How do you decide what's a MOC?

This feels like a slightly silly question, but how do you determine what’s a MOC, and what’s merely a note on a fairly generic topic?

Immediate example at hand: I want to link to “sleep.” I don’t have a note called “sleep,” so I need to create one. It’s general, because it isn’t really a particular, developed idea; I just want to be able to have all my other notes that reference sleep have somewhere to go. But it doesn’t feel “high level” enough to make sense as a MOC.

Would you consider it a MOC by default because it’s a highly-generalized topic designed to collect incoming links? Or not, because it’s too low-level?

It seems like if I make everything like this a MOC, I’ll quickly have dozens and dozens of MOCs, which seems to somewhat defeat the purpose.

In my own “mental map,” I have a few broad categories to generally two, occasionally three, levels deep. e.g. “Bible, Theology, Health” would be level 1, “Genesis, eschatology, nutrition” would be level 2, and then some of them might go to level 3 (“vitamin D”).

So in my mind, anything that would fall lower on a hierarchy than this doesn’t make much sense as a MOC. But maybe I’m misunderstanding MOCs? And, more importantly for my purposes, if I have really general notes like this and I don’t call them MOCs, does that make them hard to find/hard to remember whether I’ve created them?


I think selection of MOC is a personal choice. It’s tempting to have some top level MOCs like Health, Relationship, Wealth, etc. but I notice that they lose context and meaning when defined at such high level.

MOCs are what impacts your life. It turns out I do have a MOC named “Sleep” because “sleep” is a decently big problem area in my life. Here are some notes in this MOC

  • Sleep tracking / Daily tracking of my waking up time and sleep time
  • Shut down routine ideas - Few ideas on what I can do it improve my 30 mins priori to sleeping so that I can sleep better.
  • What people are saying about sleep - This contains links to articles and videos that I found around sleep from internet.
  • Sleep journal - That’s just one note where I keep my sleep journal. I am not regular on this but I do try to keep a track when I had a particularly bad sleep or a very good sleep.

I am sure this MOC is going to get bigger and bigger over time.

“MOC” is just the index of related ideas put together, while a “note” is the actual place where you would write that idea or information.


I struggled with how to best handle MOCs as well. It is a concept that sounds straightforward to me in abstract but quickly becomes complicated on a case-by-case basis.

I have an (as far as I know) non-traditional way of giving myself intuitive ways to connect notes - as far as it is non-traditional it may not achieve your / traditional MOC goals but hopefully my experience will give you some ideas.

I have 3 types of evergreen notes: note, moc, and meta-moc.

  • Notes are very fine grained statements. The majority of the idea can be conveyed in the title alone. A note might be: “while sleeping, the mind reconstrues experience, attaches to opportunities, and detaches from problems”
  • MOC are collections of these statements (or potential, future statements) that I can conceivably write about at an exhaustive level. For example, “sleep” would not qualify as I would have to write for an unreasonably long time to exhaust the topic. Rather, “impact of sleep on calm and joy” could be an MOC.
  • Meta-MOC are for things so abstract that I cannot conceivably write about at a reasonably exhaustive level. The “impact of sleep on calm and joy” MOC might connect to “sleep”, “calm”, and “joy” Meta-MOC.

The most important type in my system is the true MOC. They are my call to action to write on a topic and the purpose of my system is to produce writing of some sort or another. The Meta-MOC has debatable value. It exists because it makes me feel good. It gives me a way to annotate things without forcing me to call it an MOC. It allows me to have a note called “sleep” and I don’t have to be concerned that I’m muddying the MOC waters. I also gain the ability to look into an abstract topic and see all of the associated MOC and notes but it would not be to do anything in particular. At best it would serve to “bump” me into ideas for accidental engagement.


I use MOCs in a hierarchy. Any note which is mainly used to organize lower-level notes is an MOC in my system, and there are MOCs which link to other MOCs, etc. It totally makes sense to me to have a “Health MOC” which links out to a more lower-level “Sleep MOC”.

Bottom line, you should do whatever makes sense to you. It’s your second brain, and it should represent how you see things.


It’s been a year since I consolidated all my notes, journals, and drafts into Obsidian. What I’ve found, for me, is that MOC’s are too much organization (akin to folders and hierarchies). I went way down the MOC path early on and found that it was too much of an obsession (fomo perhaps), caused me undo stress, and simply offered no value.

I do spin up MOC like notes using dataview queries for links and embedded search queries for mentions to generate research and thought about specific project related content - article, essay, presentation, or book.

I then mark up that note with additional thoughts and connections. To be honest it has proven to be a great first draft mechanism. These simple queries get me into the ballpark very quickly and I don’t fret about where something is.

These notes live on after the project or deliverable is complete and are invaluable for me to rehash, refine, and repurpose at a later time.

This is a topic of endless debate and I suppose the answer is purely subjective, driven by a host of behavioral patterns & cognitive abilities, and patience.

For me, I keep coming back to basic search in Obsidian. It is simple, it is fast, and, most importantly, it forces me to remember, reconnect, ponder. I gain from having Obsidian as my knowledge partner.



I raised this question related to your discussion, too → From tag/link to MOC. A question about linking - Knowledge management - Obsidian Forum

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This is a great point, making me rethink my approach as I’m just getting started…maybe having slightly more maps that are slightly more specific is better for everyday practical use than having “10 or fewer” extremely vague & general hubs, which I’d imagine can make you have to rack your brain a lot, like “where would this fit again?”

but my grasp on all of this is soooooo flimsy at the moment lol

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I have few MOCs and only create them when there is a purpose in mind.

For instance, considering a new research project.
I write out a list of important issues. I know what they are since they’re in my field of expertise, so I just write out the list. And convert each item on the list to links. And may add more in future.

No particular purpose = no MOC

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I would not say it is non-traditional; in a sense, yes, you used the concept and personalized it per your needs, so it is non-traditional in the sense that you altered it, still I would not say it is not traditional! I am myself looking to apply MOC to my system, and this gave me insight; thanks!

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