[Mediawiki-l] Is MediaWiki-l dysfunctional? What is it good for, really?

Tim Starling tstarling at wikimedia.org
Wed May 23 20:17:10 UTC 2007

Monahon, Peter B. wrote:
> 1 - More than one of my posts has bounced back because either: 
> - the moderator thinks is inappropriate (to complex?); 
> - because a list auto-setting complains that my post is too big (to
> complex?).  
> Hey, if I had simple problems ...

The maximum message body size is 40KB. The list is unmoderated.

> 2 - The list recently, at least, has taken w-a-y too long to arrive for
> me to depend on it for contemporaneous solutions.  By the time the
> digest arrives, it's not only bereft of responses, but it's w-a-y too
> late, and I've moved on to other resources and other problems.

Then don't use digest delivery, use individual message delivery or 
gmane.org. At least that way you wouldn't keep breaking the threading.

> So, is this list MediaWiki-l dead or dying?  Do we all find each other
> off list instead, and the l-o-n-g time between broadcasts is an
> indication that this list has little or no function after all?  

No it is not dead or dying. The digest frequency has no relation to the 
quality of support it provides.

> Is MediaWiki-l dysfunctional?  What is it good for, really?

It is good for answering a certain kind of question which is not too 
hard and not too easy. This is my experience of all kinds of volunteer 
question answering, both offline and online. If a question is too easy, 
the reader would take no pride in answering it, and may consider it 
insulting or patronising. If the question is too hard, there may be no 
readers capable of answering it.

Your questions, e.g. "how do I install MediaWiki on Windows", seem to be 
on the easy end of that scale. The best people for answering easy 
questions are paid support staff, but Wikimedia doesn't have any of 
them. I am paid, but I am a developer, not a support technician, and my 
priority is to help Wikimedia users.

We do have a few volunteers here with a tremendous amount of patience 
for answering tedious, easy questions, and I have a great deal of 
respect for them. But you have to be nice to them if you want them to 
help you.

Particularly time-consuming requests for help will hardly ever be met by 
a volunteer, unless the volunteer shares your goals.

> Why not setup a real ***wiki*** discussion right at the MediaWiki.org
> home pages, and encourage the MediaWiki software to actually mature to
> handle such support needs as ours, instead of using an old-fashioned
> mailing list like this?

We do have a wiki. We also have IRC and a forum at mwusers.com. But the 
motives for volunteers there are exactly the same as here. So a question 
that goes unanswered here may well go unanswered everywhere. Buying 
commercial support is the obvious solution to this problem.

-- Tim Starling

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