IMHO the biggest flaw with this site these days isn't that there's not enough information (though there are still significant gaps in certain areas), it is that there is *too* much information. For a newbie who comes here looking for no-knead bread or a basic sourdough starter, I'm sure it is extremely daunting how many different hits they get when they do a search on those topics.
I've been stewing on this for some time and playing with different ideas and technologies to try to figure out what the best way to solve it would be. The idea I am most intrigued by would be use the Drupal book module to allow us to create a structured document collaboratively that would represent the "authoritative" recipes and instructions (or as close to authoritative as we can get). By document I don't mean 1 web page, I mean a bunch of pages linked together with a single table of contents. So think of as a new tab you'd see in the top navigation that would lead you to a table of contents. Each item in the table of contents would be it's own page. By no means would the book replace the discussions we have here every day, but it would create a single document into which our collective wisdom could be gathered.
The way I'm imagining this would work would be I would start the ball rolling by creating the book and starting to stub in the sections and pages (I'm imagining top level sections on things like Gear, Ingredient, Techniques, and Recipes, but even that would be something I'd like us to decide collectively). Site members who who wanted to be involved could contribute at a couple of different levels: I'm imagining one level of contributors who have something like editorial level access who can create pages, edit any page in the book, rearrange the order of the pages and so forth. Another level of contributor could author pages about topics they know a great deal about (starters, different grains, a particular recipe, etc.) but not need to worry about formatting or the technical aspects as much.
What else... not everything on the site would make it into the book. I realize that there are at least 20 ways to start a sourdough starter, but we'd want to pick just a couple of methods and document them well. The goal wouldn't be to create an exhaustive document, just one that is approachable. For further reading, there are the nearly 5,000 discussions we've had here and which we could point to.
I'm imagining that comments would be disabled on the book pages. It'd be like Wikipedia: every page has a dedicated area where people can debate the details, but the pages themselves rarely reflect this discussion. I'm imagining that I'd create a dedicated forum for discussion of the book (what should go in it, what should not, whether a given post is accurate, etc.), but we'd keep the book pages as clean and authoritative in voice as possible. You know, like a *real* book. ;)
License-wise, I'm imagining placing the document under something like The Creative Commons license that Drupal uses. Basically by becoming a contributor to the project you'd be vowing that any content you posted is your own and that it is OK for other people to use it in non-commercial ways. If it *really* came together as something like a book it'd be fun to find a place online that could do printing-on-demand for us so we could have a TFL book on our shelves or to give to friends, but I'm not counting on that right now. The goal of this isn't to get rich or get published, it is to better organize our thoughts and share our knowledge with one another.
So, I guess my questions to the community members are:
- Would this interest you as a reader?
- Would you be interested in participating? Editing?
- Do you think it is a good idea but to try to start something like this right before the holidays is insane?
My own answers are "yes" to the first two and "perhaps" to the third. I've got some enthusiasm and energy to put toward this right now so part of me wants to jump on it right away, but another part of me thinks I should just cool my jets until early 2008. We're all going to be busy enough the next month or two.