Help Wiki Improvements

Matthew East mdke at
Mon Nov 5 12:33:56 UTC 2007

Hi there,

Thanks to Alan for starting this discussion. His original email is
below for reference, since I'm adding the docteam mailing list and
Matt Nuzum to cc.

I'm glad that there is some interest in improving the workflows of the
help website and am really keen on getting people's feedback on how we
can improve various aspects of the site.

During this release cycle I'd like to get a bit of a push behind the
help website, since the major efforts of the documentation team over
the past 2-3 cycles have been concerned with getting the system docs
in good shape. That has been broadly achieved so we can put some
energy into the online side of things (although there is of course
plenty more work to do on the system docs!)

There are a number of aspects of the help website that I think need to
be improved.

1. Relationship with This is still confusing, as
evidenced by the discussion Alan has described at the summit. The
following spec attempts to address this - I'm keen to get more
feedback on the spec and more ideas about how to improve the

2. Quality assurance - we need a solid way to demonstrate how reliable
documents in the help wiki are, and what version of Ubuntu they apply
to. See for ideas and
initial proposals to address this.

3. Relationship between and This is also confusing - there is
no obvious way to search between the two and once number 2. above is
implemented, there will be no obvious reason to distinguish between
"official" and "non-official" as above. The wiki contains lots of
perfectly reliable documents. There should be a single wiki with all
of our documentation in it, access control can be used to "lock down"
the system documents, if appropriate. We probably need a separate spec
for this.

4. Relationship with the forum. Trying to eliminate duplication of
documentation resources is probably the single activity which I've
spent more time on than anything else since I've participated in
Ubuntu. I've spent countless words on attempting to encourage more
efficient workflows between the forum howto section (and other
documentation websites) and the help wiki. Ideally such initiatives
would work directly on the help wiki, but unfortunately it just
doesn't happen. At the moment we have the following resource for
importing material from the forum to the help wiki, and I suspect that
this is the best we're going to be able to achieve unless someone
tells me otherwise - Better
visibility of the documentation team on the forums would probably
help, and I've requested that the documentation team mailing list be
mirrored on the forums in the past, although this has not yet come to
fruition. If Mike can help chase this up, that would be appreciated :)

5. Look and feel of the help wiki. This needs love, and I've asked
Matthew to send me the latest theme so that it can be hosted in a bzr
branch and we can encourage contribution to improve the theme of the
wiki. Upgrading the software would also be really helpful in terms of
working on good new features for users and editors, although there are
currently some technical issues with this.

Thoughts, new ideas and discussion all welcome!!


Matthew East
gnupg pub 1024D/0E6B06FF

On 05/11/2007, Alan Pope <alan at> wrote:
> Rather than reply to individual points I'll outline a discussion I just
> had with Matt East. See the attached (short) log. Points to note:-
> * is the development wiki, that is the wiki that is used
> for the development of ubuntu.
> * is the documentation wiki where community
> documentation goes
> [I note that I don't recall any of us making this distinction]
> * There is already a spec about clarifying this:-
> * There have been numerous conversations in the past about forum how-tos
> * Forum how-tos contain crack
> * how-tos also contain crack :)
> * There is already a spec about moving forum content to the wiki:-
> Cheers,
> Al.

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