WordPress Codex – Its not a playground – It’s the online documentation

Elliott feels that he has had a bad experience on the WordPress codex and is troubled by the way it is being run. He feels that the codex has become an unfriendly playground and that he no longer wants to play.

It truth what happened was he arrived at the codex with his own preconceptions about how the site was run and how he should behave. He ran straight in without finding out what was going on and how new content was being authored.

The codex has a set of guidelines about contributing and in particular “Creating a new Page”. These state specifically that the recommended process is to create a Temporary page under your user page and work on the drafting process. Then when you feel the page is ready you move out of your User Pages and into the main content of the codex.

Elliott wrote:

… I went to my user page, which sadly is public there, and noticed that an uber-excited admin Lorelle decided to yank my page and leave me a nice message something along the lines of:

Welcome to the WordPress Codex!! Blah blah blah…

You’ve created a nice new page, but no one can get to it. You should blah blah blah…

Come on. I’m still in the middle of editing it, of course no one can get to it. I’m a highly paid software engineer. When I’m done writing the article, I’ll link from the relevant page. Still, our overeager admin sees a new article and immediately trounces it.

Firstly the welcome message you saw is standard, this is part of the process by which the community of documentation volunteers welcomes new members. Lorelle was only welcoming your as is normal on the codex and pointing out that your in draft page would be better suited elsewhere.

Yes you may be a highly paid software engineer – good for you – this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to play by the rules does it? We are a community, we work together, some of us have jobs, some don’t. This doesn’t mean that we can’t work together.

The current codex content is only there because of the hard work the the volunteers like Carthik, Kafkaesqui, Lorelle, MDAWaffe, NuclearMoose, Podz and many other have put it to authoring it.

In the comments Elliott says:

When you present as a wiki, you put out the impression that you are soliciting contributions, not forcing people down an artificial pipelining process. Instead of abusing admins with babysitting the assembly chain, the Codex should use software designed for your peculiar needs and stop lying about being a wiki in anything more than the software.

What he is forgetting here is that the codex is as stated at the top of the front page “The Online Manual” for WordPress. It is a manual first and a wiki second. The large number of volunteers who have contributed to the codex has worked together to create a process whereby new content can be authored by the community for the community without it appearing as part of the main body of the codex until it is ready for all comers.

The codex documentation effort is all about soliciting contributions, but like any community it has it’s rules, and if you wish to join in you need to play by the rules.

You would not expect a library / bookshop to be happy if you were to walking with you half written draft and place in on there shelves coming back every few minutes/hours/days to update it until it was finished. No there is a process for getting your work into that posistion much like the codex has a process for writing and adding documentation.

The process as a development of best practise probably exists for a reason!

To conclude the WordPress community openly welcomes Elliott or anyone else’s contributions to the Online documentation for WordPress. They just ask nicely that where they have developed guidelines and best practise that they are followed the same as you would for any other situation.

6 Responses to “WordPress Codex – Its not a playground – It’s the online documentation”

  1. Andy says:

    That is too bad he had that reaction. I was very trepidatious when I submitted changes – I knew there was process already underway and read the guidelines many times but knew it’d still take me a while to get the hang of it (I still screwed it up 😛 ). I admire the great care taken when moving from the old wiki to the Codex in deciding upfront how things are going to be written.

  2. Lorelle says:

    Thank you very much for your continued support, and encouragement, the WordPress Codex.

    You’re right. It’s an online manual first and a wiki, somewhere down deeper in its soul. With about 450 pages, there are over 100 edits on average every day on the Codex as everyone works to constantly add content and ensure the very best quality for WordPress users. While the registered members numbers in the thousands, about 50 volunteers actively contribute to the Codex on a regular basis. It’s a lot to maintain and keep track of, so the guidelines help everyone stay on track.

    The WordPress Codex is tied in very closely with the WordPress Forum, helping WordPress users get the help and support they need. It’s pretty impressive since the whole thing is run by volunteers. And to respond to one comment – NO, not everyone volunteers in life. WordPress appreciates those who do by providing many avenues for users to contribute.

  3. […] Elliot Back wrote an entry about his experience with the WordPress Codex, so I think I’ll join Peter Westwood and write a response, here. […]

  4. Matt says:

    I think whatever caching plugin he’s using is breaking that entry, because I only see a partial page there and no content.

  5. westi says:

    @Matt: Indeed it that his site content is unreachable now – looks like the daily archives link currently works to see the content but not the comments.

  6. Elliott Back says:

    Err, it seems to be working for me! I wouldn’t now why the content would disappear suddenly… but feel free to poke blame at Wp-cache, whose inner workings I do not understand 😉



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