Understanding combination and difference in directionality and structure

Calling all the geeks / experts on this forum!! :smiley:

Let me start off by saying, I am new to Obsidian. I am loving the forums and undoubtedly the tool itself. I tried reading the posts to get some answers to my question on note taking, but I believe I got lost and overwhelmed :slight_smile:

Okay, so let me get started.
I am organizing my notes in Obsidian around a particular topic that is structured. There is a specific parent / child relation to some items, while some of them have a sibling relationship, while others have a “relates-to” or “similar-to”.

To be clear, I am trying to solve if I can specify the associative ontology over hierarchical taxonomies which I believe Obsidian could provide. But is it fair to say that the “relations” between ontology classes (here notes) is missing?

Do we have a way to “define” what the relation is in a directed graph?

To provide a specific example;

  1. “CORE_NODE” is the MOC node / core node in my case
  2. LAYER 1, LAYER 2 and the others aggregate to what is the “CORE_NODE”
  3. Topics under LAYER 1 ; say item-cat could have a “reference” to topics under, say, LAYER 2, say item-dog; but are completely non-overlapping.

item-cat and item-dog is a different kind of relation (relates to / references) than what is needed in “LAYER 1” and “LAYER 2” (aggregates). The bigger problem arises if later down the road, it could be mistaken that item-cat and item-dog are similar concepts, but they arent. A simple association does not help here.

Any thoughts on this?

Sorry if I spoke anything incorrectly.

Thank You!


I’m struggling with the same problem. I’m moving my notes from ConnectedText, where each note can be a folder at the same time. You can link to a note (horizontal relation, [[note]]) or you can put the note in other note ([[$Category:note]]) , creating vertical connections. Notes in the category are displayed at the bottom of the page.

Moving to Obsidian means loosing this vertical structure, and depending more on the search feature.

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No, and that’s ok. Here’s why. All knowledge consists of no-centered ontologies. It’s just a web of connections, connotations, denotations, and annotations.

Humans construct hierarchical or centering approaches to help them approach knowledge from one perspective or another. The downside to these approaches i s that over time, they change.

The genius of Obsidian is it lets you handle both sides of this tension. You can easily craft hierarchies or centers of knowledge that let you organize knowledge one way now. You can even organizes knowledge multiple ways at one time.

Later, as your approach and perspective evolves, Obsidian makes it easy to adjust connections and hierarchies and centers to reflect new ways of thinking.

That said some broad hierarchy makes Obsidian a little easier, so use folders. Err on fewer folders than more.

You can make weak connections with tags (all things with this tag may be related) and strong connections with actual links (these linked items have a strong connection).

MOCs let you create a center or “top-level” node you can use to drive hierarchies. For example, for periodic notes, I have year notes that link to month notes that link to week notes that link to daily notes.

For projects, I have a project note that links to project reference notes and to project meeting notes.

For organizations, I have org notes that link to people and project notes. Each of these hierarchies helps me traverse a hierarchy to explore more and more detailed information as I wor down the “tree”.

Like with folders and tags, link less where you know it’s a crucial link and add more links as necessary.


Thank you so much for being patient with your response. Highly appreciate it.

I do agree that there is paradigm shift that’s needed. :slight_smile:

A silly follow-up question if I may -
Considering a multi-level “tree” / “graph” - If the MOC has a few direct link nodes, but each of those nodes have a strong connection, is there a way I could “highlight” the MOC in the graph as a source node or a strongly connected node (since all references are rooted off that directed graph)? Or do I need to link all the other nodes related to the topic explicitly to MOC? Also, in that case, is tags the solution here?

Thank you once again!

@dexter: I am not sure that this is what you mean by highlighting the MOC node, but if that note had an MOC tag, you could give it a unique color by using Color Groups. Also, by increasing the node size in the graph settings you will better be able to see the variation in size which is based on connectivity. Graph filtering is great and worth checking out.

Also, if you haven’t experimented with the Local Graph, it is definitely worth checking out. In terms of the visible links in the Global graph, it only requires one direction. It can be helpful to enable arrows. However in the Local Graph you can filter incoming and outgoing links.

Good luck.


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I’m not 100% sure what you are looking for, but would this help?

Screen Shot 2021-06-03 at 12.09.18 PM

Screen Shot 2021-06-03 at 12.09.23 PM

Screen Shot 2021-06-03 at 12.09.37 PM

Screen Shot 2021-06-03 at 12.08.59 PM


I believe I am more looking towards Semantic Obsidian.
This feature request comes close => Add support for link types - #8 by skaplan


Semantic Obsidian


Put all MOCs in a folder and use graph settings to give the notes in that folder a different colour.

What @dexter is asking, is indeed missing from Obsidian and is provided by the Semantic Obsidian project he posted (much thanks!).

TLDR; - we need the ability to represent a canonical knowledge hierarchy within PKM. Tags or folder structures do not provide that, because we’re not meant to, or should we, re-invent the knowledge tree.

Obsidian did not necessarily come into being for this, but it is a worthwhile thing to expand into, since it makes it more usable and complete, even for academic mapping.

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