This document is not current, and is kept only for archival purposes. Please refer to Everything2 Help for all up-do-date help documents.
Integrating your writeups into Everything2 is one of the most important aspects of noding. It is a skillful practice that all noders must adopt, develop and master. While numerous documents covering various elements of this discipline already reside in the database, this document attempts to offer an holistic view of the impact that writeup and node integration has on the life of this web site, and how it affects you as a noder.
What is node integration?
Put simply, node integration is a procedure that involves clicking through on all of the hard links in a writeup (This is referred to later on as minimum node integration). Each original click creates two soft links: one below the node containing your writeup (pointing to the node you linked to), and one below the node you linked to (pointing back at the node containing your writeup). This forms a path between the two nodes that can be easily followed by readers as they browse the database. (Read the node on soft link — it tells all there is to know about this fascinating construct.)
On a deeper level, thorough node integration usually involves more than this. You can form soft links to additional nodes (or nodeshells) by using the search bar above the node that contains your writeup. All regular nodes reached via this method will create additional soft links (superdocs and other special documents are the exception). These soft links can stand on their own, or you may choose to pipe link them into your writeups. The best examples of high-quality node integration on E2 employ either one or both of these methods.
Caveat: Search carefully! Soft links should be created with care. Clicking on random findings after an unsuccessful search for a specific phrase (or after an "Ignore Exact" or "Near Matches" search) will soft link your writeup's node to all nodes you eventually reach. This is useful in most cases, but can sometimes result in superfluous soft links. You should always make the effort to insure that the soft links you are creating actually merit a linked relationship to your writeup.
Don't be afraid to create nodeshells when performing node integration. If a concept merits a linked relationship to your writeup, it (by definition) merits having its own node, even if nobody's produced any content for it. When you create a nodeshell, you are creating a placeholder that you can fill later, or even an exhortation for some other noder to fill. Either way, the database benefits just by having the nodeshell.
What purpose does it serve?
Deliberately integrating your writeups into the database is a necessary process upon which this entire web site is based. In that sense, node integration is a philosophy. It is a method of establishing a matrix of related content and concepts, from the narrowly focused to the wildly abstract, which connects a node to its many shadows and reflections within the database. This builds neural links, a process that creates and sustains the nodegel. Node integration is a beautiful thing. It is as much a science as it is an art. Mastering it will make you a better noder, and will earn you the respect of your fellow noders even when your writeups are somewhat less than perfect in their formatting, content or concept.
Linking to Internet sites outside of E2 is not supported (in regular documents —); a limitation that exists by design. All of the links you create here must point to other nodes on E2. This is not a problem, however, because there are a lot of nodes here already. E2 was designed to encourage all contributors to link their content to other nodes with related content, forming a web of ideas which (ideally) add value to all the nodes involved, and enrich the database as a whole. The linking system that nate designed is what makes E2 (and the Everything Engine upon which it is based) different from blogs, online dictionaries and encyclopedias, and other collaboratively edited databases on the Worldwide Web.
Of all the policies and procedures that make E2 work the way it does (resulting in the incredibly cool person / place / idea / thing that it is), this is the one that always comes first. It affects every writeup and every node, every noder and every reader. Its significance is demonstrated with virtually every single click of the mouse. And yet, it remains one of the most overlooked, forgotten and ignored rules of the game. We must do better. And of course "we" really means you.
Why should I care?
Imagine for a moment what Everything2 would be like if it had no soft links. Every node stood alone, with nothing but hard links connecting it to other nodes. After your brand spanking new writeup was pushed off the bottom of the New Writeups nodelet (and eventually ENN), it would be lost in an ocean of disjointed text, found only by clicking on a hard link to your node in another writeup, or by those who were searching for something that matched the title of your node, or by those surfing Random Node. It might never be found again. This vision is one that Webby must be very familiar with, but for you and I, it would truly suck.
Altruistic benefits aside, careful and thoughtful node integration ultimately results in more exposure for your work. After all, only the writeups that are found get read and voted on. Writeups that are extensively integrated into the database get found and read more often, and consequently get more votes and generally attain higher reputations. This equates to higher XP, merit, and faster level advancement for you as a noder. Failing to enhance your writeups by exploiting node integration to the fullest extent will not only subvert the system's design, but will result in your writeups being ignored, overlooked, and very likely downvoted.
And if you don't care about that, then we have a problem. Because minimum node integration is mandatory. If you don't like it, tough beans.
You must Link and Link.