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From "Keith N. McKenna" <>
Subject Re: Is it time to shut down this effort?
Date Sun, 24 Jul 2016 01:23:49 GMT
Dennis E. Hamilton wrote:
> [BCC dev@ (really, this time)]
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Keith N. McKenna []
>> Sent: Saturday, July 23, 2016 10:28
>> To:
>> Subject: Re: Is it time to shut down this effort?
>> Dennis E. Hamilton wrote:
>>> [BCC dev@]
>>> Please be specific about what you mean by "this effort."
>>> The current documentation approach is to develop materials on the
>> MediaWiki.  This wiki is typical in that it operates like an open-source
>> project with commit then review (although there is a nice "Discuss"
>> feature).
>>> If you mean the particular approach to reviewing and approving pages
>> and having a kind of editor-in-chief, please say so.
>>>  - Dennis
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: Keith N. McKenna []
>>>> Sent: Friday, July 22, 2016 20:36
>>>> To:
>>>> Subject: Is it time to shut down this effort?
>>>> My answer to the question posed in the tittle of this e-mail
>>>> unfortunately is yes. We have been moving by fits and starts for
>> almost
>>>> 4 years and have very little to show for it. I would like to hear the
>>>> opinions of others though.
>>>> Keith
>> Dennis;
>> This mailing list came into existence to coordinate the development of
>> documentation for Version 4 under the Apache License. There never was
>> and was never intended to be an editor-in-chief. For a lot of reasons
>> this particular effort has produced a very limited amount of usable
>> documentation.
>> My personal feeling is that it should be recognized that it is not doing
>> what it was intended to and either retired or reconstituted in a
>> different form.
>> I think that my personal position is pretty obvious from my original
>> message and I wanted to solicit comment from other participants.
> [orcmid] 
> I am still unclear on what it means to "shut down this effort."  
> Close the doc@ list?
> What action do you have in mind that would result in a shut down?
> Also, perhaps a broader request for assistance in documentation is called for.  This
might go with the adjustments just made to the download page.  And there are lists (and the
Community Forum) where power users might be encouraged to contribute to documentation on the
> The nice thing about the documentation is that there is always room for additions and
improvements. Whatever there is at the moment is what there is.  Positive effort is not wasted.
>> Regards
>> Keith
I specifically did not bring this to the dev list because I wanted to
illicit responses from the members of the documentation list as to their
thoughts before I came to the dev list with a concrete proposal. Since
you insist on bringing it here I will bow to your insistence and express
my thoughts her.

It is very simple. The documentation list serves no purpose and should
be closed down. We have tried numerous times to generate more interest
in gaining volunteers to help with documentation to no avail. Your board
reports have succinctly stated that the "documentation effort" is
stalled. Trying to get more people is doomed to failure unless we can
attract experienced tech writers that are willing to take the time to
mentor new volunteers and to overhaul the wiki editing policy and the
style guide to reflect current conditions and practices in the
discipline. This has not happened and I do not see it happening in the

It is time that we realize that writing documentation is a unique skill
set and requires as much coaching and mentoring of new volunteers as
does writing code. We need up to date policies and procedures on how to
edit the wiki pages and we desperately need a coherent style guide on
what documentation looks like. To the best of my knowledge we do not
have anyone with the requisite skills actively engaged in the project
that can provide those.


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