[Consortium] Re: [linux-audio-user] Re: move LAU to a forum?

Ken Restivo ken at restivo.org
Tue Dec 26 17:19:15 EST 2006

Hash: SHA1

On Mon, Dec 25, 2006 at 08:16:25AM +1100, Erik de Castro Lopo wrote:
> Ivica Ico Bukvic wrote:
> > A quick look at some of the successful forum/mailing list projects, for
> > instance Ubuntu, reveals that not only they have both, but also both methods
> > of communication are teeming with activity.
> Teeming with activity but close to zero signal amongst the noise.
> I keep on searching google for solutions to Ubuntu based problems.
> All of the top hits on google point to UbuntuForums and when I
> go there there is almost never an answer. The UbuntuForums are
> absolutely chock full of "Me too" or people saying "that didn't
> work for me".
> > FWIW, as far as the "speed" of forums is concerned, it largely depends on
> > what you use in combination on what kind of hardware you run. I've seen some
> > that are quite fast despite the often dubious eye-candy.
> Connecting to some web server on the other side of the planet 
> will always be slower than accessing mail that has been delivered
> to me and is sitting on my hard drive.

I rely heavily upon mutt/procmail, but I consider it to be a hack. I don't want a threaded discussion, I want rapid, high-quality access to authoritative answers to technical questions, preferably in documentation where I can find it immediately without having to wait for an answer or navigate down tons of blind alleys to get it. I know how to filter a threaded discussion in order to find it, but it's still sub-optimal.

I will chime in here to suggest a "none of the above" type of answer:

Wiki along with forums + IRC.

For years I hated wikis, for the same reason I still dislike forums, which is the reason you outline above: lots of noise and random flailing about, and few, if any, useful answers. Of course a lot of mailing lists have the same problem, but I use mutt and procmail to wade through the noise. 

But then I discovered by far the best Wiki I've ever seen: the wiki for OpenWRT (http://wiki.openwrt.org/)

It is well-maintained. No endless noise of "I tried that and it didn't work" or apples-to-oranges comparisons or random stabs in the dark... all that crap gets deleted or hashed out in the forums and/or IRC, and all that remains on the wiki is *the answer* to how to do what you want to do, or why it's impossible. Their wiki has some great maintainers ([:mbm:], nbd, florian, and others). The information is organized, clear, complete, and correct.

They also have an excellent forum, which I say even though I hate forums. One way they keep the S/N up on the forum is that [:mbm:] wrote a little hack to PHPBB which connected it to a bot. The bot sits in the #openwrt on OPN, and whenever a new post comes in, the "chatty cathy's" and the real developers with the deep knowledge-- both of whom sit on IRC all the time-- are alerted immediately. Blind alleys get closed off nearly immediately. Interesting topics or serious bugs get attention immediately. Thus, it has a "push" component like email, which is sorely lacking from most forums.

I find OpenWRT to be the best-documented, highest-quality FOSS project I've ever used or contributed to. It just works.  I think the combination of great developers and clever use of information tools are the reasons for its success.

- -ken
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