Ravelry.com: Examining User Information Needs and Types of Entities

1.     Indexing units (documentary units): 

Ravelry.com’s primary documentary units are open-source products (such as free download patterns) and commercial products (as with pay-to-access patterns).

Representative Unit 1: Open-source sock pattern

      Lueder, E. (2009, July 9). Hermione's Everyday Socks pattern. Retrieved February 2, 2019, from https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/hermiones-everyday-socks

Representative Unit 2: 6.00 euro shawl pattern

      West, S. (2014, October 13). Exploration Station pattern. Retrieved February 2, 2019, from https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/exploration-station

2.     Characteristics of the intended users of the collection: 

The intended users of Ravelry.com are hobbyist and professional knitters, crocheters, and fiber artists. Due to the nature of this hobby and/or profession, the typical user has either some disposable income, financial interest (a company, a fashion line), or is supported by someone with disposable income, such as a parent. The age, as a result of these factors, is quite wide – though children under 13 are required to provide parental consent, which may limit access. Users access the platform primarily for patterns or inspiration, so the personality type is one that tends toward planning and consideration. The users are all also at minimum familiar with some technical terms (such as knit, purl, cast on, knit together, etc.) as they are required to make maximum use of the platform, but novice knitters will find documentary units that are accessible to them as well. Multiple language options are offered, but act as a limit on intended users in that each language does not share the same amount of pattern or product offerings; English speakers are the primary intended users.

3.     Description of user information needs in terms of the kinds of questions they might ask when they use the index: 

Potential user questions could include: What are gifts I could make with 300 grams of light fingering weight yarn? Which of these gifts will take me the least amount of time and skill to complete? What magazines can I purchase with color patterns that include 5-6 yarns within the pattern? What are different sock patterns with no shaping and with shaping? Can I complete this project in less than 2 months if I am a novice knitter? What traditional Irish patterns can I produce with only 2 color-ways of yarn? How much of each color will I need to complete the project? Are there US 3 needle size patterns that I can access for free? Of those, are any of them for one-piece projects?

4.     Types of entities: 

What kind of entities are represented by the index terms? / List about 10 types of entities and give five or so examples of each type of entity.

Entity: Clothing

Example Index Terms: Coat, Dress, Leggings, Pants, Robe, Shorts, Vest

Entity: Accessories

Example Index Terms: Bag, Belt, Hat, Jewelry, Legwear

Each subclass has additional index terms (such as beret, backpack or brooch) which allow users to refine their interest in the accessory entity.

Entity: Bag

Example Index Terms: Backpack, Clutch, Duffle, Drawstring, Purse, Tote, Wristlet

These could be grouped under the more general class, Accessories.

Entity: Jewelry

Example Index Terms Brooch, Bracelet, Earrings, Necklace, Ring

These could be grouped under the more general class, Accessories.

Entity: Toys

Example Index Terms: Ball, Blocks, Puppets, Dolls, Games

Entity: Construction

Example Index Terms: bias, double knitting, felted, gusset, seamed, short rows, three needle

Due to construction’s abstract nature, the collection refers to terms that are concrete actions. The term could be grouped more generally under an entity of Making.

Entity: Pattern

Example Index Terms: chart, schematic, photo tutorial, recipe, video tutorial

Distinguishing the type of pattern used in the project can indicate an important distinction for users, particularly in cases of screen-reader use. The term could be grouped more generally under the abstract entity of Making.

Entity: Sock Technique

Example Index Terms: seamed sock, shaped arches, toe up, Dutch heel, short row heel

A subclass of the Construction entity, the collection specifically allows users to distinguish between different types of actions to create a sock.

Entity: Crochet Technique

Example Index Terms: Irish crochet, broomstick, bruges, clones knot, filet, granny square

As with Sock Technique, the subclass, and the index terms act to pinpoint specific Constriction methods.

Entity: Regional/Ethnic Style

Example Index Terms: Andean/Peruvian, Danish, Estonian, Latvian, Swedish, Turkish

This collection refers to patterns that have a connection to a particular location or region, and may have specific techniques or meaning to these regions. This entity could be expanded and grouped into the more general class of People or Place. Each of these would have differing implications.

Entity: Needle

Example Index Terms: US 00, US 1, US 3, 7.0 mm, US 11

This collection is highly specific because needle size is a specific limiting factor to knitting projects. Users need specific, physical needles to produce projects, and this collection refers to different sizes to distinguish each project.

Entity: Yarn Weight

Example Index Terms: thread, cobweb, lace, fingering, sport, aran, bulky

As with needle size, this collection is highly specific because of the physical constraints that yarn weight plays in a knitting project. However, this entity could be classified more broadly into the entity “Yarn” which could include additional index terms around the fiber content or color of the yarn.

Types of entities that are left out / examples types of entities that would have been useful in the index:

“Event:” This entity has not been included with displayed index terms, though forums may provide links to specific events of interest to users. Inclusion of this entity could allow users to browse events or revisit events as part of their inspiration process.

“Theme” or “Style”: “Theme” could address specific inspiration needs of users. “Style,” although this entity could be absorbed into theme, would address more specific user intentions and allow them to select a pattern more quickly or appropriately for their intended use (ie. A gift for a cousin who is “minimal” in style vs. one who is “goth”).

“Time:” This entity would be helpful to include in the index to allow users to browse by era created, or by length required to complete a project.

“Knitting History:” As Ravelry is an e-commerce site at heart, an entity regarding history of knitting – such as knitting as it relates to cottage industry and industrialization – is not a useful entity and has been left out.

“Alexander Wang:” A named entity that does not work with Ravelry to provide patterns for commercial products, and has been left out. This would be useful to users, but is unlikely to be included without commercial advantage for Alexander Wang.

Consider whether the entities are descriptive of the content of the collection and are useful to a user seeking to answer the sample questions you identified above:

The user questions I created can likely be addressed by the entities I addressed above. Ravelry addresses a large number of limiting factors (specific index terms such as US 00 needle size) which would allow users to understand which patterns are available to them in multiple situations. As knitting and crocheting are established practices with long history, there are numerous entities included in the index already, but there remains opportunity to include others, such as theme. The documents in Ravelry’s collection, however, are limited to construction and product. Ravelry does not, for instance, have a collection of books about the politics of knitting, but does have a collection of books with knitting patterns. Thus, an entity or subclass such as “Politics” would not be particularly helpful in accessing the documents in the collection.