Last modified: 2014-08-09 16:53:41 UTC
Since many wikis have enough trouble creating content, much less creating a comprehensive help namespace, let's have MW show local Help: pages when they exist (so wikis can make their own, specialized help pages) and fetch them from Meta if they don't exist (in the same manner that images are fetched from Commons if they don't exist).
This bug probably related to 4547.
Adding dependency, although I might be wrong here. I guess the two options would be either A) Fetch them live (requiring 9890 to be fixed), or B) Bundle Mediawiki with a pre-made help section, so projects can edit/use them as they see fit, and no longer depend on the default when they get to that point.
I think the latter is easier and I believe this is what the PD Help on Mediawiki.org aims to do.
(In reply to comment #1)
> Adding dependency, although I might be wrong here. I guess the two options
> would be either A) Fetch them live (requiring 9890 to be fixed), or B) Bundle
> Mediawiki with a pre-made help section, so projects can edit/use them as they
> see fit, and no longer depend on the default when they get to that point.
> I think the latter is easier and I believe this is what the PD Help on
> Mediawiki.org aims to do.
No, this is explicitly intended to be live, just like getting images from Commons. While packaging documentation with the software would be nice, that's not what I'm asking about here.
Where the pages come from would need to be configurable. WMF wikis should be using the help pages on Meta which are GFDL, and quite WMF-specific in places (e.g. assuming various extensions are installed, that page URLs are in a certain format, etc.). All other (non-WMF) MediaWiki installs should (by default at least) be using the help pages at MediaWiki.org. These are public domain, and designed for just this purpose (i.e. no site-specific/extension-specific/WMF-specific stuff at all). Other wiki-farms (such as Wikia) may want to host their own central help-page database instead of either of these options.
If you plan to support the middle one of those, then the code will need to pull it in via the API, with the associated performance hit to the wiki (though sensible cache configuration could mitigate that) and probably to MW.org as well (more of an issue!) but if not then it could be done via direct DB access, so only local sources of help can be used.
(In reply to comment #3)
> Where the pages come from would need to be configurable.
> WMF wikis should be
> using the help pages on Meta [...]
But I disagree on all the rest (help pages duplication is very harmful, they should be centralised); if it's configurable it can and must be discussed separately, though. :-)
Happy to read this discussion from 2008.
I also prefer the option of keeping local help pages synced with mediawiki.org, following the path of bug 44286. However, if that is technically complicated, couldn't we start bundling the pages to the tarball? Is that also difficult?
Imagine, we could have now 5 years of fresh MediaWiki installations without red links, and without all the half-backed help pages almost every 3rd party wiki has created to answer very basic questions from their users.
(In reply to Quim Gil from comment #5)
> Imagine, we could have now 5 years of fresh MediaWiki installations without
> red links, and without all the half-backed help pages almost every 3rd party
> wiki has created to answer very basic questions from their users.
...and we would have thousands forks of the documentation
Instances, not forks. :) Now we have thousands of wikis unaware of that documentation...
I agree with you on the final goal. I'm only suggesting to start packaging the current Help files in the tarball before five years more pass by...
I would recommend anyone looking into this bug to look at this page first: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Project:PD_help/export
It describes a method of bundling/deploying help tarballs, based on MW.org content, in multiple languages (suitable to any set of language combinations). It is not necessarily the whole solution, or even the best starting point, but it's certainly food for thought. (And, yes, I wrote it - about 8 years ago, now!)
Whilst a simple dump would be better than nothing, it would be good it the longer-term were considered as well (though I am aware that perfect is the enemy of good-enough!).
I wrote [[mw:Extension:HelpPages]] for this.