Improving signal to noise; wikis or improved tutorials

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Improving signal to noise; wikis or improved tutorials

Postby cluelesscoder on Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:38 pm

Hey, I'm posting this after having some issues and questions with Skype discussed at viewtopic.php?f=61&t=115209. I installed Skype 4 and found that my webcam didn't work. I found http://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/219 but it didn't seem to work. A close read of the comments afterward showed that this tutorial is outdated. The comment directed me to use a path which was also either outdated or incorrect for a 64-bit processor, so I did my own detective work and found the correct path. I've started another thread to discuss this experience, as I'm concerned that there's a tutorial that's outdated and the only apparent way to get it fixed is to mention it in the forum (which is inefficient for these types of things; most forum users can't fix the issue!). [OK, I logged in and found I could contact the author then - so ignore my comments about not contacting authors. But still, I'm not sure the author will be fix it. Plus there should be a contact button which triggers you for a login to let users know that's available.]

It appears that these tutorials are not being watched to make sure they are updated and that a system is not in place to ensure that the owners are taking responsibility for them or finding someone else to do so if they decide to leave. This is not surprising but it is a problem and Mint needs to prioritize fixing it. The author, frankeinstein, hasn't logged in in a couple months. The community website does not apparently have a contact form for individual users.

There's a couple possible fixes: (1) implement a wiki system (my preference), or (2) make it easier to sign up as a maintainer or contributor and change tutorials; if #2 is selected, all members should also be allowed to add their email addresses and should be contactable with a quick buttom.

Noise overwhelming signal?
By the way, I really, really don't like forums for support... there's no high-level overview of the knowledge that the forum has generated. There's literally thousands of threads here! We need an open way to pull out nuggets of frequently asked questions and high-level knowledge. Tutorials also are not the solution; I found a fair amount of old or low-quality tutorials which apparently can't be improved. The focus should be on developing a single good-quality product collaboratively rather than a half-dozen low to medium-quality tutorials by different people. I'm sorry if I seem critical but I was excited after installing Mint and leaving Ubuntu behind. It seems like this project is really based upon common sense, and the development efforts with Cinnamon are awesome. But as I look deeper I'm concerned that the core documentation and knowledge organization is not friendly to newcomers and also not scalable. I've been involved in a lot of online communities (mainly Wikipedia). This is an immediate turn-off to new users and it can also be frustrating for older users. I've been using Ubuntu for years but I've never been satisfied by their knowledge organization.

I noticed there was some earlier talk about revamping the website but it looks like it's died down. Is there someone who's mainly in charge of the website? Any plans to improve things? The teams list doesn't show anyone (http://www.linuxmint.com/teams.php) and the Community moderation team (http://community.linuxmint.com/user/moderators). One of the nice things about mailing lists is that you can be sure that everyone sees your message, but that's the case with forums.
Last edited by cluelesscoder on Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reducing signal to noise; wikis or improved tutorials

Postby Flemur on Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:20 pm

Lousy documentation is one of my pet peeves, and it seems to infest the entire computer world, especially linux. (At least the "man" pages seem slightly better than they were w/Unix - occasionally there's a useful example!) Tutorials often look informative at first glance...until you try to use them to actually DO something: Ubuntu's are typically rambling and almost incoherent; Arch's are considerably better, but the best answers to questions and problems are almost always found at "some guy's" website. I've run a few programs where you select "online help" and get the Mint PDF...which doesn't mention the program(s). A lot of it's just laziness, and an apparent inability to see a situation from the POV of someone who's not intimately involved with the project/program. Dunno how to fix it, tho, especially since I think there's some truth to the rumor that most computer nerds can't or won't bother to write worth a damn.
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