Re: [DML] Re: Repeated Questions Solution: DeLorean Tech Wiki?
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Re: [DML] Re: Repeated Questions Solution: DeLorean Tech Wiki?



Hmmm... I seem to have rambled on for a bit.  Wonder how many people  
will bother to actually read all of this. :)

> He spent a lot of time in building a website and several HowTo's
> to help people to fix their cars.
> His Howto's are very detailed with pictures and son on, but
> people did not really care about it. Instead they find it more
> helpful to write emails to over 1000 people from where they receive
> 5 different answers (some of the good, some totally wrong) instead
> to google for a minute and to get everything they need.
>
> here is Jordan's webside:
>
> http://mydelorean.net/

I've used this before, and I've found it to be an excellent resource.   
I would love to see articles with even half that level of detail and  
quality in the wiki.

Here's the some of the problems with the current state of DeLorean  
tech archives as I see it:

- There isn't a centralized place to find all of the information.   
I'll stumble onto various how-tos and such when I google for help on a  
subject, but some people just aren't very good with search engines,  
and even then it can take me a while to find what I'm looking for.  If  
we could try to consolidate all of these different sources into a  
single, user-edited database like a wiki, we might be able to make it  
easier for people to find the information they're looking for.

I'm not saying we should get rid of all the other sites -- they could  
simply be referenced from the wiki.  No need to copy entire articles  
from one site into the wiki, as long as the wiki indexes them properly  
so people can find the information and points people to the correct  
location.  Actually having the content on the wiki is advantageous  
because then anyone can update ambiguous sections, add pictures,  
provide tips, list alternatives, and so on.

- Searching the DML archives online sucks.  The Yahoo Groups search  
tool is fairly pathetic.  I have five years of DML postings on my Mac  
that I routinely search with Apple Mail, but even then I'll still  
spend quite some time going through all the matches to find the  
information I need.  This has nothing to do with the quality of the  
posts -- it's simply that they are discussions, so often I need to  
read the whole discussion and related responses to get at the  
information I need.

We have all this great information from so many knowledgeable people,  
but it's spread all over the place on personal web sites and forums  
and mailing lists, which can make it quite difficult to actually find  
the information in the first place.

_IF_ the wiki hits a critical mass of articles, it may be that  
people's first stop will be the wiki instead of asking questions on  
the forums.  And if they do ask questions, hopefully this will lead to  
a new wiki entry.  It's not even a problem if someone asks a question  
that's already in the wiki -- someone could simply reply to them with  
a link to the page in the wiki, which in the future might lead them to  
the wiki first, and if that doesn't answer their question they may  
come back and ask for more information.

> OK, the social contact is important and makes fun, it's a part of
> owning a Delorean. But it is very disappointing to do such a lot
> of work to find out, that people do not care about it or want to
> have it written for them personal. And very often they do not even
> want to know how it works or what the problem is. To me it seems
> they want to find somebody who does the work for them or they want
> an easy fix like a Delorean-Door-Adjusting Spray....

That's fine.  Some people just want their car to work and don't want  
to deal with the problems.  They should probably just take it to a  
mechanic if they aren't willing to do the work themselves.  But  
there's always going to be people like this.  I work as a software  
developer and we get lots of questions from clueless users all the  
time.  It's just one of those things.  They're actually a relatively  
small percentage of the user base, but they're a vocal one, so they  
SEEM large.  Your average user is generally quite agreeable.

Jordan's tutorials are so finely written and presented that most of  
the time you don't hear from people who liked them and found them to  
be just what they needed.  Same with software; you hear about the bugs  
all the time, or how it doesn't work right, but you rarely hear from  
the person who uses it every day without an issue.


Let's try another example:  Computer repair.  I spilled ice tea on my  
laptop a few weeks ago.  I'm knowledgeable enough that I could take it  
apart and clean it out.  I had killed the hard drive, so I replaced  
it.  I also corroded the left I/O board with tea and had to clean it  
off, and I thought I had to replace the wifi card (it was just the I/O  
board).  And then I had to re-apply the thermal paste on the heat sink  
when I unseated it from the CPU accidentally.  These aren't very  
difficult for me at all.

But I'd never opened this laptop before.  I didn't know the locations  
of all the screws, which cables needed to be disconnected, and so on.   
I could just poke around and try things, but I really didn't want to  
make it any worse than I already had. I could bring it to Apple and  
pay the $1250 liquid damage repair fee, but that seemed like a lot  
considering that the laptop mostly worked.  I could post on Apple  
forums asking how to take apart the laptop to clean it, but I wasn't  
sure that would be so useful without pictures.

Instead I found ifixit.com ( http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/ ), which has  
detailed, step-by-step walkthroughs on how to disassemble and replace  
every significant part of every modern Apple product, all in one  
place.  What a fantastic resource.  Their level of detail is up there  
with Jordan's site.

However, it is equally important to note that I didn't need to know a  
damn thing about how these parts of the computer worked -- I only  
needed to know what was broken and how to replace it and fix it.   
Sure, it's NICE to know how such things work, and there are cases  
where it is important to know for optimal operation, and you certainly  
do need a minimal understanding of how anything operates before you  
work on it.  But often just some high-level guides are enough, and  
then you can read the detailed guide to understand exactly why it  
failed and why the change you did fixed it.

This is how I feel about working on my DeLorean.  I know I can do it,  
I just find that I don't necessarily know where to start half the  
time, or what to dismantle, and I find the manuals to be lacking.  My  
greatest concern is getting to a point where I can't put the car back  
together again.  I'm better now than I was when I first got it, but  
mostly in specific parts of the car that I've worked on before, while  
other parts are still a complete mystery to me.  Especially parts that  
have significant safety implications, where I'd really like some  
detailed do's and don'ts so I don't get myself killed when I take it  
for a drive after my last repair.

I'm certainly not saying that we should only have step-by-step high- 
level replacement guides without any theory or detailed operational  
knowledge.  I believe there are places for both of those.  Sometimes I  
just want to know what screws I need to pull to replace the warm-up  
regulator, or what size wrenches I need for the fuel accumulator, and  
some quick step-by-steps to get me through the process without having  
to decipher the manuals, especially when the guides have extra tips  
and hints that the manuals just assume you already know because  
clearly you're an professional mechanic or otherwise you wouldn't have  
these manuals (at least that's how the manuals seem like they're  
written to me).  Other times, I really do want to know just how it  
works so I can get the best results out of my repair, or know when  
I've reached my limits and need to bring in a pro.

In the long run, you don't do this stuff for other people (I mean, not  
entirely); you do it for yourself, because you want the resource, but  
you also like to help others.  If some people don't appreciate you're  
work, that's their problem.  That's just my opinion, though.

> AND here's THE source:
>
> http://www.dmcnews.com/techmain.htm

I've found this very helpful as well.

> When I bought my car the first thing was to get the manuals and to
> read whatever I thought might need to be fixed. If I still had
> questions (and I had a looot of them !) I asked othe owners. But
> first I tried to understand the basic stuff.
> Is this too much for today new owners ?

I have them too.  I got my DMC 5 years ago, and I knew nothing of  
working on cars.  I brought mine to a mechanic, but I read through the  
manuals as much as I could.  Once I moved out to the middle of  
nowhere, I had no choice but to do the work myself, and I learned  
quite a lot (with many calls to DeLorean Motor Center).  But I still  
have trouble getting useful information out of the DeLorean manuals.   
I find that they often assume that I already know what I'm doing,  
either omitting what I consider to be key steps or not explaining why  
something needs to be done.

I honestly would like to see tutorials and tech advice on the level of  
"I'm really eager to give it a try, and I know how to use basic tools  
and understand basically how a car is put together, but I really  
haven't worked on a car before, and I'd rather not disable/break it  
while I'm trying to fix it".  I believe this is the stepping stone  
that many new owners need to move into really taking care of their  
cars themselves.  And these benefit advanced owners, too, since they  
can use these as refreshers and quick references.

> Don't misunderstand me - I love to help newbies, and I helped
> many so far. But everything on this "Forum" is repeated so often.
> Why ?
> Describe it once. Correctly. and forget the sometimes very strange
> theories of some people....

This would be an issue with the wiki, too.  If everyone can edit it,  
then anyone can add some pet theory or what not.  I really don't have  
much of a problem with that, though, as long as the conventional  
wisdom is the primary focus, and the more theoretical stuff is clearly  
marked and listed as an addendum.  And again, a user-updated system  
would allow new details and tips to be added, alternate solutions to  
be posted, and so on.

But there are also the issues that change over the years, as has been  
mentioned before, like tires and oil and so on.  So you DO want those  
to be updated periodically.

> This mailing list sends each email to over 1000 email addresses,
> but only about 20 are writing here. This means about over 900
> get their mailbox stuffed and try to filter the useful stuff for
> them. 1000 mails - and some people here are using this list as their
> personal chatroom!!!

A lot of people are like me, who lurk in the background, reading all  
the information that comes in, and occasionally ask a question or post  
a reply.  You do need enough traffic, even if it isn't substantial,  
just so that people don't forget the list exists.  I think the signal  
to noise ratio is reasonably good, even if some personal conversations  
do show up.  But I have a high tolerance for noise, and am willing to  
filter.

I'm hoping a wiki could address some of this by letting the lurkers  
who just want to read the information get that information directly,  
and not have to filter through all those posts to locate it.

> I'd like to get informed about new stuff, the DCS and so on, but I
> really do not care if somebody wants to participate at something or
> not. Many mails per day doesn't mean high quality !!!!


That's true, but that's the nature of this kind of mailing list.  Some  
kind of "announcements" list might be interesting, one that was fully  
moderated so only announcements were allowed.  Again, there's the  
issue of critical mass (enough people need to subscribe so that people  
will bother posting announcements to it), but it might be a good  
solution, instead of the current cross-positing to the various  
DeLorean lists and forums.  Re-enforcing it by having moderators on  
the other lists mark announcements by saying they should go to a  
specific announcements list might help get that critical mass, too.

-- Joe



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