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Re: What is the purpose of a Docs CMS?



On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 01:12:15PM +0530, Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 12:54 PM, Karsten Wade <kwade redhat com> wrote:
> 
> > Our current system is essentially checking rendered content in to
> > source control, and an auto-builder puts it on the web.  Historically,
> > this system was never well adopted, even by people who otherwise know
> > and understand the tools.  Instead, easier to use tools have drawn the
> > attention and content, such as wikis and blogs.  The adoption rates
> > are staggering by comparison.
> 
> I am sure that I have missed this somewhere, but what are the specific
> pain points that make the source_control_toolchain_builder driven
> system not adoption ready ?

You'd have to ask each individual what kept him/her from using the
s_c_t_b driven system, aka scm2web.  That was how fedora.redhat.com
was organized for the first few years; that's the same code serving
docs.fp.org right now.  When the wiki came online, *all* of the
activity on the f.r.c pages moved there within a matter of weeks.
What had been rarely and sparsely updated by a few was quickly a ghost
town.

By contrast, the wiki has hundreds of edits every single day.  The
content growth is enormous and occasionally impressive.  I'm
supposing, based on talking with people, that the easier tools are
all the difference.

Way back when we were deciding in Fedora Docs if we were going to
embrace or fight the wiki, I went to talk with Deb Richardson (dria),
who had just completed converting content and processes for Mozilla
developers.  They had been formerly using DocBook XML in an SCM, and
converted entirely to a wiki-based content system.  She described a
ten-fold increase in participation from hard-core developers who were
perfectly capable of picking up a simple markup language in a few
hours.  They preferred instead to pick-up an even simpler markup
language in a few minutes, edit, and be done.

Ten-fold increase.  Plus new people arrived who were interested and
passionate in doing the stuff no one had done to the XML.  Organize,
edit, promote, watch every page to make sure things go OK.

So we eventually agreed to keep an eye on the wiki and maybe use it
sometimes.  Since then, the experience in Fedora has been the same.
Except at our scale, it's more like a hundred-fold increase, probably
more.

The other lesson from that experience is, embrace the tools our wider
contributors are embracing.  Don't try to tell them our specialized
tool is teh b0mb, we're a real documentation project, and that's the
way it is.  Not unless we plan on paying people as the only way to get
contributors.

There is nothing about the current scm2web auto-publish system that a
few tool changes can't fix, but we're tired and under-staffed for
supporting a one-off, NIH content system.  Rather than teach its
arcana to more people, I'd rather ditch it and move on.

That, at least, is my two-bits.

- Karsten
-- 
Karsten 'quaid' Wade, Community Gardener
http://quaid.fedorapeople.org
AD0E0C41

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