Source: Patterns in confusing explanations by Julia Evans

Heavily linked with research debt. What makes for effective teaching and knowledge distillation?

  • Games + interactive content (a constructionist approach) > just reading
    • How can we create worlds for people to explore on their own? How do we give agency back to students?
  • How do we create content that caters for all levels of understanding? Possible relation to a thing in project list where I thought about creating multi-level blogs

Confusing Explanations

Top things to avoid in explanations and blog posts

  1. Inconsistent expectations of the reader’s knowledge: it might explain in great detail how a for loop works but the next paragraph immediately following implicitly assumes knowledge like how malloc works for example. In this case, nearly zero people will understand how malloc works without understanding how a for loop works. Pick 1 specific person and write for them
  2. Strained Analogies: don’t try too hard to write a Big Complex Analogy, otherwise more energy will be spent by the user trying to figure out what exactly are the similarities and differences between the two
  3. Jargon without providing context
  4. Unsupported information and statements
  5. Explaining the “wrong” way to do something without saying it’s wrong
  6. “What” without the “why”