Folders and Links, Hierarchies vs Flat

Hi! I generally tend to use a hierarchy for notes, but was wondering how folks in the community organize their notes. I would tend to keep the hierarchy, but it makes links harder for me to use. For example, say I have a poem titled groceries in my base/writing/poetry/ path and a task list titled groceries in my base/tasks/repeating/ path. I can’t then just use [[groceries]] right? Just one example of many… so how do you flatten hierarchies successfully? I end up using [[base/writing/poetry/groceries]] as a link instead. Is there a better way to do this? I’m skeptical of completely flat vaults.

If you happen to know of any other helpful tips for hierarchical or mixed hierarchical vaults I’d love to hear them. Or if there are some other general tips (that arent immediately apparent from the popular forums posts or the subreddit, like PARA or BuJo) for obsidian users who are not in academia, I’d love to hear those too! I’m a programmer/tech-minded person fwiw

PS: To future proof my vault I use underscores in file names/links. Because spaces make the vault slightly harder to port to something like vimwiki or anything working over plain files. Do you think this is sensible/is there a better way?

If you have duplicate titles under separate directories Obsidian will usually sort them for you when you build the link and include the path in the link by default.

You could get around that by using aliases in YAML block, so your grocery poem note could look something like:

title: Poem 2022-11-27
alias: Groceries

or you could switch it up with your groceries list, whichever you choose.

I like hierarchies because they’re an additional means of discoverability but I get why other users prefer links/tags

If you have duplicate titles under separate directories Obsidian will usually sort them for you when you build the link and include the path in the link by default.

I did not know this! So my method of entering links by their full path ([[writing/poems/groceries]]) is completely superfluous?

I can’t confirm without seeing your entry method, but if you are using a shortcut or [[ to call an internal link, then by typing just “groceries” should give you a pop up window with both files and their path. The link will still include the full path as the displayed text, obsidian just makes linking a little easier.

If you use an alias, the note’s alias will appear in the search window, with the path to the note as a subtext.

Here’s my personal view how to deal with the 4 cornerstones of my Zettelkasten in Obsidian.

More about: How to use Zettelkasten in Obsidian - #6 by Edmund

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Interesting! What do you mean by Folders as Processes? Do you have some examples?

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Here’s my example with a workflow I use to create Literature Notes.

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Here is a system I developed for using both tags and folders.
In Short:

  • I use tags for any mind category. So if I have a science paper. It can have tags #ecology or #computers etc… Anything that my mind needs to know.

  • I use folders for any differentiation in TYPE of note. So a folder will contain all PAPERS, another all PDFs a third one a collection of factual statements etc.

This tends to create few very broad folders. You want folders to be so broad that a note can only ever belong to one folder. You make them too small and you will ask yourself does it go into folder X or folder Y? If you ask yourself this - you need to put a few folders together and use tags instead.

Here is a breakdown of my system for academia.

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