WhoWasInCommand shows you all the sources that evidence every piece of data – but you probably missed the way it does this

WhoWasInCommand shows you all the sources used to evidence every piece of data it provides.

When you’re browsing your favourite units and commanders on WhoWasInCommand.com – like Operation Lafiya Dole, for example –  just hover your mouse over (or tap on, if you’re on a mobile or tablet) the bit of data you’re interested in and this happens:

sources_show_em_all

This interaction gives you a lot of useful information:

  • Because the little circle is green, it tells you that we have rated this bit of data as “High Confidence” (which means it is drawn from a wide variety of sources of different types)
  • The pop-over that appears when you click tells you how many sources there are
  • You can scroll to see them all the sources, along with links to the source’s URL (even if it’s now dead) and a link to a copy of the source we made by submitting it to the Internet Archive
  • The little question mark icon links off to the page in our Research Handbook that answers questions about this widget.

Now, I think this feature is pretty cool (well, I designed it so I would say that). We did some  research into how citations, references and footnotes were managed on websites, and our hunch was this would be a good start.

But it’s not my view that counts – it’s your view as a user that matters.

We get a lot of questions about our sources and whilst it’s clear this feature is a practical way to deliver information that answers those questions, I suspect that a lot of users don’t use it either because it’s not immediately apparent it is there or because it is not how users would think about how to find sources.

We could do to sit down with people who are using WhoWasInCommand, watch how they use the site, and ask them for ideas about how we can make these sorts of features clearer.

Any volunteers?