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RE: Authorship

64 new messages in two days? Hmm, Gary P. must have posted something again...

> As for formats, uhm, scary to open that can again.  Anyway, I think we need
> to start a review process for NEW documents that could become part of the
> LDP collection.  They propose writing their doc and all that Jazz on the
> list, then go write it unless somebody else is/has done so.  When it's done,
> they send a draft of it to the LDP-Submit list, in Any-Old-Format (tm).
> Anybody who has the time and inclination replies to the list, saying that
> they're going to take a look at the doc.  We give them a few days to take a
> look and make sure that the document is acurate, and isn't written without
> punctuation or capitalization.  Any changes proposed by our reviewers should
> get sent to the author, and after a few days they can say "ok, I got this
> feedback from the nice LDP volunteers, and make some changes".  This is the
> version that will become part of the LDP's collection.  

I've read / edited a couple of documents on the ldp-submit list. It's a good
way to see what other authors are doing with their tags (good or bad) and a
good opportunity to have an impact on the quality of information that goes out.
I've only had one experience where I didn't get a reply of any sort from the
author after trying to contact him in a couple of ways. Then again, he probably
gets more mail than your average Linux enthusiast.

So, I like the suggestion. We just need people that are willing to do it.
The information flow on ldp-submit is currently mostly one-directional.

> > 2)  The author doesn't know much about SGML or the tools to 
> > create SGML.
> Sounds good, but not going to be 100% true.  They could be reading the
> HOWTO-HOWTO to get infomation about the conventions that we use, or about
> how to get their document into CVS.  Definately should be in it's own
> section, with a note in the readers guide about it.

The assumption is definitely not true in my case. (In case you're wondering, I
actually have written most of a howto that I'll be submitting in the next week
or so, depending on when I get the time to give it a final polishing.) At
work I've been writing with SGML for the past couple of years, using a different
DTD. The reason I read the HOWTO-HOWTO was to get information on how to
up the document formatting tools used by the LDP, or at least a rough
approximation of them. When I'm first creating a document I like to confirm
that the output of my tagging is at least socially acceptable.

> > 3)  *big assumption*  The author wants to use Linux - meaning a
> > large preference towards open-source or Linux-based tools.
> Hmm...  From talking to one of our authors, this isn't necessarily true
> either.  Not everybody is "into" Linux.  (You know who are, can I name
> names?)  They may use Linux for task X, because it's the best possible way
> to do task X.  They may use some other OS do to task Y, because Linux is
> ill-suited to that, or because the other OS/tool is so much better suited to
> it than Linux is.  I'll be happy to bow to majority opinion here, but I've
> only hear 4 arguments (including mine), two on each side.

Okay, I would like to question Gary P's argument that using "superior" non-Linux
tools helps improve the available Linux tools. The problem is that without
users who can point out the problems that they're encountering with the
available Linux tools, the people that are capable of developing and improving
the tools don't have a basis for deciding on what features need to be fixed or
added. In fact, if no-one ends up using the available Linux tools, there's not
much reason for a developer to generate new versions at all, is there?

Finally, just a general comment about SGML: I DO like knowing the tags that
constitute DocBook, since that's what SGML is all about. When I wrote my HOWTO,
I sat down with an existing HOWTO in DocBook format, the Vim editor, and a link
to the online DocBook elements reference (at
http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/docbook).  Over the course of a few hours,
I gutted the contents of the existing HOWTO and replaced it with the
outline of my own HOWTO, learning what I needed to know about DocBook along the
way. As I said before, the biggest problem I had was configuring the tools so
that I could get the transforms into HTML and PDF running. (Yep, I provided
Mark with some feedback.)

As (possibly interesting) side information, I too used multiple platforms
to write my howto--Linux, Windows NT, and Windows 98. If I was using a
commercial editor, I would have had to buy three separate
licenses for the editor (or two, if I was using the non-commercial, non-SGML
aware version of WordPerfect on Linux). Instead I used Vim, which offers syntax
highlighting for DocBook 3.0/3.1, and provides the same interface on
Linux, Windows, and umpteen other platforms. The knock against vi is that it's
a modal editor: but how much mental effort is required to use different editors
on different platforms?

Friend of the abnormal.

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