Request for comments about the Ubuntu Signpost

Dougie Richardson dougierichardson at
Fri Jul 10 17:15:59 UTC 2009

Hi Andrew,

2009/7/10 Andrew Sayers < at>:
> Speaking for myself, I think that turning this into a doc team project
> is a good idea.  Traffic on #ubuntu-signpost while I was AFK suggests
> I'm not alone.  I'm kind of surprised you're interested though, as I
> don't personally consider this documentation.

We moved to topic based help but I'd certainly admit that users don't
always seem to find the system help and the right wiki pages first
time.  Documentation does extend beyond just recording steps!

> Speaking for myself, I think of documentation as providing answers,
> whereas I see the signpost as pointing people *in the direction of*
> answers.  As such, I prefer it when the signpost sticks to lists of
> links (as with [1]), and become uncomfortable when the signpost provides
> real information (as with [2]).
> If we put answers on the signpost, then it will eventually be expected
> to have *every* answer in one place, and people will expect signpost
> maintainers to know every answer to every conceivable question.
> Something that big would be completely unsustainable.
> Having said all that, *documenters* are people that find answers, so the
> signpost requires the same basic skillset as documentation.  The
> signpost also needs to go on a publicly editable Ubuntu website, and
> only HUC fits the bill. So I'd be happy for the doc team to run it.

I think there's such crossover here that a joint effort would avoid
any duplication of effort and produce a more complete end result - as
you said above about having every answer - I think that certainly be
our goal.

Combining our efforts would or working together would be my preference.

> The plan for the signpost currently quite simple:
> Stage 1 was to get something written up that represented a complete
> proposal.  That's now finished, except for a large amount of finesse
> (e.g. I'd like to put real answers on separate pages).

As I said I like what you've done and think its an excellent resource.
 With so many Ubuntu guides and resources available its important to
streamline and optimise access to our own material, which given some
of the questions I'm seeing online doesn't appear to always be a users
first place to look.

> Stage 2 is to approach teams with it.  I'd like to approach the beginner
> team next, then approach the forums; other people might have different
> priorities.  Approaching them would mean finding any misdirected
> questions that those teams get, getting information about resources that
> are currently missing, and spreading awareness about the signpost.

Do you mean the UF Beginners Team?  Because there are several members
in the doc team.  I'd perhaps also get in touch with the learning team
as they are very forum oriented and working in a similar area.

> Stage 3 is maintenence.  People wait in #ubuntu-signpost and/or monitor
> Signpost/PageDiscussion, answer questions, and feed the answers back
> into the signpost proper.
> The critical point about stage 3 is that it's mainly reactive.  Ubuntu
> development projects (like documentation) proactively work on issues
> they expect users to have, whereas the idea here is to make changes
> mainly based on specific requests.  IMHO, the reactive approach is
> necessary to save us from the trap that FAQs fell into back in the day:
> "questions that nobody would ever ask, but we would like to answer".

Phil and I had discussed work on data mining resources like the forums
for common questions.  I don't think you can be purely reactive people
may expect answers to questions they think are too obvious to ask.


Dougie Richardson
dougierichardson at

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