Do you feel bad because of the Python docs?

notbob notbob at
Tue Feb 26 17:19:22 CET 2013

On 2013-02-26, Steven D'Aprano <steve+comp.lang.python at> wrote:

> "The Python documentation is bad, and you should feel bad".

Ahh!  A point at which I can interject.

As a rank green python noob, I definitely hava an opinion on python
documentation and it's not entirely flattering.  OTOH, it's hard to
toss any other single linux based documentation up as a sterling
example.  IOW, I've seen worse.  How am I learning about python?

Several sources.  The "Non-Programmer's Tutorial" docs from wikibooks
was a false start.  It goes for about 2 pages before I realized
they've snuck in some python syntax without explaining it.  So, I jump
over to "The Python Tutorial", which immediately leaves me submerged,
as it's waaay over my clueless head.  I flounder around and
desperately grab onto "Basic Python" over at  Finally, I'm

Whoda thunk it?  I usta despise  But, they've matured
greatly since their early days.  I'm not a programmer.  In fact I
really dislike programming.  But, as a long time linux user, I really
need to learn a useful higher language.  And here is this website that
takes me by the hand and speaks to me like what I am.  Dumb as a post
and disinterested.  But, they are patient.  They explain basic
programming concepts before launching into specifics.  When they do
get specific, they use simple examples that make sense.  The don't
toss in syntax they haven't fully explained.  Great site and the one
I'm now using to progress.  I'm sure the other sites I've named will
become helpful, eventually, but now I can move forward with

Are python doc sites perfect?  No.  I've yet to come upon anything
that clarifies why's and wherefores and the differences between the CMI
IDLE and the GUI IDLE.  And boy, are they different!  OTOH, as I said,
I've seen worse Linux docs.  BitchX or zsh?  What docs!?  Even the man
pages took me a long time to figure out.  Bluefish?  Krita?
Puh-leeze!  emacs?  It's a wonder I can use it at all.  ;)

Despite all that, I'd say python documentation is better than a poke
in the eye with a sharp stick.  I'm sure the official pages will make
more sense to me when I understand more.  As it is, they jes toss out
"lc-letter" like I know what they're talking about.  They explain it a
little bit, but I still hadda wiki it to get the full story.

As a person with some technical writing experience, I know how
difficult it can be.  I had to be careful about who I was writing for,
engineers or laymen.  It's the same with programming docs.  Writing
tutorials about python as if I jes came from 5 yrs as a C programmer
is not in the least bit helpful to a beginner like myself.  Sometimes,
one jes hasta hunt for the right flavor.  


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