WPD:Keeping on Topic

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Keeping on topic in webplatform.org IRC and Q&A

It is always a challenge keeping IRC channels, etc. on topic. People come in with questions they really need answers to, and can be quite persistent, and we are a helpful crowd and like to get our teeth into proving our geek knowledge, solving problems! However, if we try to answer every question even vaguely related to web development, we will end up spending all our time answering questions, and no get anything else done, which is exhausting and counter productive.

By following the below simple guidelines, you can avoid getting bogged down by too many off-topic questions.

IRC

The webplatform IRC room is for conversation and questions about the webplatform.org site and its contents. On topic questions include:

  • I've been having problems with logging into the site; please can someone help?
  • I've found a bug with the site, how do I report it?
  • I wanted to document feature X of CSS, but I'm not sure where the best place to put it is.
  • I wanted to help edit some articles, but I'm not sure where to start.
  • Is JavaScript feature X documented anywhere?
  • Is it ok to document server-side technologies on webplatform.org?

To answer these questions, the chat topic should help you a lot:

"Support and conversation about webplatform.org • FAQ: http://docs.webplatform.org/wiki/WPD:FAQ • logs: http://talk.webplatform.org/chatlogs • bugs: http://goo.gl/bTTpT"

Point people to the bugs URL for reporting bugs; the FAQ also contains a lot of useful answers to very commonly asked questions.

For specific questions about content, and where to document things, etc., it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the structure of the WPD wiki as much as possible. If you are not sure how answer such questions then no worries. As a last resort, you can point people towards the mailing list, where their question can be picked up by one of the webplatform.org staff.

We are not here to talk about specific web development problems, or questions about developing specifications new technologies. If you encounter such questions, it is a good idea to point them towards a more appropriate chatroom that deals with niche development questions, for example #html, #html5, ##javascript, #jquery, #svg, #css and #web are all available on freenode.

For people who want to talk about possible new standards, the #whatwg chatroom is a good place to go; or they could go to lists.w3.org and find a relevant W3C mailing list to ask questions on.

Q&A

The webplatform.org Q&A basically follows the same remit as the IRC channel, but with a few caveats. The questions listed in the IRC section above are all perfectly appropriate for asking in the Q&A. But in addition to that, it may also be appropriate to answer some questions on technology specifics. It really is a judgement call on your part as to whether the ensuing discussion would make for good documentation on webplatform.

For example, questions such as

  • Can you help me find out all the common mobile phone and tablet screen sizes, to help in my responsive web design work?
  • How can I declare variables in ECMAScript 6, and how well are those features supported across browsers?
  • What is the new syntax of CSS3 radial and linear gradients, and are they documented anywhere on webplatform.org?
  • What strategies are useful for getting HTML5 sites to degree gracefully in IE6?

Are all good fodder for webplatform.org documentation. In these situations, it would be a good idea to give the question asker a couple of links and a paragraph of relevant information, and then try to encourage them to look for further information themselves. Also try to encourage them to start a page on webplatform.org to document the information you have discussed. If they are unwilling to do this, pass the link round on our mailing list to see if anyone there is interesting in documenting it.

Questions such as

  • Here is a link to my code, debug it for me…
  • I have this very specific bug in IE6 involving hover states not working when positioning is used
  • I have a very specific problem with animation in iOS6

Are very niche and specific, would probably not make great documentation, and will also take a lot of your time in debugging them. In these cases, point the question answer over to stack overflow, which is a much more suitable venue for asking such niche questions.

Then you get questions such as

  • Plz help me do web design

These can just be ignored, or you can send them a link to the webplatform beginner's guide as a good starting place.