Help on how to structure my knowledge in Obsidian

I have spent so many years trying to find the best way to capture and archive my knowledge. As of today, I understand my main focus is:

  • not only to creating my personal Wikipedia
  • but also to have a single place supporting my content consumer to content process.

First, let me share with you my personal organization and process.

Here are my key needs in terms of CONTENT PRODUCTION PROCESS:

  1. Get a place/way where I can see/filter the interesting content (from others) I have come across and clipped in Obsidian. Let’s call this folder “My LIBRARY folder”.

  2. Get a place/way where I can see/filter the content (from others) I will engage with and reuse for my own content production (to get ideas, references, examples, etc.). Let’s call this folder “My DESK”.

Compared to My LIBRARY where I clip anything I do not want to let go to black holes for the future, the content that goes to My DESK will be processed in the coming weeks or months.

  1. Get a place /way where I can store/see/filter all the ideas I have personally had and captured in Obsidian. It can be ideas I get while driving, taking a shower, walking, or consuming content, etc. Let’s call this folder “My IDEAS”.

  2. Get a place where I can see/filter my Ongoing content in production, that is the content I am working on (be it short-term, mid-term or long-term). Let’s call this folder “My CREATIVE Lab”.
    The content from “My DESK” does come either from the folder “My LIBRARY” or the folder “My IDEAS” .

  3. Now, one the Ongoing content is edited and ready, I publish it (on my blog, in a book, whatever) and its ongoing status becomes a published status. That’s why I have another folder entitled “My PUBLISHED CONTENT”.

I am using the following tags to keep track on my Notes along my production process:

  • #ongoing
  • #published

That way:

  • a note coming from My LIBRARY has no “process tag”.
  • a note with the #ongoing tag means I’m currently working on the note. I’m using Dataview to filter them all on a specific “My Complete List of Ongoing Notes”
  • once that note is ready, I changed its process tag from #ongoing to #published. Then, I moved the note to “My PUBLISHED CONTENT Folder”.

My idea is to:

  • never lose track of content
  • get a very simple but effective task management system to always what to work on next.

Next to this, I have another folder entitled “My KNOWLEDGE Base”, which is kind of my personal wikipedia. It contains my personal notes about the books, videos, etc. I consumed and the knowledge I have captured along the years.

Now, let me ask you for suggestions and advice.

  1. Do you see any useless things in my folder architecture and process?
    For example:
  • Are My LIBRARY and My DESK redundant? Same questions for My IDEAS, My DESK and My CREATIVE Lab
  • I feel like keeping all the published content (= my own productions that are going to go public) in a dedicated folder that is different from the folder of “my personal wikipedia” (evergreen content).
  1. I’m still wondering if I should use #tag as opposed to keywords in the Front Matter of my notes to manage the status of my ongoing content production notes?

I’m not a coder but I would like to learn how to do complex queries with Dataview so as to dynamically extract list of “ongoing content/notes” for this topic A or this topic B (example: Creating 2 respective lists of the ongoing articles I’m writing about the topic of Learning French and another list about the topic of Cooking). To that extent, I’m not sure which is the most powerful: Keywords in the Front matter Vs tags?

  1. I’m still wondering how other people use tags as opposed to links and what I should adopt for myself.

Links do not allow to filter and sort. As such, they are not adapted to put a status on the notes.

I do not see value into using tags for topics? Links are more powerful since they connect notes.

  1. Should I add a #idea tag to all my notes being not processed yet, that is being either in the My DESK or My IDEAS folders?

  2. Feel free to comment or share any thought and a big thank you to those who will reply.

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I think DESK and PUBLISHED are redundant. They are statuses — if it were my vault, each of them would be a tag, or a metadata field, or a note full of links. CREATIVE would hold all projects regardless of status, and I would have an ONGOING or IN PROGRESS tag/field/note to track that status. But if you prefer the setup you described, it’s not really a problem.

I agree that it makes sense to keep your projects separate from your “personal Wikipedia”. I use my vault for many things and it’s still forming, but I divide things similarly to you. KNOWLEDGE in my vault is 2 different folders, “Media” and “Facts”. CREATIVE and PUBLISHED are a single folder, “Projects”. I don’t have a LIBRARY folder yet, but I expect to. IDEAS, I haven’t got a full system yet; ideas for projects or parts of projects have a subfolder “Projects/Raw”. I guess most of the ideas I write down go there.

  1. I’m still wondering if I should use #tag as opposed to keywords in the Front Matter of my notes to manage the status of my ongoing content production notes?

I prefer #tags because they are simpler and more widely compatible. An app doesn’t even need to support them; as long as it can search in files, they will still work.

  1. I’m still wondering how other people use tags as opposed to links and what I should adopt for myself.

I use tags for statuses and for categories/topics I might use to refine a search (for example, the genres of a movie). I also use them to mark different kinds of entries in my daily notes. Sometimes their only real function is to reassure me that I can find things again, even tho I don’t actually use them to do the finding. :slight_smile:


What do you put into that folder that can’t go into PROJECTS folder?
Why do you feel like having such a folder and what benefits do you see today?

That’s a good point.

What’s your criteria then to know when you will want to create/use a tag as opposed to a link?
*For example, let’s say you are writing a note about French pancakes ("crepes). *
The topic hierarchy for a folder system could be:
*- Well-being > Cooking > French Cooking > Desserts > French Pancakes *
*- Or even: Well-being > Cooking > Desserts > French Cooking > French Pancakes *

On such a note, what would be your:
1 - your tags?
2 - the links you would add
Also, would you sue the Front Matter? If so, what for?

I don’t think it’s about replicating Wikipedia.

It’s about making another brain.

Don’t focus on structure, focus on content, concepts, ideas.

if you make relevant links and tags, the structure will emerge by itself.

It’s just like how your brain work, by linking things together.

Also, use tags for everything, it’s better than folders.

What do you put into that [FACTS] that can’t go into PROJECTS folder?
Why do you feel like having such a folder and what benefits do you see today?

PROJECTS holds things I produce — stories I write, etc. FACTS holds information I’ve collected — how to clean a dishwasher, bear worship in the ancient world, etc. Of course I sometimes collect information for projects, but if it has any application beyond that I try to move it to FACTS. I feel like generally the distinction between stuff made by me and stuff made by others is useful, but I don’t have an argument for why. When I used to mix them (pre-Obsidian), it felt muddled. Also sometimes it wasn’t clear which one an item was when I looked at it 3 years later.

*For example, let’s say you are writing a note about French pancakes ("crepes). *

I try to avoid hierarchies when any of the components could fit into more than one hierarchy, and currently I’m trying to keep my folders few and shallow (Exceptions: I have a folder for each project, and if I have many related notes — as I do on computer topics — I may make a folder for convenience). So I wouldn’t use either of those hierarchies of topic folders.

Where the note would go would depend on its content. I haven’t yet decided how to store food info in my vault, but general info on crepes might go in FACTS/FOOD, with tags #cooking #desserts #French (and maybe #Frenchcooking). If it’s a recipe, FACTS/RECIPES or FACTS/FOOD/RECIPES) with additional tag #recipes (the tag is redundant with the folder; I don’t have an argument for that beyond indecision/flexibility). If it’s an article I’m writing about crepes, PROJECTS/2022/CREPES (but probably with a more specific project name than CREPES).

Links would also depend on the content. If I mention anything I have a note on or might later have a note on, I link it unless it’s tangential. I don’t have a clear philosophy of tags vs. links. Broadly, I use tags for broad things that I don’t write directly about (for example, I have food-related notes but none about the general concept of food) and links for things I (might) write notes about. It’s a bit fuzzy, and may change over time.

I like the idea and format of front matter but currently avoid it because I can’t count on it working in other apps (even tho the general format is common, and if an app doesn’t support it at all you still have a reasonable plain-text representation). I’ve used it in the past (pre-Obsidian) and may change my mind later.

My system isn’t fully thought out and rational and will probably change over time. Now matter how much you plan it out, you’ll probably want to change it later, so I try to avoid systems that make that hard.

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