Fragmented Documentation and Greater efficiency for free Ubuntu support

August 3, 2006 at 10:27 am (GNU/Linux, Ubuntu)

I’v found this post on Matthew East’s Blog:
“Ubuntu has developed an enormous base of free community support. Key players are the Ubuntu forums, the support mailing lists, and the live chat provided on IRC (see a list of the various free support options on the Ubuntu website). Each of these players has evolved excellent governance processes and is working well.

Having said that, I’d like to outline an idea for bringing these communities together, and ensuring that they are able to maximise the accuracy and authority of the support that they give. My key message is collaboration on a single source of information.”

read more

My Opinion 

I do agree with Matthew East when he says that we need collaboration. I have one doubt though: does “collaboration” necessarily mean eliminating differences (and different points of view)?

For example collaboration between Debian and Ubuntu does not imply merging the two distros into one.

And again why not merging KDE, GNOME and XFCE into one DE and concentrate the efforts?

The answer is the so-called freedom of choice, which involves different needs (and tastes) to suit, different ideas on how documentation should be organised, on which guides should make it into the documentation, and so on.

I know that Matthew East wrote his post with the intention of improving Ubuntu’s documentation (and I truly appreciate his effort) but I feel that freedom of choice (not only in documentation) can bring new life to Ubuntu (as it does to any other distro). That’s why I like GNU/Linux distros.

Of course “collaboration” is still possible. The UDSF and the Official Wiki have different standards. Some of the guides of the UDSF can suit the standards of the official documentation. Therefore I think that a solution can be that of creating an (official) team which deals with porting those guides to the official wiki.

Just my 2 cents



  1. Matthew East said,

    Hi Alberto and thanks for this reply!

    I assure you that I am not against freedom of choice, I am a big fan of it, and I wouldn’t suggest merging Gnome and KDE (although of course I support initiatives which increase interoperability between them by allowing them to share the same base platform, such as Gnome and KDE provide inherently different user experiences.

    However when we’re talking about “help”, different considerations arise. Number one is to ensure that help is as easy for the user to find as possible. If the user has to search 3 or 4 websites in order to find the right information, it will take them 3 or 4 times as long to find the answer. And generally, all they want is an easy to find and authoritative answer, they don’t care that the people who run the various documentation websites have different ideas about how to organise the answers.

    Different “choices” as to how to organise documentation can (and should) be accomodated well within a single structure. For example, some users prefer to rely on a search function to find information, some users like a complete index of pages, some users like to see topic orientated tables of contents. The way to answer these different requirements is to ensure that all of these choices are well represented within the single documentation website. So, the search should be as efficient as possible, it should be easy to find a topic orientated table of contents, and it should be easy to find an index of pages. These are all challenges that every documentation resource has to take on.

    Lastly, I agree with your comment that a team which pushes documentation from the forum or UDSF to the help wiki would be productive. Check out

    — Matt

  2. albertomilone said,

    Thanks for the link. We can talk there.


  3. Fragmented Documentation and Greater efficiency for free Ubuntu support » Matthew East said,

    […] EDIT: I got a response to this article from Alberto Milone. Read it here, along with my reply to him! […]

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