Visual MOC indicator without losing unlinked references

I’d like to have a visual indicator for a collection of MOCs without breaking the unlinked mentions. Do you have a setup like that? How does it work?

(some background info if you want it, specific question at the end)

Once I had a lot of notes on a subject I lost the big picture view, and some notes were being overlooked, so I built MOCs. I had also linked every note to every possible topic rather than the most reasonable precise topic (a note on Roles in AWS was linked to AWS, Security, Computer Science, Cloud Computing, etc. rather than just AWS IAM) so I created topic MOCs in a hierarchy and linked notes to the most precise one possible.

I created a few main MOCs (Computer Science for ex) and used those to organize the big topics within that. Each of those topics was also a MOC (AWS) to organize and outline the big pieces within that topic (Security) and each of those organize topics (IAM) until there’s a list of notes related to that one specific area. Within those notes they are only linked to that most precise MOC topic (IAM in this ex) and any directly relevant notes in the text. (I link all notes to a topic in the header and then reference other notes in the content as needed)

This all seems to work out great, and it works for browsing a topic, seeing related notes together, or following a thought process from one note to another. You can traverse up the MOC hierarchy and see how it all fits together. Some notes end up linked to multiple MOCs (a note on AWS Migration will be linked in the AWS and Business MOCs), and all of that is fine.

Where it breaks down is using a visual indictor so I can see two things at a glance:

  1. In the file explorer I can easily see which notes are MOCs and which aren’t (and since I used leading dashes(-) on the MOC name it sorts the higher level MOCs out from the lower ones) I do not use folders to separate notes

  2. Inside a given note I need to know that the linked “topic” is a MOC so it falls somewhere in the hierarchy. This is essentially for browsing a topic. If a note is not linked to a MOC then it’s not represented in the big picture (those topic notes may not be MOCs in the truest sense, but easier for the sake of discussion)

This setup fails because I now have a note called “- AWS” as a high level MOC, but AWS is a common term in many other notes and the unlinked mentions are no longer shown. The unlinked mentions often connect a note within one topic with a supporting note in another topic. These connections are important to me. So I ended up creating a second “AWS” note just to capture the mentions, but now it’s just unreasonable and messy. (I read several threads on aliases and unlinked mentions, but haven’t found a solution in any of them)

QUESTION: How can I have a series of MOCs to organize big topics with visual indicators and inherent structure without losing the connections to the unlinked mentions?

Hi! I’m not sure that I understand everything well, but if I do I think, then you’re so close to what you need already! It seems very similar to how I work.

As for you, I use something in the file name to differentiate an idea from a MOC. In my case, I use “:seedling: This is an idea” for evergreen ideas, and I refer to these ideas using “:herb: some name” for MOCs. I like using emojis in file names, it’s very visual and it removes the need for a folder hierarchy.

So the visual aspect is done.

Now, for the other point, to know which “topic” a note is referred to, I simply use the “Backlink in document” option of the “Backlinks” core plugin. It shows every mention of a given note at the end of the note. In this case, by looking for “:herb:” emojis, it’s very clear for me which MOC(s) refer to this note.

Is it what you were looking for?

Thanks for the thoughts, and sorry for the slow response, but life…

Thanks for the emoji reminder, I use them extensively in other systems, but for some unknown reason I haven’t used them here. Your system is indeed similar to mine, and this may be as good as it’s going to be within Obsidian, but there are two inherent problems that I was hoping to solve:

  1. If all notes were in a folder structure it would be very easy to see which notes are outside of that structure. When the structure is built into the MOCs rather than folders there’s no good way of knowing which notes are outside of the structure (which notes are not referenced by any MOC or use a MOC as their “topic”)
    If you’re viewing a particular note then the links or backlinks are great options, but how do you do a sanity check to make sure that no notes were left behind? I’d like a filter or a visual indicator for the notes that need attention (in this case need a link to a MOC) so I know that every note in the vault is in fact somewhere in the MOC structure

  2. When you put a visual indicator in the MOC title then you lose the unlinked references, which is another method of ensuring that everything is connected as it should be. If you’re viewing a MOC and you see an unlinked reference, that might be a note that’s worth adding to the MOC, or it’s a connection to another topic that you hadn’t considered.

I find value in both the unlinked references that happen when a MOC is simply named, and the emoji / MOC / whatever addition to a MOC name to clearly show that it’s a MOC.
Sadly they don’t play well together.

  • related to this is knowing that what I’ve linked as a topic in my note header is a MOC and not just another note. I’ll do the note to note linking in context, but I like each note to have a topic linked to aid in browsing a particular topic. Works great when there’s a visual indicator on the MOC, and doesn’t work otherwise.

Hiya, if your willing to take on a new plugin, the one that immediately comes to mind is the excellent supercharged links plugin. You can add visual indicators that show up for notes basically anywhere you see them (search, dataview queries, links on other notes). You choose the conditions for the visual differences, and the best part is that it doesn’t actually change the name of the note, so you get all your unlinked mentioned goodies.

Something else that came to mind in your situation is tag wrangler, which allows you to nest tags. It might be a neat implementation to have nested tags that correlate to your mocs. Then for example you could have #aws/security/IAM, which would show up if you search #aws, #aws/security, and of course the tag itself. Do you think these might fit your needs?