1i5t5.duncan at cox.net
Wed Jul 11 01:28:30 BST 2012
Burkhard Lück posted on Tue, 10 Jul 2012 21:24:16 +0200 as excerpted:
> Am Dienstag, 10. Juli 2012, 21:20:46 schrieb Sian Mountbatten:
>> This, apparently, is some kind of joke, because the manual consists of
>> a list of features, and that's all.
>> Does that mean that no manual has been written?
Concise answer, correct AFAIK, but not very satisfying for those of us
who like a bit of detail...
Here's the deal. Free/libre (free as in freedom) and open source
software (FLOSS) is in an interesting situation in regard to
documentation. Much of it is done by volunteers, and documentation kind
of falls between the cracks.
Those who write the code and share it with us may be quite good at
coding, but many aren't so good at documentation. Coding is their
interest so what they tend to do when they have free time to volunteer.
Besides, the people writing the code aren't normally the best to document
it anyway, as they're too close to it, and most of it seems intuitive to
them, since they wrote it the way they thought it.
That leaves users. But there's a problem there as well. Either users
don't know enough about how it works to write the documentation, or by
the time they do, they no longer need it, so it's not so important to
That leaves people being paid to do it, which is where commercial
servantware gets its documentation. But freedomware is generally either
free or quite low cost, depending on where you get it, so the money
doesn't so much come from users paying as it normally does with
Of course commercial servantware has its own problems in this area and
often, anything beyond the bare minimum is an additional purchase
anyway. Of course, that lets freedomware compete again, to the extent
that both users of commercial servantware and freedomware are often
willing to pay for documentation. Which is where publishers like O'Reilly
come in with their books on software, much of which is on freedomware,
tho they write books on servantware as well. But people don't so often
pay for what they think they should be able to figure out themselves, so
most of those books are on more complex software, scripting languages
like bash, python, perl, etc, or platforms such as GNU/Linux or MS
Windows in general.
Meanwhile, there is /some/ sponsorship, and back in the kde3 era, someone
sponsored some pretty decent kde documentation. But that was for kde3,
and a lot has changed in kde4, so much of that documentation no longer
applies. It's being updated, but that takes time, and sometimes the
changes come fast enough the people doing documentation can't keep up
with updating what's already written, let alone expand to not yet covered
Which is why we get "manuals" that are little more than lists of
Meanwhile, a lot of the documentation is now online in the form of wikis
or the like. KDE has both techbase, for the technical side of things,
and userbase, for the the less technical user side of things. That's
where a lot of the new stuff is going, tho some of it eventually makes
its way into the various manuals, etc, as well.
1) Try checking the http://userbase.kde.org wiki. There's probably at
least a brief description of the software there. (I haven't actually
checked for ktorrent, tho.)
2) As you get more familiar with kde software (including ktorrent)
yourself, consider adding your own contributions. If you note, there's
various tutorials, photo and video-based howtos, etc. You don't have to
limit yourself to "boring words" if you think photos or videos will work
better either for you or for others looking at what you've contributed,
AND, you don't have to be an expert to add a few details here and there
where you already know how it works and want to make it easier for others
than it was for you.
3) KDE has a lot of contributors, both formal and informal. Just because
you can't write programs doesn't mean you can't contribute art, or help
with userbase, or be a regular on a mailing list or two, answering
questions where you can (my chosen contribution, informal, I just started
KDE is freedomware and you don't /have/ to contribute back in ordered to
just use it. Many people, I'd say most, are simply users. But it's
really rewarding to pick a project or two that you want to be a bit more
involved in, and pitch in where you feel comfortable and see a need.
A bit more than a decade ago I switched from Windows to Linux and started
looking around for my little corner to help in. I'm not a coder, so that
wouldn't work, and not an artist, so I couldn't much help with icons,
artwork, etc, either. But I found a project I was interested in (pan, a
gtk-based nntp/news client, FWIW), and joined the mailing list. Years
later the primary developer lost interest and the project was nearly
abandoned, but I and a couple of others stayed around on the mailing
list, continuing to help anyone with questions, where we could. I'm sure
I wasn't the only one thinking it was about time to shut out the lights
on the way out, as the project was abandoned and it was beginning to get
hard to continue to build and support it on newer distributions.
But you know what? Because I and a few others stayed around, forming
that small nucleus of continued life, about time we had lost hope, a new
developer got interested, and at least started collecting the bug fixes
and build-fixes the various distributions had made into a single
repository that people could download and build from. Then someone else,
involved with gnome as a translater so with commit rights, but not a dev,
got involved as well. That gave the project a new dev to at least keep
things working, and someone to commit his changes to the official
repository and keep it working.
Then that drew in more developers, including one with some real time and
skills to commit to the project and thus implement some badly needed
missing and new features, and today the project is alive and thriving
All because I and a few others, even without developer skills of our own,
continued to keep the list alive, helping where we could with what we
were sure at one point was a dead project, just biding our time out of
old habit, more than anything.
Then a few years ago I joined a couple kde lists, and contribute here as
well. But I'm still a bit new here and don't have the deep knowledge of
the after all much broader project that I do of that original project.
But I still contribute where I can, both learning myself, and helping
others. And you know what? There's simply no feeling on earth better
than the feeling you get when someone says hey, thanks, you explained
something in a few posts that I had spent months looking for! =:^)
Well... nothing on earth better... expect perhaps knowing that I played
quite a big part in saving a project I loved from extinction! =:^)
Duncan - List replies preferred. No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master." Richard Stallman
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