On the Status of the FAQ
As some of you know, this site is owned by the Everything Development Company. In terms of personalities involved, the owners are more or less co-extensive with the developers of Slashdot. I've never met these guys in person, but years of contact with E2 have allowed me to make some observations.
First, they are dedicated to the continued existence and vitality of Everything2 and the Everything2 community because they fixed whatever it was on the hardware side that needed fixing. I think I speak for everyone when I give a hearty "YAY!", and extend kudos, heartfelt thanks, offers of sexual favors, etc.
Second, the Boys in Michigan are big proponents of the "open source", or collaborative model for projects. If I may be permitted a reflective digression, it appears that authority over the direction of a collaborative project is weighted, as the term suggests, towards those who have contributed labor to a project. That is, the weight given to a person's opinion is proportional to the quality and quantity of the labor contributed (though the details vary depending on the needs and goals of the project). Thus, in the Linux world, the opinion of Linus Torvalds carries some weight, the opinions of millions of non-contributing spectators have "neutral karma", so to speak, and efforts to take control of the project using money, without contributing any labor, are met with intense hostility. *cough* SCO *cough*. This is the true essence of pure capitalism along the model of Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Government, where property is founded in labor, but with the added insight that once labor or property is converted to money, the pure medium of exchange, it loses its moral and intellectual value, and thus cannot be taken seriously as "capital" investment or entitle a person to exert authority. This is why the notion that contributing money is "free speech", as in Buckley v. Valeo, is fundamentally flawed... what? Hey? Oh. My license to digress has been revoked.
Anyhoo... this information ultimately has relevance to the FAQ. The Boys in Michigan have appointed certain persons to run the place. For years that was Ryan Postma (pbuh) also known as "dem bones". A lot of the help documents were his work, or the work of wharfinger (pbuh). Those documents are now mostly obsolete, despite their historical, sentimental and aesthetic value. Now, as you probably know, Lord Brawl leads the Content Editors team. As you probably don't know, dann leads the code development side of the project and is vested with ultimate, absolute, despotic authority. Keep in mind that they, like all of us, are volunteers and have other things to do in their lives.
Now dann has been somewhat invisible to most users recently, but that will soon change. He's been testing code, at the Community2 site, which will enhance and extend the capabilities of Everything2. I'm not quite sure what is going to be ported to E2, but in a recent telephone conversation with me, dann mentioned "the registries" as one example.
Registries solve a conundrum which has been bothering us for years, the conflict between quality content and the social needs of the members of the community. On the one hand, every internet social community needs and desires a feature whereby members can get to know one another, and share personal information, likes and dislikes, affiliations and so forth. In the early days of Everything2, the node/writeup and wiki structure was adapted (or perverted, if you will) to create what came to be called "Getting to Know You" nodes, or GTKY for short. The problem with GTKY nodes (aside from being ephemeral, and usually not the product of research or thought or artistic exertion) is that they impede the function of hypertext links. If you click on a link and get a GTKY writeup, it will probably not be what you are looking for, because it is by definition intensely and one might also say, "merely" personal. So the decision was made, and has repeatedly been reaffirmed among the administrative staff, to deprecate GTKY and kill all GTKY nodes. Still, the need and desire for GTKY persists, and dann tested several possible solutions at Community2, including compartment for GTKY, called "registries". Basically, you can create a topic and everyone has the opportunity to join in. The E2 rule, "Writeup Does Not Mean Reply" gets turned on its head. This is fun. The result isn't "Noding for the Ages", but often hilarious or interesting or both.
All that having been said, we are most definitely not at the stage of the project where all our help documents can be set in stone. The documentation needs to be modular so it can be changed and easily maintained by the volunteers who do that. This is why the E2 FAQ Editors Group has put most of its efforts into creating one central index, so we can keep track of what's there, what's current, and what needs work. That central index is called, for lack of a better term, the Everything FAQ. This is intended as a resource for experienced members of the community as well as new writers on E2. If you want to know how a feature works, or you forgot what the HTML code for the interrobang, you can start there. We've also put some effort into a "Read Me" page, E2 Quick Start, for new writers who decline to Read the Freakin' Manual (RTFM).
For casual readers, or people who just encountered the site and wonder "WTF is this?" we offer little. First, because we can never agree on what E2 is, and second because I, as the team leader, could not care less about casual readers. Sorry, I just don't.
Everything else has been left as it was... and may or may not be delinked, hidden, or otherwise distinguished from the official, current help documents, Some Time Real Soon.
4/26/2007 10:31 MDT: BREAKING NEWS: we now have a user group called e2docs, open to all interested parties.
Please direct comments or questions to me, God of FAQ, or to members of the e2docs.