What's the protocol for nominating notebooks for a collection?

It seems like the Collections feature of Observable is still a bit of a special case: From what I can tell, only the side admins can create or edit collections.

First question: Is there a plan to at some point have user created/user editable collections?

Second question: If the collections are to stay a special feature, how big do you intend to let them grow?

Third question: If we encounter (or make) a notebook that seems relevant to some collection (e.g. Techniques or Explorables) what is the protocol for nominating it to be added? Is there some expected content/quality standard (possibly different between different collections)? Is there any kind of review process? (Code review is generally pretty helpful, but I’m not sure what a code review workflow looks like for observable notebooks.)

As a concrete example, I’ve been fiddling with an explorable showing the relationship between a Bézier segment and its arclength and explaining the code therein.

It’s quite possible that this particular notebook is not aimed at a general enough audience to match the collection, or should have various features added before inclusion. It’s mostly an example to start discussion here.

As another concrete example, I’d nominate @fil’s notebook for the Maps collection (though I’d suggest he might want to pick a different color than orange). Among other things it’s a nice demonstration of ideas bouncing back and forth between members of the community.

And I can’t believe @jashkenas’s inputs notebook isn’t yet part of the Techniques collection:

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Hey Jacob,

Thanks for the great questions.

So, right now - yep, only admins create and edit collections, and we aren’t making very many of them. At this stage in the site’s growth, we really want collections to be an on-ramp for new users, so are being pretty picky about the content and quality of them, because it’s likely that they’ll be many peoples’ first impression of Observable.

We’ll definitely add more user-accessible similar tools, and more ways to explore notebooks by topic - but it’s not yet clear whether that’ll be similar to collections. For stuff like ‘Maps’, there are potentially hundreds of related notebooks, and organizing them in a big list doesn’t do much good. So it’s likely that we’ll settle more on ‘Topics’ or something more like tagging, for the next wave of site organization. It’s more of a community-dynamics challenge than a technical one - we want a good balance of surfacing great content, and making things participatory.

That Bezier notebook is excellent! I’ll wait until everyone’s back in the office before making any executive decisions about what to add, though :slight_smile:


Right. At the moment it’s pretty tricky to follow what people are working on and figure out which parts are worth examining. The only real options are (a) a firehose of all published notebooks, (b) individual users’ pages, (c) stuff linked from this discussion forum, or (d) Collections. The firehose contains a lot of people’s half-broken experiments and forks that didn’t really change the original too much, which I don’t necessarily want to examine in detail. Figuring out which users are worth following is not trivial.

I’m not sure what the best mechanism is for better organizing/surfacing notebooks and building community is. Maybe other folks reading along have some other ideas.

Another thing I wonder about is helping people curate their profile. Right now the “profile” page is just a time-ordered stream of all published notebooks, which is likely to be littered with tiny experiments, forks, half-finished tools, etc. This doesn’t necessarily indicate which notebooks an author considers interesting or important, and doesn’t necessarily help an author to build a narrative; the good stuff tends to just scroll off the bottom, where it’s hard to find again (similar to the global firehose but not quite as high-volume).


Or here’s another Explorable, this time something that should be pretty accessible:

.@jrus & .@tom yeah, surfacing notebooks by Topics with ability to hashtag slugs and sorting that list by most frequently visited or viewed, allowing others to create their own collections, and pinning notebooks you create on your profile page to order them could potentially assist in growing notebooks discovery. My personal notes on that here: