Why don’t you use Userbase?

Being an Arch Linux user, I know how helpful a good wiki can be. Userbase, however, has never felt like the wiki for KDE software users to me. Don’t get me wrong – I very much appreciate the work of the Userbase contributors – but being part of both communities, I see a clear difference in how both wikis are used.

In the Arch community, it’s common praxis to check the wiki before asking a question. Many users also contribute to the ArchWiki by adding content, translating pages and whatnot.

The number of Userbase contributors are growing, but getting on the top list is still very easy – a few edits will do. The wiki is still unknown to a large part of the user base; it doesn’t feel like the natural place to seek and add information about KDE.

Now I’m not going to just sit here and complain. It’s time to do something about this, and I’ve decided to put some time and effort into Userbase once I’ve dealt with a couple of Real Life stuff. First I want to gather feedback from you, the community, and that’s why I’ve written this post. All you need to do is answer this simple question:

Why don’t you use Userbase?

I want to hear the answer from both users seeking information and potential wiki contributors. If you belong to both groups, that’s great.

What would make you use Userbase more, what kind of improvements do you want to see? What’s the most important thing that needs to be done, in your opinion?

I hope you can spare a few minutes to answer the question(s), it’ll be immensely useful. Note that I want to know what can be done on the Userbase side – answers such as “because I’m too lazy” aren’t very helpful.

Thanks for your time.

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24 Responses to “Why don’t you use Userbase?”

  1. Dion Moult Says:

    I’ve been able to find my way around how to use KDE quite intuitively and thus have never had a need to ask for help. The problems are just bugs I come across or distro packaging once in a blue moon.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Well, the userbase never shows up on any search. It is not advertized anywhere.
    And when I do remember it, I can’t find anything useful from there, as the problems are usually caused by a distro specific stuff, or I just get frustrated because in the time wasted searching from the userbase I would have the answer just by using google.

    In the nutshell: there’s no information that I need.

  3. binarylooks Says:

    Hmm, I din’t really think a lot about this now, but the first thing that came to my mind is: who is it for? newbies or veterans? What information does it provide? How do I know in which case I should look on userbase or directly on the website of the app I have problems with. Maybe userbase is a springboard to find the website of the app?
    I guess that for userbase to take off, there needs to be a clearer reason why it is there, or a better communication of that reason.. Hey, why don’t we make a userbase plasmoid to browse apps. Maybe userbase could be linked to a software-center like thing. That’s where I see its uses.

    I use kde sine the 3.5 days so I think I don’t need userbase, but maybe I’m wrong there and should have a look.

    To summarize, why don’t I use it? I feel unclear about what it is for and whether it is meant for users like me.

    Cheers

  4. Wolfgang Says:

    Beeing an Arch user myselfe, I can say that until now I always have found the solution to an arch problem in the arch wiki. It is technical and relevant.

    If a problem seems to be a KDE problem I have never found the solution for it on Userbase. I feel that the information on Userbase only scratches the surface. I use it if I want to have a quick info with a screenshot for a kde app not for problem solving.

    I am not sure what Userbase wants to be. Is it a first look wiki with not too overhelming info? Than it is doing a good job. If you are new to KDE you can get an overview over apps and a bit underlying technologie.

    To make Userbase the first choice for all sort fo KDE related info I would like to see some more detailed info in it. Just some random ideas.
    * is it possible to remove allready indexed directories from strigi index
    * is there a divx plugin for konquerer
    * how to set up spell checking correctly

    I think if Userbase gets more relevant more will use it and more will contribute. And here the snakes bites its tail.

    This said I very much appreciate the work of the Userbase contributors, but since this blog wants to know what could be done to improve the wiki even more I raised my voice.

  5. Sergio Says:

    1) There isn’t so much information in it.
    2) People usually know what’s a wiki and what they can find there, but… what’s an “Userbase”?
    3) The Userbase is “””hidden”””. Check the ArchLinux web site and you’ll see its wiki at first sight.
    4) In ArchLinux forums, people often refers to the wiki, so finally you’ll understand that it’s faster to check the wiki before post your problem in order to solve it. In KDE forums the Userbase is rarely mentioned.
    5) Because of what I said in point 4, people collaborate in the wiki so often and not in the Userbase.

  6. Cephir Says:

    KDE is very intuitive, so I never felt in need of the userbase until now.

  7. Kolia Says:

    Well IMO the first point as noticed above is that the Userbase is bad indexed. Try to google “kde tutorial” or “kde howto” for example… it’s all about tech or dev.

    So you generally get there after someone points it to you, that is on IRC or maliling lists.. 2 locations that are not very visited by “common” users.

    Second: the content is not what one would expect: i don’t look into Userbase for apps descriptions but for tips and tricks. By the way the apps descriptions has been duplicated in the new KDE.org site now, so this is even more irrelevant.

    Last and very important point: I blog about KDE (in French) from time to time and I get a real problem: KDE is moving too fast, what is explained for KDE 4.2 wasn’t true anymore for 4.3 and changed again in 4.4. There is the same problem on Userbase: the time to update documentation, it’s already obsolete (even if you make a huge job on updating the Plasma HowTo). And generally only developers know what has changed, and they don’t wander around Userbase much.. :)

    Userbase should be cleaned of apps description and become a giant Tips and Trick spot, with massive cleaning after each KDE major release.

  8. Quintesse Says:

    Too be honest… I didn’t even know it existed. I would suggest that KDE pops-up a window after first install that shows this page and leave an easily accessible icon somewhere on the “task bar”.

  9. Diederik Says:

    The content on UserBase does not get me excited.
    Lots of wordy text, tech stuff (console commands, etc..). Some kind of braindump. :p I’m not against using console commands per se, but currently it’s presented in a blunt way.

    “Discover Dolphin” is imho on the right track, but still too much text. More visual stuff and perhaps video (not gifs!!) would be nice. From that level up, one can move slowly to the more advanced tutorials. And those could include commands – with explanation of why that was really needed beforehand.

    Userbase really misses things like “How can I copy pictures from my camera” or “how can I rotate a picture”. Things beginners get excited about they got done. Advanced users figure things out themselves already.

    The “Getting Help” page sort of gets me stalled. Perhaps it should be the last entry, because it mostly is an “exit route directions” page instead of offering you tutorials.

    As contributor, I’d like a coherent plan or guideline. If I would fix 2-3 pages, and others create 5 messy pages in return that’s not going to become a rewarding experience.

    Looking forward to the other results of your survey!

  10. John Says:

    I’ve whinged a few times that we don’t give Userbase a high enough billing, for example go to kde.org and try find how to get support, you don’t hit either Userbase or the forums until at least half-way down the Support page. Instead you first get sent to the Doco which is years out-of-date, SysAdmin help, Mailing Lists, etc.

    We need a big icon on the very front page, under the “Get KDE” icon that says “Get Help” and leads to a page that has Userbase, the forums, the international sites, and mailing list at the top.

    Oh, and the same link on the front-page of Techbase for the users who accidentally end up there.

    In short, we need to structure our sites to cater for the newbie user being able to easily find where to get their help, experienced users will already know where to go so should be a lower priority on the front page.

    My 2c.

  11. bzhbok Says:

    Userbase doesn’t look like a wiki, but more like an official documentation.
    Also the edit policy is too strict : you need to get a login to edit the pages. I’m sure a lot of people that don’t have a login on kde.org won’t correct on error thay see because of this…(also there is no “edit” button on the page for not logged users)

    So I would propose to deploy a standard MediaWiki on the address wiki.kde.org (with a kde header of course), to call it “kde wiki” and to allow to edit the wiki without a password. (If Wikipedia is able to deal with the vandalism, I’m sure we can)

  12. Luca Beltrame Says:

    @bzhbok – The disallowing of anonymous edits was done because of spam, and it was also announced on the planet.
    Going back to wiki.kde.org is not really a good idea IMO, because it could become the mess that the old wiki was.

  13. Trevor Says:

    Firstly, as others have commnetd, it is hard to find Userbase. Then it should be easier to navigate within Userbase.
    For instance, I tried but failed to find the Plasma How To’s you recently blogged on. I finally found some other good stuff on Plasma that complements these How To’s but it was under Applications then Desktop. So one key thing is to split Plasma Workspaces from Applications as per the new branding.
    I must add that I think the Plasma How To’s using animated screenshots for each key Use case (or step of use case) are excellent. Combine these with an initial static screenshot and text to explain main screen elements and you have a powerful combination for describing how to use any Workspace or Applications. If integrated with KDE software via context-based help, then KDE useability would be greatly enhanced, especially for new users.

  14. barraponto Says:

    arch wiki is referred to everywhere. i mean, you ask a question, you’re guided to it (mostly). it’s kinda like the ubuntu forums (no one really uses the ubuntu wiki). kde has its own documentation effort, but i think it’d be better served in the wiki. try it. let’s merge docs.kde.org and userbase.kde.org – or at least import everything from docs, create technology-centered sections, and link from docs (the stable version) to userbase (the bleeding edge). it would be a wonderful way to make the wiki more known, and it would build atop a lot of good work.

  15. bderenorcaine Says:

    I agree with some of the earlier comments – it does not look like a wiki, but rather like an official site, it is not advertised anywhere and the useful stuff seems pretty much hidden behind that starting page

  16. Stuart Jarvis Says:

    Because I can use Google instead ;-) And a Google search for $issue often doesn’t have a userbase page near the top (probably because not many people are aware of it – chicken/egg).

    The one time I remember using userbase is migrating to SC4.4 and having akonadi issues. The error dialog that came up had a link to the relevant page on userbase and the info there was good.

    So, how about adding userbase links for a given application to error dialogs more and also adding a link to the application userbase page under the help menu?

    The Arch wiki is great, but as a Fedora user I don’t often think of it. However, Arch wiki pages show up all the time in Google search results because the info is so good.

  17. Mayo Says:

    It’s hard to navigate. Not only wiki but whole kde.org. I mean I know what’s where and what it means etc. but it’s not a cohesive structure, not a fun to roam through. I think userbase not being what it should be is just a symptom. (Is all this because of svn? I mean all apps in a humongous bulb and related pages having their own well defined places but these two don’t really connect?)

    Integrate all those something.kde.org together, but make all apps stand out more on each own.

    Please, think about it.

  18. Usp Says:

    I’m potential user and editor with years of sysop level experience with wikis, mainly Wikimedia. Obviously:) I think main issue is that it doesn’t look and feel like wiki(pedia). Building on Wikipedia conventions would help a lot to find good practices and enable any Wikipedia editor to be straight away “fluent” in Userbase. Would Userbase be worthy of external links in Wikipedia articles?

    Some propositions to begin with:
    Make Userbase like Wikipedia or Wikibook, in work flow, editing conventions, look and feel.
    *Use Wikipedia like skin (customize monobook with kde colours) to be more familiar to those familiar with Wikipedia. It took me quite a while to even notice that its run by Mediawiki. Also current default skin (Oxygen) wastes lots of vertical space (on 1080×1920 that is > 50 %!) which bad for usability I think.
    *Separate languages into sub-url’s like Wikipedia (e.g. de.userbase.kde.org) but duplicate English as the main url userbase.kde.org. Tools like “Recent changes” are easily rendered useless when all languages are in same.
    *Maybe common login to wiki’s, at least user- and techbase (of course cross language).
    *If breadcrumb is the way to organize content, use breadcrumb extension like in Wikibooks.
    *Create “featured content” to set the “standard”
    *Like wikipedia Userbase can hold material to both beginners and to very experienced.
    *Make project section into wiki where to hadle wiki development in detail.

  19. Hans Says:

    A lot of good points here. Some were expected, naturally, but there are also a few surprises (at least to me).

    Keep them coming!

  20. anonymous Says:

    Off topic:

    http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/KDE-a-resource-hog-949634.html

    Phoronix made some biased comparison and now this FUD is spread…

  21. Robert Smits Says:

    Why don’t you use Userbase?

    Well, to begin with, no one ever mentioned its existence.

    Secondly, I’ve been a KDE fan since 2005, and read the KDE-PIM listserve, and the OpenSuSE KDE listserve. I vastly prefer mailling lists to any kind of web based forum or site. They’re faster, and my threaded Kmail makes it easier and faster to read, too.

    I can’t imagine a reason why I would go there again after visiting it today. Most of my KDE questions centre around KDE-PIM, and both of my mailing lists are the first place I look for answers. I only go to web based forums or websites if there is no other way.

    Bob Smits

  22. Elvis Stansvik Says:

    I’m going to be quite frank. Mainly two reasons:

    1) It’s very far in between the times when I really have a user question about KDE. It just works good for me.

    2) The few times when I really do have a user question, I always use Google as the primary interface for finding an answer, as it covers the largest corpus of information. And it’s not that often that Techbase articles show up there. A bit of a chicken-egg I guess.

    Regards,
    Elvis

  23. Stefan Says:

    I think there’s another approach that could yield good results – integration with KDE. Whether this be an app or a plasmoid, I don’t know, but the web doesn’t feel close at hand in KDE. There are plasmoids and apps which bring parts of it close, but KDEs primary interface is not a web browser. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it means that it doesn’t feel natural to browse somewhere to get KDE help. Google is the primary interface of the web for many (most, really) of us, with bookmarks probably taking a very distant second. I like to think that most people don’t have sufficient need of userbase (because KDE is already so awesome) to warrant a bookmark.


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