This page is for discussing the contents of Businesses. Note that this page was previously called ["Current Businesses"] and that some of the original discussion can be found here.

Expand as more comprehensive directory?

Discussion

Has there been any discussion about expanding this directory? I've been working on building out the Sacramento Business Directory. There's still a lot we need to fill in on that page, but it's a much more complete listing of business categories. Is this Davis list kept short for a reason? Would anyone object to making this into a more complete listing? For example, a few business categories we don't have on this Davis list that are on the Sacwiki list: Accountants, Animal care, Apartments, Auto Services/Repair, Banks, etc. —NicholasBarry

  • Most of those are services. For example, your list is pretty much Accounting, Banks, Apartments, Automobile Repair and Veterinary Hospitals. They already exist, and list those services (often linking to other related lists). Lists of Lists (of lists, in many cases) quickly get questionable, as you have the Explore entry that would then be a list of lists of lists of lists, requiring at reading through five lists to find and click the entry to get actual content. Is there a real problem navigating the wiki that this is intended to solve, or is this an effort to find something easy to add to the wiki or that makes logical/theoretical sense rather than practical sense that doesn't really improve the wiki? Note that, for example, banks and apartments include lists, but are also full of actual relevant information to the topic within Davis. They aren't just compilations of links. -jw
  • I think there are lots of legitimate reasons to want to see a directory of all the business types in Davis, and we might not be able to think of all of them - but that doesn't mean someone wouldn't find the listing useful. I personally find the Explore page somewhat confusing, for example, because it mixes together all sorts of things without clear reasons that some things are on the page and others aren't. Why are gyms and exercise on the Explore page, but not banks? The Explore page is rather bewildering to me, and I don't imagine I'm the only one who feels that way. I'd much rather look at a yellow-pages style page to look at businesses. Ultimately each of the business categories (banks, accounting, etc.) should all be more than just lists themselves - as you say, they should provide useful information as well as useful links. That's already the case on Daviswiki on many pages, and will (at some point) be the case on Sacwiki. Further, not everyone uses Search. So a more comprehensive Businesses page, linked from Explore, would mean that people could navigate quickly to business types if they don't use search (lots of people prefer browsing). I'm not sure how you count five lists. Here's how someone could navigate in three steps: (1) browse through the Explore page and notice the Businesses page. (2) Look through the Businesses page to find the business category they're looking for (e.g. Banks). (3) Read the useful information on the Banks page (if they want that information), and/or browse the list of banks to find the bank page they want to look at. So to sum up, yes, it is mean to solve a problem that I face, and that I imagine others face - the Explore page is confusing, and I imagine many people (including myself) would prefer to browse a directory. -nb
    • And not all people are looking for specific businesses - some people, also including myself, are interested in knowing more about the overall business landscape of Davis. I want to know what businesses are here - there are lots I'm not aware of, and I'm a curious person. There are whole sectors I'm probably not even aware of in Davis, but I'd be interested in seeing them, and I can't search for something I don't know about. But I could find it in a directory. -nb
    • Furthermore, this is something I'd be happy to do myself - I'm not calling for someone else to work on something they wouldn't find useful. I know I will find it useful - no, I'm not just looking for something easy to add to the wiki. (Actually, building out the business directory on Sacwiki has been quite a lot of work, and there's still plenty to be done.)
      • Oh, I'm not naysaying it, I'm just voicing the issues that anybody doing it should keep in mind. Many of those lists I did myself; it's not like I don't think they have their place. But, as you say, Explore can be confusing, so doing it without taking into consideration the actual usefulness leads to mere busywork and Yet Another Compilation Entry. It might also be better to consider giving Explore an overhaul instead, as that's the front page, and how many people navigate the wiki. -jw
        • I'd love to try to revamp Explore. As Don Shor states near the bottom of this page, there is a confusing bias toward food & drink places. But is there really a way to solve this? The easiest thing to do is add necessities that seem to be missing such as Banks, but before we know it, we have a mile-long Explore list. Any ideas? Is there a better way to subgroup entries so we can still find pretty much everything on the wiki in a way that doesn't require an index? -SM
          • Yes. Don't make an index. That's not really how a wiki works. If it was, it would autoindex or have a long menu that is visible from every page — instead, it has a search and the ability to cross-link easily. The Explore section of the front page is not an index, and you are quite right that it fails in that. It also fails as a short story and a Shakespearean sonnet. It is exactly what it says it is: a way to start exploring Davis. It is biased... toward neat things to explore and poke around in. There are strange links all over the wiki to create serendipity and encourage discovery. It is freeform and intermixed in a very mutable way. If you want to create categories and list atomic, indivisible topics of businesses, you're looking to utterly change the character and sense of what the wiki is. It's hard to convey, but there's a reason there's a ton of vaguely worded unease about this. There is a sense that you are, through the best of intentions, asphalting the garden so it's easier to walk on. -jw
            • Also, the former Businesses page was hardly a garden. Just a seemingly-random collection of links. Point very well taken, though, about it being important to make sure the wiki develops in interesting ways, not just in useful (but boring) ways. -nb
              • The former page was controversial (as I tried to suggest by including the original history above), in part because it was started by someone who has a habit of beginning categorization projects and then not following through on them. I don't think anyone would hold it up as a model. —cp
    • I agree that the Explore page is confusing. I've almost never used it, preferring to use the search function instead. Like you, I'd rather look at a yellow-pages-style directory if I'm trying to get a broad sense of the website. Tbh, I bet the Explore page often gives the casual user the impression that the wiki has far less content than it actually has. Such as when a journalist once visited after the Crying Girl fiasco and basically made a remark like, "Nothing to see here! Contact me when you guys have actually built up content." —ScottMeehleib
      • That person is an ignorant moron, any of those links on the explore page usually leads to an article that is +500 words they can DIAF Daubert
    • Please don't do this. Lists that long aren't good for human consumption. —WilliamLewis
    • Wow, I'm really hating this so far. I feel like I'm looking at the yellow pages. Oh, I guess that was the intent. Ick. Has anyone but NB and SM endorsed this plan? —CovertProfessor
      • It seems to me that Bruce Hansen also implicitly endorsed the idea by creating the page in the first place. NB is just expanding upon the original index. Nobody is being forced to use the page so I guess I don't understand the hate. - SM
        • Because I care about all of the pages on the wiki, including this one — I care about having a good wiki. I don't object to a businesses page per se; I object to this one in particular. I think it's the souless, characterless look of it. It has none of the warmth and charm of the rest of the wiki. —CovertProfessor
          • It just represents an alternative way to navigate a significant part of the wiki. Explore is basically a list as well, but nobody seems to complain about that being soulless. I don't believe in creating lists for the sake of lists. But if they are useful in a logical way, I don't see the problem. - SM
            • To me, Explore is different because 1) It appears on the Front Page, which means that the list is not all by itself; 2) It is grouped by topic, not a soulless alphabetical list with soulless formatting; 3) The topics themselves are actually informative about Davis, e.g., Payphone Project, Cows, Photography. —CovertProfessor
            • It feels like a perfunctory list. I would say soulless, but CP said that already. I would say "like it was just copied from any city", but it was. It doesn't *feel* right. It feels like a mechanical thing. -jw
  • Are there any suggestions for ways to do it better? I think that anyone who clicks on a link called "businesses" is going to expect a comprehensive listing of businesses in Davis, and I do think this information should exist somewhere. But it doesn't necessarily have to be a sterile, alphabetical list. It could be a list with sections by sector, with some of the colorful, human-interest stuff that graces much of the rest of the daviswiki explaining how these various sectors work in Davis, how they interact with each other, etc. I think there is a need for some sort of listing (for reasons I cite above, in our original discussion), but it doesn't need to be just a list. -nb
    • I agree with NB. Everybody else has to understand that it's a little bit frustrating when the criticisms come after some work has been done and not during the time of the planning stages. I suggested NB copy the list structure from Sac Wiki, but nobody stepped in then. I've been restraining myself from helping NB because I don't want any of my work to get reverted. So if you guys can offer some constructive criticisms rather than just saying you hate our ideas, that would be appreciated. If you really hate the page that much, and it needs to come to a vote instead, well, let's do that. Either way, let's do *something* because I don't like having my toes stepped on while I'm working on a project. -SM
      • There were at least five people who chimed in with variations ranging from "don't do it that way" to "don't do it at all" before the edits started. In addition to the public stuff here, Tom's comment to me over IM was (paraphrased), "I don't get what the goal is here", which also indicates that there's likely a problem with communicating the vision you and nb seem to have (and if that's the case, I'd hazard there may be a divergence if you two discussed it in depth). In general wikis are powerful because they cross-link between entries freely and as they are grown. You're trying to change it from a many to many structure to a drilldown hierarchy of categories. One of the great things in the current structure is that there aren't sharp categories for topics, and instead each topic has neighboring concepts linked directly from that entry. It looks like you're trying to turn a wiki about — and reflecting — the rich tapestry of of Davis into The Davis Business Database. That's a neat project (although it's already done, several times), but it's kind of different than the wiki model of growth and linking. It doesn't seem to serve to explore and add to the Davis community so much as pigeonhole businesses for the sake of pigeonholing things. -jw
        • Late to comment, but I'm not a fan of big list pages either. The yellow pages look isn't doing it for me. Besides, unlike the yellow pages, we have a search bar. I think I understand the idea behind a page like this, but I don't see a practical need. And the lack of a need makes it feel like it doesn't really belong. If it's being done for the sake of being done, then again, not really needed. Here's the part I really take issue with: "I think that anyone who clicks on a link called "businesses" is going to expect a comprehensive listing of businesses in Davis -[NB]" And I completely disagree. Actually, no, I may agree. People may expect it, but that doesn't mean we *should* give them what they expect. We routinely say that "the wiki is not a business listing site" to business owners who take issue with content. Why turn around and turn it into a listing site? People may expect certain things, but then they're simply wrong or misinformed. We shouldn't try to meet their expectations when their expectations run counter to the point of the wiki. We should inform them and teach them it's something else. It ain't an online yellow pages, it's something really cool. This list type page is not really cool. (Besides, the same people who aren't familiar with the concept of the davis wiki are unlikely to look up "businesses" anyway - they'd directly type in "plumber" or "shoe repair" or something like that. And those entries tend to be a bit more filled out anyway than a generic, long, index that no one will ever actually read top to bottom. At the least, they'd use the 'find' feature in their browser : P) -ES
        • I don't believe I'm trying to change anything in the basic structure or philosophy of the wiki. As I said before, I am generally against the idea of creating lists for the sake of creating lists. But I do believe in rare exceptions such as what I believe to be similar, although considerably less broad examples such as the restaurants and town fauna pages. Anyways, the point is I'm not going to stop liking the idea because I continue to see the value in it. I don't want to engage in a prolonged debate with others about wiki aesthetics and the perceived emotional characteristics a page may or may not have. Some people on the wiki seem to hate lists and others don't mind or find at least some of them useful. If it needs to come to a vote, so be it. -SM
      • I've kept my nose out of this one to date. Let me first say: Nicholas, I really appreciate all the time and effort you've put into this. I haven't chimed in because I don't really know how to add anything constructive. I share the general apprehension of some others here about the tone of a listing like this for a couple of reasons. The first reason is a practical one. I'm not sure what practical function this serves on the wiki, looking at it as a functional resource for the Davis community. I'm not sure what need it fills for users in the community that isn't at least as readily filled by the search feature. Someone who's looking for somebody to seal cracks in their driveway isn't going to find listings of restaurants, salons, etc. useful. They are, however, going to be interested in the relevant functional groupings. Stuff like home improvement, home repairs, construction, and contractors should be interconnected. My second concern is more of a philosophical one having to do with the general tone and purpose of the wiki. Excessive categorization doesn't really add anything, and it could potentially detract. In the past we've had extensive ontological arguments over how to categorize this, that, or the other thing. I think that the more we formalize listings, the more we run the risk of that sort of problem. Moreover, as others have already said, I'm concerned about turning the wiki into a business listing site. That's not to say we shouldn't list businesses if it serves a useful purpose for wiki users. But it goes back to my first point here: I'm not sure I see the practical value. Again, I want to stress that I really appreciate the work you've put into it, Nicholas. I'm just don't fully understand what it's supposed to do. If it's a functional addition, great; if it's just ontological, categorizing these things together because they're businesses, I'm not sure it's a good change. —TomGarberson
        • Nicholas probably has his own reasons, but I'll give you a couple for how I would personally benefit in a practical sense from such a listing. Sometimes when I'm looking for something to do for the day, I'll crack open the yellow pages. Sometimes l'll come across some interesting categories I might never have thought of, such as a place that sells kites or board games or some other random things that spur my interest, but yet I wasnt looking for it from the start. Also, I've used the yellow pages to try to come up with gift ideas for others; I realize that we have gift shops but those only cover the most typical options and sometimes it's nice to have greater breadth. Because I don't have a specific idea in mind for what to get them, again the search function is just more of a frustration than anything. Unfortunately, I look these businesses up in the yellow pages but then have to go back to the Davis Wiki to look up the specific entry and find more about it. Explore doesn't help me very much. I guess some of you love it, but I've viewed it as more trouble than it's worth. I don't see how this page could represent a potential harm to the wiki. I realize that there has been a trend towards what I'll admit might seem like excessive categorization, but I don't believe that this is part of that trend. Rather, it's like an alternative table of contents for people who don't like Explore and just want to see, in this case, businesses. -SM
      • Thanks, TG - I appreciate the acknowledgment of work, even if you don't necessarily agree with the project! :) I'm concerned that several people have been generalizing their own ways of using the wiki to the entire wiki user base. Several people have stated so far that there doesn't appear to be a need for this page. Since several of us have stated very specific reasons for this page to exist, it's just silly to state that there's "no need" for this page. That's not to say that this debate shouldn't be taking place, or that the discussion won't ultimately end with the page being dismantled or significantly restructured, but please stop saying that there's no need for this page! You may not have a need for it, but other people here in the discussion do, and as I've said before, we probably reflect others in the community who want a page like this (just as others in this discussion reflect people in the community who won't use this page). It's just a fact that not everyone uses search, even though it's right there in the top corner - studies of email use, for example, find that huge numbers of people use folders/labels to categorize and find their emails, and never use search. (It has long been a frustration of mine that my mom doesn't use search more when trying to find emails.) So, there's a need for this page. As I've said elsewhere on this talk page, we could restructure the page into sectors so it's more squishy and has more character than a alphabetical list. I think that would be great, and I'd be happy to be part of making that happen! I don't think that the list being comprehensive means it needs to be sterile.
        • And as for some reasons of mine - mostly, I'm curious! I love Daviswiki because it's a growing, living repository of all sorts of interesting stuff about Davis. I've been doing a lot of walking around downtown to talk to businesses (about Davis Dollars, mostly), and I noticed something really interesting - when you actually go door-to-door, you notice a lot of businesses/offices/shops that you otherwise would overlook. I've found all sorts of interesting little places that I've biked past a million times without noticing, and then when I walk down the sidewalk and try every door, I find them. It's like a scavenger hunt! It's almost as if they never existed before I noticed them - it's really fun. (I highly recommend it - just pick a street in downtown and try opening or knocking on every door on a single block. I'll bet you'll be surprised by how many places you didn't know about.) For the same reason, I'd love to see a page that describes the whole business community of Davis - the whole organism - so I can know more about it. And like SM, sometimes I stumble across something I didn't know would be useful, but turns out to be something I'm glad I found. Isn't that joy of discovery part of what makes the Daviswiki what it is? I'm glad we're having this discussion, but when someone says "there isn't a need/reason for this page," I hear it as "I'm not going to acknowledge your reasons for wanting a page like this." -nb

I just looked back at the last version of the page before Nicholas started working on it. The list of businesses "by type" there does seem pretty slapdash and arbitrary. Why those and not others? I'd say the page was mediocre at best before. On the other hand, I very much like the "by location" and "comparisons" sections - the former as an actual good section, the latter as a good idea that's not very well fleshed out. Is there some kind of happy medium between a crappy, incomplete list (what we had before Nicholas started working on it) and a dry index? —TomGarberson

  • Hey, Tom, I agree that those are both useful sections - that's why I moved them both above the current, comprehensive list we're discussing. Since the Comparisons section had only one link in the whole section, I just moved that into the body of the article. But I agree, I think it would be really cool if it were further fleshed out, and then it could make sense as its own category. -nb

— I suppose we could just pretty much copy over the whole SacWiki business directory to use as a template. And then just change the names of any of the categories that are named differently after the move. -SM

  • Ok, I'm beginning it. Any help will be appreciated! —NicholasBarry

— Btw, JW mentioned, "There were at least five people who chimed in with variations ranging from 'don't do it that way' to 'don't do it at all'. before the edits started." Who are these people?? And why didn't they express their opinions on the talk page from the get-go? I only saw William Lewis and JW directly criticize it before the editing began. And I assumed that JW didnt have strong feelings about after NB explained his point, because he replied that he wasn't naysaying the idea. That's why I find this frustrating. It seems like people just crawl out of the woodwork all at once after work starts. But maybe I'm missing earlier criticisms that were expressed in a different place? -SM

  • Daubert commented before William, and I'd say his comment was the most negative. I was the first, and raised issues that I don't think were addressed. CP was the last; perhaps he did come into the conversation after editing started. If so, I was counting him as one of my five. Which you may note, are only four. I either counted myself twice, or was thinking of Tom, who had commented to me off-wiki (which wouldn't be fair to include). Still, there were people voicing issues either before or right as the edits started. It doesn't seem like those issues were acknowledged, which is frustrating from the other end. It's also worth noting that similar kinds of entries have been discussed quite a bit in recent months, most of which have been deleted. Which again isn't quite fair to this particular proposal, but may explain some of the reluctance of people to wade into this again and the curt nature of some of the comments. -jw
    • Hey, JW, I'm sorry if you feel the comments weren't responded to - I tried to do a very good job of acknowledging and responding to all the criticisms in specific ways, and then I waited for a response. The only response I got was yours, saying that you weren't naysaying the project, so I went ahead. Should I have done something differently? -nb
    • Also, I didn't interpret Daubert's comment as negative or positive about the proposal - I just thought he was criticizing reporters who couldn't be bothered to click any links. Daubert, were you expressing opposition to the proposed changes?
  • I think the 'Explore' section has a very odd bias (food! entertainment! groceries!), and that this project could go a long way to correcting that bias. There are lots of categories of business that are not reflected in the Explore links. If you have the enthusiasm and energy for the work, go for it. Once you have the content done, there may be ways to improve the layout and make it more user-friendly. —DonShor

Ways to make it better

Rather than just discussing whether we should do this or not, let's also discuss how to improve the businesses page.

  • I do think this information should exist somewhere. But it doesn't necessarily have to be a sterile, alphabetical list. It could be a list with sections by sector, with some of the colorful, human-interest stuff that graces much of the rest of the daviswiki explaining how these various sectors work in Davis, how they interact with each other, etc. I think there is a need for some sort of page with information (for reasons I cite above, in our original discussion), but it doesn't need to be just a list. -nb copied from above in the discussion

Implementation

  • I'm moving the "by location" section above the "by type" section, since the "type" section is going to be really, really long. And I'm merging the Comparisons section into the intro paragraph, since the whole section only has one link in it. —NicholasBarry
  • I'm going to take Scott's suggestion and copy over the Sacwiki material, then I'll start looking through Daviswiki to link to pages that already exist.
  • I added the naked lists page to encourage people to write descriptions of lists, so we can avoid having just lists of other pages. Pages that are naked lists can have the [[include(nakedlist)]] badge included, and the naked lists page will automatically show all those pages with badges.
  • I haven't had time to come back to this page in a while, which is why there hasn't been any motion on the Businesses page. Barring opposition (or just more discussion), I plan on trying to carry out my recommendation (above) about creating a listing that isn't a sterile bullet-point list. Part of the reason I've been busy is that I've been focusing on the Sacramento - now that it has the new Localwiki code (take a look at how beautiful and easy to edit it is!), I find it hard to convince myself to edit the Daviswiki! (I feel a bit guilty of infidelity, since I actually live in Davis...) Anyway, I just wrote up a section in our Sacwiki Style Guide (direct link to the lists section) explaining recommendations on avoiding lists. Most of the ideas I put down there have been inspired by the discussion on this page, and by things I've seen on Daviswiki. I'd encourage others to add suggestions to that page, and/or replicate that material on the Wiki Style Guide if it makes sense to add to the Daviswiki. I'll be trying to follow the advice in the Sacwiki style guide on lists, so I'd appreciate improvements from other veteran wiki editors here. Thanks! -nb

My procedures:

  1. Search for an existing category page (if it exists); link to that existing page.

  2. If no category page exists, create one and link to existing pages that fall within that category.

  • If no pages exist for the category, delete the category.

Categories that I/we still need to go through, which I've taken off the Businesses page until they're ready: