The Unix example seems to have worked. There were special circumstances:

  @   Participants at the beginning were excellent authors as wsel as
cevelopers
  @ Purpose of system was to be a platform for the original team to work
on but they sere also creating a  development environment for others.
  @ Someone was the boss and could dictate a standard.

But the ruby world has parallel circumstances:
  @ We have many excellent authors in our community-
         + Programming Ruby, for example,  is destined to be a classic
of the level of Programming in the Unix Environment
         + The quality of writing on ruby-talk is far above  the writing
on most other lists. One reason that this list is so genteel is that
people on the list can express themselves without offense. The recent
thread , "Suggestions to the Ruby community", is a world class example
of a very provocative statement being metabolized through reasoned
discussion to a constructive  community growth experience.
   @ We all understand that the success of ruby depends on how much use
is made of it.
   @ Matz has "special authority" earned by  his whole person.

One new possibility is wiki.

I suggest people decide on a man style format.  Even if it is not
compleltely standard from the start it will evolve. Finally, all
documentation be put on a wiki with version control. Anybody can modify
or annotate the docs and  after some time a people wishing to earn a
reputation as a writer  can review the history of  documentation changes
and evolve the documentaton to the next level.

Sorry to be so long winded. But in addition to my technical interest I
am fascinated by the diversity and collaborative spirit of the ruby
community.  Ruby and other open source communities going back to the
Unix team at Bell Labs are the best answer to 9/11.

John

It may have been that a group of good writers happeened to be also the
coders and that they were creating a system for others as well as
themselves to work on.