"Linux Gazette...making Linux just a little more fun!"

The Answer Guy

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

(?)Regarding the Column's New Look

From David Jao on 02 May 1998

(?) >> I've completely changed the look of this column.

I don't like this new look one bit. It's much harder to follow everything when every time you finish one question you have to go back to the main page and then pursue another link. I much prefer the all in one big page layout.

Just casting my vote for less page fragmentation, that's all.


(!) David,

We'll be adding a few more navigation links to the bottom of each question, so you can continue onto the next one without going "back up" and "down" again.

Part of the impetus to "fragment" this column is to be more search engine friendly. When someone is looking for information relating to two or more concepts it is quite frustrating to keep hitting a few "eclectic" pages that cover diverse, unrelated material on large single HTML pages.

Also, while I appreciate that many of the regular readers of my column read the whole thing, straight through (apparently as much for my occasional rants and tirades as for the technical references), I have to be considerate for the "browsers" --- those readers who look over the table of contents and the list of question/titles and just want to load selected ones. I hate to waste their bandwidth by shipping them 100K when they only want to see a couple of 5 to 8 kilobyte blocks.

For those who prefer to fetch "The whole thing" (to mirror it unto their localhost pages or go through it using a file:/ URL) I definitely suggest following the link to the .tar.gz file as referenced by the main home page at:

(Yes, we get a whole domain, now. Though I have to wonder why SSC made it a .com rather than a .org)

The other motivation is that I simply want to make links of references I to the source material that I use to answer your questions. It has always bothered my sense of craftsmenship that these weren't "hot."

Finally it gives me the chance to proofread and comment on the collection of questions and answers before they "go to press." By that time the person who orginally posed their question has long since recieved it via e-mail (and usually solved their problem).

However, the point of putting it in the Gazette is to make the same answer available to a broader audience and to let the search engines pick up on them. Which leads us right back to my first reason for wanting to have them in separate pages.

If you see that "+LDAP +Linux +NT" comes up on an Alta Vista search, you want to know that this is an article about the co-existence of "light-weight directory access protocol" (LDAP) and Linux and NT. You'll be irritated and disappointed if it's a large page that has disparate references to each. (Ooops. Now someone's going to hit those references in this. Oh well, at least it will be a small page and quick to scan for relevance).

(!)Heather comments...

I really do apologize for not giving you internal navigation within the Answer Guy column. That's fixed this time, and I hope you find it useful. I was in a rush to make everything beautiful for release...

You could also read "The Whole Damn Thing" version of the Linux Gazette, in which the footers are stripped between Answer Guy letters, but you'd also be downloading and paging through the other Gazette articles.

If that was a bit more than you hoped, perhaps you understand what visitors coming in via a search engine might feel like. Since I personally use search engines a lot -- more than 70% of my web visits start with a search -- I sure notice.


Copyright © 1998, James T. Dennis
Published in Linux Gazette Issue 29 June 1998

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