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Re: [mb-experts] WikiDocs Don Redman Fri Aug 11 22:29:33 2006

On Tue, 10 Jan 2006 19:53:22 +0100, Robert Kaye wrote:

Thoughts:

1) ANOTHER wiki?

Yes. However, when you say wiki, you mean wiki engine. When I say wiki I mean wiki ecosystem (including the users, what they do, how changes happen, etc). This is another case of MisunderstandingDonRedman.

Such a help system is a different wiki ecosystem than the normal wiki.

As to whether it has to be a different wiki engine, that depends on coding descisions. Fact is that that wiki engine would have to behave _very_ differently from the normal wiki engine. It would really have to suck unexperienced users in. (logging them in automatically, subscribing them automatically, asking them very boldly to enter questions which are automatically added to the page text, etc). If our normal wiki engine does this, that could ealily kill our normal wiki ecosystem.

However, if you manage to code a theme for moin that does all of the above only for pages starting with HelpOn..., then it might very well be integrated into one wiki engine. We have do discuss this in more detail.

2) How does this reflect on WikiDocs?

It does not even touch them. WikiDocs means that good documentation in our normal wiki ecosystem, which is used and maintanied by relatively few and relatively experienced users, gets transcluded into the website. An even smaller group on very experienced and trusted users would moderate the changes in the wiki to execute control over what people see on the website, without interfering with what people write in the wiki.

The wikified context help means that relatively patch help text would form a second ecosystem that is used and maintained by a combination of the most unexperienced users and slightly more experienced users. These pages would not get moderated via the WikiDocs system, but be explicitly very volatile and patchy. If good documentation emerges from this ecosystem it could be moved to the other wiki ecosystem and then be subject to WikiDocs moderation.

3) We still need classical narrative docs to be written. If we can't find volunteers to do this, I will do it myself. Less coding that gets done, but I don't want to hack on another half-baked documentation system that doesn't get our docs updated *now*.

I am proposing a system out of which documentation would emerge naturally following the needs of the users. Writing docs is so hard, because it is so difficult to imagine the way an unexperienced user thinks. I offer a system that gathers the way they think (via their questions), offers a way to help them quickly and easily (via ansers to questions), and which offers a guideance to write good narrative docs (if the QAs get messy, someone can sum them up in a narrative doc, but he would still follow the user-centric logic that has emerged from the QAs. Writing such docs is easier than doing it from scratch and yields better results).

4) Are we switching course mid-stream AGAIN?

No. I am adding a second thing to the first that will compliment it. The course stays the same: Use social software to foster natural communication in a way that good content emerges from the dynamics of that comminication in a natural and unobstrusive way.
 [note to Rob: keep this sentence for OSCOM]

In your metaphor: While WikiDocs was half power forward course, WikiDocs and WUCICH is full power on the same course.

(and just to scare you: I have been working on an idea of yours, which could add a third ecosystem to all that, but it would not use a wiki engine. I will not talk about that, yet)

5) Whenever I use these context sensitive help things, they NEVER help me. I have build up an aversion to them.

See Matthew's comment. The reason is that they are rarely user-centric.

I am sorry to overwhelm you with ideas like that. Talking to you over a couple of beers in Hamburg, the slow progress of WikiDocs coding, the stuff I work on for my dissertation, and me generally being intellectually underchallengend by stupid exams all have led to this.

And it does not help that I cannot code. I realize that I do not lessen your workload. Sorry.

Is there someone else who knows Python well enough to dig into MoinMoin, who would like to collaborate with me on this?

  DonRedman

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