[Haskell-cafe] Frustrating experience of a wannabe contributor

Andreas Marth Andreas-Haskell at gmx.net
Wed Jul 18 12:17:38 EDT 2007

Today I had 2 hours time and thought I might contribute to the haskell
The topic I thought I might be able to give some hints is about creating
So I went to www.haskell.org which redirected me to the wiki
So I entered "DLL" into the search to find what is already there and thus
began the unpleasant experience.
There was nothing in the search result.
So I tried to find a place where it might have posted or at least fit into.
That was the next step into nowhere. There is an entry "Contributing to this
site" which leads to
http://www.haskell.org/haskellwiki/HaskellWiki:Contributing, but thats gives
zero directions where to put what or how to contribute efficiently.
There are two other categories under "Learning Haskell": "Wiki articles" and
"Blog articles". After going to "Blog articles" it was clear that it was not
the right place either. So I went to "Wiki articles"
(http://www.haskell.org/haskellwiki/Category:Haskell) which had such
interesting subcategories as "Orphaned projects" and "News". (Remember this
is under "Learning Haskell".)
At this point I dicided that I might eventually post here under "Tutorials",
but first try to find out was is already there.
With there I meant the knowledge in the mailing lists. So I went to
http://www.haskell.org/haskellwiki/Mailing_lists and there to the archives
http://www.haskell.org/pipermail/haskell/ and
http://www.haskell.org/pipermail/haskell-cafe/. Unfortunately you cant
search this. So I went back and after reading through the mailing list page
again went to http://www.mail-archive.com/haskell@haskell.org/index.html.
That is the place where you can search the archive. Unfortunately you get
the results in a totally mixed up order. When you click on the "Date" link
you get it sorted, but it is not your search that is sorted it is the whole
archive that is sorted. If you search again you get the same mixed up result
as before. So it is not possible t get your search results sorted. (I had a
quick check at "refine search" link
(http://www.mail-archive.com/faq.html#search) but that gives me only the
syntax for different filters but no sorting.)
That was the time where I decided it might be best to write this experience
down to maybe give some impulses to change.
I did a last search on the haskell wiki for "create" as I thought the would
be something that would be used in the DLL context and sure enough that
generates 133 results and 2 of them are about DLLs
(http://www.haskell.org/haskellwiki/GHC/FAQ and
http://www.haskell.org/haskellwiki/GHC/Using_the_FFI). So it is not that
there isn't anything about DLLs on the wiki it just doesn't find it.
(By the way http://www.haskell.org/haskellwiki/GHC/FAQ links to
2-dlls-foreign wich has a typo for generations but is not editable.)

If that is the experience someone gets early on in his haskell adventure he
might very well get frustrated.
So what to do?
1.) make the wiki search function return all documents containig the search
2.) create a USEFUL search function for the mailing archives
3.) consider creating a new wiki topic "Problems and solutions working with

I am especially woried about the unusable information in the mailing list
We have a great community here and lots of wonderful information was
exchanged here but it is not accesible right now!

Sorry for the long post I hope it is useful in one way or another.

PS: I am in this community for a few years already so this hassle didn't
drive me away from haskell, but I must say that similar experiences drove me
away from a few haskell projects I had interests in (wxHaskell comes to
mind). And it might also be a good idea to have a category "Fata morgana of
solved problems" or so. What would qualify? COM interaction, HDirect and
from the mailing list today: haskell_mod.
An early move of a project into that category might a) stipulate a change of
maintainer ship early enough before to much knowledge is lost and b) gives a
clear warning that things might be more difficult than all the research
papers imply (see COM integration).

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