[Haskell-cafe] What about adding a wiki for each haskell project?

wren ng thornton wren at freegeek.org
Sun Dec 13 07:54:04 EST 2009

Ketil Malde wrote:
> wren ng thornton <wren at freegeek.org> writes:
>>> Using a wiki page for each project enables anybody to add comments.[...]
> I think this is a great idea.
>> Because of Duncan's concerns about imposing too much burden on
>> authors, and because there are many mature projects which already have
>> wikis etc, I have a counter-proposal.
> I don't this this is the same thing.  Marc's proposal would provide a
> scratch pad for random users to discuss or comment on various stuff on
> Hackage.  At least the way I see it, it is primarily *not* for use by
> the author, and in fact most useful when the author is not around to
> actively support his project.

But if it's a wiki, wouldn't people be able to add changes themselves? 
Isn't that the idea behind wikis? Sure, the authors could lock down 
their wikis, but I don't get the feeling that many would.

My interpretation of Duncan's concern ---not meaning to put words in his 
mouth--- is that adding a Hackage wiki could place undue burden on the 
authors. If authors already have a wiki, then a Hackage wiki is just an 
extra place to check for feedback which will be prone to duplication and 
being out-of-date.

I understand that y'all think giving users a place for feedback is 
different than giving authors the tools to communicate with their users, 
but I don't think they're all that different. Why not push for authors 
to have a section of their wikis devoted to users' notes? That would 
have the same effect of allowing users to speak out without fracturing 
each project's community. Institutionalizing a place for users to make 
comments separate from the authors' resources can't be a good thing. It 
sets up a community divide between users and authors. It can confuse new 
users who can't figure out which to go to for official answers. It can 
cause users to just post their fixes rather than trying to contact the 
maintainers. Etc. I can't think of any way this separation could lead to 
good for any project's community.

> E.g. my package that was used as an example, while (arguably) useful, is
> way to small for me to bother with setting up a full site with web pages
> or bug trackers, etc.

So someone else should set them up for you? I don't get it. Either you 
want ways to communicate with your users or you don't. If it's just a 
matter of not wanting to do the work *yourself*, then I'm back to my 
previous post. The community server (or similar hosts) should make it 
trivial to set things up. I think it only takes one command to set up 
Trac on community.haskell.org.

The only thing I can think might need changing is if the community 
server only allows per-project Trac instances instead of also having 
per-user instances so someone can have a single one for all their little 
projects. If they don't offer per-user instances (I haven't checked) 
then I'm all for adding them.

> Other packages are orphaned or see little
> interest from their author.

That's a separate issue isn't it? Why not have an adopt-a-package 
program where the community determines which packages are orphaned and 
sets up and maintains wikis and other resources for them until a new 
maintainer can be found? We have a long history of community-based 
maintenance for the main libraries that (used to) ship with GHC. It may 
not be the best model, but it should suffice for keeping the cobwebs off.

I don't have anything against wikis, nor against Hackage having links to 
wikis. But I don't think Hackage is the right place for hosting the 
wikis themselves. This has the distinct feel of trying to legislate 
community into existence. But community isn't something you can 
legislate. Adding things to try to force community building just leads 
to bloated web-interfaces and trivializes the communities that do exist. 
There are a number of project hosts that have gone down this route, and 
it leads to ghettoization and abandoned projects with lots of 
infrastructure around their carcasses. The more forced overhead there is 
the more people will decide not to post their small projects, and the 
more quickly they'll abandon them if they do post.

The thing I've liked most about Hackage is that it's like CPAN but 
moreso. CPAN is an excellent resource, but it has a few sticking points 
that make the barrier to entry and the cost of posting higher than they 
should be. Places like SourceForge or GoogleCode have very high barriers 
to entry, but they're going after a different audience. I think we want 
to emulate CPAN more than SF, for the sake of growing a wide collection 
of libraries.

Live well,

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