In a recently started thread at LinuxQuestions, a discussion is flourishing about what the community can do to provide Slackware users with an up-to-date set of documentation for the distro, much like a community site as slackbuilds.org provides up-to-date and high-quality SlackBuild scripts.
The Slackware documentation we currently have is generally of good quality (lots of it is part of the Slackware DVD) but it is scattered all over the internet in sites like the SlackBook , slackbasics-i18n , SlackWiki , the LinuxQuestions wiki, and several small wiki’s and blogs maintained by volunteers. Having a centralized source of documentation much like the ArchWiki would be very beneficial to Slackware and its community.
The idea would be to start implementing a series of first steps (copied from one of my posts in the LQ thread):
- the wiki must be hosted somewhere with shell access to at least the admin team and with the possibility of managing a MySQL database as well as the apache webserver
- if that hosting costs money, some sponsor would have to be found since a monthly donation model will not work (look at all the sites asking for new money in order to survive)
- a team of site admins / editors would have to be assembled. The site admins do not necessarily have to be the editors – but we will need many more site editors than site admins
- the site must have a long-term purpose. The admins/editors will decide on that. Will the site be the definitive guide to Slackware? Will it replace the Slack Book? Do you want any affiliation with Slackware developers or will it be a 100% pure community effort? Will spin-off distros be covered and/or encouraged to participate?
- A high level structure of the Wiki will have to be erected ASAP. A style guide will have to be written so that the site will have a visual identity which permeates all articles. Think of article templates and a set of example pages as a demonstration of what a good article looks like
- decide on a license for the material. ArchWiki uses the GNU Free Documentation License, while I use the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) license for my own Wiki.
A post by Woodsman (an experienced documentalist) added further concepts for keeping the participation barrier low:
Rather than use a style guide approach, consider a simple check list for editorial helpers:
- Focus on basic grammar, but let people write as they are able.
- Eliminate slang and colloquialisms that non English readers likely will not understand.
- Ensure all acronyms and jargon are explained with the first usage.
- Use a “bite-size” approach: encourage contributors to use subheadings to reduce an article into smaller sections.
- The goal of an editorial review is to help the writer, not hinder or control the writer.
Kikinovak already reserved the slackdocs.org domain while Patrick Volkerding kindly agreed to the use of docs.slackware.com if the site would want to be affiliated with the distro.
I went ahead and erected a Dokuwiki instance on my taper server – http://taper.alienbase.nl/dokuwiki/ .
That URL is now depracated. The wiki is using the new domain name (since 21 august):
It is open for anyone who registers an account there. After you register an account there (click on the “login” at the top right and follow instructions), you can get a feel of the dokuwiki syntax by creating new pages below the playground namespace, so as not to disturb the real wiki content. Just create a new page by replacing the second “playground” with a name of your own liking, such as http://taper.alienbase.nl/dokuwiki/playground:foo . The wiki will comment that the page does not exist yet and that you can click “create this page”.
A Dokuwiki site may or may not be the end product but it never hurts to start off with a bit of practicing. Note that the Wiki supports multiple languages. So, even though we would start with english articles, these could be translated and become part of the same Wiki.
I also registered the #slackdocs channel at Freenode for those who want to communicate more directly than through blog and forum postings.
Have fun! I really like feedback!