Codex…So given that I did write a lot on Codex, why don’t I now ? The reasons are not as simple you probably think. Not that they are complex either.
At one time I did write a lot of basic stuff to do with WP. Those guides are no less valid today than when they were written – let’s not forget that people very new to blogging and web-code download WP daily – and Codex features my work in some state or another (more on that later). Anyway, I had written quite a few bits and pieces and I had transferred my work to Codex. I did this at a time when there were only a few of us doing this (Craig / Carthik ?) and we wrote up what worked on the forums – quite simply if it was passing the “Forum Test” then that was good enough for us. So we chugged away …. I proposed a “Wiki Day” where people would chip in to the development of Codex and I have to say that thanks to the huge contributions made by many others, it proved to be a great success and it’s momentum probably continues to this day thanks to the tireless contributions made by Lorelle, MDAWaffe, Kaf and others. Unfortunately for me, just prior to Wiki Day, I got ill and it took a long time for me to come out the other side of that period. As I did, two things happened;
– the first event (as some of you will have guessed) was the words and proposed actions of another person followed by what I saw as hurtful words in the forums. Even today this event is alluded to by others yet the harm that those same people (not the person who started it) did has not been addressed by them. Meh – it’ll never happen. Either way that event severely knocked my desire to help. Ever get thrown out of a loop that you were once really into ? It’s hard to get back.
– the second event was that all of a sudden the “Forum Test” just was not good enough for Codex help. There were discussions about the order of words in headings, how to write things that were ‘usable’ and coming from a background where I spoke in a language that people understood I found this prevarication a waste of time. Maybe there are books about usability and how people read and comprehend, but given that this research is – in the context of education – very young, and that the people who wrote it got to where they did by using ‘old fashioned’ methods then why all the fuss ? (I am very anti-guru / anti-new in many ways such as this. I see much of it as building castles in the sky and convincing people to not only see them but rent them out too). This sounds like I am knocking those people that feel such topics are important to codex and WP – I am not. I am knocking the principle of the thing. I’m not a writer of docs. I’m a trained nurse, I taught by doing not telling, I talked in a way that was understood and not politically correct or otherwise altered and if anyone fell into writing docs it was me. Bear in mind that at that time, users were not complaining about the wiki and that like with any project you give a lot to, when others start criticising it the ability to stand back and see things objectively can be lost. That’s probably explained badly but I hope the gist of it all comes across. It was fun for the novice that I am, but given the markets that WP now faces – and wants to yet face ? – better people are now around.
So, I came back to the world of WP where at that time I did not feel like I wanted to contribute and knowing that even if I did my work would be changed – as it had already been. Hmm… hardly great eh ? So I stopped. Pretty simple really.
I DO understand the principles of a wiki and in so many ways I applaud them, but seeing that someone has logged into a page you created and then punctuated it in a way that actually alters the emphasis – because I wrote it in English and they have decided to punctuate in American – can get pretty annoying when you see it happening repeatedly. Maybe I’m sensitive .. but then I recently posted here about the future of WP only for Matt to point out that the item I had highlighted was not added by a Developer. Such is the way of the wiki… bah.
Codex itself: the documentation would not be in the excellent state it is unless Matt had made the decision to use mediawiki – it’s a powerful beast – and with the way WP expanded only a wiki would have done (and will do). It’s something I feel comfortable using (though I now use dokuwiki on my machine) both as a contributor and a reader. I do not think the same holds true though for new users. This is NOT a docs issue – it’s about everything around them. Codex can be quite cluttered in it’s display which can make reading information distracting. Additionally the structure is totally unlike the websites users may be used to, and I also think that colour is something that is missing. I really do think that we would be doing new users a huge favour by replicating more of the basic information and making some static pages (I’ve heard WordPress can do this ;) ) for those errors that repeatedly crop up – after all, will the cause for “Headers already sent” ever change ? Not my decision but I don’t think the effort would be wasted – the confused and puzzled need clear pointers and familiarity. When they are ready to jump in more fully, Codex can have them.
In the end though, I don’t want to get pissed off because someone is hacking my work to bits to make it more ‘usable’. I would rather hang around the forums and talk in whatever language works there – no, that’s not a dig, it’s just the way it is. You can tell a lot from a URL and a choice of username….. and if I ever do distill a flawless guide to databases, I’ll write it. And now you know why Codex isn’t where I am, but I really do admire the tremendous work that others have put into it. I was in the right place at the right time to create the docs that were needed just then. Time moved and I can now point to the foundations of Codex and say “I did some of that” – and that’s no bad thing is it ?
[Apologies if I did not mention your name – no malice intended and if I did mention your name I hope you don’t mind !]