Finding the Wiki (was: Re: [OS X TeX] Tex to rtf converter)

Alan T Litchfield alan at
Thu Aug 5 17:50:34 EDT 2010

On 6/08/2010, at 9:13 AM, <cfrees at> <cfrees at>  

> Some of what I've written *definitely* needs updating. But it hardly
> seems pressing when I see the questions it answers asked and answered
> here again and again without anybody ever being directed to the wiki  
> or
> seeming in the least aware of its existence. Perhaps people do use it.
> I can only assume that, if so, they are not members of this list.
> This isn't to say I don't mean to update it, but there are other  
> things
> to do and so it is less of a priority. If I knew people actively used
> it, it would be a higher priority.

Sigh. I have read all the postings on this thread and mostly it seems  
to have emerged from a trans-Atlantic miscommunication of humour (not  
the first or last time I should think).

I have an admission to make, until just now I have not used the wiki  
before. Why? Mainly because I dislike the way that wiki's display  
information. Most that is displayed is redundant to my needs but to  
understand what is on there I must wade/skim through it and judge its  
relevance to my needs. If I am not entirely certain what I need then  
it becomes confusing and I am likely to go elsewhere to satisfy my  
requirements/answer my question. But also because it just has not  
featured in the hollows of my mind.

Please do not read this as reasons to cease the wiki. I am certain it  
has a place on the interwebs but I like the mailing list and from time  
to time I will snaffle posts because the information is really good.  
It is usually immediately useful for me, but who knows when (a bit  
like old plastic shopping bags).

Unlike a wiki, a mailing list is conversational and someone comes into  
the room to join the conversation usually by asking a question. To  
which others will include them by answering them. Sometimes someone  
will post a comment that might be of interest to others. Oh sure,  
there is etiquette and there are times when the 'new guy' needs to be  
told what that is (those who have used lists for the last decade or  
few instinctively know how to behave but there are those who,  
well...). I don't see that done with wikis because like any website,  
posting are made to provide information even though the provision of  
information may have been prompted by a previous question. I only see  
it when I read it and otherwise I don't think about them. Mailing  
lists, on the other hand, are insistent alerting me when there are new  
contributions to the flow of conversation. Some I read and some I  
don't. Also, when reading threads of past conversations I am able to  
judge relevance of information by building the context of its  
application in the thread itself.

Often, when I need information about a specific issue I use texdoc,  
but that's because I normally know what I am looking for. Otherwise I  
will Google it, but I do not recall the wiki ever showing up in the  
first few pages (yes I often go down through several pages of  
results). Perhaps there's a way to improve it's scoring. If it comes  
up higher then I am likely to use it. Next, I will search the mailing  
list archives or the main lists I am subscribed to. Then, when I am  
still not satisfied or have not found the answer to what I am looking  
for, I will post a question. I realise others do not do this but then  
I do not expect everyone else to be like me.

Unlike a mailing list that has as many contributors as posters, a  
website (and a wiki) has a limited number of contributors. Both exist  
and stay up to date for as long as those contributors are willing and  
able to do so. A mailing list is likely to have a longer life span  
simply because the pool of contributors is larger and those cease to  
contribute are more likely to be replaced.

The wiki is an excellent resource, as are the many other websites. It  
is true that a lot that is still out there is no longer current so  
please, keep up the good work. It all adds to what makes TeX a such a  
great experience. I have delighted in reading (and keeping) Adam's and  
others' posts in past. Of course we all lose patience and need a  
change and we are are entitled to choose our destiny.


Alan T Litchfield
PO Box 141, Auckland, 1140
New Zealand

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