"Official documentation" vs. "Community docs"
Matthew Paul Thomas
mpt at myrealbox.com
Sat Jun 7 23:54:19 UTC 2008
On Jun 7, 2008, at 9:31 PM, Matthew East wrote:
> On Sat, Jun 7, 2008 at 6:40 PM, Nick Ellery <ellery.nick at gmail.com>
>> -- Installation Guide . The installation guide exists, but should
>> be moved from the bottom of the page, where it is incorrectly
>> labeled, to the Desktop Documentation category. Currently, you can
>> find this at the bottom of help.ubuntu.com, where it labels it as
>> 'Installing Ubuntu via the alternate CD'.
> I don't understand this. In what way is it incorrectly labelled? That
> guide *is* about installing Ubuntu via the alternate CD. I certainly
> don't see this guide as part of the Desktop Documentation, first
> because it's a secondary way of installing Ubuntu (the desktop CD is
> the preferred solution) and secondly because someone running an Ubuntu
> desktop doesn't need to know how to install Ubuntu, they have it
Your last point is true, almost all of the time, for someone accessing
the help from the Ubuntu menus. (The exception is when they're in a
live CD session.)
But it's true less often for someone accessing the help from the Web
site. However easy the installer is, some people will find it useful
and/or comforting to have printed out extra installation help from
help.ubuntu.com first. This help exists on the site, but it is not
obvious from the front page. Compare
<http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/>, where "Installation and getting
started" is the very first topic on the front page.
> I think what you're raising indirectly is the fact that a guide to the
> secondary way of installing Ubuntu appears on the homepage of
> help.ubuntu.com, whereas a guide to the primary way doesn't appear. A
> better way to present installation documentation would be to use this
> page from the help wiki -
> https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation - and link to the
> alternate CD guide from there.
That would make a bit more sense, but it wouldn't solve the problem of
the front page not having an obvious link to installation instructions.
I think the underlying problem here is that <https://help.ubuntu.com/>
is a silo, an exact reflection of the help shipped on the CD, while
<https://help.ubuntu.com/community> is a separate silo. This forces
readers into a choice between "Official Documentation" and "Community
Docs", when they have no idea which of these two will be more likely to
answer their question. (Neither of them seem particularly hopeful:
"Official Documentation" evokes bureaucracy, while "Community Docs"
sounds like a neighborhood medical clinic.)
It's useful to make a distinction between help that has been reviewed
for accuracy and help that has not, but I think the current way of
doing it -- by making them separate top-level sections of the Web site
-- is unhelpful to the people who want to read it. (I'd prefer a
friendly disclaimer at the top of unreviewed pages.)
How could this problem be solved? How could the topics listed on
<https://help.ubuntu.com/> become a *superset* of those that appear on
the CD, rather than an exact copy that forces all other help to be
listed on a separate page?
Matthew Paul Thomas
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