Call to Arms: We All Need to Evangelize

Call to Arms: We All Need to Evangelize

Posted by Brad Wood
Aug 25, 2012 05:28:00 UTC
Prior to this week, there were Wikipedia entries for MockBox, CacheBox and WireBox, but they've all been deleted by Wikipedia. There still is an entry for the ColdBox Platform-- for now. It's also been marked for deletion. So has the FuseBox page. The main reason for the deletion notices is that those articles don't have enough notable third-party references to support them. Wikipedia moderators say those topics just don't have enough articles, news, and books written about them OUTSIDE of their own community, or for that matter; the ColdFusion community.

Say What?

My goal in writing this is not that everyone will run over to Wikipedia and argue in favor of keeping the entries (though help editing entries to keep them fresh and objective is always welcome). Actually, after reading up on Wikipedia's deletion policy I can see why they want to delete the articles. In fact, I'm kind of surprised most of the ColdFusion-related framework entries on Wikipedia weren't deleted long ago.

The Why

Wikipedia has a comprehensive Deletion Policy concerning entries that don't meet the encyclopedic criteria to exist and about 5,000 entries are removed from Wikipedia every day. Some of the reasons an entry can be deleted include:
  • Copyright violations
  • Advertising or other spam without relevant content
  • Articles that cannot possibly be attributed to reliable sources, including neologisms, original theories and conclusions
  • Articles whose subjects fail to meet the relevant notability guideline
  • Articles for which thorough attempts to find reliable sources to verify them have failed

The Problem

Those last two are particularly troublesome. A topic has to be "notable" to be included on Wikipedia. That means, " if no reliable third-party sources can be found on a topic, then it should not have a separate article." Wikipedia should only contain entries about subjects that have "received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject".

References for Wikipedia must also be reliable, published sources "with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy". This includes respected authorities on the matter, and largely EXCLUDES self-published books, newsletters, personal websites, wikis, blogs, and social media postings.

That's a fairly strict set of guidelines. This is quite troublesome for many ColdFusion frameworks where the bulk of information about the framework comes from the official site, main developers, or random people's blogs in the ColdFusion community. We might think Joe Blow's ColdFusion blog is a respected authority in the CF community, but if the moderators at Wikipedia have never heard of him (and they probably haven't) then he's a nobody and his blog doesn't count. A couple of nights ago, I Googled for quite some time to see how many ColdFusion or ColdBox-related articles I could find on non-blog sites that weren't dedicated to ColdFusion. It's a pretty dismal list. ZDNet even used to have occasional articles about CF back in 2008, but that's all dried up recently.

There's quite a handful of books on ColdFusion itself, but most of the CF frameworks don't have published works. Luis has written books on ColdBox and CacheBox, but since they are by the author of the framework, they don't count according to moderators. Even over on the Fusebox deletion discussion, the Wikipedia moderators complained that there were no sources about Fusebox outside of the ColdFusion community even though Fusebox is a ColdFusion framework! They said the expectation is to see articles related to the subject in mainstream sites such as "ZDNet, DeveloperWorks, etc.".

The Question

So, should Wikipedia change their standards? I did find some of them a little obtuse, and occasional community input that said things such as "This is an unimportant web app framework for an obsolete coding language" seemed to fly in the face of Wikipedia's own rules about objectivity. In general though, I would say, "No". Wikipedia should not change their rules, instead the ColdFusion/ColdBox/Fusebox/etc community should change our behaviors. We all need to do more to help evangelize the projects that we are involved in outside of our circles.

After seeing the steady stream of disparaging remarks regularly made about ColdFusion on Twitter, it is painfully obvious to be just how many people outside of the ColdFusiverse have no idea what CFML is currently capable of. These people don't read Ray Camden, they don't read Ben Nadel, and they certainly don't read your blog. They think all ColdFusion apps are as crusty and procedural as that horrific CF intranet site they had to manage once and there's little to no information in their sphere to tell them otherwise.

The Answer

I would like to challenge you to think of ways you can spread word of ColdFusion to sources outside our community. Look for tech zines you can contribute to. If you are part of a non-Adobe user group, give a presentation on Railo or your favorite framework. Offer to write tutorials for Adobe's site. As the ColdBox Platform Evangelist, this sort of thing is my job, but I think it's something we all can and should participate in.

Please share your thoughts on ways we can contribute reliable secondary information to the Internet regarding frameworks such as ColdBox. I'm proud to see articles on sites such as TechRepublic about ColdFusion topics. I'd like to offer ColdBox-related articles, but honestly I don't how to get your foot in the door at those kind of sites. Please let me know if you have any ideas.


Peter Boughton

Good article - wanted to write something like this myself, but not had the time.

The one bit I disagree with is that I do think Wikipedia should change their standards for notability of software development tools - books and journalists are a very outdated method in today's world!

Of course, you can't trust personal websites or social media either, but for me there's a pretty obvious way to determine notability: Go to a number of job sites and search for "<language>" and/or "<language> <framework>" and look at the results that come in - if a specific technology is mentioned when hiring, that tech is notable.

Wouldn't necessarily work in isolation, but certainly seems to be more reliable than looking at whether a software company has paid a tech magazine to write a review of a product...

In any case, I fully agree with the need for CFML developers to "get out there" and mingle with the rest of the global development community - as well as editing articles on Wikipedia, asking & answering questions on StackOverflow is a great way to participate (and get feedback), even for developers who feel new/rusty.

Henry would be a good channel to spread the news I think, especially when it's somehow related to Java / JEE.

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