Gentoo Wiki is growing


Sven Vermeulen Sat 03 January 2015

Perhaps it is because of the winter holidays, but the last weeks I've noticed a lot of updates and edits on the Gentoo wiki.

The move to the Tyrian layout, whose purpose is to eventually become the unified layout for all Gentoo resources, happened first. Then, three common templates (Code, File and Kernel) where deprecated in favor of their "*Box" counterparts (CodeBox, FileBox and KernelBox). These provide better parameter support (which should make future updates on the templates easier to implement) as well as syntax highlighting.

But the wiki also saw a number of contributions being added. I added a short article on Efibootmgr as the Gentoo handbook now also uses it for its EFI related instructions, but other users added quite a few additional articles as well. As they come along, articles are being marked by editors for translation. For me, that's a trigger.

Whenever a wiki article is marked for translations, it shows up on the PageTranslation list. When I have time, I pick one of these articles and try to update it to move to a common style (the Guidelines page is the "official" one, and I have a Styleguide in which I elaborate a bit more on the use). Having a common style gives a better look and feel to the articles (as they are then more alike), gives a common documentation development approach (so everyone can join in and update documentation in a similar layout/structure) and - most importantly - reduces the number of edits that do little more than switch from one formatting to another.

When an article has been edited, I mark it for translation, and then the real workhorse on the wiki starts. We have several active translators on the Gentoo wiki, who we cannot thank hard enough for their work (I used to start at Gentoo as a translator, I have some feeling about their work). They make the Gentoo documentation reachable for a broader audience. Thanks to the use of the translation extension (kindly offered by the Gentoo wiki admins, who have been working quite hard the last few weeks on improving the wiki infrastructure) translations are easier to handle and follow through.

The advantage of a translation-marked article is that any change on the article also shows up on the list again, allowing me to look at the change and perform edits when necessary. For the end user, this is behind the scenes - an update on an article shows up immediately, which is fine. But for me (and perhaps other editors as well) this gives a nice overview of changes to articles (watchlists can only go so far) and also shows the changes in a simple yet efficient manner. Thanks to this approach, we can more actively follow up on edits and improve where necessary.

Now, editing is not always just a few minutes of work. Consider the GRUB2 article on the wiki. It was marked for translation, but had some issues with its style. It was very verbose (which is not a bad thing, but suggests to split information towards multiple articles) and quite a few open discussions on its Discussions page. I started editing the article around 13.12h local time, and ended at 19.40h. Unlike with offline documentation, the entire process of the editing can be followed through the page' history). And although I'm still not 100% satisfied with the result, it is imo easier to follow through and read.

However, don't get me wrong - I do not feel that the article was wrong in any way. Although I would appreciate articles that immediately follow a style, I rather see more contributions (which we can then edit towards the new style) than that we would start penalizing contributors that don't use the style. That would work contra-productive, because it is far easier to update the style of an article than to write articles. We should try and get more contributors to document aspects of their Gentoo journey.

So, please keep them coming. If you find a lack of (good) information for something, start jotting down what you know in an article. We'll gladly help you out with editing and improving the article then, but the content is something you are probably best to write down.