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Thread: consolidated help

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rockyford Alberta Canada

    Lightbulb consolidated help

    Is there, or is there a way to transfer hardware/software specific resolutions to a single category that people can go directly to for help. If all the details are kept together, they can more easily be incorporated into help documents.

  2. #2

    Default Re: consolidated help

    The sadly neglected wiki would be the way to do that, I suppose. Go for it...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rockyford Alberta Canada

    Unhappy Re: consolidated help

    Took a look at the wiki and frankly don't see how it can be used for the suggested purpose or for users. But then it's been a long time since I did technical writing. Some years ago I recall that in any system it should be evidently clear to anyone at a glance visiting the overall purpose. I'm sorry but the wiki doesn't strike me that way.

  4. #4

    Default Re: consolidated help

    Well, there's the Hardware Compatibility List.

    Hardware - openSUSE

    I imagine there are also specific pages for given bits of userspace software - and where there aren't, perhaps there should be, at least for things in the repositories that have enough quirks to need independently documenting.

    How you would cross reference them I don't know. I guess that's the sort of thing that grows organically.

    But I've never seen a forum that has managed to accumulate information of the form you suggest and keep it ordered (unless you count narrowly focused ones, like for a video card manufacturer or something). Normally, in my experience, they end up putting stuff like that in a wiki, if it ends up anywhere - although of course anyone's also welcome to write their own HowTos, on any subject within reason, as well.

    If you have examples to show what you mean, I'd be interested to see them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Rockyford Alberta Canada

    Thumbs up Re: consolidated help

    on forum pages:
    a link post to wiki

    on wiki post page:
    global user password = *********
    droplist of posting groups ie hardware, software, application ...
    droplist of posting groups in category ie video cards, Nics ...
    edit list has list of posts from the forum with tick marks of items to include
    Title has topic from forum
    edit box fills with series of selected posts so useable parts can be screened
    post button to copy title/post into wiki group/category

    Now for users:
    a visit to wiki presents them with ability to select the group and category then select an item matching their issue and
    brings them a solution from real forum response.

    At least that's how I did it html manuals some 14 years ago when the internet was new and I was building a library of fixes from emails.

    Gad this makes me feel old...

  6. #6

    Default Re: consolidated help

    That sounds like a good idea (with the caveat that unless controlled in some way I think there's a risk it would be overused, and the wiki would end up a dumping ground), but sadly, I think the march of standardisation may have killed it.

    Why we won't implement your suggestion - openSUSE Forums

    Judging by that post, anything that requires software hacks is unlikely to be implemented.

    I think you are onto a point though - wikis tend to be filled in when they're made easy to fill in. Get the infrastructure and the category pages right, and people will use them more - and that becomes self reinforcing.

    Perhaps a redesign of the 'top level' pages of the wiki is in order?

    I think the HCL one is done correctly, as are pages like KDE. But the actual front page doesn't work for me... It doesn't feel like a wiki, and it doesn't seem to link to the things it should do - perhaps sometimes because they just don't exist.

    Half the stuff on there is redundant, because it's linked from the link box on the left anyway.

    Shouldn't the body of the main page have links to things people are going to go to a wiki for? Portals for software? Hardware? Common configuration and troubleshooting tips?

  7. #7
    platinum NNTP User

    Default Re: consolidated help

    how would that improve on searching the full forum and archives..

    with a good search engine, the solution can be found when multiple
    problems are in one posting, and even if asked and answered in the
    *wrong* forum (groups or categories)..

    try it yourself: lets say someone comes here with an apparent printing
    problem he thinks is linked to an not logical IPv6 quirk unique to
    openSUSE, but he posts to neither networking nor hardware..

    how would you find that in your system? in the existing system google
    does a good job, using this search string: logical ipv6 printing

    which returns as the first hit:

    how could anyone click through posting groups (ie hardware, software,
    application) and then categories (video cards, network cards, printers
    etc) and get to a solution solving the illogic of the printing system..



  8. #8

    Default Re: consolidated help

    I guess the point is that the forum gets polluted too easily, and it's hard to strike a balance between being... Well, being Debian I suppose (nothing against Debian - it's a great distro, but some of them could work on their people skills), and being Ubuntu (nothing against Ubuntu either really - I just don't like their forums, because it's impossible to find anything, because of their utter failure to get a handle on moderation).

    You need a forum, because newbies often understandably simply don't know what they're searching for. But anything that facilitates grouping together and then finding good solutions, and cutting out all the filler, can only help.

    I know it's an over cited example, but the Arch wiki is *really* good in terms of just being able to find walkthroughs of most configuration issues. I heard the Gentoo one was even better, but they accidentally lost it - bad luck, but cripes... do a backup?

  9. #9
    platinum NNTP User

    Default Re: consolidated help

    > You need a forum, because newbies often understandably simply don't
    > know what they're searching for. But anything that facilitates grouping
    > together and then finding good solutions, and cutting out all the
    > filler, can only help.

    i understand your point, except no matter how you organize and group
    stuff it is still not gonna help the new guy who doesn't know what he
    is looking for...i mean, i've seen new folks come here think they have
    a monitor problem because the screen is black...if they go to the wiki
    and click: Hardware > Monitor they will never find that their
    problem/solution is not hardware related and is listed in Software >
    Graphics > Driver > Proprietary > ATI

    but, using black screen
    in google will get them to a solution pretty quick..

    well, if you gonna have a grouping like:
    Hardware > Monitor > Black Screen
    i guess it would work, but then will you have there duplicates of of
    all the solutions in Software > Graphics > etc ??


  10. #10

    Default Re: consolidated help

    In an ideal world, I suppose you would - you'd have a "flow diagram" like series of links (or make the wiki into a finite state machine - depends how much you're prepared to let me get away with mutilating metaphors )

    But obviously this is all maintenance overhead.

    You don't have to go overboard though. I just think if you take the HCL as a sort of prototype. It's a list, with ticks and crosses, and anything that requires further elaboration has a little text box, or links to a forum thread.

    You could perhaps expand on that slightly (as in have slightly more content in the list itself, or subpages).

    I don't know - I'm just batting ideas round. But it seems obvious to me that the *desire* for the wiki to work more is there. I can't help but feel that maybe if, instead of patching it up little by little (not to denigrate those doing that - it always needs to be done), we started a bit more from the top, and hopefully made it easier for the masses to fill in the details...

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