An tool to measure the nerd factor. 0 is the ideal. No trace of nerdiness. And 10 is an absolute disaster.

This Nerdometer and its nerd factor is meant mostly as FUN. But it is also a serious signal to current and future developers to remember that user friendliness, documentation (both in code and in distributed Foswiki topics as well as supplemental documents).

The idea comes from the Motion project And it has been adapted for Foswiki by its creator KennethLavrsen after having been encouraged by other developers.

Remember - this is meant as a humourous tool and not created to offend anyone, and it is created by someone whose friends, family and colleagues call him a big nerd smile

0 smile smile smile

Your mother can use the feature without help. Just look up some URL you got in an email in your browser and it works.

You do not need to know about port numbers or IP addresses. You do not need to know how to edit a file or copy a file. You hardly need to know what a file is.

A wristwatch without a date would be a clean cut level 0.

Foswiki has few features at level 0. Sorry Mom. Go and play with some Windows program. One of the easy ones. Or go and make coffee and cake.

1 smile smile

The feature or program requires a little bit from you. Without reading anything you just install the program/feature (enter the CD-ROM and answer "yes") or download an installer and double click on it (if you can find it) and everything is installed. There is nothing to setup. It just works. There is a simple GUI where you can see everything.

No Foswiki is not quite there when it comes to installation and configuration.

But some of the features are getting close to this level - at least on some platforms.

2 smile

OK. At this level the feature requires that you can read. For example the installation manual or the user documentation or maybe even the reference manual. You do not have to know what you are doing. As long as you follow the instructions it works. And if you read a little bit more you also understand the principle.

Installing Foswiki on Linux is almost getting to this level. If you read the INSTALL.html and go step by step you have a running system with the default plugins and no authentication. For Debian installing Foswiki a deb is at level 2.

Config options at level 2 can be understood basically from their name which is chosen with care so you know what it is. And by reading the few lines of text above the option in the setting topic or configure you have no doubt what the config option does.

3 cool

So now you really have to start reading the Foswiki documentation. The feature in question is described in the documentation. And it is possible to understand the text and get it to work based on the distributed documentation only.

The feature itself is somehow linked to something in nature. If it is a complex algoritm the feature has implemented a simplifed control and does all the difficult functions automatically behind the scene. User friendliness has been given higher priority than high flexibility and probably unnecessary configurability.

A config option name is not self explaning and the 2-3 lines of explanation may still not be enough.

4 indifferent, speechless

The feature is not easy to understand. The Foswiki documentation has a detailed description of the feature and this is needed because the feature can never be explained in the few lines of text you can put in the configure or in a setting file or in a section in Macros.

The feature may have more options than is really needed. If this is an existing feature is may be a candidate for simplification.

New features added at this level are only acceptable if:
  • The advantage and the gain from adding the feature is significant.
  • People that do not need it can leave it unset and live happily with a fully working system.
  • The feature is fully documented in the Foswiki documentation. And before that in the in a feature proposal Foswiki topic.

Features with nerd factor higher than 4 should normally not be implemented

5 worried, confused

The feature is no longer newbie friendly and may scare people away from even trying Foswiki.

The documentation is not adequate or too difficult to read without knowing a lot of technical background.

The feature has a few of the following properties
  • The feature is only need by very few people. Maybe only YOU.
  • The feature interacts with the other features and maybe change their behavour in an unpredictable way.
  • The feature only works when other feature options are set to very specific values.
  • The feature depends on external applications or libraries that are not automatically installed as part of the Foswiki installation.
  • The feature does not have some good default values that are known to work for most people
  • The configuration option name is confusing.
  • The configuration option name is made from acronyms
  • The configuration option name is ambiguous and could mean many other things
  • The option name could cover another already existing feature.
  • The feature require more options. A new users has to decide if each one of them is relevant for him and Foswiki is already a pretty scary first time acquaintance.

There are many existing features in Foswiki that are at this level and needs to be improved. This is not an excuse for adding more too nerdy features.

6 worried, confused worried, confused

Like level 5 but probably with more of the listed bad properties. The feature is so scary that most will never even try to use it. The presence of the feature has a negative impact on the general use of Foswiki.

Documentation is either not there or it is close to impossible to explain what the feature does. The feature approaches the "you can read the code and see what it does" level.

The feature starts being so unique and strange that you have to install exotic CPAN libs or and maybe compile additional non-standard binary libraries to use it. You cannot let this feature be part of a standard debian package or RPM because the dependencies are beyond what you normally find in a distribution. And we are talking about more than just installing some -devel packages.

7 worried, confused worried, confused worried, confused

Following the trend of level 5 and 6.

The feature scares away people from trying Foswiki. Even the other Foswiki programmers have difficulty understanding how to use the feature.

Even compiling or installing dependencies and getting it to work may be a challenge. The dependencies may need more non-standard dependencies. Installing an RPM is close to impossible.

Documentation is not there. Even reading the code does not help because there are no useful comments in it.

The new code that implements the features alters the function of the existing code in an unpredictable way.

8 dead, deadly, doom

It becomes difficult to put words on the nerdiness now. Experienced core developers do not understand the feature or the code that implements it and it gets rejected just based on this simple fact.

Not a single soul can ever document the feature in a way that normal people can understand.

The options suggested completely lacks any intuition.

The feature turns Foswiki into a patchwork where the user has to figure out how to get the bit and pieces working together.

Foswiki can now do fantastic things but only 10-20 users are actually able to make it work.

9 dead, deadly, doom dead, deadly, doom

The feature proposed requires that the users more or less need to be able to program to make it work.

The user will need to know how exotic CPAN libraries work. The user needs to know advanced protocols. He must know how to setup pipes, TCP/IP sockets even to get the normal features working.

Foswiki has become a nightmare and the project is doomed.

10 dead, deadly, doom dead, deadly, doom dead, deadly, doom

Noone understands anything. Your proposal is incomprehensible and makes no sense at all. Maybe if you try again we will understand and the nerd factor can drop to an acceptable level.

"Do you remember all the op-codes of 386 by heart?"

"Naturally the average user can write the assembler code needed to get a feature working."

"Yes I know it is not easy but it is so smart"

"Look at my nice new code - isn't that smart? No I have not written any documentation. I do not like to write words - only code. Just read the 10000 lines of uncommented C-code with the in-line assembler and you will see how brilliant I am".

"I know my feature breaks other things but you can easily fix that or we can just release a special version of Foswiki with my feature working and the rest broken".

Authors last note

Sorry if I offend someone by giving them a nerd factor 10.

This Nerdometer and its nerd factor is meant mostly as FUN. Last not least. I, KennethLavrsen, consider myself being a nerd trying to stay at an average round level 2-3. It is good to be a little nerdy.
Topic revision: r3 - 25 Feb 2010, WillNorris
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