Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Writer's Knowledge Base

Writer's Knowledge BaseYou may have noticed the Writer's Knowledge Base badge in the right frame of my blog... in between the Google Search field and my Facebook icon; it's been there for a few weeks now.

The Writer's Knowledge Base (WKB) is a joint project between a mystery writer and a software engineer: Elizabeth Spann Craig and Mike Fleming, respectively.

Elizabeth states, in a blog post dated January 25, that when she did a Google search for "POV," the "top sites returned are for a video that PBS made (which isn't on writing POV), a couple definitions by Wikipedia (several of which have to do with automobiles), a racy YouTube video, and some freeware." So she asked herself, What does an author do when Google isn't enough?

Elizabeth goes on to explain how this "Search Engine for Writers" came about and where she gets her sources for the links and information. She (@elizabethscraig) first started tweeting the information and links that she found, but unfortunately not all writers are on Twitter. Then she started sharing the links weekly on her blog, but the links weren't easily searchable. Until, that is, Mike worked with the links that Elizabeth provided him -- links from over 1,500 blogs, and counting -- and created the Writer's Knowledge Base: a free resource "enabling writers to access information that would help them write better books and articles."

Elizabeth quotes Mike Fleming in her blog post, and I'm going to do likewise; even if you choose not to read her blog, you should read this brief quote from Mike to understand how the WKB works:

The search is done instantly over thousands of writing-related articles ranging from character development to author promotion on social media. Unlike Google, all of the results are relevant to you as a writer. They may not all interest you, of course, but at least searching for "plot" will bring back articles on how to plot your story and not news articles on terrorist plots.

And in a follow-up blog post, Elizabeth answers a few questions about the search engine, like the types of content she includes: "I’m usually looking for craft-related, industry-related, social media, promo-related, or writing inspiration posts. I love posts that are easily skimmed (as opposed to a block of text--most writers are working with short amounts of time), have great content, and can be helpful to many writers."

So I decided to give the Writer's Knowledge Base search engine a test run. Recently I wrote a blog post in December on "style sheets," a subject near and dear to me as a book editor. I entered "style sheet" in the WKB search field, which provided 124 results. [Note: This test was done a week or so ago; I've just run the test again and was provided 127 results. That's a good sign, as it means new resources/links/information has since been added to the WKB.] The first result is (still) "Writing a series? Why you should use a style sheet." My blog post on style sheets is listed as the sixth entry. [Note: This has since changed; my post is now the ninth entry. The key reason is, though I used "style sheet" in the body of the blog post, it's not part of the title, which is: "Writing with Style (Sheets, That Is)." You know me, always one to have to write with a flair!]

Do check out both of Elizabeth's posts on the WKB for more details, and how to potentially include your blog posts in the search engine. If you are a writer and/or editor, be sure to bookmark the WKB, and take advantage of all the time and energy that Elizabeth and Mike have put into creating and refining this tool.

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  1. Thanks so much for this post, Marty! Mike and I really appreciate the mention. We're both hoping that the WKB will be a good resource for writers and others in the industry. There's so much useful information out there--it's just accessing the info that's been the problem.

  2. Hi, Elizabeth,

    Thanks for your kind words -- but you shouldn't be thanking me, we should all be thanking you and Mike. I know how long it takes me simply to compose a blog post; I can't imagine the amount of work that you and Mike have put into the WKB project -- and, of course, it is a never-ending project, too!

    All best wishes,
    - marty

  3. Marty,

    Thanks also for adding the WKB badge to your sidebar. We really appreciate that.

    Plus, I have good news for you. If you search for "style sheets" (plural) you'll find yourself in second place. That's better!

    Even so, your reasoning about the title boosting the result is spot on. However, the "title" in the WKB is the text that Elizabeth tweeted for your link which, in this case, is "Writing with style sheets".

    When we launched on January 24th I started capturing the actual article title so I'm going to add that to the search criteria. Thanks for the idea! ;-)

  4. Hi, Mike,

    And thanks, too, for your comments -- and I'm glad I was able to contribute an idea to the WKB!

    Believe it or not, I never thought to search under "style sheets" (plural), but I've learned my lesson. However, as I said, the position of my own blog post in the list was only significant in that it moved from 6th to 9th position, implying that additional resources had been added to the db, which is always a good thing.

    Well, I posted the blog post to Twitter and Facebook, and others have picked it up, so you should see the traffic to your blogs and the WKB increase.

    Cheers, and keep up the good work.
    - marty