Post by Counting Pounds » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:35 am

There is an awful lot of knowledge in these forums, but it is impossible to find it and no one distill it down into an authoritative "this is how to do that" set of articles that are searchable / cross referenced.

How about a wiki as part of support based on the media-wiki platform or similar ?

An OC wiki could also have a well indexed / cross referenced set of entries describing already published extensions - described by class of what they do; the quantity of extensions on this site (1000's) is testament to how good OC is, but finding the extension you want is a nightmare.


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Post by butte » Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:21 am

In formal forum software entries and content at large can be sequenced, threaded, and categorized in tiers of child and parent categories, as well as searched. In the present forum (of forums) that has been kept fairly simple in order to administer it. The free Search capability top right for the forum threads and the free Extensions search capability for the store offer direct access to all manner of posts and extensions according to your own choices of search terms. If you remember just something minor but distinctive about a forgotten post, you can usually relocate it fairly quickly. If you think carefully about terms that apply to whatever bugs you, you can usually find it even if you do not yet know much about it. Probably most people here are given more to spending time on the software than on trying to be librarians also or instead, and librarians would need to understand the software.

Fairly authoritative tutorials are generally clustered, as you'll note between their light bulbs and normal posts' circles, near the tops of forums' and subforums' categorical headings. Other tutorials, often no less authoritative but usually unlocked, appear in various places. Documentation appears top center. Some threads tend to survive even long spells of inattention before someone notices that ancient history not only lives but has present relevance, and is then augmented on the spot. Some threads go away but are still there in the past, as true as they ever were for solutions that span most versions and subversions of the software. Many threads are begun under rules not to take over threads, resulting in parallel splinters, and many are added to in order not to splinter everything, resulting in gradually multifaceted and semi-cohesive reference lumps. Wheels have been reinvented too many times to catalog; so, too have catalogs. We have a relatively dumb machine search which happens to work anyway.

The basic answer is that what you portray takes time, can be handled several ways, and requires an all-volunteer force for the raw numbers of posts, threads, authors, keywords, tags, and whatever else such as additional summaries and extracts that might be drawn into making everything fully accessible. The composite task is doable but daunting, the forum format is already established, and the alternative wiki format would not draw rest properly upon the same database. The (currently 67) thousands of us could even do both of the two formats, but we seem short on interest in setting aside the software to spend time as librarians, and certainly none of it can be authoritatively summarized or cataloged without actually understanding the posts and threads, and necessarily the software itself, in the first place. The forum database already has prominence in any consideration of other forum software, and would likely override a further change to a wiki alone. The thousands of us could even do one of the two formats, it would probably be the forum, but we are still short on interest in diverting time from the software to taking on librarian tasks. Whether anyone does even one or none fundamentally rests with one person, Daniel, who is primarily concerned with and for the software.

The existing documentation is actually substantially better than you will find for most other free and fee software, alike. The forum is certainly well populated by authors as well as problems and solutions. The forum is also well populated by threads and contributed posts which were begun without any initial search, often without titles that would help anyone to find anything, and, lo, nothing better or worse than a relatively dumb machine search will find most of the accumulated material. A relatively dumb machine search does pretty well, actually, within the few seconds to run it plus the very few hundred milliseconds for it to complete itself. To that are added the purposeful tutorials in the forums, the top center documentation, the various external free and fee documentation, even the occasional video treatments.

Formal forum software is for responsive commenting and relatively constrained exposition; formal wiki software is for exposition instead. We have a forum. Our forum works. Available exposition, some of it even with pictures, in Documentation top center, in tutorials clustered high in forum and subforum index pages, in free and fee booklets of various sorts, and even in software readme files, tends to go unread by a plain majority of our (currently 67) thousands. Whether a wiki would be helpful is obvious; yes. Whether a wiki would assimilate the great mass of forum material is obvious; no.

It does appear that nearly none among our thousands is daunted by having either a free Search button or no wiki. Any one or score of us can let there be wiki, at least an external one, or another forum, at least an external one. It does appear that very nearly any none of us has already chosen to undertake that.

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Post by Counting Pounds » Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:55 pm

The long rambling post simply servers to explain why we need a wiki.

Most posts in OC end up getting of topic, then descend into chit-chat, obscuring the original question and hiding the gems of wisdom from the 1:5 answers that were worth reading and/or excellent answers.

Finally, We have mixtures of people asking Q's that were answered elsewhere but the questioner either didn't find or could understand the output from the previous thread etc etc. So, it ends up being easier to start another thread, compounding the problem.

Where the forum fails is lack of interlinking - look at Wikipedia, it works exceptionally well because there are lots of articles and every sentence is hot-linked to another article.

Open cart is now becoming a very mature solution, and the next step in its advance will be excellent documentation - and as everyone knows, no matter how good a product is, the final quality is determined by the quality of the documentation, not the quality of code - controversial I know, but true. Sadly, history proves that a poor product with great documentation gets widespread adoption, while a great product with poor documentation ultimately succumbs to the poor product that was documented.

If the OC team loaded mediawiki (that's all) and those (many hundreds of people could) reviewed even 3 or 4 OC articles and reloaded them into the wiki the job would be done.

It would also need a few experienced people to act as "editors / reviewers" not to write articles but to review them to ensure that complete *&^% doesn't get written. Unfortunately, there is a good percentage of *&^% in the forums, and half the job is sifting through *&^% to find gems.


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Post by butte » Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:54 am

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