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RE: [External] : Re: [PATCH] Package Installation in Tutorial

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: [External] : Re: [PATCH] Package Installation in Tutorial
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 2021 18:53:41 +0000

> > Is using the Customize UI in the tutorial?
> > Is making simple customizations with Lisp
> > in the tutorial?  Is use of `custom-file'
> > in the tutorial?  Is use of the `Options'
> > menu in the tutorial?
> It's sounds like whataboutism. If you think there
> are glaring omissions in topics to be introduced
> to new users, let's add them.

It's about the relative use/importance.  It's
not just about whether XYZ might be useful, in
the absolute, to add to the basic tutorial.

I'd suggest that teaching basic customization
should be more useful/important than teaching
how to install an external package.  But I
don't claim to be right about that suggestion.

> > Is `load-path', `require', or `load-library'
> > introduced in the tutorial?
> Based on my experience with competing editors
> (sorry for reducing Emacs to being an editor)
> when first starting up the topics of selecting a
> theme and installing packages are presented first.
> After that, some customization is offered.

Some basic customization by users is pretty
central to what Emacs is about.  "Extensible"
etc. in the Emacs description isn't (IMO)
primarily about theming or installing packages,
let alone deleting installed packages.

I haven't checked your changes to the tutorial
(mea culpa) - but did you also cover theming?

> > How many nowadays _are_ aware of that "main
> > feature" but are unaware of how to find and
> > change a face or option value?  How many are
> > unaware of how to _ask Emacs_, to find out
> > for themselves about such things?
> That's a trick question due to selection bias.

I don't think it is.

> Emacs is not easy to learn; if you poll existing
> users, they probably figured out how to install
> packages. We're talking about first timers, people
> that make their first steps in Emacs.

Fine.  So your argument is that _first timers_
don't know how to install packages and they're
dying to know that.  They need that, from the

> When these people get stuck,

Stuck how?  Stuck with how to install a package?
That's the question: what's the evidence for this
crying need.

I see _many_ questions from "first timers" about
how to find what face (color, font) is used
somewhere, and how to change it.  And how to
change some variable (e.g. option).  I haven't
seen a lot of questions about how to install a
package.  Not at all.

Maybe we frequent different Q&A/help venues, or
maybe we study/peruse them differently.  I don't
claim my perception is more accurate or important
than yours.  But it's you who are proposing the

> the no. 1 comment they receive is "do the tutorial".

I'd agree that such a comment isn't an answer to
all first-timer questions or problems.

The tutorial should be (or become, if it's not
already) a good place to _start_.  (Whether it
is that, or whether it's the _best_ place to
start, could be debated.)

Is the need to install packages part of what you
need to _start_ using Emacs?  Or does that maybe
belong in some other tutorial (video, blog...)?

> That's where we need to present the Emacs
> ontology: windows, frames, undo/redo, modeline,
> help-searching

Yes, and?

> and also package management which is the least
> alien part in Emacs.

Why also package management?  That's my question.
Why is that something needed for _starting_ to
use Emacs?  By "package management" I guess you
mean installing and deleting packages?  Why is
that something you need to learn at the outset?

> > The whole discussion (by 3 people) of this
> > change  has been only about _where_ to add
> > this topic - nothing about why to do so,
> > or what other changes might be just as
> > important or more so.
> Do you want to open up a discussion about how
> the tutorial is build, or how to make Emacs
> easier for new users? great, but let's start
> with something.

I posed a question about the need for the
particular change to the tutorial that you've
proposed - the "why".

And yes, "need" as defined relatively -
relative to who'll follow the tutorial, and
relative to other topics that it could cover.

> > Has it been shown that new users _are_ in
> > general unaware of packages or unable to
> > install them?  Aside from questions about
> > an early init file or `use-package' syntax
> > etc., how many new users just ask "How do
> > I install a package?"  I don't see that
> > come up, myself, on Reddit, StackExchange,
> > help-gnu-emacs, etc., and I come across
> > dozens (hundreds?), of new-user questions
> > every day.
> Fair point. Does it mean we shouldn't try to
> anticipate pain points for, say, new users,
> and introduce features we think may help them,
> unless new users explicitly complain of lack
> of such features?

How do you propose to know what is most useful
to them?

We've both referred to questions they and others
actually pose.  Our perceptions of the relative
number that ask about installing & deleting
packages differ.

But you seem to have even gone beyond that, by
saying that real first-timers are unlikely to
pose questions about installing & deleting, so
relative lack of such questions by them can't
be used as a yardstick.

In that case, what yardstick do you propose,
to support your judgment of this need?

> > A good indication of such a need might be
> > the number of existing blogs, videos, etc.
> > telling users how to install and delete a
> > package - and how much they're used.  Do
> > we have an impression (or tally) of this?
> > Is there a crying lack of such help?
> When did any change been introduced to Emacs
> due to some contributor seeing blog posts
> mentioning such and such aspects of Emacs being
> problematic/hard to configure/missing a feature?

Sorry, but I don't understand your point or
question there.

I'm again asking what _you_ look to, as evidence
that installing & deleting packages is something
that first-timers really need, as part of our
learn-by-doing tutorial.

You seem to have removed questions by users in
various places, as well as blogs, videos, etc.,
as possible evidence.  What's left?  From what
have you concluded that this is needed in the
basic tutorial?  Where's the beef?

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