Frequently Asked Questions

What features are enabled by registering?

A number of key features are only available to registered users. They include:

  • Access to the full content of top-rated material (only teasers are available to anonymous users after the material has been posted for 45 days)
  • The ability to search site content
  • The ability to access reviews of books relevant to site material
  • The ability to access key quotes relevant to site material
  • The ability to access content from partner sites
  • The ability to rate material
  • The ability to post comments
  • The ability to post new information and propose it for publication
  • The ability to request email notification when selected content is added or updated

Why does some content have warning text?

One of the principles which I believe strongly in is the ability to solicit feedback early from stakeholders, and incorporate that feedback to follow-on work. As a result, in developing content, I strive to sketch out placeholders for content that I plan to develop, once the basic architecture for an article or concept begins to gell. For example, I have material on this site in a 'Coming attractions' block on the left side of most pages, which highlights the titles of content that is in various stages of development. If you click on any of those titles, you can view the material in it's current stage of development. Similarly, content which has been written for publication on this site is subject to moderation by others (depending upon the rights assigned to users).

While this approach has great benefit, it comes with the obligation to make sure everyone understands that when they are reviewing content that fits this pattern - i.e., highlight when material preliminary in nature (due to immaturity or not yet being complete). However, that shouldn't (at least by itself) mean the material is inaccessible to registered users, but just should imply that it doesn't get 'top billing'. As a result, both of these types of access to preliminary content are flagged with specially stylized text (with background in a different color) to emphasize this point, and remind readers that while they are free to review the material, they do so at their own risk. This standardized warning also encourages content 'beta-testers' to subscribe to updates so they can monitor the content as it evolves.

What is the desired scope of information for this site?

There are two ways of looking at this - from the perspective of the communities that would find this information useful, and from the perspective of the information that interests me. The communities interested in this material are expected to include:

  • Systems Engineers and managers
  • Software Engineers and managers
  • Program Managers
  • IT managers and professionals

A more detailed breakdown of topics that are of interest to me can be found here, and is always accessible from the 'areas of interest' at the top of the page.

What are content partners, how are they selected, and how is their information managed?

Content partners are external web sites (typically, blogs) that publish information via RSS feeds that is available to this site. This site maintains a list of these partners via this link, and input syndicated by them is aggregated on a periodic basis and incorporated into this site as postings which are accessible via a block accessible from the home page. It is expected that this list of partners will be dynamic over time, and partners which do not have content that is within the scope of this site, or is rated sufficiently high by users, will be removed from this list, along with their content.

New content can be proposed by users via a change request. The following criteria are used in considering such content:

  • content must be relevant to the mission of this site
  • content must meet professionalism standards in language use, quality, and credibility
  • content must be published via RSS (no unauthorized scraping will be performed)
  • published content must be intact with respect to the source material, rather than just a 'teaser'

All such content will be accompanied by an appropriate copyright notice and reference back to the originating site.

User's are encouraged to rate this content using the features provided; recent, highly rated content will be represented in the block on the home page. In general, content will not be promoted to the front page, except by discreption of the system administrator.

What does publication mean?

Each individual node has an attribute associated with it which determines whether it is rendered as a part of basic site operations, i.e. used to populate the site's home page, list of coming attractions, or any other block. Nodes which are not yet published do not appear on any of these blocks, but can still be accessed by the user originally creating the content (or by an administrator) directly by node number. This allows such nodes to subsequently be editted and have this 'published' attribute enabled, so that other users (and potentially guests) can be given access to this content.

What are read counts?

Each individual node access by a registered user or guest is counted, and those counts are displayed under each post when that node is displayed. The count is displayed as an entry which reads <count> reads, and is next to the 'read more' link. This information may be leveraged in the future to provide a block which displays the most frequently read content on the site.

How is content on this web site categorized?

A categorization system has been developed for this web site for the major user-initiated node types (blogs, books, and web links). Categorization is a fundamental tool of both system decomposition and synthesis, and thus is important to support conceptually and through underlying tools.

Categorization is performed by defining a taxonomy. The taxonomy features of the site allow administrators to define vocabularies (sets of categories) which are used to classify the node-specific content located on the site. These vocabularies support hierarchical classification and associations between terms, and thus allow for truly flexible information retrieval and classification. The taxonomy features allow multiple lists of categories for classification (controlled vocabularies) and offers the possibility of creating thesauri (controlled vocabularies that indicate the relationship of terms) and taxonomies (controlled vocabularies where relationships are indicated hierarchically).

The primary content of the site has been categorized into a standardized taxonomy which allows browsing to other related content by clicking on the vocabulary term. The taxonomy itself and the associated terms which fit within that taxonomy can be browsed by following this link. To request additions to or changes to this taxonomy, write a change request.

How are tasks assigned and managed?

Tasks can be created in a hierarchical manner, and can be assigned to other individuals as well as to yourself. However, in general, only administrators or project managers are authorized to change tasks assigned to another person. The list of tasks can be reviewed through the menu link provided in the menu block, and allows tasks to be filtered according to whether they are associated with a project, what state they are in, and whether they are complete or not.