Title: Gentoo Knowledge Base
Author: Sven Vermeulen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Type: Standards Track
To improve the self-healing abilities of the Gentoo users, we have to offer a
repository with specific solutions to specific issues and quick answers to
common questions which aren't global enough to fit within a Gentoo Documentation
Guide. Such a repository can be offered by a Gentoo Knowledge Base.
When we look at the software projects today, we find that information has
broadened beyond documentation and the detail level has deepened to an almost
individual, precise answer for every question. It is no longer reasonable to
suggest that documentation is sufficient to successfully aid users with
exploring the world of software use. Documentation is a (and perhaps even the
most) powerful tool to guide users through complex topics. Yet documentation
mainly focuses on a large reader base. Whenever topics become too detailed, they
become difficult to fit inside a certain hierarchical structure.
Such a structure is required by users who need to find documentation quickly. A
major help is, of course, a search feature that spans all documentation.
However, when hundreds of (seemingly similar yet different) topics are
available, many search technologies fail. Natural language queries often express
more details than a regular, boolean expression, but not that many search
technologies allow such queries.
The Gentoo Knowledge Base is an effort to extend the information Gentoo delivers
with precise answers to specific questions. Each topic in the repository must be
owned by at least one knowledgeable developer, written in a structured manner
and should leave no room for different interpretations. General topics must
provide direct links to the documentation.
As one of the major features of a good Knowledge Base, the search engine used
should allow for natural language queries as those are easier for people to
use. However, clear cut 'n paste queries should also prove to be very
effective as many questions rise from error messages.
The topics with the most content would be the issue-type topics who describe a
certain error and inform the user about the resolution. To make sure these
issues are specific enough (not "how do I fix a build fault") they must
describe the following aspects thoroughly:
* The *title* describes the issue well enough for most users to quickly find
out if the topic is of interest for them or not. It is also displayed in
the search results
* The *synopsis* gives more detail about the error, such as the full error
message, commands that triggered it or the (mis)behavior of a specific
* The *environment* informs the user when the topic applies. If the users'
environment doesn't match this one, the topic isn't valid for him.
* In the *analysis* section, the cause of the error is considered in great
detail to discover the essential flaw that triggered the error. It serves
as an information section for the user to comprehend what went wrong.
* To fix the error, the *resolution* section guides the user through the
necessary steps to resolve the issue.
A second type of queries would be small (but interesting) FAQs. These answers
are short and precise, most of the time one or two paragraphs.
Although several topics will be Gentoo specific, we will not limit ourselves
to this. However, we do not add topics that are specific to non-Gentoo
The knowledge base should allow for user feedback. Feedback such as "Does this
answer your question?" is invaluable to improve the search results whereas
"Mark this topic as outdated" helps us keep the knowledge base in good shape.
We might want to consider allowing user comments too: they can add priceless
information to the topic, allowing the maintainer of the topic to update it
with more accurate information.
Topic maintenance system
Each topic should be maintained by a knowledgeable developer. The system must
allow the developer to watch his topics and update them when needed. Of
course, topics related to specific herds should be maintainable by the team
responsible for the herd.
Although not required, revision history would be great :-)
The content of the knowledge base should be public domain. Everything large
enough to warrant a different license shouldn't be in the knowledge base
Based on the requirements, one or more frameworks will be chosen. These should
of course be free software projects; if we can't find any set of frameworks
that adheres to the requirements, the knowledge base project should build one
up until the requirements are met.
We currently do not have any technical requirements on the frameworks, but at
the end the knowledge base should be hosted on official Gentoo hardware and
maintained by the Infrastructure project. As such, the Infrastructure project
has final saying on the frameworks used in the knowledge base.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit