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Mike Medved

Wiki question for users

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A show of hands please...

 

How many of you guys are familiar with Wiki editing process? We're thinking of dispensing with the traditional help files for MT and going with a community-driven Wiki.

 

But that begs the question - what percentage of our users will be ( a ) familiar/knowledgeable enough with Wiki markups etc. and ( b ) will participate/contribute to the Wiki?

 

So I would like to gauge this. Please respond. Thanks.

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It is not my preferred thing (at least when working on software development), because each user has their own style and way of doing things, which tends to make wiki sections inconsistent and (often) unclear.  There are some open-source software (especially C++ libraries) that I visit, and after reading the "introduction" or "about us" page, I still can't figure out what the software is, much less its purpose, scope or audience.

 

It varies, of course.  If a team of technical writers use a wiki, there is some de-facto consistency produced.

 

I'm flexible, and willing to revisit things.

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I used to subscribe to a system where the guy used a Wiki, but it seemed like he was the only one editing it. I have participated in Wikipedia editing in the past and am open to it if that's what you decide to go with.

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I have to agree with Lew: Wiki documentation tends to lack overall consistency and clarity unless it is edited and maintained by the authors themselves. IMHO here is an example of what NOT to do, as it is a real mess: http://www.multicharts.com/trading-software/index.php/Main_Page

 

Beside that I would not be of any great help for contributing to it... mostly due to lack of time.

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I realize we're living in a "new era" where things are done differently, and I like to believe I'm fair and thorough in my investigation of new trends, but that alone doesn't mean they do a better job than the original tool they replace.

 

Take documentation, for example; well-produced documentation was written by technical writers who had experience in the field they were writing for.  In the software sphere, that meant they had formal schooling in User Interfaces, User Experience, communications (formal schooling in), and human psychology.  The fruits of their labor (i.e., their end product - the documentation) focused on and approached it from the end-user experience.  Hence, we were able to assimilate and relate to maximizing our use of the software.

 

Nowadays, "evolving" documents such as wikis tend to be written from a hardware or software perspective - their focus is all about the system and its features, with little regard for audience.  In fact, I find it particularly frustrating that many wikis are little more than a reiteration of high-level features for those who wrote the system!  They are devoid of any notion of who their main audience is - and thus tend to lack ground-level explanations (or at least summaries) that are people-driven.  On an unrelated note, I feel this is why most colleges require Communications 101 as a prerequisite to anything - because common sense seems to be at a premium nowadays.

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The reason why I wanted to do the help as Wiki is that this allows easy collaboration of several people in editing the help.

 

Making a help file is a major undertaking. QT's help file tool several years and a LOT of effort.

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I don't use wiki editing either, but realize help documentation takes a horrendous amount of time to produce (I was in IT for 29 years).

 

Perhaps video documentation would help cut down on the amount of documentation needed, like Trade-Ideas does.  They have a bunch of short video links where they quickly walk users through the usage of a feature.  Or, you could do some longer video tutorials in order to cut down on the written documentation needed.  Their forum section also has a Youtube section with a lot of information.

 

I'm certainly flexible regarding help documentation.

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Perhaps the "help file" could just be a community driven blog page right here on the MT website. Set up the blog so any member can access it. Then set a "fixed" document page that is dateless, so to speak, where entries (and sub-entries) are manually entered in alphabetical order. Anyone can add or modify or qualify existing statements. Separate pages could be set up for foreign language versions so that someone proficient in French, for instance, could, as he (or she) had time, translate the English version into French. The same could be done for German, Russian, Chinese, etc. When anyone modifies or adds, they make note of it on a dated blog page so that everyone can be advised and keep abreast of the changes. 

 

Just a thought. 

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