Hi --

On Fri, 21 Jan 2005, Ben Giddings wrote:

> David A. Black wrote:
>> I wouldn't want to think that a Ruby site I created would necessarily
>> be considered untrustworthy because it didn't have a particular
>> navigation bar.  Maybe those sites that want to join together can do
>> so, but embrace an open-ended model when it comes to growth and
>> initiative and trust :-)
>
> Ok, maybe not "trustworthiness", but maybe "officialishness", or 
> "officialocity" or some other similar word that my english teacher would 
> faint if she heard me using?
>
> I'll tell you where I'm coming from.  Say I'm new to the language and want 
> some documentation on something in the standard library, say "webrick". 
> Although it's part of the standard library, when I search around on the 
> official ruby site, I can't find out anything about it, so I go to Google and 
> search for it, and find a site...  only that site doesn't seem to be a very 
> official Ruby site...
>
> I can maybe trust the documentation there, but how do I know that I'm not 
> going to be bombarded by popups on that site, or that the site isn't some 
> historical thing from before webrick became part of the official 
> distribution, or what?
>
> (of course, I'm not picking on webrick now, I'm just trying to show the 
> problem with random, open, enthusiast-driven sites).
>
> I think it would really help if, when something is adopted into the standard 
> library, there were an effort made to adopt the website and documentation as 
> well, so that it was clear to everybody that this is no longer just some ruby 
> hacker's pet project, but an official part of Ruby.
>
> The same basic concept applies to ruby-doc.org.  Is this just some fan's 
> attempt to document Ruby, which may be incomplete or out of date, or is this 
> the actively maintained Ruby documentation?
>
> See my concerns?

Yes, but I see them differently :-)

When it comes to the miscellaneous fan/hacker/enthusiast sites, the
Ruby community at large has no control over their existence.  (This is
the Web, after all.)  So rather than worry about the problems they
create, I'd like to see energy go into thinking of ways for the
community to encourage and support the efforts of people who want to
create their own Ruby sites.  I can't help thinking that a
proliferation of Ruby sites -- especially if the community embraces
them and helps them out when necessary -- is part of the solution to
raising people's knowledge about Ruby, not the problem.

(I know this sounds a bit Utopian, but as a first approximation I'd
rather try to flow with the nature of the Web than swim against it.)

There's certainly evidence that non-official sites -- that is, sites
that are not DNS-connected to ruby-lang.org, nor maintained by the
ruby-lang.org admins -- can be of tremendous, sometimes immeasurable
value.  The online Pickaxe, ruby-doc.org, why's Poignant Guide, and
the RubyConf presentation archives at Zenspider.com spring to mind.

As for the official site(s) -- I'm personally not a big fan of trying
to bring about a consistent look or "branding", partly because I don't
think it's meaningful in a situation where non-official sites can be
so important (and we, the community, really are not in a position to
decide up front that they are not important).  Certainly re-designing
ruby-lang.org is a possibility, though I'd like to hear from its
admins and maintainers before making a lot of plans on their
behalf.


David

-- 
David A. Black
dblack / wobblini.net