Discussing the merits of the Arch Wiki

Continuing the discussion from Guide on installing Arch?:

The accuracy of this statement really boils down to the fact that the Arch Wiki is great for surface level knowledge of a utility and 10% of the most common problems, but after that, you’re pretty much required to look at manpages or the softwares own documentation. Not that it’s a bad thing.

It is, it’s just that the documentation isn’t complete to a point where it can be relied upon for anyone who already knows how the tool works, because it’s designed to help people who are new to the software or Arch.

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Agreed. I’d guess anecdotally I have about 50% success rate finding answers at the Arch Wiki.

I’ll admit I tend to get caught up on edge cases a fair bit :slight_smile:

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It’s good in so far as it offers a good jumping off point. You cover the extreme basics there, then it gives you enough info to somewhat research on your own.


Arch wiki is a loose collection of tips or milti liners on “how to do x”, but its not really good documentation. it’s not really that well structured, its filled with half complete and out of date info, and what good info is there is only really good as a standalone howto (for the most part).

Arch wiki is a reasonably decent collection of howto pages, but i wouldn’t say it makes good documentation.

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I mean I use it mainly for getting things installed and setup when I can’t just apt-get. Some translation is required for the distro you’re on obviously but I can’t say I’ve had any issues.

You guys would probably know more than I would. I am just a lowly peon in the Linux world.

That’s a better way to put it.

My biggest frustration is that distros should ship packages with sane defaults

So many distros don’t. That’s why I love Fedora. It does. (mostly)

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It’s okay.

I am working on specific examples that bother me and that I believe are not useful for getting setup and configured. Only @Adubs can flag this post as low effort.

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I can’t say I have any experience with package defaults being an issue. My linux use is entirely limited to debian based things. Most of the time theres already a tutorial for something in debian but its often dated or doesnt work or theres a bunch of misinformation. Thats usually when I turn to the arch wiki and go from there.

So I guess my original comment is based on the very little I have ever had to use it and in those rare instances its always did me right.

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Any problem I duck about linux has pretty big chance of hitting arch wiki. The merits are great. I mind y’all that it’s just a community wiki, no one is getting paid to document all of that. The fact that when I duck something about CentOS I always hit digitalocean tutorials not some official CentOS docs or RHEL.

IBM doesn’t have money to spend on docs? :wink: /j

Also arch wiki, and in arch community general assumes that you’re either already have experience with linux, or at least basic computer literacy and willing to learn on your feet.

It’s not targeted for filthy casuals yet people like to shit on it for not being user friendly enough. It’s friendly to users who want to tinker with their systems, and the wiki reflects that.

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Those too are usually pretty good but dont always get the job done for me.

I never could get PPTP to work on my DO droplet.

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It’s worth noting that experienced users know about The Beginner’s Guide and either know where to find it or have it bookmarked somewhere. New users will not know about this or where to find it.

Exhibit A

So, they’re left with clicking the Installation Guide seen to the right in the picture above.

Jesus Christ, the first three paragraphs and we’re bombed with information:

Exhibit B

Note the highlighted phrase. Should run. This language is present throughout the entire documentation. While I realize this isn’t an inherent problem with the wiki (it is if we’re going to call this a technical manual or technical guide), this leads common problems to be brought up to the community, which are far and beyond from the most helpful people on the Internet.

It should work does not mean it will work. Yet this is presumed across the board by the authors and users.

Moving on.

Once we make it past the information overload, if we still want to try, we’re met with this:

Item C

When you have a child and you’re out at a restaurant, do you say “Alright Timmy, what would you like?” or do you say “I’ll have X and Timmy will have the Club Sandwich”

If you’re a respectable parent and not a terrible human being you order for the child. Later, you learn what the child likes and give them options, but you don’t hold up the line with “Uhm… Uhm… Uhm… DO YOU HAVE CHICKEN FINGERS?!”

No you wretched little shit, we’re at Subway, you either eat fresh or you GTFO.

It would be more viable to just offer a partitioning scheme and provide a useful guide. But that’s not the Arch way. If someone suggests fdisk and you say “I like parted”, then you really don’t need this spelled out for you, do you?

However, people that have had the distro partition for them might just need an option to go for it. Really, the difference between fdisk and parted is minimal. I think this explains the illusion of freedom so many Arch users claim to have. Freedom is not the Arch way, simplicity is. And their wiki is anything but.

Last, I’ll spare you my monologue and diatribe for much longer, we have the bootloader segment:

Subsection D, Article 7, Paragraph 2

This person should be throat punched. A lot of those options aren’t viable. While I’m mostly joking about the Wikipedia bit, are they being serious? You have this cartooney graph cross referencing file systems and firmware but link to an external Wikipedia page that, while comprehensive, is largely irrelevant to a Linux operating system?

It tires me. I know my way around it and it is useful in some aspects, but good God is it atrocious for beginners. It is also undeserving of the term documentation.

Anyway, my $18 (inflation, two cents isn’t worth Arch these days).


Lmfao at this being marked as the solution :rofl:

You guys are too much sometimes.


Very much so. you’ve basically pointed out some examples of whats littered across the whole wiki.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the information its self, but as a wiki of documentation, its not very good. Unfortunately I think (though ive not looked in a while) the arch wiki has the same overall problem as Arch its self, except 2 fold because users can contribute to it. There’s no real direction. So you end up with a lot of information, but not well presented.

lets just say if my job relied on using arch docs, i would be homeless, thank god for stack overflow and irc. thats how i originally filled in the gaps. since im not a networking guy

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Beginners should probably look at FAQ and install guide, both of which are on top.

it’s neither and nor do they call it like that themselves

remember that you get no guarantee with FOSS and authors cannot be held liable

in the very top of the install guide, 2nd paragraph it says

The guide is general guideline of the install process not a tutorial with exact steps.

I’ll just ignore the child analogy coz it’s dumb, you’re assuming users who want to install arch are so dumb that they can’t follow links on a wiki?

I just pretty much disagree with everything you said there.

The microcode note is there coz it is related to initramfs, because both are loaded by bootloader.

Knowing if the bootloader can or can’t boot btrfs is bad because?

the wiki can’t be source is dumb imo. it’s usually valid enough.

It’s okay.

Honestly it is the answer.

I would have spent more time on it and been nicer but those 4 examples have bothered me for a long time lol.

Overall, I think it’s great. I use it and it, generally, helps me resolve the issue I’m having.

But I’ve been using Linux off and on since 2011 and I’ve professionally provisioned and configured systems for a bit. When users on Windows say “I want to try Linux” and people suggest Arch, I don’t think they understand what a giant, sloppy mess it all is. Later it gets broken down and more focused, but the installation guide needs a lot of work. Just trim down a lot of the options and it’ll be a lot better, I think. Clean up the language and the attitude, and it’ll be one of the best distros on the market.

Btw… Now that I have you… Can you reset my likes? :smiley:

I was referring to the users that boast of the merits of the wiki.

The F.A.Q. is daunting information overload as well.

I’m aware, however, that wasn’t my point. My point was when something doesn’t work it can’t possibly be the vague documentation or poor system design, it has to be the incompetent end user. Here, I’ll link the wiki to be sure he’s read it.

Yeah, but that’s still not very useful:

IRC and forums are often rude and condescending. Not always, I’ve seen some helpful advice there. But overall, including the Reddit sub, you’ll get shamed and spammed the wiki before any useful advice comes along. By then, they’re likely gone.

What you call tomato I call basil soup? :thinking:

Oh that was hilarious, what’re you talking about?

I’m not assuming they’re dumb but if someone is setting up a DIY distro for the first time why are you giving them 5 partitioning tools? Just walk them through the partitioning and say “if you prefer another tool, click here” or whatever.

It’s not that hard. Gentoo docs are more accessible.

I expected majority to disagree with what I said. I’m a visual + kinesthetic learner. With just text it takes me a while (unless it’s history/fantasy/scifi then I’m good).

The problem is the Arch wiki expects people to learn their way or not at all. DIY doesn’t mean bombarded with decisions.

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In some areas yes

In some areas this is exactly what is it. Right down to the command switch for very specific scenarios that the author had, not the reader.

But in some cases it is. There is clearly an attempt on pages to provide a technical guide

From the greatness of “random page”


This attempts to be somewhat of a technical troubleshooting guide and installation guide. though not very comprehensive.

OK… which first? Your answer shows why its not great.

You’re trying to defend something when you shouldn’t be, no one is arguing that the information is bad. The argument is that its not good documentation, and it doesn’t know what it is. Your own responses back this up when you go down the line of trying to defend it by saying its not meant to be taken as anything but a general guideline. aka. not good documentation.

For general wishywashy information its fine, no one argues that, for anything else its not. The problem is people say the arch wiki is great, but its just not. Its poor, arguably very poor.

For an example of great Linux documentation and information, the arch wiki is no where near the top of the list.

I think id have to make you a leader… that’s the next level :smiley: Maybe @leaders will discuss you for the next round.

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