Do you feel bad because of the Python docs?

Mitya Sirenef msirenef at lightbird.net
Tue Feb 26 19:58:59 CET 2013


On 02/26/2013 07:54 AM, Steven D'Aprano wrote:
> One week ago, "JoePie91" wrote  a blog post challenging the Python
 > community and the state of Python documentation, titled:
 >
 > "The Python documentation is bad, and you should feel bad".
 >
 > http://joepie91.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/the-python-documentation-is-bad-
 > and-you-should-feel-bad/
 >
 > It is valuable to contrast and compare the PHP and Python docs:
 >
 > http://php.net/manual/en/index.php
 > http://www.python.org/doc/
 >
 > There's no doubt that one of PHP's strengths, perhaps its biggest
 > strength, is the good state of documentation. But should we feel bad
 > about Python's docs? I don't think that either the Python documentation
 > or community is as bad as JoePie91 suggests. (Well, I won't speak for 
the
 > people on Freenode's #python. It took me approximately three minutes to
 > be banned from there, with no warning or explanation.)
 >
 > Another response to the blog post, by one of the core developers:
 >
 > http://blog.briancurtin.com/posts/why-i-dont-feel-so-bad.html
 >
 >
 >


I think the issue with python documentation is that it ignores the 95/5
rule: 95% of people who land on a module's page are only looking for 5%
of its information. So ideally it'd be separated in two different pages
or two sections of the same page, something like:

===============================================================================================

Hi, chances are you are the 95% of people who isn't interested in the
intricacies, obscure edge cases et cetera. Here are the few common use
cases for this module:

...

...

...

===============================================================================================

Hi, the section above obviously did not suit your needs, so you must be
in the 5% who has no choice but to either read through or at least
glance through, or use search, to find what you need in the following
umpteen million of screenfuls:

... * 1000000


===============================================================================================

Why doesn't Python do that? Quite simply, it's a lot more work: you have
to separate most useful parts from the rest, which involves judgement
calls and will cause some disagreement and ultimately won't be perfect.
Once done, two separate sections need to be mainained and kept in sync.
It's important that they don't contradict each other.

Right now places like SO and mailing list act like the first section I
described. The issue is that they're not always up to date and not
guaranteed to be correct, are not in a consistent style and depth, are
not centralized.

  -m


-- 
Lark's Tongue Guide to Python: http://lightbird.net/larks/

Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?
Friedrich Nietzsche




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