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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Why Example Articles are Hard to Do

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Work progresses on Captain's Log #42. One of the things done is an example article. In a sense this one shows one of the problems with the kinds of examples that are routinely requested. It is not a matter that I resist doing them, but that often the requested example is too broad. What is needed is for the person requesting to be more specific about what it is he wants.

Take for example a request for deck crew operations.

Okay, fine. What deck crew doing what?

While there are some things that all deck crews have in common (whether the notional deck crews all non carriers and non carrier escorts have, or the deck crews on carriers and carrier escorts), such as repairing shuttles and fighters or loading cargo points, and (after the appearance of advanced shuttles)replacing chaff packs.

There are other things that are different between bays.

Hydran deck crews on a Lancer are often concerned with transferring fusion charges to Stinger fighters, but not concerned with transferring hellbore charges, but Hydran deck crews on a Ranger are concerned with transferring hellbore charges. All Hydran deck crews (and the deck crews of all carriers) are concerned with hanging pods on pod rails, but Hydran, Tholian, and plasma empire deck crews are generally not concerned with hanging drones on drone rails.

This does not even get us into disruptors, photons, and plasma torpedoes.

Nor does this move us into the Omega Octant or the Magellanic cloud.

This is the problem. I can do an example, but what exactly is the example being asked? Too many different moving parts make any example unmanageable, and the current example article literally ran out of space (you will see it in Captain's Log #42, but as extensive as it is, I was not done).

It is still, I think, a good article which does much to answer the question that was asked, it is just that I really still have more I could say.

So if you want an example of something, try to keep it down to something that is manageable. Pick the carrier you want to see the deck crews running around in. Define the planetary assault scenario and try to keep the number of moving pieces down to just what is needed to resolve the thing it is you actually want demonstrated rather than just asking for an example of planetary assault. [After all, a planetary assault might be a single Admin shuttle carrying a pair of boarding parties out to kill a bunch of unarmed colonists, or a battle fleet led by a Battleship with six (or more) ground combat locations to resolve, the more moving parts, the more complexity.] The sad fact is that I cannot read the minds of the people asking for examples, I need them to define what precisely they think is unclear that needs an example to make it clear.