One of the online book development projects that I really admire is The Django Book. The visual look of the site is clean, and their feedback system is excellent. At Foo Camp last month, I talked with Adrian Holovaty and Jacob Kaplan-Moss about how the feedback system has worked out for them, and they’ve been thrilled with the response they’ve gotten through it. They’ve received every granularity of feedback from grammar corrections through detailed suggestions on restructuring entire chapters to make them flow better. Wow!
Another excellent feedback system is the one used by the Free Software Foundation to solicit comments on draft versions of their licenses. If you’re not familiar with it, take a look at the site for draft 1 of the GNU Affero GPL.
Unfortunately, Adrian and Jacob described the server side of the Django Book’s feedback system as unreleasable, and to the best of my knowledge, the FSF hasn’t released the server-side code for their feedback system. So there’s nothing prepackaged that we can use to get a similar benefit.
I would be thrilled if we could fire up some volunteers who’d be interested in working on the Real World Haskell web presence. There are several aspects to this work, each requiring a different set of skills.
- Generating CSS-friendly HTML from DocBook XML.
- Presentation of the material: an appealing visual style that makes the HTML content easy to read.
- The browser side of the feedback system, allowing people to submit and read comments down to the individual paragraph level.
- The server side of the feedback system, letting us delete comments as we integrate suggestions into the text.
- Comment spam filtering deeply appreciated.
In principle, we can do all of this work ourselves, but I’d love to get some outside involvement, and I know that Mike, our editor, would really like us to stay focused on cranking out the chapters.
Better yet, I think it would be wonderful to be able to package a feedback system in such a way that it’s releasable and useful to other Open Access and Creative Commons authors.
So! Here’s your chance to make a (literally) visible contribution to an exciting project, possibly with wider benefits to the OA and CC communities. If you want to talk about taking part, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. None of this work requires any pre-existing Haskell knowledge, by the way