Today I wrote my first proper Wiki page.
I did this because someone gave me a set of instructions in the form of some scribbled notes, and I realised that I’d need to write them down to make head or tail of them later. So I spent ten minutes putting them in the development Wiki, and five minutes making them legible.
Presumably the knowledge of the mystical process I’ve documented has been passed down on the project from generation to generation, with each successive wave of new developers learning from the one before. I feel like Charles Perrault; taking a thin slice of legend and trapping it in a palatable form which won’t offend young children. There are probably nuances, exceptions and warnings which changed the story with every telling. All these are now lost to posterity because you know that no one who knows the stories by heart will ever read them or add to them.
Three months from now, two young and inexperienced developers will be talking around the coffee machine. “Why did you do it that way?” one of them will say. “I don’t know,” says the other. “It’s what it said to do in the Wiki.”
With a little effort they’ll be able to track me down as the author, but I won’t know either. No one will try anything different as we all know that this way works. And thus another inexplicable procedure enters the development process; a strange tale built around a greater truth long lost in the mists of time.
Talk to your grandparents. Listen to what they say. One day they’ll leave the project for a better place, taking their wisdom with them.