[unrev-II] Proposal for possible DKR application

From: Spine Head (uglyspinehead@hotmail.com)
Date: Sun Feb 06 2000 - 15:45:05 PST

From: "Spine Head" <uglyspinehead@hotmail.com>

[Due to the un-downloadable nature of the colloquium I have only had the
chance to experience the first two sessions. Please forgive me if I repeat
someone else's ideas]

I have been looking over the colloquium, onelist, and various comments on
slashdot and I have been thinking about an appropriate first project for a
DKR. Various criteria cited for a DKR included a small scale, being based on
existing technology, and being based on something that is already on the
internet with an existing, knowledgeable, audience.

To this end I propose a Linux DKR. It would incorporate textbook, how-to,
manual-pages, FAQs, and bug tracking/reporting into one interface. There is
a demonstrable need for a unified source of documentation that is expandable
and up-to-date. The inclusion of bug databases (including reports,
solutions, and work-arounds) and FAQs crosslinked within the system would
save invaluable time. Having the ability to reside locally, with scheduled
or on-demand updates, and on-line access portal would make the Linux OS more
approachable, maintainable and attractive to home users, corporations and

One of the biggest complaints of new users is that they "never knew you
could do that". The inclusion of a dynamic textbook-like reference (with
diagrams, pictures and screenshots as needed) to step users through the
features of their particular distribution of Linux (and supporting
apps)would increase user self-education ability, but yet be timely and
expandable via updates.

Each entry would have the ability to be annotated by the user and these (if
the user thought they might be useful to others) would be sent for public
review. Using an as-yet-to-be-decided rating system these annotations (which
could be clarifications, tips for greater productivity, or just humorous
comments) would join with the main distribution of that entry. After a
pre-determined threshold an entry would be rewritten to include the
submitted annotations. Authorship (and therefore responsibility for a
comment) would be maintained.

As far as distribution and locality is concerned a decentralized approach
would work best with the ownership of each command's help pages belonging to
the maintainer of that function, a proxy, or a person elected by all the
authors of said function. For more complicated and multi-layered parts of
the OS the responsibilities would be split accordingly. A central server
with mirrors (or several servers mirroring each other) would combine user
submissions and send them to be peer-reviewed while they combine the help
pages from all the appropriate sources based on the users configuration.
Pre-set configurations could exist for recent versions of popular Linux

Using a combination of search tools and types (Boolean, natural language,
and others) users would be able to find the appropriate FAQ, man page or
entry for most any difficulty, bug or problem. If there is no resource
available, and there is no listing in the included to-be-fixed bug database,
then the user could send a request for assistance/bug report. General
requests would be sent for peer-reviewed look at the problem. All requests
that are specific to a certain function or program would be first sent to
the appropriate maintainer's list, then, if no solution is available, added
to the to-be-fixed/bug database that goes out to all users when they update
their local copy.

These features will speed up bug-reporting time, make it easier, faster, and
increase productivity (whether that is work or play). However this proposal
is far from complete: there is the question of which technologies to build
upon, which way you should implement something (like the peer-review
portion) and who would be in charge. Knowing this I submit this document for
analysis. I think it has incredible potential, if it is done correctly.
There is great need for this tool and I am sure there are many people in the
community willing to donate the time, effort, and the tools to make this
work. I eagerly await your comments and thoughts.

Michael Crusoe
(602) 438-8088 ext. 0335
Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com

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