Sure would be nice if the community would make a "manual"

There are so many questions here “I’m trying to use software X with plugin format Y and hardware Z and I can’t get Q to work”. I’ll bet if there were a page somewhere people could share tips in a more findable way. Or maybe there is a way to create new new topics so similar queries could be grouped together? Like “using VCV in Ableton on a mac” “using VCV in Live on a PC”…

This topic seems more appropriate for “Forum Feedback”. Your particular use case may be limited to Plugins & Modules, but a generalized ability to effectively search existing Q&A’s would also be useful for VCV Rack, Development, and maybe the forum itself.

I think it would be useful if topics (and possibly individual posts?) could be assigned community curated tags. Multiple tags could be applied to the same topic.

I have never seen a better Q&A platform than Stack Exchange. Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, perhaps a Stack Exchange Area 51 proposal should be made for VCV Rack?

I used to be extremely active on StackOverflow. VCV Rack has become my newest obsession.

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That sounds like a great idea! If one can get enough ppl to participate, of course.

After having been involved in “knowledge management” in one form or another for about 60 years, I have to say that it is a very tough nut to crack.

My last foray into this was in higher education where I was attempting to use the W3C “Semantic Web” standards, tools and processes to manage US federal funded research data and knowledge.

Wikipedia probably comes closest to an effective knowledge management and dissemination framework that I have encountered and I live in Wikipedia for my theoretical physics work, as well as in Arxiv.org . But, my own experiences with creating a Wiki have not been so successful due to the sheer amount of domain knowledge in any specific domain. Invariably, the system changes and much of the “knowledge” has to be updated, which is as tedious as capturing it in the first place.

Even KM systems such as SharePoint are extremely difficult to manage over the long term.

I would suggest focusing on just a handful of high level issues that cause the most problems and see how that goes. If you are lucky, the Pareto principle holds and 90% of the problems are cause by 10% of the issues.

Plan for change because change is unavoidable, just as is the increase in entropy.

I still have my “Research” notebooks from 1966 when I was 14 Surprisingly, I did a pretty good job of capturing fundamental knowledge that is just as applicable today as when I wrote them down. But, I was a bit precocious as I began studying Einstein’s special theory of relativity along with Lorentz transformations, Riemann spaces etc. since I was 12.

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Wow - that’s why there was so much detail in your feedback :slight_smile:

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This sounds like a great idea.

A Wiki despite KChafrin’s warnings seems like a good solution. Of course the number of topics can grow quickly, but we are not at NASA either.

The problem with knowledge bases in forums, is that the information gets lost. Whether it is in the forest of topics or also in a 6 page thread, where the answer can be found on the fourth page, the discussion having continued after the solution. You have to use the search tools but with some words the search can be difficult. The worst illustration of this fact are the discords.

For my job I use a 3d software that you may know : houdini. This software is known to be pretty complex. The level of technical points to raise can be comparable to some extent with VCV. There are two forums that help a lot. But the best source to get started with this software or to answer specific points raised is without a doubt a wiki. By the way, the 2 forums frequently refer to this one.

One of the reasons that prevents to keep the information is the fact that only a moderator can put order in a thread, and it must be said that in a discussion forum the goal is not to delete the discussion ! This is precisely the purpose of wikis, keep only useful information. A topic can eventually start a bit chaotic, but be put back in order by the contributors. I know you already know all this but let’s say this is my argument haha.

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Oh, I agree that a Wiki is probably the best framework for something like this. It is not easy though.

I know what you mean about Houdini. Prior to my retirement 5 years ago, I was the director for the “3D Animation Lab” at a large university. I came to this job with 10 years of experience in 3D game engine development as well as 3D modelling and animation commercial software development. At the university I was responsible for providing the students, faculty and staff with all of the 3D (and 2D) tools they could possibly need and to teach short courses on 3D Animation. Now that will bring to light the magnitude of the knowledge and skills management challenges in an environment that changed yearly. The best we found was subscribing to Lynda.com who covered all of the major software packages with excellent video tutorials. But, it was extremely expensive.

My advice is to start simply with a single Wiki topic.

As you say, the knowledge has to be managed. There is no way knowledge can be managed in a free-for all discussion forum.

I have several real-life forays into knowledge management. I developed and deployed a world-wide “lessons learned” mixed media system in the semiconductor industry on the mid to late 1980s. I had to invent my own hypertext markup language that all worked under DOS over a WAN via servers.

I then did a similar system to capture, store, manage, and remotely analyze SEM images.

And I wrote the runtime for a commercial A.I. software product called “Procedure Consultant” which was an attempt at procedural knowledge capture, management and access.

I’m just saying, I know from experience that the task of knowledge management is monumental,.but, that should not discourage anyone. Anything is better than nothing.

Is stack overflow “managed”? I always assumed it’s just “managed” by the users who upvote answers. But I don’t really know.

I don’t know either. I have used it quite often but have not paid much attention to the management and curation of the questions and answers.

I’ll bet @DaveVenom knows!

To be honest, I find the VCV forums search to be essentially useless (for my purposes). I can’t even use my browser search to search the VCV search results. I more often do searches via Google so I can take advantage of more advanced search capabilities.

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I actually find the search on this forum to be pretty good.

To be fair though I am usually searching tor topics I have previously read and remember there was an answer to a problem in. I therefore search for a few keywords I remember from the thread. Doing this I’m usually able to find the thread and the answer I was looking for again.

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Yep, me too. As I get older, I have a harder time remembering contextual information.

One last thing… :wink:

It is important to define objectives on something like this. If the objective is to improve the UX, it is important to involve the users. It is important to find out what users like and what they do not like as well as what they wish they had but don’t. We may think we know what users want and need, but we really do not without asking. I used SurveyMonkey a lot at my university job.

One reason no/low code AI driven process solutions are taking over in enterprises is the better ones are self documenting. I hate these systems, anathema to me as a coder, but I can’t argue that being forced to use a tool that takes screenshots throughout the workflow of the things being affected - e.g. go to web page X and click on button Y - means there’s always documentation to some extent. As a coder I’d rather lose body parts than spend more than half an hour documenting applications.

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I never minded writing manuals for VCV modules, but I guess I got tired of it eventually.

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Knowledge, documentation and information management has also been one of my pet peeves for many years, and I’ve made some observations and conclusions on the way:

The problem has 80% to do with humans and 20% to do with technology. A lot of people have no sense of order and will just stick stuff wherever, never to be found again, making things quickly useless. A lot of people never bother to search or to look before asking questions, out of entitlement, lazynes, or because they’re used to search functions being bad. I agree that the search function in this forum (Discourse) is actually quite good and very usable.

Any software system dealing with knowledge, be it a forum, a wiki, a documentation system, needs a group of librarians. People who actually have a sense of order, memory and overview, and who can actually write. In here the closest thing is the moderators, but it can easily be established as a seperate role. It needs to be a very active role or things quickly scatter to the wind.

On the technology side most people forget that there’s two distinctly different kinds of knowledge and conversation: The temporary/ephemeral and then the permanent. Most modern and popular/widely used systems fall into the first category, like forums, facebook, twitter, discord, reddit, chat systems etc. They are only well suited for conversations, questions, answers, research of a fleeting and temporary nature, in the process of piecing things together and working things out, or simply sharing. They are very bad for capturing permament knowledge, which is part of the explanation of the seemingly chronic state of amnesia in society today.

The best type of system we have to capture permanent knowledge today is the Wiki, such as Wikipedia, and to a lesser extent systems like Stackoverflow and various CMS’s and document/knowledge management systems. Discourse/this forum has wiki functionality as well, but it works poorly because like any other post it quickly sinks to the bottom of the stack, and nobody notices pinned posts. A system for permanent knowledge has a somewhat rigid structure and content, that doesn’t change every day, and so makes it easy to quickly drill down for information. It also has a good search function.

The reason why capturing permanent knowledge is so important, when a project reaches a certain size, is to have a canonical resource to point to at all times, and to curb the endlessly answering of the same questions over and over, to great irritation. To capture and continually refine the best state of knowledge and documentation about any facet of the project. It represents the definitive and best obtainable documentation of all things related to the project.

The needed knowledge setup for a project like Rack is like this:

It has a system for temporary knowledge, conversations, sharing, questions and interactions - that’s this forum. It provides the whole dynamic nature of the ecosystem around the project and can be a great pleasure and very valuable.

And then it has a seperate system for capturing and exposing permanent knowledge. That would be the VCV Rack wiki, missing at https://wiki.vcvrack.com, that I would urge Andrew (@Vortico) to make at any time. I would nominate to use the MediaWiki platform also powering Wikipedia, which is excellent. That’s where you have the manuals, the guides, the FAQ’s about e.g. Rack and audio interfaces, etc. etc. All the knowledge that arises and decays on a daily basis on this forum, mostly kept somewhat alive by helpful old-timers. It is edited and curated by a group of trusted individuals, including foremost Andrew of course, with a sense of structure, order and detail, call it the librarians. They are already assembled here on this forum, believe me, and just need to be given the keys.

How the interplay between temporary and permanent knowledge works is like this: On the forum someone asks the same question for the hundredth time. The only response that’s needed is a link to the wiki where the answer is, in great depth, accuracy and detail, because it has accumulated and been refined over time. That keeps out 80% of the noise and polution on the forum. When someone surfaces a new interesting piece of knowledge, or opens a new area of problem or inquiry, a new page on the wiki is opened and the temporary, semi-chaotic knowledge starts to form and is transplanted piece by piece to a coherent piece of knowledge, permanently captured on the wiki, but ready to be updated and revised by the librarians at any moment, as new facts and pieces of the puzzle emerge.

Without a permanent knowledge system, good answers and knowledge will always be scattered, inaccurate, forgotten, and the same old questions, that have been answered countless times, will continue to be asked over and over again, and will be answered poorly and only semi-accurately. It’s a terrible waste of time and energy, bad business, with less happy users, and always produces sub-par knowledge and results.

Oh, and I would agree that this whole topic should be moved to the forum feedback category.

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