Social problems of Python doc [was Re: Python docs disappointing]

Paul Boddie paul at
Thu Aug 13 16:46:15 CEST 2009

On 13 Aug, 16:05, ru... at wrote:
> All the above not withstanding, I too think a wiki is worth
> trying.  But without doing a lot more than just "setting up
> a wiki", I sadly believe even a supported wiki
> is doomed to failure.

The ones on seem to function reasonably well. I accept that
they could be more aggressively edited, but this isn't done because
there's a compromise between letting people contribute and keeping
things moderately coherent, with the former being favoured. For other
purposes, it would be quite acceptable to favour editorial control.

I won't argue that providing infrastructure solves a problem - that's
precisely the kind of thing I was criticising when I noted that some
people will readily criticise the choice of tools to do a job instead
of focusing on the job that has to be done - and you need people who
are reasonably competent editors, but Wiki solutions remove a lot of
technical barriers. I'm not arguing for the flavour of Wiki which
implies unfettered, anonymous access from everyone on the Internet,
either: the kind of Wiki that detractors portray all Wiki solutions as
being in order to further their super-special "it has to fit like a
glove or it's totally unusable" software agenda. It's quite possible
to have people with somewhat more privileges than others in order to
keep the peace, and they don't all need to have an entrenched
editorial interest: on the current Wiki sites, most of the
administrators don't have an active interest in most of the content,
but they are able to exercise control when it's clear that some
contributors aren't particularly interested in actually improving the

As well as having an active community effort around the existing Wiki sites, there are also people who are interested in
improving these offerings. What worries me is that despite such
activity and such interest, many people will continue to lament the
lack of vitality (or whatever other metric) of the general
offering, whilst retaining a blind spot for the obvious contribution
that the Wikis can make to such improvement efforts. I encourage
people to use a lot more, should they be looking to
improve the wealth of information provided by the community.


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