A few weeks ago cosmicperl began a discussion about the pros and cons of a newbie focused satellite site for Perl Monks. The suggestion of a new beginners only site was not particularly well received, and instead triggered a large number of suggestions about how the current Perl Monks could be improved.
This is only one of many threads where suggestions for improving PM have been offered. In the coming weeks, I hope to construct a list of some of the more recent threads. I will also be reviewing them and compiling a list of suggestions that people have made for improving PM. If anyone else is interested in working on this, please make yourself known.
This process (and this post) is an outgrowth of the discussion we had last week on the thread Process for Site Improvement. We have at present no "official" wish list or mechanism for prioritizing suggestions for site improvement. In that thread jdporter suggested that for the time being, one way to get a better understanding of what changes matter to us monks would be to compile a list of suggestions from PM discussion threads.
Some of the proposals in PerlMonks for newbies? are very specific; some simply point out general areas where improvement might be valuable. I've assembled a list (below) of the various suggestions from that post in hopes of stimulating discussion on the following questions:
- Which, if any, of these suggestions do you feel are valuable enough to merit further discussion?
- Do you see a consensus developing around any of the suggestions?
- What suggestions would you add that aren't already on the list?
- What do you value most about Perl Monks and which of these suggestions enhance or build upon that?
- Which of these have in fact been implemented but need to be better publicized?
- As we work through other threads and gather their suggestions what is the best format for organizing them? Do we want to see other "per-thread" summaries? What about consolidating all suggestions into a single list?
- If more that one person is involved in compiling a list of suggestions (and I really hope there will be), what tools does PM provide to help us coordinate our work?
- How would you prioritize these suggestions? What is the best way to keep track of a developing consensus about which suggestions are highest priority? Is there a way we could adapt the polling mechanism? Is a qualitative summary the best way? Some combination?
- To the members of cabal, and pmdev in particular: What would it take to actually implement the more specific suggestions - both technically and in terms of support from the wider monk community?
- What would you be willing to do to help make your favorite suggestion "happen"?
- This thread gives examples of suggestions, some clear and some overly general. If you were to write a How (Not) to propose a site improvement tutorial, what would it include?
- Was the format of this post helpful? What would you do to improve upon it?
If there is no objection, when this thread winds down, I will summarize the comments here and post the results so that we can continue to build on the discussion.
Note 1: My apologies in advance if I left out anyone's suggestion or misrepresented their views. If I have done so, please message me and I will make the correction.
Note 2:Many thanks to all those who gave suggestions privately and on the thread Process for Site Improvement about how to go about this task. They made this thread possible.
Suggestions have been grouped into one of the following categories:
- Site look and feel suggestions
- Site content and navigation suggestions
- Community building suggestions
- Site performance suggestions
- Site development tool suggestions
- Places to look for further inspiration
- site not easy to use
- freshen up site - site looks dated:
- cosmicperl at Re^2: PerlMonks for newbies?
- missingthepoint at Re^2: PerlMonks for newbies? quoting Andy Lester's PerlBuzz article http://perlbuzz.com/2008/05/perl-decentralize-diversify-colonize.html - "Perlmonks is a fine site, but it's long in the tooth"
- jdporter at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - "guilty" - goodies shouldn't be limited to beginners.
- cutlass2006 at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - design could be made more readable, "fresher"
- Several expressed concern that "pretty sites" shouldn't be a substitute for strong content and
community and may even help to keep the community
focused on the needs of programmers:
- roboticus at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - agrees it isn't the most modern, but thinks too many bells and whistles would get in the way: "content is king"
- talexb at Re^2: PerlMonks for newbies? - strength of community and content are what count.
- matze77 at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - too much flash is hard on low-band width users (of which matze77 is one)
- salazar at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? notes perl programmers need to know how to deal with command lines and text based tools, If they absolutely cannot, they aren't much likely to be much good with Perl either.
- WSIWYG text editing interface would be easier for
- mr_mischief at Re: PerlMonks for newbies?, suggests
TinyMCE might help somethat TinyMCE has a feature that would be helpful (automatically converting two consecutive new lines to a paragraph break) but Slashdot implements it without using TinyMCE. Other TinyMCE features add complexity without much benefit - please see Re: Making Perl Monks a better place for newbies (and others) below for further clarifications.
- cosmicperl at Re^2: PerlMonks for newbies?, but worries something like TinyMCE would irritate experienced editors.
- shmem at Re^2: PerlMonks for newbies? objects - it would just exchange one mess with another.
- mr_mischief at Re: PerlMonks for newbies?, suggests
- Simpler markup is needed
- moritz at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - perhaps some form of extended POD markup with better support for links: paragraph and code sections are much easier with POD than current HTML tags.
- shmem at Re^2: PerlMonks for newbies? objects - thinks markup is already easy and POD wouldn't be easier for a newcomer.
- Add preview mode for update
- Add preview mode for private messages and chatter box messages:
- Improve quality/finability of documentation targetted at newbies
- matze77 at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - thinks some of the new user documentation may be a bit outdated and more of it (or making what there is easier to find) would be a good idea: e.g better tutorials or guides, book reviews targetted at beginners.
- cutlass2006 at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - provide options like textarea editing as a progressively disclosed option (ed. note: not entirely clear to me what this means)
- cutlass2006 at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - easy to find "Getting started with Perl" document.
- Beginners section/"Beginner's corner" page
- salazar at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - even if PM does in fact welcome newcomer questions, it doesn't feel like it when you are new.
- ELISHEVA at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - page where beginners could post questions - see questions posted by other beginners, and trust an experienced monk to put their post in the right place.
- Argel at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - asks how hard would such a page be to add?
- Aim9b at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - material for newbies often exists, but is hard to find, having it collected together some place would help.
- cutlass2006 at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - additional/better organized links to other Perl resources, e.g. "Here is the route to Perl6"
- Better site promotion is needed
- Your Mother at Re^3: PerlMonks for newbies?
- missingthepoint at Re^4: PerlMonks for newbies?
- matze77 at Re: PerlMonks for newbies? - suggests we (a) all do a bit more to "spread the word"; (b) if you have a website that was written in perl that you have a "designed with Perl" on your page that links back to PM; (c) think about how to do "public relations" for Perl
- We need to make better use of social networking tools for community building