"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> 
> wrote:
> ...
>> -- Installation Guide [2].  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
> already.

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

---AV & Spam Filtering by M+Guardian - Risk Free Email (TM)---

More information about the ubuntu-doc mailing list