IndependentDocEfforts

There are a number of sites containing Ubuntu documentation which are maintained independently of the Ubuntu Documentation Team. This page lists some of these sites and discusses efforts to encourage the maintainers of these sites to contriibute their efforts to the Ubuntu Documentation Team.

Rationale

One of the strengths of free software is its openness, the diversity of its users, and the freedom to contribute in a variety of ways.

However, it is also valuable to have a community structure that is able to ensure that contributions are used in a co-ordinated, efficient manner. Ubuntu, a project founded on community involvement, is oriented toward this goal. This is true for documentation, as well.

A number of independent documentation initiatives exist, such as wikis, documentation-centric blogs, and forums with howto sections. Independent documentation sites are a valuable contribution to Ubuntu, but there are several inefficiencies caused by such multi-centric documentation:

  • Lack of teamwork - expertise and efficiency is lost, on both sides. Without direct participation in Ubuntu documentation by outside experts, the Ubuntu documentation team loses valuable input. Furthermore, independent documentation loses the centralized structure of Ubuntu and the standardization of the Ubuntu documentation (for better or worse).

  • Reinventing the wheel - time is consumed by different people doing the same things. This is sometimes a common problem with free software communities, in general.

  • Difficulty for users to find information - when information is located over various different websites, it is time consuming for users to find it. A single authoritative website is easier for users to consult.

  • Work not included in Ubuntu - the Ubuntu documentation team selects articles from the community wiki for incorporation into the official system documentation (which is shipped with Ubuntu as the Ubuntu Help System). Material that is found only on independent sites cannot be incorporated into the official documentation by this system.

The documentation team therefore encourages independent sites to submit their material to the Ubuntu Documentation Project.

People who run independent documentation initiatives often have various reasons why they do not wish to contribute to the official Ubuntu resources.

  • "Contributing is difficult" - no, that's not true! Contributing material to the Ubuntu wiki is really easy. All you need is a Launchpad account (which everyone who contributes to Ubuntu has) and to be able to write sentences. Hop over to the WikiGuide page for an introduction to working on the wiki. Contributing to the Ubuntu system documentation also isn't hard: our tools are easy to learn and there is plenty of help available. See system documentation for details.

  • "I don't like the way the documentation wiki is laid out" - a separate initiative isn't the way to address that complaint. We know that we can always work on the look and organisation of the documentation wiki, and we're really interested in new ideas about how to do that. Please share your ideas with us!

  • "I don't like the wiki software that is used" - The Ubuntu project has used MoinMoin for some time: it is easy to learn and we feel that it suits our purposes well. It is not too difficult to convert MediaWiki (or WordPress or Scribus) pages to MoinMoin. Please don't let this issue discourage you.

  • "My site has different goals" - the goals of the official Ubuntu documentation resources are extremely broad and we strive to incorporate all viewpoints. Please consider merging your goals with ours. Change occurs through participation.

  • "'I'm making money from my site" - that's fine. Remember, though, that Ubuntu is a free project. Consider giving back to the community by duplicating your material in the official Ubuntu documentation, as well. Even better, consider working directly on the documentation wiki and then linking to that work from your blog. If you can't do that, at least consider licensing your material under the cc-by-sa license and inform the documentation team, so that your material can then be incorporated into the official documentation wiki by other contributors who might like to see it in the official Ubuntu documentation.

There may also be criticisms of the existing Ubuntu documentation. If you have such a criticism, please consider raising it with the DocumentationTeam and helping to fix it! You'll fine the team receptive to constructive criticism.

Communication

The official Ubuntu documentation is at https://help.ubuntu.com, with a community wiki at https://help.ubuntu.com/community. Some people may not be aware of the official Ubuntu documentation website, or that they can contribute to it.

You can help in this. Below is a template email that can be used to contact independent contributors in order to invite them to join the Ubuntu team:

Hi [name],

I've just read your guide [guide name] at [URL]. You clearly have an enthusiasm about Ubuntu and a desire to help others get up and running with the best possible experience.

There is a lot of information similar to yours in the Ubuntu Documentation Website at http://help.ubuntu.com/.  This information is written and maintained through the effort of both the Ubuntu Documentation Team and a large volunteer Ubuntu community. This collective approach allows a coordinated pooling of resources, constructive feedback, and peer review.

I would encourage you to read this page, which sets out the reasons why working together, rather than separately, will benefit both us, you, the Ubuntu community and all Ubuntu users.
 
  https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DocumentationTeam/IndependentDocEfforts.

Please consider becoming a direct participant in this community and bringing your expertise to the Ubuntu Documentation project! Please visit https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DocumentationTeam/ for more information.

You can also immediately start participating by joining the Ubuntu Documentation Team mailing list at

 https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-doc

or, on IRC, in the #ubuntu-doc channel on the irc.freenode.net server.

Join the growing Ubuntu documentation team!

Best Regards,

Independent Documentation Efforts

This table is for keeping track of independent documentation efforts that exist and to set out those which have been contacted by the documentation team.

Name

Areas Documented

Status

Ubuntu Guide

All

Actively maintained. License is FDL and therefore incompatible with the official documentation. No recent discussion/contact

Kubuntu Guide

Kubuntu

Actively maintained. License is FDL and therefore incompatible with the official documentation. No recent discussion/contact

Ubuntu tutorials

All

Some discussion has taken place (Christer/Burgundavia/mdke) but prefers to stay independent for the present. All material available under cc-by-sa (permission granted to wiki/doc teams)

Ubuntu Linux Resources

All

Has been contacted but disagrees

Debian/Ubuntu Tips & Tricks

All

Actively maintained. Blog format.

Ubuntu Geek

All

Actively maintained. Blog format.

Ubuntu Manual

All

Actively maintained. Blog format.

Ubuntu Tutorials, Howtos and More

All

Inactive since 2007. Blog format.

DocumentationTeam/IndependentDocEfforts (last edited 2010-09-29 23:18:28 by jimlepp)