Highlighting Official vs. Unofficial Data

I'm starting to get a slow but steady stream of feedback in various forms that highlights an issue: TravellerMap.com is being treated as an authoritative site for the OTU, yet it presents a mix of official and unofficial data and doesn't clearly deliniate between the two.

When I started the site (2005) there had been a lull in Traveller. I believe Marc was just getting FFE together. There was no official data available in digital form. Online data sets blended data from CT/MT /TNE/T4 supplements, GEnie and other semi-official uploads, edits and additions by individuals and groups such as HIWG, and various large and small efforts to fill in the gaps, some intricately detailed and some large swaths of random die rolls. I completely admit that I went for "quantity" over "quality" since having a universe to zoom and pan around in was fun!

Now we have an official data set (the Traveller 5 Second Survey) and I'm honored to be able to host it on the site. It's blended rather seamlessly with unofficial data, and that leads to unfortunate confusion. Folks will ping Marc asking questions about sector data that's unvetted submissions of dubious ancestry.

IMHO, it's pretty high priority for the site to make some distinction here, but I'm not sure what approach to take. Here are some ideas:
  • Take advantage of the "credits" at the bottom, and highlight "official" data more clearly with an indicator/graphic of some sort.
  • Contrariwise, assume "official" is the default; highlight "unofficial" data
  • Both of the above - always clearly show the provenance of the current focus
  • Offer an option to filter unofficial data e.g. another checkbox on the side that would not even render unofficial sectors on the map.
  • As above but have the option enabled by default (i.e. make unofficial data "opt in")
  • Alter the rendering for "unofficial" regions - e.g. shaded background, dim everything slightly, etc.
These all have trade-offs between being too subtle or two imposing. I posit that as primarily an entertainment resource, most users enjoy seeing the "gaps" filled in, and it's only "serious researchers" who want to filter out anything unofficial. Of course, the credits and associated documents already highlight the sources of the data so I may be trying to optimize for a small set of users who are taking the site as authoritative but not actually reading the manual, which might be a waste of time.

On the other hand, I think it's a disservice to Marc and others if the hard work of the T5SS is lumped in with some randomly generated cruft I scraped off the web. On the third hand, many of the unofficial submissions have been labors of love and I'm just as honored to host them in all their unofficial glory (with both the authors and myself knowing full well they may get paved over at any point.)

Relevant stats: not counting the Zho Core Route, there are 154 sectors with data, 30 of which have "official" data.

My gut reaction at this point is to do something quick and cutesy like have == AMBER ZONE: UNOFFICIAL DATA == appear in the credits area that links to an explanation of the site's combination of official + unofficial data. I don't know if that's too subtle or too obnoxious. I'm also working to get some more obvious "official" / "unofficial" tag into the data returned by various APIs.

I welcome any thoughts and ideas for how to address this issue. Comment away! Ω


inpw said...

I would be more than happy to allow the opting out of unofficial sector data.

Rendering it slightly differently would also allow the current seemless integration between the blessed and unblessed.

inpw said...

Actually thinking about this, one of the issues that needs to be solved is where there is overlapping canon and non-canon data - i.e. Foreven sector has a published dot-map and an unofficial set of UWPs associated with it.
As I've looked at the code on Github, the official data could be hosted in the main data, and the unofficial in external files

77topaz said...

Hm, I don't think you've announced that data for Mikhail Sector has been added?
The E subsector of Pliabriebl Sector, mysteriously attributed to just Marc Miller, also seems to have gone unannounced.
When did those two get added?

Joshua Bell said...


Well spotted!

Mikhail's been under iteration by Ed Anderson - it wasn't really ready for folks to take a look until recently.

Marc slipped Pliabriebl in during the T5 Kickstarter, and there have been subtle references to events and locations there. We'll have to see what happens there in the future.