Suggestion of READ.me (tricks for beginners)

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Dylan Chen
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Suggestion of READ.me (tricks for beginners)

Post by Dylan Chen » April 15th, 2021, 8:56 pm

These morning we have a new friend join the discord, who didn't know the existence of Lifewiki or the forum. He googled "game of life discord" and find our link on reddit, then he post a graph full of "OOOXOXXXO" and ask whether he find a new spaceship. Yes, it is a c/2 spaceship, discovered earlier by John Conway in 1970, the LWSS.
Is the obstacles we set for beginners too high, or the help we offer so effectless. I joined the forum in 2020 Mar, but until June to find apgsearch and start to contribute. I joined discord in July, until December Ampere told me how to LSSS, and recommended me searched for 3c7.Does the Internet an inferior way than paper print LifeLine to deliver messages? If some simple tutorial links were there, those contribution could be made earlier.

what do we need in READ.me

most basic mouse and keyboard usage
advice of exploring for beginners
basic link to Lifewiki, discord
script usage (pattern identify to Catagolue, metafise of OTCA cell )
link to soup search, oscillator search, spaceship search.
Link to rlifesrc

It may sound childish, but we do need tutorials like:
Lesson One
draw a straight line.
1 dot: it disappears
2 dots: it disappears
3 dots: congrats! you find an oscillator!
4 dots: it involved to beehive, a still life!


Edit:
pls share your idea of Golly,CGoL,CA beginner tricks.

like: copy '2048o', paste it in Golly, then you can get a line with 2048 dots.

Edit2:
here are two fabulous introduction video from discord discussion

Stephen Hawkings The Meaning of Life (John Conway's Game of Life segment)

Rudy Rucker-Cellular Automata https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyZUzakG3bE


appendix
wiki/Readme/Main

Code: Select all

Lifewiki https://www.conwaylife.com/wiki/Main_Page
discord https://discord.gg/BCuYCEn
rlifesrc https://alephalpha.github.io/rlifesrc/
and official "Game of Life Links "
https://www.conwaylife.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=20
Last edited by Dylan Chen on April 23rd, 2021, 3:36 am, edited 3 times in total.
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dvgrn
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Re: Suggestion of an READ.me tutorial in Golly

Post by dvgrn » April 15th, 2021, 9:17 pm

Oddly enough, I'm not sure that a README file in Golly is the most likely place to advertise the existence of tutorials like the ones on the LifeWiki. (There are some fairly basic tutorials there, but it's definitely never a bad idea to add more of them!)

There's a lot of information available in Golly Help, the integrated Life Lexicon, and in pattern comments. But I think half of Golly users don't even realize that they can type 'i' or hit the 'i' toolbar button to get lots of additional information about each pattern in the pattern collection, or right-click on any file to open it in a text editor. So I really wouldn't know quite where to put a README in Golly where anyone would actually find it and read it.

We could certainly try adding another sticky thread at the top of one of the boards on the forums, called something like "Newcomers to Cellular Automata, Start Here!". Or pick a better name... If someone starts a thread like that and puts some of the above Good Stuff into it, I'll be happy to sticky it.

We can also add a link to that thread from the Game of Life Links thread, the LifeWiki sidebar, and anywhere else we can think of. But first the thread will need some good content.

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goldenratio
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Re: Suggestion of READ.me (tricks for beginners)

Post by goldenratio » April 15th, 2021, 9:55 pm

The main problem, I feel, is not that newcomers are coming here but not knowing what to do; it's that most don't even find this site and the ones that do, after several other sites and then post here the useless or known patterns they made on the other sites - a problem which would likely go away if newcomers would find ConwayLife.com and its wiki first when searching for Conway's Game of Life. Unfortunately, I feel like Google's algorithm will be a bigger problem here than anything in our control - for example when I search "Conway's game of life" I get the following:
  • #1: playgameoflife.com - inferior web applet and the site which the user mentioned in the OP was using
  • #2: CGOL Wikipedia page - somewhat helpful but probably most users don't read the external links to discover this community
  • #3: Cornell University introduction - the first one which directly introduces Golly but not in a way which makes it stand out much
  • #4: Inferior Google Play app which somehow got more downloads than Golly on the Google Play store (given that it has in app purchases, I don't have a very positive opinion towards it)
LifeWiki (the first thing Conwaylife.com related) doesn't appear until the second page at #12, with Golly itself not appearing until #16.

Therefore I think the best way to advertise a helpful tutorial would be to get one of our pages (probably a new page aimed at newcomers, like this but more modern with LifeViewers, encouraging users to get Golly, and with tips on how to start contributing) high up on a search.
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Re: Suggestion of READ.me (tricks for beginners)

Post by dvgrn » April 18th, 2021, 1:36 pm

goldenratio wrote:
April 15th, 2021, 9:55 pm
I think the best way to advertise a helpful tutorial would be to get one of our pages (probably a new page aimed at newcomers, like this but more modern with LifeViewers, encouraging users to get Golly, and with tips on how to start contributing) high up on a search.
This seems like a good idea. Once we have a good Page for Newcomers set up, I think the community has access to enough prominent pages that Google would sit up and take notice if a new Intro-to-Life link were to get added in a few dozen places.

If a proper set of linked HTML pages is needed instead of just posts on a forum thread, a new subdirectory could easily be made available somewhere like https:/​/ww​w.conwaylife.com​/ref/conwaylifeintro .

Still, this thread is a good place to start the planning process, if anyone has ideas for a general outline of the intro pages, or wants to write a specific section with LifeViewer animations to help explain key details, or anything like that.

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Dets65
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Re: Suggestion of READ.me (tricks for beginners)

Post by Dets65 » April 18th, 2021, 8:43 pm

I was going to write a brief "rough draft" of an intro page, but I am admittedly not anywhere near an expert and multiple, hyperlinked posts/pages would probably work best.
Generally, I think some very "basic" sounding questions can be surprisingly hard to find an answer to for newcomers. Sometimes it's because those questions don't have a clean answer - many things involving CA do not, of course - and sometimes it's just due to not understanding terminology (whether that involves not knowing how to ask, or not knowing how to interpret the answer)

I think the best approach for an introductory page would be an answer to three basic questions:
1. What is Life?
2. Why is it interesting?
3. How can I join and contribute to the community?

The answers for these questions would optimally be delivered in a format that gently introduces terminology without drowning the reader. The first and second questions are of obvious importance, and could surely lead to some interesting explanations of what Cellular Automata are and why Life and other Class IV automata are so interesting. The third question would hopefully demonstrate that the bar of entry for "interesting discoveries" is not at all insurmountable, but does usually require some basic knowledge and/or usage of searching programs. Additionally, it would attract more people to where fellow enthusiasts gather and congregate them more here. There are many, many people who would be interested if they knew there was a whole community also researching.

Additionally, there are some basic 'pitfalls' that could be easily avoided by having some kind of "FAQ" page easily available. Here are some I can think of off of the top of my head:
- Newcomers sharing trivial still lifes or well-known, basic patterns as novel discoveries
- Newcomers using limited software/websites instead of Golly
- Newcomers jumping headfirst into the most complicated patterns, and giving up when they aren't immediately understandable

Perhaps with the correct approach, we could also attract some people to investigating INT rules. With the massive amount of unexplored ones, a bit of cleverness is really all that's required to find something interesting. (They are also the standard response to the classic complaint of "well, a bunch of smart people with fast computers have been exploring Life for 50 years, and now there are no easy discoveries left!") Perhaps we could also make a list of problems and fields that a newcomer could feasibly make non-trivial progress on, not necessarily just in Life. Showing that useful contributions are realistically attainable would certainly help in the accessibility factor.

Once this is finished, it might be worth contacting the mods of the subreddit /r/cellularautomata, as well as some other scattered online communities. There are probably at least a few people in those less technical and more "passing interest" oriented communities who would be greatly helped by this kind of resource.

LifeWiki and Golly already have quite a few good resources, but I think some more introductory LifeWiki pages and a "tying-together" of the already extant tutorials into a sort of "tutorial sub-wiki" (perhaps in line with dvgrn's proposal?) would be a very worthwhile project. I would be more than happy to contribute to this, and if anyone here or on the discord would like to assist, that would be fantastic.

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x = 4, y = 3, rule = B2i3-ckn4ajkryz5cer6-ak7e8/S02-cn3iknr4eijkny5nq6ek7e
b3o$3o$bo!

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Re: Suggestion of READ.me (tricks for beginners)

Post by dvgrn » April 19th, 2021, 6:19 am

Dets65 wrote:
April 18th, 2021, 8:43 pm
I was going to write a brief "rough draft" of an intro page, but I am admittedly not anywhere near an expert and multiple, hyperlinked posts/pages would probably work best.
I think this might be a case where it's very useful to be "not anywhere near an expert". It's sometimes hard for the experts to even know what to explain, or to explain anything clearly without using jargon that only other experts can understand anyway.

Maybe I can start things out by setting up some LifeWiki space for this project -- just in case that turns out to be a good idea, to make collaboration easier. It's nice that LifeViewer is available there, too. I've added a couple of sample pages.

Everyone interested in this project is welcome to add to those pages -- this is meant to be a free-for-all editing area, not anything that I'm intending to keep any editorial control over. Whoever is most interested in developing a Conway's Life beginner's guide should feel free to take over these pages (or make their own).

Or... discussion and development can also happen on this thread, if that turns out to be more useful. Consider trying out the talk pages of the LifeWiki Readme articles as well.

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Re: Suggestion of READ.me (tricks for beginners)

Post by MathAndCode » April 21st, 2021, 10:40 am

I think that a relatively straightforward way to target any READ.me page to beginners is to include a link to it in the confirmation page for creating an account on LifeWiki or the ConwayLife forums. Also, I agree with some of the other users who have responded here that any READ.me section should also include tutorials, not just instructions for how to not annoy more experienced users with useless patterns. There is already a collection of tutorials on the LifeWiki, and we definitely can use that, but I think that we should add some more topics more likely to interest newer users, such as finding new oscillators.
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Re: Suggestion of READ.me (tricks for beginners)

Post by yujh » April 21st, 2021, 6:44 pm

Note that everyone explore gol in a different way, so probably encourage users to develop their own way to find useful patterns?

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Re: Suggestion of READ.me (tricks for beginners)

Post by Dylan Chen » April 21st, 2021, 9:49 pm

yujh wrote:
April 21st, 2021, 6:44 pm
Note that everyone explore gol in a different way
everyone could write different guide in their own way.

For me, this post is more like 'the 2021 me told 2020 me what to do and where to explore'

1.Join the discord as soon as possible.
2.Starting cloud implement of searching ASAP.
3.Learn Debian, bash, htop, nice, rust ASAP.
Tools should not be the limit.
Whether your obstacle is a script, an stdin, or Linux environment computing resouces.
check New rules thread for help.

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