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On Mon, Dec 25, 2006 at 08:16:25AM +1100, Erik de Castro Lopo wrote:
I rely heavily upon mutt/procmail, but I consider it to be a hack. I don't want a threaded discussion, I want rapid, high-quality access to authoritative answers to technical questions, preferably in documentation where I can find it immediately without having to wait for an answer or navigate down tons of blind alleys to get it. I know how to filter a threaded discussion in order to find it, but it's still sub-optimal.
I will chime in here to suggest a "none of the above" type of answer:
Wiki along with forums + IRC.
For years I hated wikis, for the same reason I still dislike forums, which is the reason you outline above: lots of noise and random flailing about, and few, if any, useful answers. Of course a lot of mailing lists have the same problem, but I use mutt and procmail to wade through the noise.
But then I discovered by far the best Wiki I've ever seen: the wiki for OpenWRT (http://wiki.openwrt.org/)
It is well-maintained. No endless noise of "I tried that and it didn't work" or apples-to-oranges comparisons or random stabs in the dark... all that crap gets deleted or hashed out in the forums and/or IRC, and all that remains on the wiki is *the answer* to how to do what you want to do, or why it's impossible. Their wiki has some great maintainers ([:mbm:], nbd, florian, and others). The information is organized, clear, complete, and correct.
They also have an excellent forum, which I say even though I hate forums. One way they keep the S/N up on the forum is that [:mbm:] wrote a little hack to PHPBB which connected it to a bot. The bot sits in the #openwrt on OPN, and whenever a new post comes in, the "chatty cathy's" and the real developers with the deep knowledge-- both of whom sit on IRC all the time-- are alerted immediately. Blind alleys get closed off nearly immediately. Interesting topics or serious bugs get attention immediately. Thus, it has a "push" component like email, which is sorely lacking from most forums.
I find OpenWRT to be the best-documented, highest-quality FOSS project I've ever used or contributed to. It just works. I think the combination of great developers and clever use of information tools are the reasons for its success.
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