I spend a lot of my time working with open source software and I like to think that I’ve picked up a number of the tricks, gotchas, and other secrets of these systems. So, whenever I think of posting to this blog, it usually along the lines of “man, I just spent a day figuring out X. I should document that for the next poor sap that comes along.” Invariably, I don’t. Occasionally this is due to time constraints, but more often it’s because there’s already a wiki or something for whatever I’m dealing with and I believe that keeping related information in one place is a good idea. So, I don’t write it here, or there.
Unfortunately, writing open source documentation isn’t as fun as coding or as gratifying as blog traffic* so there’s a pretty good chance the open source knowledge diaspora will continue. Important, headache preventing, technical information will remain in change logs, mailing lists, and random blog posts while user guides and other documentation will be ignored or buried**.
Stack Overflow is helping a bit, but it would be nice if some of the best answers there were pulled back into (or at least linked to from) the how-tos and getting started guides of the projects they concern.
I, for my part, am going to start writing this stuff down. Where it belongs.
* yes, I recognize the irony here.
** many open source projects could do a hell of a lot better job at making documentation easier to find.