Metacosm wrote:
> The reason I am writing this little-post (I was advised to
>  by John Beckett http://vim.wikia.com/wiki/User:JohnBeckett) 
> is a plea to change the front-page (and to a lesser degree, 
> the focus) of the wiki.

Some big ideas have been raised and I will need time to digest them. I'll
probably write a lot of stuff here, but the bottom line is that I welcome
Metacosm's arrival, and I would be very happy to experiment with his ideas.
If they work, great. If not, we can revert.

For me, the attraction of the wiki is the potential to polish previously
given advice. In a forum or mailing list (or the old static Vim Tips web
site), person A says something, then B points out a deficiency, and C
contradicts them both. Later, D says that the new version makes all previous
advice obsolete.

The result is confusion and bad advice.

The wiki holds the promise that at least the core features of Vim can be
helpfully explained in a how-to manner. I fully accept that we will never
polish everything, but I don't see why, for example, there should be any new
pages on copy/paste or searching! Just fix the pages we've got!

Fully documenting everything would be pointless and unhelpful (too large to
digest). We should concentrate on how-to advice with an overview and
examples. I don't understand Metacosm's distinction between "tip focused"
and "vim focused". Call it what you will, our pages should help people use
Vim.

> It doesn't address the primary reason people come to the site,
> to get help.

You would need to explain exactly what you have in mind. Let's say I can't
get copy/paste working nicely, so I visit your optimum wiki. What do I do?
Ask a question in a forum? View a FAQ? Browse a category tree that hopefully
includes my topic?

I like browsing tips, and if more of them were fixed, I would get more out
of it! Reading the Vim docs can be a bit hard, but browsing the wiki to get
an overview of features I mightn't be familiar with is very helpful.

Like Fritzophrenic's "For help with...", I think we need a static list of
links, with descriptive text, showing Vim features. It would be like an
expanded category tree. It should not attempt to be exhaustive, but should
guide newcomers to find info they want.

> I mean let grow naturally -- let people add questions, the
> common questions will be answered,

Is there any example of a web site where this is done and the result is
worthwhile? Sure, we could experiment with a page that invites questions.
However, I don't think it should be left to grow to become the normal
archive of confused advice that frequents the web.

> It [main page] doesn't encourage anyone to contribute.
> It is overwhelming, and intimidating.

Really? But if most people come to get help or to browse, the main page
should oblige.

I would have thought that anyone using a modal text editor would be capable
of quickly identifying which of the six boxes on the current main page was
of interest.

Anyway, a theoretical discussion of the ideal main page is pretty pointless.
Let's just see some alternative designs. Then we can try something else, and
revert later if wanted.

Is your proposal finished? (If so, I'll post to vim_use and try to get more
interest.)
 http://vim.wikia.com/wiki/User:Metacosm/Proposed_Main_Page

I agree that it is more inviting, although presumably you would want to
provide a little more advice (on a linked page) about just how a newcomer
would create a user page, and their own Vim tips and help.

However, your proposal offers very little for people wanting to browse (I
suspect there's quite a few of us).

> you create a tip in an anonymous fashion, no ego stroking

Yes, this is a problem. I have had a few long discussions with Bram where
I've tried to get him to encourage users who contribute to the wiki, but he
doesn't see the point.

I'm not sure how your alternative world would work out, but we can try it. I
do think that encouraging development of user pages would be worthwhile.
However, the ultimate aim should be that the wiki has *one* helpful tip on
copy/paste (for example).

I realise that we will need several pages on most topics, because it's too
complex to make just one. But I would oppose developing significant general
content in user pages - we don't need the individual thoughts of 100 users
on how to copy/paste. Sure, a user page can have significant stuff (like the
Ipkiss page Fritzophrenic mentioned), and a user page can be a place to
experiment. But it should be made clear that the aim is for general Vim
how-to advice to be merged into the main wiki.

John

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