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Dictionary/Encyclopedia of Terms

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How about a Wiki-style Dictionary or Encyclopedia of Jewish terms? This could either be a Category or maybe part of Community-specific Help.

Instead of each reference to a Jewish/Hebrew/Aramaic/etc. term either being left unlinked (requiring those who don't know the terms to spend a lot of extra time Google'ing just to understand the answer to a question) or explained in place (which often doesn't work well) or linked to numerous different 3rd-party sites (varying from general sites like Wikipedia to specific Jewish sites like Chabad, OU, Sefaria, etc., of widely varying quality), we build our own here. It could start as one-liners (e.g., more like a dictionary - e.g., Muktzah: An object forbidden for use on Shabbos or Yom Tov) and evolve (based on user interest in a topic) to a more encyclopedic style (e.g., in the case of Muktzah, listing the different categories and giving examples of when movement is forbidden, etc.).

The actual structure might be best as a Wiki - a large hyperlinked document rather than a series of separate separate posts, and community edited rather than a single "owner". Any terms that have associated tags could have a way to click from the tag to the Wiki (as well as from any explicitly linked key words in posts) and from the Wiki to the question list - e.g., read about Shabbos in the Wiki, learn out about Muktzah (a novel concept if you've never heard of it before) and then click to the list of questions matching the Muktzah tag.

Why should this post be closed?

1 comment

There is CC content that could be re-used for this at Meta MY. (And also used as an option for linking to, in the interim.) Isaac Moses 6 days ago

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A wiki with a dictionary of terms sounds like a great idea. Here are some thoughts on how we could implement it. It partly depends on being able to use in-page anchors (so you could link to a specific part of a page); that appears to be possible if one uses HTML for those links (and anchors) instead of Markdown.

We could create a Wiki category (or choose another name if you like). This category would support the article post type but not questions and answers. There could be a "main" page that lists all terms with short definitions, each with an anchor for direct linking. When a topic calls for more explanation and somebody wants to provide it, that person would add another (article) post and link to it from the definition on the main page. To keep the main page discoverable regardless of posts' sorting order, we could link to it in the category description. Initially there would be one post, probably a few more soon, and I'm guessing there wouldn't be more than would fit on a page for quite some time.

We could link to the main page from the help. The reason I'm not suggesting putting the list in the help directly is that help can be edited only by moderators while anybody can edit (or suggest edits to) articles.

Articles require tags, same as questions. We can either share the tag set used for Q&A or create a separate one. We should think about what kinds of tagging (and tagging relations) we want. A search by tag finds all posts with that tag in all categories.

One thing that is not currently possible is some sort of Markdown extension to easily link to definitions from other posts. You would have to use the HTML links I mentioned earlier, instead of having some syntax around a word that would automatically generate that link. This sounds like something that could be done in a userscript; that's not as good as having it built in for all users, but I suspect that the people who'll think to add glossary links are going to be the more-invested users who are probably more willing to use a userscript, so that might be ok. I think building that in would be fairly low on the developers' priority list right now; there's a lot of other work we need to do yet.

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The links problem could be a tough one to solve. I don't like userscripts - that requires something "extra" from the user - I like everything to be "go to this page and do stuff". Maybe an automagic translation of some sort - e.g., a link of [Xyz](/wiki/shabbos/muktzeh) gets turned into /questions/12345#muktzah - where 12345 is a looked up post id for "category = wiki", "post title = shabbos". manassehkatz 6 days ago

Once it gets done once and saved, if the post title changed it wouldn't matter, as long as the anchor link (muktzah) was still valid (and actually, it wouldn't crash in that case, just go to the top of the Shabbos page). manassehkatz 6 days ago

I would love there to be automatic linking of some sort without a userscript. This would be useful not only on Judaism but on any Codidact site that has a glossary -- or indeed that has other sorts of canonical references. It's considered [[muktzeh]], with a [[merge sort]], first [[separate the eggs]]. Redirection/canonicalization would be good so [[separate the eggs]] could link to the Standard Methods entry [[egg separation]]. msh210 6 days ago

@msh210 that's a good point. Would you be willing to write up a feature request on Meta for better tracking (and increased visibility)? Thanks. Monica Cellio 5 days ago

@Monica Cellio, done. msh210 5 days ago

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