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I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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The best friend of a nation is he who faithfully rebukes her for her sins — and her worst enemy, who, under the specious and popular garb of patriotism, seeks to excuse, palliate, and defend them.

Frederick Douglass



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 9/21/2018

Totals
Posts - 2522
Comments - 2582
Hits - 2,081,219

Averages
Entries/day - 0.45
Comments/entry - 1.02
Hits/day - 374

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 8:38 PM Pacific


  01:51 AM

Not to belabor news that's been published elsewhere, but we rolled out a new thing (in beta) today -- a wiki-like "community content" version of MSDN topics:

http://msdnwiki.microsoft.com/en-us/mtpswiki/default.aspx

This is not a wiki in the Wikipedia, anyone-can-edit-anything sense. As Rob Caron points out, it's "more of a companion wiki to the existing product documentation. It allows you to contribute blocks of content for each existing help topic."

So if you take exception to, say, one of our code examples, you can't just go in there and change it to your liking. But you can add content that could include your opinion ("This is terrible! And here's why ...") and/or put up your own, much improved example.

Although the original doc content is locked, the user commentary is not, and in true(r) wiki style you can edit others' contributions. (The stuff is versioned.)

I had a go during our internal test period. (Here's one example.) I had been slightly worried about the UI, but it was straightforward enough to use.

One thing I noticed when I was doing some test posts is that at that time it was kind of lonely out there, seemingly all by myself. (Naturally there were other people testing, but MSDN is vast and only a very small percentage of topics had community content added at first.) Like any kind of social software, a wiki benefits from the network effect, although not as directly as a forum. To help you keep track of what's shaking on the wiki, there's a feed of recent edits. I kinda-sorta imagine that once this thing gets going, the feed will turn into a firehose and lose some of its value. AFAIK, you cannot (yet?) get a feed for only a certain area of the documentation.

One of the first questions that will come up is whether Microsoft owns your contributions. This Contribution Agreement (which they refer to elsewhere as a "broad license") lays it out. As will undoubtedly annoy some people, you have to have a Passport ID to sign in and be able to muck about.

I think this is an interesting experiment. The idea has been floating around a long time. Jeff Atwood and I have gone 'round about this more than once (#). Ideally, there will be several distinct benefits. One is that the information in (or around) the docs will be improved. It will also give us feedback about topics that are popular or well-visited, and as a corollary, what about those topics needs to be improved. (It will not tell us anything definitive, I don't think, if there are no comments on a topic. We won't know whether a) people can't find the topic, or b) they find it but can't be bothered to comment on something so obviously lame, or c) can't think of anything to say because the topic already says it all.) Time will tell, I suppose.

I encourage you to give it a try -- find a topic that's always bothered you and show everyone how to improve it. It will be fun for you and good for the rest of us.

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