I might echo a second sentiment to try something simpler like Gargoyle, and then move to OpenWrt once you outgrow it.
For basic config, it holds your hand through everything.
Thats where I started, then expanded my knowledge by making GUI changes and watching the corresponding changes in /etc/config. There's a lot you can learn this way.
This just is inherent of such a complicated system. Complicated in a good way this time, you can pretty much do whatever you want with OpenWRT, it is so flexible and robust, it comes with a cost. That cost is that you need to know a lot of things and be able to see the connections between different packages and networking.
I started using OpenWRT a long time ago, when I wanted to install Transmission on DD-WRT, which wasn't possible. Then I really had a hard time getting it to work (which I expected and didn't think a thing about in a bad way), but when I did, I learned a lot and have in the years after, using OpenWRT.
If you want a less complicated system with mostly the same functionalities, buy a more expensive router that comes with all that functionality out of the factory. There is no other way to be able to use OpenWRT to its full extent without being massive and complicated, at least at first.
Take a look at Kong Mod DD-WRT it way easier for people just getting into this. The author Kong is now a contributor to Open WRT You can implement in 15 steps! Once your use to it you can migrate. You can read about it here
I gave you a thumbs up but with hesitation. The reason for the hesitation is "If you want a less complicated system with mostly the same functionalities, by a more expensive router that comes with all that functionality out of the factory." The problem with that is the expensive router may not have good factory software on it or if it does you will find that the factory software does not get regular security patches if any at all.
Your whole post is right on the money... very well said...
Probably already mentioned here... OpenWrt almost does too many things for too many different use cases... and this lulls those without fundamentals or simpler expectations into a false sense of security.
The fundamental truth is that while there are minor improvements here and there... the options and frontend that is provided for basic usage and options is adequate if not impressive, both in scope and usability.
In summary, I think the commonality here is that it's easy to get lost trying to whack a turbo onto the common sedan you just purchased... often while you're wondering why you are doing it.
I look at Wikis as social media, except where everyone now has a delete button for your post. I have written far too many documentation pieces for various software that I knew well, only to have them deleted within a half hour, and that's deleted and not "corrected" and this has happened too many times. After losing 100% of my first 20 or so wiki posts, I never made another. It's just too easy for someone to come along and say "that's wrong" and delete any "help" that anyone tries to provide. Also the social halls of "the Internets" see loaded with more critics than creators one will soon find.
Still where OpenWrt is concerned, there seems not much focus on trying to explain things at an elementary level for beginners. Only docs which lean toward a very high technical level seem to remain. I have contributed a few how-tos here in the forums based on the understanding of basic Windows users because I know while people can follow on with critiques, at least the original stands as a base for someone with no skills for them to have a starting point.
And for the existing docs, there's no dating or stating which release an instruction set pertains to, so it's hard to know where to start. At minimum the wiki doc should have a date and a release level that the doc was written for. Just take OpenVPN for example - granted a seriously complex topic but one can find dozens of how-tos on how to set it up but who can determine which are no longer valid, especially those who are at the level of needing such introduction level documentation.
Perhaps minimally wiki fields could be added for "last updated" and "pertains to release". Otherwise, perhaps a beginners wiki series could be created that spoke in the terms of common household users. Still as has been stated, what is the reward for going to such trouble other than the standard 30 seconds of data included in a 10 minute paid-content Youtube video. Such are the times.
I should add...once I realized (at least in my thinking) that OpenWrt is: "simply Linux with routing enabled and a 'UCI' overlay that translates iptables commands - along with other configs"....it became simple.
chaining by grouped PHYs (i.e. Zone-based Firewalling)
VLANs in Linux
I was "good to go"!
Policy-based routing (I learned this from Ubuntu and learned the UCI syntax later - as most know, I still don't use the PBR package).
Routing specific traffic via VPNs
Hardware Switches, assigning VLANs and VLAN tags (VLAN trunks) - since OpenWrt exposes this Level of Abstraction to the user, this is likely the first time most consumer router users experience this...case-in-point...a common loss of connection to OpenWrt devices in new configs is: deleting VLANs, their tags to the CPU or disabling VLAN functionality on the switch. Most users without a knowledge of VLANs immediately try to setup their device without them - not realizing that in OpenWrt the routing plane is created in most cases by a default LAN (VLAN 1) and WAN (VLAN 2) on devices with a 5-port switch (i.e. 1 WAN port and 4 LAN ports on a single chip). But an advantage is that if the port becomes damaged or destroyed, another port can be assigned as WAN instead. On most default firmware, the router would become useless.
I thought every Wiki page was dated by its last edit, with changes, etc.
The threadstarter did not respond/discuss to the topic only once. Just about a bug on donation site.
The discussion now is about the quality of wiki/documentation which (IMO) should be discussed in another thread.
And word about documentation: Just have a look into documentation what is comming with your router for what you are paying money. OpenWrt is for free as it is ... So go either next if you don't want to deal with that or make contributions to improve it (and not just like: this could be better blah blah). Just a "IMO cent".
there are wiki maintainers that prevent this on OpenWrt wiki at least. As long as you aren't posting complete garbage, the most that can happen is that someone moves the content in a better place so it can be found more easily.
Most of the OpenWrt documentation is about using OpenWrt, it's not supposed to explain networking to people as that's a completely different (and more complex) thing.
This would be relevant if:
there were massive changes from one release to the next
there were multiple tutorials for the same thing so you could actually have conflicting information
And neither is true for most of the wiki. Most of the older stuff has either been marked as such or dumped outright (anyone that still needs it can go to the old read-only wiki).
The example you make about OpenVPN also proves my point. There is no significant change with older versions so all it says applies to every release, while stuff that is valid only for newer releases (like the OpenVPN Luci web interface) has clear notices about the minimum release version you need to use it.