[Vit-discuss] content refreshness or lack of [was Brainstorming]

Martin DeMello martindemello at gmail.com
Wed Feb 23 23:55:37 EST 2005

On Wed, 23 Feb 2005 05:25:30 -0800 (PST), David A. Black
<dblack at wobblini.net> wrote:
> On Wed, 23 Feb 2005, Martin DeMello wrote:
> > I'd second this - I think the primary purposes of ruby-lang should be
> > (i) A place for newcomers to get a good introduction to the language
> > and  (ii) The official site for ruby resources (sources, platform
> > binaries, documentation, tutorials, advocacy material, faqs, 'real
> > world ruby' stories, links to application repositories and the wiki,
> > etc)
> I would be cautious about the centralization (physically) of
> resources, as well as about the notion of "official" resources.
> Physical centralization doesn't make sense for many things --
> especially advocacy material, which should be as far-flung as
> possible, but also documentation and tutorials.  (I can't think of any
> reason to go to the trouble of moving the online Pickaxe, Why's
> Poignant Guide, Chris Pine's "Programming through Ruby" site, etc., to
> a single server; it would just be busy-work).

I didn't mean physical centralization, merely that ruby-lang.org
rather than (say) google should be the starting point to get at them.

> Similarly, things that are not on the ruby-lang.org server must not be
> cast in the role of second-rate or unimportant.  This is where the
> notion of "official" materials can be counter-productive.  The
> official site should point with pride and joy to the great things that
> have been done, and continue to be done, around the net on behalf of
> Ruby.  The community has already outgrown -- or simply not bothered
> with -- a strict official/non-official division, particularly along
> server lines.

Hm - perhaps the word 'official' was ill-chosen in that regard. I'm
coming at this strongly from the perspective that ruby-lang.org's
primary audience is a newcomer, and I think that an important resource
for someone setting out to learn a language is a "contained" source of
information. The illusion he needs is that here's a nice bay where he
can learn all the essentials before venturing out into the larger sea
of third party ruby pages.

For instance, when I was exploring OCaml, I far preferred the Caml
page at http://caml.inria.fr/ to the OCaml one at
http://www.ocaml.org/ - the former had a "this is everything you need
to get started" feel to it, whereas the latter, with its central
newsticker and everything off in the sidebars, said "this is the OCaml
splash screen; you'll need to go off along a bunch of winding trails
to get a good start on the language".

The interesting thing is in this case they presented roughly the same
information, but the layout of the .fr page had a better illusion of
self-containedness. Note also that it made no difference to me if the
links lead to somewhere on the same site or to a different site, I
just needed the comfort of knowing that someone had gone through all
the OCaml pages out there and selected a few recommended ones to get
me started.

I believe that if we follow this approach, there will *not* be a
partitioning of ruby sites into 'official' and 'second-rate'; rather,
there'll be a handy "ruby in a nutshell" page for beginners, and a
wider set of community resources that they'll naturally gravitate
towards once they've gotten their feet wet.


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