages" or sometimes "Subpages" if they're all subpages of the current page, and external links under just "Links", at or near the bottom of the article.
User:Dredmorbius seems to have a clear preference for calling the latter "External Links". I'm not really averse to this; I just have a bias towards short identifiers... and I thought I should explain the page-layout conventions that I've ended up using, so the context is understood (and as a step towards documenting them, finally).
- At the top of the page is a hidden section for SMW and category tags. The <hide> tag is a function of W3TPL, and the SMW thing is another area that is approaching readiness for a redesign, but we'll get to that later.
- The first section is usually "About" (h2). This corresponds to the general introductory text which, on a Wikipedia page, would be above all the sections. I liked the idea of being able to edit it separately, though, so I gave it a section. I'm willing to be talked out of this.
- Indented underneath "About", larger articles will often have several subsections (h3) going into specific areas of the topic that could eventually become subpages or separate article pages.
- Underneath "About" but not indented may be sections that aren't really "about" the topic, but are clearly related and belong on the page, e.g. a page about a specific logical fallacy might have "Examples" as an h2 header. "Quotes" (or "Quotes about" and/or "Quotes by", if the page is about a person) is another common h2 header.
- The page generally ends with a "Links" (which may now be changing to "External Links") section, which includes several subsections:
- "Reference" for links to other reference works -- most often Wikipedia. The most common standard references are Wikipedia, Conservapedia, Dkosopedia, and SourceWatch. Dkosopedia has lately become useless because of their de-wikification; RationalWiki has become more and more useful as they have developed. Sometimes there will be one or more topic-specific reference projects, in which case I'll include those as well. We should probably set up a page about useful reference sources, as I'm sure there are some I tend to overlook.
- "Official" for links to pages and sites maintained by the subject of the page (or its owners). This can include domain pages as well as social media accounts.
- "News" (or "Related") is for filed links. This is another area in need of redevelopment; it's one of the more useful features of Issuepedia (imho), but the tools I'm currently using for filing have demonstrated their limitations to me.
- "to file" is for when I have relevant links that I don't have time to file properly
- There is sometimes a final section, "Notes", for unchecked information or leads that should be followed up later and (hopefully) integrated into the article proper.
I'm bringing some Wikipedia / other Wiki site conventions with me.
I like the About section convention for just the reason you state: it creates an independently editable intro section.
But ... I also like having 2nd level headers further down the page to give a strong visual division. If all you've got is "About" ... you're going to be missing that.
I think Wikipedia's standard is for "References" to be footnotes to inline references. "External Links" is other sources, and there's a "See Also" in some pages. I need to confirm.
I'd noted your "to file" classification. I'll need to scope out "News" / "Related".
Any page with only an "About" section is hopefully a page that will be expanded. I generally won't put in an "About" if I can't see the need to ever expand a page to that point.
I almost want to put "links" in a separate tab or subpage... the links section can take up more than half a page, especially for an older article with a lot of filed links (e.g. George W. Bush), and that distracts from the content... but at the same time, it's nice to be able to see quickly that there's a lot of additional information available. Ideally (technical considerations aside), it might be nice to have a sort of "links summary" on the main article page -- "There are X references, Y news articles, and Z projects relating to this page." -- with a link to the "links" subpage, but there's some work to be done before that would be practical.
I also have a sort of OCD thing about parallelism -- if all the other h2 sections are one short word, "External Links" kind of sticks out awkwardly.
None of these are compelling reasons, but I'm also not seeing a compelling reason to do things differently. Further discussion welcome.
My general preference is that if it's sensibly possible to put all information on a single page, then do so. Every link you traverse is a usability barrier.
More generally: a link should provide access to additional but not immediately relevant information. A link to a page of links doesn't cross that threshold, unless it's some _tremendously_ long set. The general guidance at Wikipedia is that the external links list should be short, relevant, and primary. The references section should be as comprehensive as necessary. I don't know if there's a way to find a Wikipedia page with the most references but Wikipedia:Vivian Schiller has 36 references, totaling about 1/3 the page length. The Wikipedia:2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami page runs 354 references and another 23 external references. They take up 23 of 48 screens on my monitor.
Not sure I buy the parallelism argument -- words are for communications, not (principally) psychological appeasement. Though I will smith writings to remove awkwardness myself frequently.
I do like the idea of a stats summary on a page. Links in, links out, references, edits, most recent edit, pageviews. Possibly others.
I tend to go the other way -- I find large blocks of text much more difficult to process, and prefer to have subtopics summarized with a link so I can see quickly which areas are covered, and can look at a given subtopic without being distracted by the others. But not everyone has my particular variant of ADD. An extension to automatically transclude subpages if the user chooses that as a preference might solve this dilemma, and is something I came up with awhile ago and found appealing.
I take your point about usability barriers, though, and I have at times wished for a "single page" feature wherein all appropriate subpages could be combined into one. There's an extension called "Book" (I think) which lets you create a collection of pages and pump them out as a single PDF; I'm not sure if it offers a single-page view of the collection, but that seems like something that wouldn't be difficult to do. It also shouldn't be difficult to create a "page-flattener" extension which adds a tab at the top ("flat" or "single page") which displays the current page plus all subpages as a single page.
Also, for what it's worth, I've made conscious (but largely undocumented) decisions not to go with Wikipedia's conventions in a number of areas. (Collecting news items that discuss a topic, rather than being primary sources on that topic, is one such area.)
Words are for communications, but conventions are sometimes helpful towards that end as well. If I keep to a convention that a "Links" section is for external links and a "Pages" section is for internal links, then I can communicate the same ideas as "external links" and "internal links" less ambiguously and with fewer words.
I'm still thinking about this, though -- not decided. Issuepedia has been largely on the back burner for the past couple of weeks. :-P