why not some common sense?
Posted Nov 6, 2003 20:08 UTC (Thu) by AnswerGuy
In reply to: why not some common sense?
Parent article: Will the real Linux Gazette please stand up?
[Speaking as a Linux Gazette volunteer and team member]
We have discussed ways to provide online feedback while continuing to fundamentally be a periodical with regular, static issues. We will continue to explore ways to do that through our new site at linuxgazette.net.
One idea has been to create something more like a wiki page for each article. The idea is that the original article, as published, would be protected, and that all commentary on it would be in an editable region below the original. The problem with threads is that they grow ever longer, generally digressing and becoming less relevant --- especially after about 20 comments or three levels of nesting. The idea of the wiki would encourage people to retain only those corrections, updates and comments that are relevant.
We've also considered creating a wiki area for the development of new articles. The idea would be that a prospective author would create their wiki page (and presumably "subscribe" to it for notification of updates). They would then write a draft or outline; others (editors) could then comment on by simply editing that page. When the editorial staff *and the author(s)* reach consensus on the readiness of each article it's scheduled for inclusion in the next issue.
Thus the Linux Gazette doesn't "become" a wiki (or other CMS-driven site) but some sort of CMS becomes part of the production and feedback process.
The "wiki" pages would become part of the site in perpetuity --- so any links or updates to websites, projects, and software in the original article could be maintained by the community at large (without forcing people to wade through endless streams of comment threads). All issues would include links to the canonical home of the article so all readers could easily check for updates even years after the original article was published.
I know I make this sound all wonderfully easy, elegant, and, well, "wonderful." However, the issues are more complex than that. The basic concept doesn't mirror or scale well.
If everyone reading each issue (from a mirror, on their PDA, or from one of the Debian back-issue packages, for example) felt the need to check up on each article --- it would generate orders of magnitude more traffic back to our home site. We're not commercial and not trying to sell advertising (in fact we have no mechanism to accept financial donations). So driving too much traffic back to our home site is counter-productive.
(Realistically I suspect that about one in ten readers would feel compelled to check for updates just after reading an article --- or, conversely that the average reader would only find a few items in any given issue sufficiently relevant to their immediate needs to need any such updates. So I may be over-exaggerating this problem).
Ultimately our goal is to be an even more vital part of the LDP. We want relevant and useful information to be available to all Linux users in a format that's more interesting and just different than the formal FAQs, HOWTOs and guides.
Collectively we (the people who've done virtually all of the editorial work for the last 80 issues or so) don't feel that the drupal driven site comes even close to meeting our needs. Unfortunately, we're just volunteers (and only a small group at that) so we can make these improvements overnight.
Please understand that we still deeply appreciate the sponsorship by Phil Hughes and SSC for all these years. However, to us it has become apparent that we must move on and continue to grow. (To him we look like a bunch of long-haired upstarts that are hijacking a franchise that he believes was given to him, personally, by John Fisk; and probably that we're a bunch of Luddites impeding progress, as well).
We recognize that there are two major sides to this story and have strived to understand both. We feel that we (all of us including Phil) where entrusted with the Linux Gazette. We believe that we are trustees of this community project rather than "owners" of it. (We also, generally, don't have an inflated view of our importance --- we're just a little monthly webazine that is only a tiny part of the Linux community; and there are others like Linux Focus that are arguably just as important).
There is also another side to this story --- that of our readership. We regret the confusion and disruption that these events have caused for them.
Jim Dennis, The Linux Gazette "Answer Guy"
(BTW: I did NOT pick that apellation --- and was rather surprised and honored in an embarassed sort of way when it was first applied to me; I've considered that "title" also to be a responsibility --- a goal to strive for).
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