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.t.
September 11th, 2006, 09:16 PM
The wiki page:

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/BridgingUbuntu

The mailing list post:


On Sun, 10 Sep 2006 11:57:06 -0700
Matt Zimmerman <mdz@ubuntu.com> wrote:

> > There is an unfortunate communication gap between the forums and other
> > communication channels such as IRC and the mailing lists, and I would like
> > to find a way to address it. Grieving over this fact doesn't help, but I am
> > always open to hearing *constructive* ideas about how to promote better
> > communication within the project.

I don't have an answer of my own, but I think this is an important issue
for Ubuntu.

As a tentative first step I have created

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/BridgingUbuntu

As a place holder for discussion of communication, and a place to air
grievances and/or suggest solutions.

There is no bug tracker for internal community communication bugs, as far
as I know ;-)

This is not directly on topic for -devel of course, but I have sent it in
answer to Matt's post.

If this is seen as a good idea, I will post to -users and sounder.

Peter

maniacmusician
September 11th, 2006, 09:22 PM
certainly a good move...matt is absolutely right. the difference is simply too huge.

however some distance is needed...because if they're too close, the dev's will be flooded by requests from the community. there needs to be a way to find a compromise within the two. maybe the developers should drop in on the forums a couple of times a month and just say "hey whats shakin'?" to get some words flowing back and forth....

aysiu
September 11th, 2006, 09:25 PM
How about we have ambassadors from the forums to the devs?

A few 500-post discussions with some accompanying well-crafted polls and then one or two resulting proposals brought to the developers...?

maniacmusician
September 11th, 2006, 09:26 PM
How about we have ambassadors from the forums to the devs?

A few 500-post discussions with some accompanying well-crafted polls and then one or two resulting proposals brought to the developers...?
sounds interesting; how would you go about organizing such a feat? by that I mean, there are going to be thousands of "ideas"...how are they going to be narrowed down? There's just an excess of input

.t.
September 11th, 2006, 09:29 PM
As I posted to the ubuntu-devel list, Gentoo already have a "user representative" system.

aysiu
September 11th, 2006, 09:33 PM
sounds interesting; how would you go about organizing such a feat? by that I mean, there are going to be thousands of "ideas"...how are they going to be narrowed down? There's just an excess of input
Well, the ambassadors would have to distill and agree on what the community has "agreed on." That can be a little tough, but...

1. Most "ideas" are not practical at all and, thus, are not really ideas. For example, a frustrated new user saying "Ubuntu needs better wireless support." Gee, thanks. How does Ubuntu do that?

2. Threads that discuss an ideas ad nauseum usually have only one or two real proposals. For example, the whole CNR thing had hundreds of posts, but the only distinct ideas were: A) Include an easy link to install CNR, B) Make CNR the default Ubuntu package manager, C) Don't include CNR in any way. Not all of the hundreds of posts were offering hundreds of unique ideas.

3. There are people who actually read all the posts in a given thread, no matter how long the thread is.

Get a couple of dedicated readers, a couple of people who speak the devs' language, and have them bring a proposal on behalf of forum users.

maniacmusician
September 11th, 2006, 09:40 PM
Well, the ambassadors would have to distill and agree on what the community has "agreed on." That can be a little tough, but...

1. Most "ideas" are not practical at all and, thus, are not really ideas. For example, a frustrated new user saying "Ubuntu needs better wireless support." Gee, thanks. How does Ubuntu do that?

2. Threads that discuss an ideas ad nauseum usually have only one or two real proposals. For example, the whole CNR thing had hundreds of posts, but the only distinct ideas were: A) Include an easy link to install CNR, B) Make CNR the default Ubuntu package manager, C) Don't include CNR in any way. Not all of the hundreds of posts were offering hundreds of unique ideas.

3. There are people who actually read all the posts in a given thread, no matter how long the thread is.

Get a couple of dedicated readers, a couple of people who speak the devs' language, and have them bring a proposal on behalf of forum users.
haha i always do that (read all the posts), even if it takes me an hour.

sounds like a good plan...its worth putting into action, at least.

aysiu
September 11th, 2006, 09:50 PM
haha i always do that (read all the posts), even if it takes me an hour. Any chance you'd want to be one of those ambassadors...?

PriceChild
September 11th, 2006, 09:57 PM
I agree that the ambassadors idea is really the only sensible way to get through this.

It couldn't be too hard for a little test, say one of the devs gets given a little group of say 3 people or so to scour the forums for ideas in the dev's particular area. See what the dev thinks of the way his ambassadors work.

It isn't exactly like this system has to be implemented widescale immediately, and i'm sure that one of the devs will be nice enough to agree if someone asks nicely :)

maniacmusician
September 11th, 2006, 09:59 PM
if you really want, i have no problem with doing it. I'd probably read it regardless of whether i was an ambassador or not.


But in all fairness, there's probably better candidates than myself that have been Ubuntu-ing a lot longer than myself. I have no problem with doing it though. the project is interesting enough

aysiu
September 11th, 2006, 10:06 PM
I've always toed the party line of people using the "proper" channels instead of posting suggestions in the forums, but why not have the forums be an outlet? If that's where people naturally come, that's also naturally the best place to get suggestions from real users.

maniacmusician
September 11th, 2006, 10:08 PM
yeah, i'm with you 100% on that. Proper channels are good and all, but those aren't very conventional. Most users don't use them, some don't even know how.

.t.
September 11th, 2006, 10:11 PM
As Matt Zimmerman posted to the list:
To claim that "no developer knows about [these issues]" because they do not
frequent the same forums that you do is absurd, or even insulting.
Constructive comments promote improvements and solutions, which is what we
are interested in here.

This mailing list has always been the canonical way to raise issues for
discussion with the development team. Not the forums, not the bug tracker,
not #ubuntu. It predates all of those. I am very pleased with the growth
and diversity of the Ubuntu forums, but you should not expect all
communications within the project to migrate there.

They also do not have the time to frequent these boards. The proper channels are there to alert them so they do not have to waste time.

EDIT: But remember they're still open to suggestions.

maniacmusician
September 11th, 2006, 10:15 PM
of course, he makes a good point. we're not saying the devs should frequent these boards all the time, but i feel that the ambassador idea is a good one to bring the ideas and issues of the community all the way around back to the developers. It's not as if this would exceedingly time consuming for them, we would do it on our own. It's just another way to help get information to them without them having to waste time. even though the proper channels should be used, let's face it; they usually are not. This would by no means try to replace a mailing list, but it would be a nice supplement.

at least I don't see anything wrong with it.

.t.
September 11th, 2006, 10:18 PM
I think the devs are also probably open to ambassadors. I thought aysiu was trying to say that having the devs spend time on the forum would be a good and feasible idea.

PriceChild
September 11th, 2006, 10:20 PM
The problem with the mailing list though is that its not very user friendly, to me atleast.

What is the difference between a mailing list, and just having your ubuntuforums.org account set to notify you by email of all topics in a certain container? Its a hell of a lot easier to manage. I think the only reason dev mailing lists are still used and not overwhelmed is because most are too scared to try them.

What about if devs were subscribed to a container on the forums where only certain members could post, such as "ambassadors" reporting on other posts on the boards etc. This would allow users to see what the devs are being told very easily, but still allow control on what we tell them.

Pricey

.t.
September 11th, 2006, 10:25 PM
Regarding your idea of a closed forum: Excluding other users from posting is a sure-fire way for this plan to back-fire. Imagine a user wants to post a suggestion in the correct place and then is not allowed. How are they going to feel? Then again, if all users could post there, the devs would be bogged down, and all discussion would move to that forum and the devs would ignore it. The current situation is better than either of those.

Tell me, what is it about the mailing list you find not user-friendly? Having a mailing-list means that ordinary users have to go out of their way to do the often tedious posting, and (as it is such) they decide not to bother, reducing mundane traffic on that channel.

maniacmusician
September 11th, 2006, 10:33 PM
that's a very good point. At the same time, some normal users have very good ideas, and some are just lazy. the ambassador idea is a good idea to sift through a large source of information and pick out the best. it serves the same purpose as the mailing list, except it takes more effort on the part of the ambassadors. at the same time, it is easier for the users. as long as we have ambassadors willing to put in the work, it's +'s all around

.t.
September 11th, 2006, 10:50 PM
Agreed.

LaserJock
September 11th, 2006, 11:31 PM
This "forum ambassadors" idea is interesting. I started out with Ubuntu as an avid forums user, I had no idea what a wiki was, hadn't used IRC in years, and was not subscribed to any mailing lists. Then I started working in the development community doing packaging, documentation, etc. and I found that I no longer had enough time for the forums. As far as development goes the forums are pretty inefficient. That said, they are a good way of interacting with users as they attract a huge amount of people.

People say that devs are never on the forums but I don't think that's really the case. I know many devs that periodically scan through the forums, but they rarely post. Some, I think, are somewhat intimidated by the forums. Imagine the X.org maintainer saying "I'm the X maintainer and I want feedback". He would get flooded with complaints and bugs that he probably already knows about or doesn't have time for. What he needs is to quickly and easily target a specific topic.

Along those lines, there is only 1 subforum for development. It's really hard to find things in there or keep track of without eating up a bunch of time. Adding subject categories to the development forums would help I think. I think a lot of forum users' approach the the forum is to go to a subforum and run through the list of new threads. A dev will want do that in a much more narrow focus I think and will want to get the desired info quickly.

Also these ambassadors could prove very useful. Perhaps a forum-ambassadors mailing list could be set up where devs could post things they want to go to the forums and then the ambassadors could start the thread (and perhaps report back the URL) so the devs can watch/reply when they can. It would also give a way for these ambassadors to contact devs. I've seen some false information put out by even forum moderators and it would be cool for them to be able to ask the devs about things so that they can get the right info to help forum users. Also providing summaries of key threads would be cool. I just don't have time to read 30 pages on a thread to see if it has cool stuff or is totally useless. Many threads have pages of "me too" posts or have a huge opinion debate that never really gets anywhere.

In the end, if we want to improve communications, we probably need to work on moving users (who mostly, but not all use the forums) in the devs' direction (IRC, mailing lists, bug tracker, wiki, etc.) direction and the devs in the users' direction. I think it will take making it easier for devs to get what they need and interact with users without taking too much of their time or getting flamed :-)

Sorry for such a long post.

-LaserJock

DoctorMO
September 11th, 2006, 11:42 PM
It would be nice to see these ambasitors moving questions and threads about specific software to the bug reports (either sourceforge bugs or bugzilla or ubuntu thingy wottsit dev pages they must have a bug thingy right?) so the devs can keep track of clean bug reports. they can also see a link to the forum thread/posting that the issue has been raised in.

To be honest these forums lack the ability to close a thread once the issues have been dealt with. if the icon could be changed in the Hardware Help or General Support by either certain users or by anyone who has been registered for long enough that would go a long way to being able to anwser all queries. lord knows I can't anwser them all.

maniacmusician
September 11th, 2006, 11:43 PM
laserjock,

what you mentioned in your 3rd paragraph about "summaries" is pretty much the basic idea of the ambassador concept. We would basically start out with a thread asking for suggestions on something, and then an ambassador would comb through the hundreds of posts, and sift out the good ideas.

the good ideas would then be put up on polls, and the top contenders would go to the developers. at least i think this is how aysiu wanted to do it.

aysiu
September 11th, 2006, 11:53 PM
To be honest these forums lack the ability to close a thread once the issues have been dealt with. The ability for users (not just moderators) to mark threads as solved as been proposed many times, but it's never been implemented, as far as I know:
"Issue resolved" option? (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=240301&highlight=solved)
REQUEST: ability to modify thread title to reflect a problem resolution (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=225066&highlight=solved)
Marked as resolved. (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=165241&highlight=solved)
Can a title of a post be edited? (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=189413&highlight=solved)
Editing thread titles (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=179448&highlight=solved)
How do you mark something Solved? (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=98037&highlight=solved)
Changing thread name (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=92282&highlight=solved)
Solved problems sub-forum? (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=85278&highlight=solved)
Finding solutions to problems: the easy way (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=76350&highlight=solved)

maniacmusician
September 11th, 2006, 11:57 PM
interesting coincidence, because i was just thinking about this a couple of days ago.

but then I remembered the time that they started tagging threads with "Ubuntu" or "Kubuntu" or "Xubuntu". someone told me that this function was removed because it was ineffecient, and they couldn't get search filters to properly work with them. so i imagine it would be similar if a "Solved" tag was attached

aysiu
September 12th, 2006, 12:00 AM
interesting coincidence, because i was just thinking about this a couple of days ago.

but then I remembered the time that they started tagging threads with "Ubuntu" or "Kubuntu" or "Xubuntu". someone told me that this function was removed because it was ineffecient, and they couldn't get search filters to properly work with them. so i imagine it would be similar if a "Solved" tag was attached
It doesn't have to be a tag. It could just be the word solved in the thread title. Then when you did an advanced search, you could search for
thunderbird default solved or
sudo timeout solved

maniacmusician
September 12th, 2006, 12:07 AM
:) creative workaround. yeah that would definitely be useful.

but for some reason I think users may not adhere to the standard. and having mods go around retitling threads would be a pain.

aysiu
September 12th, 2006, 12:09 AM
but for some reason I think users may not adhere to the standard. and having mods go around retitling threads would be a pain. I used to be a mod, and I don't remember it being that much of a pain, actually...

maniacmusician
September 12th, 2006, 12:19 AM
well i guess that depends on how many users forget to label their threads solved hehe.

Peter Garrett
September 12th, 2006, 02:42 AM
As the person who replied to Matt on the ubuntu-devel mailing list and suggested the "BridgingUbuntu" idea, I'm pleased to see discussion taking place.

I notice though, that nobody has edited the wiki page

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/BridgingUbuntu

I'd like to suggest that if forum members want to participate in a wider community discussion outside the forums, contributing ideas on that page would help to "Bridge the gap"

As noted elsewhere in this thread, many community members do not normally use the forums. For the forum members' voices to be heard, it helps if they also participate in other communication channels, rather than only discussing how the forum community might act.

I will post my suggestion to the Sounder list and ubuntu-users list with a reference to this thread - but please do add your remarks to the wiki page as a central point of reference.

Peter

maniacmusician
September 12th, 2006, 02:53 AM
thanks peter,

my hands are a little full right now...ap psychology and whatnot for school. but if it hasn't been done by tomorrow afternoon, i'll put it up.

j0217995
September 12th, 2006, 03:39 AM
The problem with the mailing list though is that its not very user friendly, to me atleast.

What is the difference between a mailing list, and just having your ubuntuforums.org account set to notify you by email of all topics in a certain container? Its a hell of a lot easier to manage. I think the only reason dev mailing lists are still used and not overwhelmed is because most are too scared to try them.



Pricey

I totally disagree w/ this comment, especially the last paragraph. Heck the only reason I visit the forum is when something comes up on one of the many mailing lists I subscribe to that I want to read more information about. I currently subscribe and participate in kubuntu-devel, kubuntu-users, launchpad, laptop-testing, ubuntu-doc along w/ subscribing to dapper-changes, edgy-changes, and ubuntu-announcmenet. I also spend time in #ubuntu-doc, #ubuntu-bugs, #kubuntu-devel

I live in email and don't have the time to open soemthing else up and track/reply to other forums and questions when I can simply read my email or chat in IRC. I am not afraid of the forums, its just they are more unfriendly then the email lists and the IRC channels as those are what I use every day for work.

maniacmusician
September 12th, 2006, 03:48 AM
meh fact of the matter is, different people are used to different things. pricechild would probably never dream of being able to keep up with a mailing list whereas you probably think that forums are a pain in the a*s. to each his own. the ambassador method is just a nice solution we will implement to get more ideas from the forum to the devels.

j0217995
September 12th, 2006, 03:52 AM
Along those lines, there is only 1 subforum for development. It's really hard to find things in there or keep track of without eating up a bunch of time. Adding subject categories to the development forums would help I think. I think a lot of forum users' approach the the forum is to go to a subforum and run through the list of new threads. A dev will want do that in a much more narrow focus I think and will want to get the desired info quickly.

-LaserJock

+1 for Laser, I think this would be helpful a lot. Instead of trying to dig through all of the forums, be able to scan the area you are quasi responsible for. If you are working on desktop devel, then under the desktop devel section, etc...

PriceChild
September 12th, 2006, 12:58 PM
meh fact of the matter is, different people are used to different things. pricechild would probably never dream of being able to keep up with a mailing list whereas you probably think that forums are a pain in the a*s. to each his own. the ambassador method is just a nice solution we will implement to get more ideas from the forum to the devels.

He he yeah i suppose it is a matter of opinion.

I do subscribe to ubuntu-uk's mailing list and comment whenever i've anything to offer, i just like the way the forums are central and take almost everything in their scope.

I suppose we are getting slightly off topic now...

.t.
September 12th, 2006, 08:07 PM
*bumping for increased visibility*

ubuntu_demon
September 13th, 2006, 08:35 AM
I attended UDS Paris and I talked about improving the integration and communication between the forums and the rest of the community.

Yesterday I wrote this blog post :

About Forum Integration
http://ubuntudemon.wordpress.com/2006/09/12/about-forum-integration/

I just discovered this thread and wiki page. Here's my latest blog post :

Bridging Ubuntu
http://ubuntudemon.wordpress.com/2006/09/13/bridging-ubuntu

Both these blogposts are also visible on planet.ubuntu.com.

I encourage forum staff to try to attend UDS Mountain View. I have also requested sponsorship to go myself. Real progress can be made by talking to people in person.

Not only can "forum attendees" talk about forum integration but they can also actively participate in the drafting of the specifications and try to arrange BOF's for subjects they care about and have something useful to say about. Ofcourse there's only limited time for a limited number of BOF's.

This can also be a small part of a "solution" : have more forum staff request Ubuntu Membership and have more of them blogging to planet.ubuntu.com

ubuntu_demon
September 13th, 2006, 10:29 AM
I have stickied this thread :)

ubuntu_demon
September 13th, 2006, 10:31 AM
UDS Mountain View on the fridge :
http://fridge.ubuntu.com/node/554

Stone123
September 13th, 2006, 12:11 PM
had to do this:

http://img220.imageshack.us/img220/9638/2337ahr0.jpg

maniacmusician
September 14th, 2006, 01:14 AM
Alright guys, I have added the Ambassador proposal to the wiki page as requested by peter (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/BridgingUbuntu). If i've somehow portrayed the proposal incorrectly, feel free to go over there and correct me. Especially you, aysiu, since this is your little birthchild.

.t.
September 14th, 2006, 11:30 PM
Wasn't it someone at Gentoo's idea first?

maniacmusician
September 14th, 2006, 11:34 PM
[shrug] i dunno. aysiu came up with it here...i guess he could have gotten it from someone at gentoo. i wouldn't really know. I just posted it to the wiki, that's all.

yman
September 15th, 2006, 06:29 AM
how about a "feature talk" section with a catagory for every application and thread for every proposed feature? a dev could every so often check it for new ideas for an application they are working on. the thread title would be a one-sentance summary of the idea.

to make it work better, each idea would go through a prep. center where it's title would be written and the idea organized. only then would the idea be brought to the "feature talk" section for debate.

.t.
September 15th, 2006, 07:33 AM
Two things:
1. There are too many packages for a category for each
2. I can't see how your post to the Wiki about .package files has much to do with bridging the gap between Ubuntu developers and the community.

yman
September 15th, 2006, 06:27 PM
perhaps a category for each package that has proposals. how many projects does an avarege dev usually work simultaniously?

sorry about the wiki page, I thought it was a different one. I'm going to fix it now.

maniacmusician
September 15th, 2006, 08:17 PM
like .t. said, there's way too many packages. I think the plan is to instead do it by category. In the end, we'll come out with 5, 6, maybe 7 project proposals. quite enough, I should think, considering we come out with two releases of the OS every year.

jan
September 19th, 2006, 12:02 PM
Good idea folks!!!

maniacmusician
September 22nd, 2006, 01:36 AM
is this actually going anywhere or has it idled out?

yman
September 25th, 2006, 06:59 AM
so if no one has what to say anymore, are we going to do it finally? I can't wait to post my suggestion!

Hobbsee
September 25th, 2006, 02:35 PM
I'm interested in this, as a kubuntu developer, and kubuntu community manager.

I've yet to think about the best way this can be implemented though - once I do, i'll contact the forum developers.

maniacmusician
September 27th, 2006, 03:24 AM
thanks hobbsee, that'd be great. it'd be nice to see this get going

Johnsie
October 5th, 2006, 02:52 PM
I think it's a good idea to have people representing us but I would only support it if I knew that it wasn't going to create a hierachial/elitist system where some forum users have more of a say than other users. Yes there are some issues that get a lot of attention but I think the needs of the little guy are needed too.

maniacmusician
October 6th, 2006, 04:43 AM
well it wouldnt really be like that. As described before, there would be mass brainstorm threads. the "ambassadors" would comb through them, and pick the ideas that are the most doable or the most sensible. there has to be some kind of judging..."the little guy" is never going to get everything he wants because theres simply too much stuff. But the most sensible ideas would get picked. And of course there probably would still be a lot of them. So after that, we would make polls, and the list would be narrowed down even further. In the end, the two factors that make this possible are the ambassador's judgement and the rule of the majority, which is a pretty fair system I think.

But i don't see anyone really showing interest in this, so i dont really know whats going to happen...

ubuntu_demon
October 7th, 2006, 11:31 AM
Mike and me got sponsorship to attend UDS Mountain View!

We are going to work on improving communication and integretation between the forums and the rest of the community.

I will watch this thread for ideas. (any decisions will be made by ubuntu-geek ofcourse)

maniacmusician
October 7th, 2006, 04:34 PM
cool. what about the ambassador idea that was already proposed? it seems reasonable to me. And besides that, i don't think many people read this thread. I've always had the feeling that no one looks at stickies

Mr. Picklesworth
October 7th, 2006, 11:13 PM
Yep, I just noticed this thread :/

The ambassador idea sounds good to me.
If I was a developer, I wouldn't want to sift through a million suggestion threads and their resulting 6000 replies to figure out what said suggestions turn into in the end. (To put it lightly, forum threads tend to get sidetracked with all sorts of little metaphors).
I'd rather have a few community people figure out what thoughts are bouncing around and report them since there would probably then be better chance of getting noticed.
Besides, there's probably a better chance of an ambassador person replying to a thread to say that they will talk to the devs about it than to have an actual developer (*everyone kneels in silent respect*) do the same thing.

ubuntu_demon
October 8th, 2006, 10:26 AM
cool. what about the ambassador idea that was already proposed? it seems reasonable to me. And besides that, i don't think many people read this thread. I've always had the feeling that no one looks at stickies

There's a *chance* we might do something like that Ambassadors idea for Kubuntu (first?) because hobbsee is behind it.

maniacmusician
October 8th, 2006, 10:54 PM
awesome. all the more exciting for me, i use kubuntu.

.t.
October 9th, 2006, 06:52 PM
Good luck at UDS!

I also have a feeling that no-one reads stickies...

And why should the idea be primarily for Kubunteros? Surely any ideas would just get thrown up to the ubuntu-devel list, to benefit everyone, and any DE-specific ideas be sent to their appropriate lists? Or just send all requests to ubuntu-devel? Why segregate only one part of the community?

maniacmusician
October 10th, 2006, 01:02 AM
segregations is not planned...what he was saying was, that since hobbsee wants to really initiate this, and is going to be behind it, kubuntu might be first. I'm guessing thats because hobbsee is involved in kubuntu development somehow or is an influential kubuntu user. The plan is to definitely include everyone. it wouldnt be very ubuntuish not to.

sicofante
October 10th, 2006, 02:18 AM
I just want to ask/suggest how this ambassador thing is going to be implemented.

First of all, I understand there are some developers hired by Canonical, right? I think Canonical should hire some "ambassadors" as people who don't post at all, just read the forums and extract user's feedback.

I mean: car engineers don't talk to car drivers. There's a lot of people in every industry in charge of listening to the customers and bring back customers needs to the engineers/designers/whatever. There is definitely people like that in the propietary development world, and there should be people like that in open source too. At least in those OS projects that are properly funded and oriented towards the Regular User. Ubuntu is both.

So, the part I'm asking is: are you guys proposing these ambassadors are just patient volunteers? How would you choose them? Who would choose them?

And the part I'm suggesting is: the same way Canonical hires quality professionals to do development work, they should hire quality professionals to do user relations stuff.

I'm also of the opinion that forums are the place where ordinary people come and post our thoughts and worries. Mailing lists and IRC channels are just too geeky for most users, but that might just be me.

maniacmusician
October 10th, 2006, 02:35 AM
i agree with many of your points. However, canonical does not have unlimited resources (though it may seem like it at times), so the ambassadors have to be volunteers for the forum. I guess people will volunteer themselves, and the most level-headed/community-oriented people will get chosen. What i mean by the latter is that they community doesnt want the ambassadors to be people that post say once a month and aren't active in the forums. they usually want people that are there often, interact with each other, essentially people that they feel can understand them and represent them appropriately.

To reiterate about the Canonical thing; at times Canonical and the community are so tightly knit that they dont even need user relations. Right now, as the user base is growing, we're not so tightly knit. But instead of Canonical hiring people to "relate" to us, I think most people would rather that members of the forums step forward as representatives. it's a lot more down-to-earth.

sicofante
October 10th, 2006, 02:45 AM
I wouldn't discuss what are Canonical resources. I just say that if they're serious about their goals, they definitely need these user relations guys as much as they need developers. This is probably the hottest issue in OS development: listening to user demands.

Ambassadors chosen from the community are prone to become a new elite, as has already been suggested.

Anyway, I don't find both ideas incompatible. I'm just wondering how do you plan to choose the ambassadors. Open election? (How???) What does exactly mean "most level-headed/community-oriented people"? Who's deciding who's what? Tricky...

maniacmusician
October 10th, 2006, 03:14 AM
yeah, it is a little tricky, but things like this usually work out. For instance, this is obviously a demanding, time-consuming task. No one would take it on just because it makes them look better (and if they did, they'd quickly realize their folly; it's hard work). So probably only the most dedicated people would step forward to try and do this.

I guess some people do have an elitism problem. I really havnt seen that much here. Also, we would try not to elevate the ambassadors to too much of a higher position. They're not really any more important, they just volunteer to comb through hundreds of posts to find a few good ones. To be honest, i'm more worried about the elitism of the developers. I'm not saying this with any knowledge of them in my mind; i'm not saying that they ARE elitist. I dont even know any of them. What I'm worried about is that they take things coming from the forums seriously.

as for how they get chosen, I don't believe that many will step forward anyways. a lot of people could say "yes, i'm willing to do this", but only a few will say "Yeah, i'll take time out of my day and really dedicate myself to this project." Those people will likely become the ambassadors.

Some people that I can see off the top my head, willing to do this: matthew, aysiu, perhaps brunellus? I dont know how much time the forum staff have to really dedicate to this. I personally would love to work on the project as an ambassador. I think it's a really important thing that we improve communication.

sicofante
October 10th, 2006, 03:30 AM
Well, as I said, professionals and ambassadors can coexist. I think they actually should. The problem with people heavily involved in the forums is that they probably have their own vision already, and a strong one too. That can make their judgement of what's relevant and what's not a bit (or a lot) slanted. As a matter of fact, I think the main problem with developers comes precisely from their heavy involvement. For example, it's very hard to see what a newcomer sees when you've been too long around, even if it's a pretty obvious thing (a variation of the "emperor's new clothes" problem). I understand you can't bring volunteer outsiders who would be sort of neutral. But you can bring neutral outsiders... if you pay them. ;-)

However I'm starting to troll a bit here. Ambassadors contribution might be precious and good will has shown its power in the very existence of this OS project.

EDIT: I also would love to do that job. If I were rich enough and had no need to work, I would be happy reading these forums all day and posting back to the devs. :)

maniacmusician
October 10th, 2006, 03:40 AM
Well, as I said, professionals and ambassadors can coexist. I think they actually should. The problem with people heavily involved in the forums is that they probably have their own vision already, and a strong one too. That can make their judgement of what's relevant and what's not a bit (or a lot) slanted. As a matter of fact, I think the main problem with developers comes precisely from their heavy involvement. For example, it's very hard to see what a newcomer sees when you've been too long around, even if it's a pretty obvious thing (a variation of the "emperor's new clothes" problem). I understand you can't bring volunteer outsiders who would be sort of neutral. But you can bring neutral outsiders... if you pay them. ;-)

However I'm starting to troll a bit here. Ambassadors contribution might be precious and good will has shown its power in the very existence of this OS project.

EDIT: I also would love to do that job. If I were rich enough and had no need to work, I would be happy reading these forums all day and posting back to the devs. :)
I totally agree with what you said. i dont think its really going to happen (hiring neutral outsiders), but it's a reasonable idea.

sicofante
October 10th, 2006, 03:47 AM
Well, I certainly hope Canonical does hire some people to do that job. Sooner or later. If they never do they better forget about having a chance to smash bug #1...

aysiu
October 10th, 2006, 05:38 AM
The problem with people heavily involved in the forums is that they probably have their own vision already, and a strong one too. That can make their judgement of what's relevant and what's not a bit (or a lot) slanted.... it's very hard to see what a newcomer sees when you've been too long around, even if it's a pretty obvious thing (a variation of the "emperor's new clothes" problem). What you're saying sounds like it makes sense, but it hasn't been the case from what I've seen.

In fact, new comers tend to have much stronger opinions about things (and usually ill-informed ones). The most open-minded people I've seen on these forums are veterans (not saying all veterans are open-minded--just say the open-minded tend not to be newcomers).

Newcomers tend to be pretty self-centered about their needs and tend not to see the difference between what's badly designed and what's simply a cultural adjustment. For example, a lack of a consistent way to close applications in Gnome (Control-Q or Control-W) is bad design, but the installation of programs through a package manager is good design and just something to get used to, but you'll see plenty of new users complaining "Why can't it just be a setup.exe like in Windows?"

In any case, it wouldn't be the job of the volunteer ambassadors to bring their own ideas but to get ideas from forum discussions, and there would have to be a way (newcomer or not) for these ambassadors to have their ideas checked before being presented to the developers.

For example, I feel quite strongly (and the developers disagree with me on this) that build-essential should be installed by default. If I were an ambassador, I'd see what concerns got brought up around that and see what the results of polls were, and if the vote were against me, there should be a way that people can see what I'm presenting to the developers so they can say, "Hey, the general consensus from the polls was that build-essential not be installed by default, but you just sent your own proposal."

Frankly, I think anyone who volunteered for the position would probably be more professional about it than that. And there would have to be accountability.



as for how they get chosen, I don't believe that many will step forward anyways. a lot of people could say "yes, i'm willing to do this", but only a few will say "Yeah, i'll take time out of my day and really dedicate myself to this project." Those people will likely become the ambassadors. I agree. It sounds like a good thing in theory, but to be honest... I don't think I'll volunteer for it. It's a huge responsibility being an ambassador and liaison.



Some people that I can see off the top my head, willing to do this: matthew, aysiu, perhaps brunellus? I think your list makes sense, and the fact that one person has already said he won't do it (me) supports your earlier argument that few will actually step forward and make the commitment.
I dont know how much time the forum staff have to really dedicate to this. I personally would love to work on the project as an ambassador. I think it's a really important thing that we improve communication. I think you should go for it, then!

Hobbsee
October 10th, 2006, 01:49 PM
I warn you now - this reply will be long, and probably will switch from topic to topic.

I'm a MOTU, part of the kubuntu community council, and the kubuntu community manager. So I guess you could say that. :P

Kubuntu-specific stuff runs a little differently from ubuntu type stuff - there are less people in the kubuntu side, therefore it's a little easier to get them all together.

That being said, I expect that this sort of thing will happen with parts of the gnome-based side, and non-DM specific stuff. I cant talk for the XFCE side, as I dont have much to do with them.

I would guess, and this is complete speculation on my part, that jono bacon, the ubuntu community manager will want to get involved in these discussions, more on the ubuntu side. Or in general. Hopefully this stuff will be discussed and conclusions reached at UDS. (which I wont be at, but i'll be online for bits and pieces of)

The ubuntu-devel mailing list is *not* for such issues - we get enough stuff as it is - stuff that should go to -users, or be asked on forums, or whatever. Or that the documentation already answers. Please dont add *more* offtopic posts to the list, they wont get answered. Or they'll get answered as "this is not the correct place, ask $here instead"

By now, with just a few weeks to release, I'd imagine that community building stuff will wait till after that. But there is some planning going on, about how to best use the resources (from forums, irc, etc).

As a sidenote, what would be really helpful now is to have a list of any crucial Kubuntu-specific bugs that need to be fixed for release. And please dont tell me all of them. We cant, there are too many :P

The "elitism of the developers" comment is an interesting one, though. Do you mean the kind of elitism that says "I see your idea, but it's unfeasable, or you're asking it at the wrong time, or whatever other reason, and because of this, i'm saying no to it?" In my view, that's not unreasonable. There's no wand waving that goes on to create a release. To be fair, i guess there is - but unless it's accompanied by a "how do we do this" section, and then someone actually putting in the work to get it done, it wont happen. Such is life. I hate it to - if i could wave my wand to get everything done that I wanted to, i would. But that isnt possible.

On that note, a lot of the forum requests are unsuitable for inclusion, usually for one of the following reasons: (yes, i'm generalising here, and i'm only speaking having had a look at the edgy forums a few times lately)

* Request for a new version of an application after freezes. There are many reasons for freezes, and they have to be followed.

* Requests for new versions of applications in the wrong place. They belong in launchpad (file them under the name of the application that needs updating, not under ubuntu, else they get lost in a big black hole)

* "I've got debs here, you can put them into ubuntu" type situations. Ubuntu accepts sources, not binaries. Post the source as well, and people might take a look at the source. Also, the source has to pass quality control (try running the resulting .dsc through linda and lintian. If you get errors from them, you're not finished. Annoying, that :P

* Asking for non-free stuff to be installed by default. This includes mp3's out of the box, dvd's out of the box, etc. It's against policy (excluding the stuff in restricted modules, but i'm not going into that discussion).

* Asking for more things installed by default. CD's are only a limited size. While we still distribute on cd, this will be a problem. Each release hours of discussion go on about the most sensible stuff to put on the cd, and to make it all fit. Unfortunately, we cant take everything. That's life. There is a discussion about moving to DVD, i'd imagine that will be discussed more at UDS, and has already been discussed on the mailing list, to some extent. Archives are at lists.ubuntu.com.

* Bugs that should be on the bugtracker. By all means, post on the forums to check if it's there, but the forums arent a substitute for the bugtracker. Make sure you do go and post them on the bugtracker afterwards. Linking to the forum thread in the bug is a very good idea - i've recently seen some bugs like this - rock on!

* Related to that, bugs without enough info. "it crashes" without a backtrace or "it doesnt work" without any more information is useless. If you cant give us a backtrace, why not link the page that's making it crash. Or the file. Whatever you can. Too much information is far better than not enough. Also, people can tell you what extra information to give - and please do give it, else it sits in needs-info forever, until it gets marked closed due to lack of info. Not *terribly* useful if you want your bug fixed.

* Another bit related to that - assignee doesnt actually get used *that* often. Ie, your bug may well be being looked at, but hasnt been assigned to anyone. See above point about getting bugs looked at quicker by providing good information.

Now I feel like i've gone on a major tangent. I really was trying to avoid that :P

Where to now? Oh yes.

There's no reason that you have to be employed by canonical to implement something - in fact, a whole lot of the developers *arent* employed by canonical. If you've got a cool idea, write a spec for it, and dont just stop at the wand-waving ideas stage - see above point. And get it in :)

As for UDS, there are some ideas going on about how to help people not physically present contribute. There's even a spec for it, which I'm involved in. Unfortunately, i'm still in the thinking, wand-waving stage. Which means it hasnt gotten very far. :D I know other people are also exploring the possibilities.



I also have a feeling that no-one reads stickies...

Me too. I wish they did. Same thing with the topic in irc channels.

Anyway, i'm on irc, or contactable via email if anyone wanted to contact me directly. hobbseeATkubuntu.org works.

And again, sorry for the long and convoluted and slightly rant-like reply :P

maniacmusician
October 10th, 2006, 05:17 PM
phew i dont know how well i can respond to all that. I'll start off with your list of "unsuitable for inclusions". I think it's a pretty good list. It weeds out many of the stunningly naive ideas that people put forth, making it a little easier for everyone. Now if only people paid attention to stuff like that before posting...

I think a HUGE problem with ubuntu is that the information that's everywhere is not centralized at all. There's a bunch of different "centers' (ie, wiki, forums, lists, launchpad) but they dont tie together very well at all. For instance; I think something that will be an essential for the future is a "transfer" tool to get to ubuntu. Either from windows, or from past versions of ubuntu (I don't think dist-upgrade through apt is really very stable, or rather, very efficient). I know that ideas for projects like this have been proposed...but that's all I know. Has anyone acted on these ideas? Is a product in development that does this? I don't know, and I don't know where to go to find out. I'd like to work on a project like that because it will make life easier for a lot of people, but I don't want to get a whole thing going to later find out that someone started before me.

about the elitism of the developers; like I said, i dont really know them. But what i was worried about is that they might not take forum-goers seriously. ie, something like "Eh, you may think that's an important feature, but we really don't, so i don't think we're going to try and implement it." To be brutally honest, it isn't the developers' jobs to know what the users want; we already know that. So I wouldnt feel too good if they decided that our opinions on what features are needed wasn't important. Again, i'm not saying that the developers are actually like that, i'm just giving an example of how a distro could go horribly wrong because of miscommunication.

kind of tired from that rant, so I dont think I have much more left to say. I'll just end with reiterating the point about centralization. We really have to integrate the several information sources better so that people know where to go and whatnot. I know what launchpad is but i've never honestly used it. I wouldnt even know how to go about writing a spec or anything. and wtf is malone?

also I understand that it's hard to get into this while edgy is so close to release, but if we're going to really get on top of it, I think we should at least start organizing it now. In the wiki (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/BridgingUbuntu ) I made a little section at the bottom a while ago. The idea's evolved a little since then, but that's the basic gist of it at the moment. By organizing this, I mean we should decide on what the different threads will be for posting suggestions (they should be split up into categories), and we should also outline a "job description" of sorts, including all the negative aspects of doing this, and ask for people to step forward.

That is, if you really want to get this going.

sicofante
October 10th, 2006, 05:21 PM
Hobbsee, from your post I can definitely tell you're too involved... :-)

Also, I think you might be putting the car before the horses here. There's still much to be discussed on how to elect ambassadors, what they should do and do not, what should be their protocol, etc. You're already pointing out a lot of problems as if those preliminaries had been solved!

However, your post illustrates well that it won't be an easy task...


The "elitism of the developers" comment is an interesting one, though. Do you mean the kind of elitism that says "I see your idea, but it's unfeasable, or you're asking it at the wrong time, or whatever other reason, and because of this, i'm saying no to it?" In my view, that's not unreasonable.
I'll speak just for myself, but what I understand by any sort of elitism is something like "we know better than you because we're inside it." I know it's a rude summary but I hope it translates the feeling many ordinary users have towards some OS developers.


* Request for a new version of an application after freezes. There are many reasons for freezes, and they have to be followed.
A user must not know the developing process. This is the first thing devs must learn about users. The ambassador is precisely -if I have understood well- bridging this obvious communication gap.


* Requests for new versions of applications in the wrong place. They belong in launchpad (file them under the name of the application that needs updating, not under ubuntu, else they get lost in a big black hole)
Again, this is something a Regular User shouldn't be forced to do or know. It's all about translating users complaints/needs/wishes/difficulties/etc. to the developers.


* "I've got debs here, you can put them into ubuntu" type situations. Ubuntu accepts sources, not binaries. Post the source as well, and people might take a look at the source. Also, the source has to pass quality control (try running the resulting .dsc through linda and lintian. If you get errors from them, you're not finished. Annoying, that :P
Fair enough, but I guess if a user has good devs by her side, she'll know which door to knock at and ambassadors are not for her.


* Asking for non-free stuff to be installed by default. This includes mp3's out of the box, dvd's out of the box, etc. It's against policy (excluding the stuff in restricted modules, but i'm not going into that discussion).
If too many people asks for that the ambassador should give the following message to the devs: "Guys, you haven't explained your mission statement properly". Users should be allowed to ask for and say whatever crosses their imagination and no one should be censoring that. I mean, if devs really want to listen to the users...


* Asking for more things installed by default. CD's are only a limited size.
Again, it's users asking for whatever they wish...


* Bugs that should be on the bugtracker. By all means, post on the forums to check if it's there, but the forums arent a substitute for the bugtracker. Make sure you do go and post them on the bugtracker afterwards. Linking to the forum thread in the bug is a very good idea - i've recently seen some bugs like this - rock on! That should be exactly one of the ambassadors' missions. They would say: "Here's the bug and here's where users are discussing it". And of course, take care of all that bugtracker thing that most users don't even know what it is.


* Related to that, bugs without enough info. "it crashes" without a backtrace or "it doesnt work" without any more information is useless. No, it is not. It's what most Regular Users can say about a crash and you shouldn't despise that. If a high number of "computer-ignorant" users just say "this crashes" the ambassador better tells the developer...


* Another bit related to that - assignee doesnt actually get used *that* often. Again, not user's stuff. I believe not even ambassador's stuff. Maybe you just need a better information tool about the state of bugs.


Now I feel like i've gone on a major tangent. I really was trying to avoid that :P
But it has shown very well that different people must take care of different tasks and that ambassadors should NOT be developers. A developer's mindset is quite different from a user's mindset. In order to have proper communication between both worlds a "translator" is needed. So I guess ambassadors should be "non-programming advanced users", capable of understanding both basic users' needs as well as developers' procedures, protocols, limitations, etc.

The big issue with OS is that most of the time developers themselves are judging their own software as users. That makes the saying "by developers for developers" too much of a reality that severely limits the scope of Linux. Home/office/casual computer users couldn't care less about programming and still want to use Ubuntu. There's a bare need for ambassadors and, I must insist, neutral, quiet "forum-combers" hired by Canonical if Ubuntu is meant to grow over that insignificant <1% "market share" and squash The Bug.

maniacmusician
October 10th, 2006, 06:06 PM
^well as mentioned before, most people working on ubuntu aren't even canonical employees, just the few core ones are. Ubuntu is all about community, and thats really just the way we get stuff done.

I think you have a misconception here about the kind of requests that will be looked at during this. "Normal" users, ie the ones that just use office software and use the computer to do casual stuff, aren't going to want to be a part of this anyways. They can only contribute opinions on what they feel like is lacking (and it's usually the same thing; i can't play mp3's, why don't i have flash, etc etc). This may help developers get a general idea of things, but it doesn't really give them a concrete direction in which to progress.

We need information and input from more advanced users. Certainly not power users; but users who depend on their computers a lot, and can really give specific, concrete opinions on issues. I know this isn't exactly coming accross clearly; kind of tired and distracted. But you must get the gist of what I'm saying. I forget what else I was going to say

aysiu
October 10th, 2006, 06:16 PM
The way I see it, the ambassadors would be able to filter out all the stuff Hobbsee doesn't want to see--requests for proprietary software by default, requests for binary .debs for inclusion, requests for fixing bugs with no specifics...

The ambassadors' jobs would be to see what people are complaining about or features people are proposing, see what the general community consensus is (or if there is one) and then--in a way that's feasible for the developers to consider--propose the idea.

sicofante
October 10th, 2006, 06:23 PM
most people working on ubuntu aren't even canonical employees, just the few core ones areAll I say is: if Canonical has hired two core developers (just two), they need one user relations persons by their side. It's that important.



"Normal" users, ie the ones that just use office software and use the computer to do casual stuff, aren't going to want to be a part of this anyways.They already are! It's not just about playing mp3's and having flash in the browser (although missing those two points is simply unacceptable). I agree with you that "more advanced users" opinions are more concrete and easier to help developers, but you don't really need an ambassador for those, do you?

For example: I'm not quite sure if developers feel the need for easy drivers installation. It's easy to see the frustration that issue provoques (how do you spell this verb?? :-)) in most users and how all the solutions they get are oriented toward power users. Since no one is "translating" this user frustration to the developers, I can't see how they will feel that need.

If ambassadors are going to "specialize" in well formed user suggestions I don't see the need for that. There are channels already for those who know how to "form well" their suggestions and complaints.

But it's quite possible that I'm really disoriented and you were proposing a whole different thing here!!

sicofante
October 10th, 2006, 06:30 PM
The way I see it, the ambassadors would be able to filter out all the stuff Hobbsee doesn't want to see--requests for proprietary software by default, requests for binary .debs for inclusion, requests for fixing bugs with no specifics...

The ambassadors' jobs would be to see what people are complaining about or features people are proposing, see what the general community consensus is (or if there is one) and then--in a way that's feasible for the developers to consider--propose the idea.
I almost agree. Just wouldn't completely filter out everything a developer doesn't want to see. Unless this is just "a developers world" they should develop what users need, not what developers need... Although I understand this might be too much to ask when developers are volunteers, I'm pretty sure there are lots of developers who think of the users first. I mean, I would discourage developers who think of themselves first to work in user-oriented software.

Zodiac
October 10th, 2006, 06:53 PM
This is a wonderful idea... I hope it works out :)

Peter Garrett
October 10th, 2006, 09:34 PM
I've been watching this thread from a distance ;-)

Just a few comments:

The "Ambassadors" idea is fine, but please don't lose sight of the original idea that kicked the thread off - it's much more general than "How can we get the cool stuff that we want into Ubuntu ? "

If forum members want to improve communication with the rest of the Ubuntu community, thay need to consider a number of things:

- The "culture" of the forums is fairly casual, and that in itself is appropriate and good for a forum. Mailing lists are traditionally somewhat less casual, with the exception of "Sounder". There are good reasons for this that have nothing to do with "elitism" and a lot to do with being practical ;-)

- A sure way to annoy people is to crash in with lots of unreasonable requests ( Hobbsee made this point somewhat more diplomatically than I have here ;-) )

- If you want to be listened to and taken seriously, *do* learn to use the bug tracker. You can get to the bug reports most easily by going to

http://bugs.ubuntu.com/

which redirects to Launchpad . Sign up and contribute if you can - but do search first to make sure you aren't duplicating bugs that are already known! Of course, hobbsee's advice should be taken about the kind of info that helps developers.

Some time ago there were complaints on the forum about attitudes on the IRC channels, with some people feeling that IRC regulars were being snobbish or disrespectful. There was some justice in a few of the complaints, but also a misunderstanding about the differences between IRC and forums.

Remember that when channels like #ubuntu on irc.freenode.net reach the size they now have ( over 800, sometimes during new release "feeding frenzies" over 1000 ) , people have less time and chatting isn't an option ;-) Be patient, and make sure your questions are well thought out :)

To sum up: please get involved in other communication channels like the mailing lists and IRC, or at least drop in and lurk for a while. Take note of the conventions and "netiquette" in each, and try to conform to it - it's in everyone's interest.

The more forum regulars become familiar with the conventions of other groups within the community, the better their voices will be heard. There's a long tradition now in these areas, and, generally speaking, the traditions are there for good reasons. They might seem a little stiff from a forum perspective ;-) , but really everyone is in this together, and we all want similar things...

So - let's try to adjust our dialects to communicate as well as possible - when in Rome, and all that ...

Whew, that ended up being longer than I expected !

maniacmusician
October 10th, 2006, 11:59 PM
I've been watching this thread from a distance ;-)

Just a few comments:

The "Ambassadors" idea is fine, but please don't lose sight of the original idea that kicked the thread off - it's much more general than "How can we get the cool stuff that we want into Ubuntu ? "

If forum members want to improve communication with the rest of the Ubuntu community, thay need to consider a number of things:

- The "culture" of the forums is fairly casual, and that in itself is appropriate and good for a forum. Mailing lists are traditionally somewhat less casual, with the exception of "Sounder". There are good reasons for this that have nothing to do with "elitism" and a lot to do with being practical ;-)

- A sure way to annoy people is to crash in with lots of unreasonable requests ( Hobbsee made this point somewhat more diplomatically than I have here ;-) )

- If you want to be listened to and taken seriously, *do* learn to use the bug tracker. You can get to the bug reports most easily by going to

http://bugs.ubuntu.com/

which redirects to Launchpad . Sign up and contribute if you can - but do search first to make sure you aren't duplicating bugs that are already known! Of course, hobbsee's advice should be taken about the kind of info that helps developers.

Some time ago there were complaints on the forum about attitudes on the IRC channels, with some people feeling that IRC regulars were being snobbish or disrespectful. There was some justice in a few of the complaints, but also a misunderstanding about the differences between IRC and forums.

Remember that when channels like #ubuntu on irc.freenode.net reach the size they now have ( over 800, sometimes during new release "feeding frenzies" over 1000 ) , people have less time and chatting isn't an option ;-) Be patient, and make sure your questions are well thought out :)

To sum up: please get involved in other communication channels like the mailing lists and IRC, or at least drop in and lurk for a while. Take note of the conventions and "netiquette" in each, and try to conform to it - it's in everyone's interest.

The more forum regulars become familiar with the conventions of other groups within the community, the better their voices will be heard. There's a long tradition now in these areas, and, generally speaking, the traditions are there for good reasons. They might seem a little stiff from a forum perspective ;-) , but really everyone is in this together, and we all want similar things...

So - let's try to adjust our dialects to communicate as well as possible - when in Rome, and all that ...

Whew, that ended up being longer than I expected !
I hear ya; really. but there's two points of view. (i agree with both of them). the other point of view is that normal users can't really be expected to learn all that. it is, as someone put it before, too "geek"; at least at the moment. I believe that if it were more centralized, it would be easier for users to venture into things like launchpad. But as it is now, launchpad seems like an alien, unworkable thing to a lot of people (along with stuff like mailing lists. Some consider even IRC to be too technically oriented).

I'm not saying everything should revolve around the forum-goers, just that everyone should be more close-knit. The right hand should know what the left is doing, and vice versa. I can definitely understand the need for protocol, orderliness, and the strict rules. Without them, ubuntu would not be successful at all. But casual users dont want to touch any of that; thus, the ambassadors. liasons, a link between the creaters and the users.

I wish it wasn't so, but i firmly believe that all the casual users will never adhere to the code that you described. The only way that we're going to get bug reports out of them is to install built-in crash report handlers, and even that won't get everything. believe me, there's users that aren't even comfortable using forums; mailing lists would make them go crazy. and if you take a look at aysiu's post above, of course, it's not just "cool stuff that we want in ubuntu", it's a general representation of the community's opinions.

@comomolo: your first post; i don't really believe that ubuntu needs to hire user relations people. i honestly dont think we need it, or that it would make things better than they are now. just my opinion. your second post: the filtering out is not just because developers dont wnat to see it, it's because those "requests" are just too irrational and un-doable. there are rules about things like feature-freeze and what programs to install for a reason. without them there would be chaos. and not including non-free software is a decision of philosophy. Yes, ubuntu is out to satisfy it's users, but not at the expense of going against it's principles and selling out just to get more popular. however, I do agree that we should implement better "introductions" to new users. such as a "would you like a guided tour of ubuntu?" and an interactive software that asks the users about his or her needs and points them in the right direction to get what they want.

these are some super long posts :)

Peter Garrett
October 11th, 2006, 12:31 AM
I hear ya; really. but there's two points of view. (i agree with both of them). the other point of view is that normal users can't really be expected to learn all that. it is, as someone put it before, too "geek"; at least at the moment. I believe that if it were more centralized, it would be easier for users to venture into things like launchpad. But as it is now, launchpad seems like an alien, unworkable thing to a lot of people (along with stuff like mailing lists. Some consider even IRC to be too technically oriented).



Sure, this is quite true - but the people who will actually make a difference will inevitably be those who are willing to make the effort to use the existing methods and channels to make positive changes. That implies understanding how things currently work, in order to change matters for the better.

It's worth remembering that we are all part of the community, and that developers, IRC participants and ops, and mailing list contributors are no different from anyone else - an "us and them" attitude never helps ( Not implying that this is what you are saying, just that I've seen this kind of opinion on the forums, and also on mailing lists and IRC).

Just to reiterate: Matt Zimmerman's concern was that there is too much of a division between the forums and the rest of the community. My original response was an attempt to put the discussion "out there". My perception of this thread is that it went off-topic almost immediately and became effectively a thread about the "Ambassadors" idea.

As I said, I have no problem with that idea - I'm just reminding people that the original concern was with a broader isssue than forum-developer communication, and was actually about communicaion between the forums and the rest of the community.

sicofante
October 11th, 2006, 12:39 AM
Peter, believe me: the Emperor is naked.

EDIT: I was replying here to your first post. I might ask from your second: what is that broader issue you're mentioning? Ambassadors are a solution proposed for one goal: make communication more fluid. I don't grasp what's that broader thing you're talking about.

Maniacmusician: I stick to my stance: wherever there's a developement team there should be coders, designers, user interaction specialists AND people that relates to users. If someone is sure of the need to pay some coders and at the same time believes he doesn't need to pay the rest of the staff, he's plain wrong. I hope we don't really need to discuss this because it's at the very heart of every design team, be it software or airplanes.

Regarding what is correct or not about users demands I think there's some misunderstanding: I say Regular Users should say whatever crosses their minds and that's what they/we usually do in these forums. They should NOT use mailing lists, IRC channels and other media where devs feel right at home and users feel intimidated to say the least. (It's not like I've decided that, it's just what you can see by simply reading the different media.) Ambassadors would be the ones talking to the devs and it should be their duty, as I understand it, to properly translate users' needs/wishes/frustrations/etc. to the devs. I'm not saying they're just a repeater of what they read in the forums. What I'm saying is: any filtering shouldn't automatically ignore all those things developers consider un-doable or inappropriate to ask. Hobbsee put a number of examples ("this app crashes", "I want more stuff in the CD", "I want propietary things here and there", etc.) and I've replied that from a user's perspective, some of the things he would never listen to must be listened to from somewhere and someone should take proper action (which eventually might be just ignore certain requests but IT'S NOT UP TO THE DEVS TO DECIDE THAT, it's up to the ambassadors, precisely...). In other words, if ambassadors are just developers' representatives they will fail. They shouldn't be just representing users either, although some slant to the weakest part is always reasonable.

If there's a clamour for mp3 codecs someone should do something about it, be it explaining in very loud voice "go somewhere else, Ubuntu is not for you" (not the right thing to do IMHO, but I don't own this thing) or "we can't do it this way for legal reasons but will find a workaround", the answer provided somehow by the Automatix team. This is a very clear example where developers wouldn't listen but someone else will, and that is NOT good (that's again just MHO but the work made by the Automatix is a patch and should've been done by the core developers).

If some Ethernet drivers are switching themselves off at every reboot, many users will simply claim "it crashes". When it's one hundred users saying that simple "idiotic" phrase, ambassadors should alert someone.

Let me put it this way: users speak French and developers speak Chinese. There must be someone translating. Why someone creating software for others would not want to know how these others feel about the software is beyond me. On the other side, developers not wanting to know how happy their software makes users should say so and save everyone a lot of headaches.

Peter Garrett
October 11th, 2006, 01:07 AM
Peter, believe me: the Emperor is naked.

EDIT: I was replying here to your first post. I might ask from your second: what is that broader issue you're mentioning? Ambassadors are a solution proposed for one goal: make communication more fluid. I don't grasp what's that broader thing you're talking about.



The emphasis in most of this thread is on forum-developer communication. That is not what Matt Zimmerman was talking about in his post on the -devel list. He was concerned about a more general lack of communication between groups in The Ubuntu community. While the Ambassadors idea is fine, it doesn't address the concern he expressed, to which I replied with the wiki page referenced in the quoted text at the beginning of this thread.



If there's a clamour for mp3 codecs someone should do something about it, be it explaining in very loud voice "go somewhere else, Ubuntu is not for you" (not the right thing to do IMHO, but I don't own this thing) or "we can't do it this way for legal reasons but will find a workaround", the answer provided somehow by the Automatix team. This is a very clear example where developers wouldn't listen but someone else will, and that is NOT good (that's again just MHO but the work made by the Automatix is a patch and should've been done by the core developers).



I think you are entirely wrong about the developers "not listening". There are legal issues here of which I'm sure you are aware. As for automatix, we won't go there....

I'm not sure which "Emperor" you are saying has no clothes.... ;-)

sicofante
October 11th, 2006, 01:23 AM
He was concerned about a more general lack of communication between groups in The Ubuntu community.I understand. I guess the issue has derived because most people in the non-forum media are either power users or developers, with very little presence of so called Regular Users. It's the opposite in the forums, where developers presence is so scarce that we're told every now and then not to expect them around here (and one feels really stupid when posting to a beta-testing forum, for instance, where no developer is attending...)

Legal issues about the MP3 thing have been discussed ad nauseam and no, I won't enter that murky waters. It's an example showing that a broad user base insisting in an apparently "unsolvable" issue will find their way and just negating the need to find a solution for it doesn't help. It's an issue at the same level (for the purposes of this discussion) than "this app crashes" or "this driver doesn't work", where there's a need for an intermediary stage: the now famous ambassador. :-)

I'd love to explain my comment on the Emperor's clothes but believe me: my English is seriously limited when it comes to irony and I would probably say the wrong thing. Let me take it back. It'll be much easier! :-)

maniacmusician
October 11th, 2006, 02:22 AM
@Peter: hmm i didn't even realize how much the original idea had been distorted. weird. But the lack of communication between the groups is also definitely a concern. I think it also relates to the "centralization" of resources that i was talking about. the seperation of the different groups in the community is primarily emphasized by where they hang out online.

I think it would definitely be beneficial for the forums to be better integrated with the rest of the community...though I don't really know how to do that. One way to improve stuff like bug reporting and creating specs would be to integrate launchpad into ubuntu forums to make it easier for the users to access, and make them aware of it. But within this lies the risk of new users abusing the power (ie, "my sound isn't working! oh look, a "report a bug" button, i'll go report this"). it seems to me that the community is too spread out. Different places have different reasons for existing(like the mailing list being very low key/serious and primarily focusing on technical issues...correct?), but there's no one central place.

sorry about getting so carried away with the Ambassadors thing; though to be fair, the title of this thread is "Ideas for communications between devs and users", which is a little different from the problem you're describing.

I still maintain my opinion that casual users will not be able to succesfully integrate into the mailing list and more formal methods because they simply can't deal with it. It comes as a sixth sense to most of us who are technologically oriented but like I said, some people have trouble just using the forums.

I think that at least the forums should be more closely related to things like the wikis, the help docs, and launchpad. What are some other ways we can bring the community together?

Hobbsee
October 13th, 2006, 04:35 PM
All i was trying to get across was what would need to happen from a developers point of view, to see how the ideas are feasible from that side.

Having said that, why dont you run with it, and see what you can do?

maniacmusician
October 13th, 2006, 04:48 PM
When I get home tonight, I'll put up a poll in the cafe, outlining the ambassador idea, and if an overwhelming amount of people vote yes for it, then I'll try and start organizing it. It's pretty big for just me to do though, especially in the midst of college applications and interviews and essays and whatnot, so I'd love to have someone pitch in and help me out with it.

aysiu
October 13th, 2006, 04:53 PM
Having said that, why dont you run with it, and see what you can do? That sounds great, but we can't really run with it until someone volunteers to be an ambassador.

sicofante
October 13th, 2006, 08:49 PM
so I'd love to have someone pitch in and help me out with it.
It's not like I'm on holidays either, but let me know if I can be of any help.

maniacmusician
October 13th, 2006, 11:22 PM
thanks for the offer. If this gets rolling, I'll probably do just that.

I'm going to put off making the poll and description until tomorrow. I gotta study tonight...tomorrow i'm taking the SATs again (weeeeeeee...), gotta score a bit higher this time.

Hobbsee
October 14th, 2006, 06:34 AM
That sounds great, but we can't really run with it until someone volunteers to be an ambassador.

Of course. :p

*waits for people to volunteer*

.t.
October 15th, 2006, 12:31 AM
Well. I'd volunteer, but I don't have the time. I hope someone with good experience and the time to give does volunteer, as I'd love to see this show on the road!

ubuntu_demon
October 15th, 2006, 01:19 PM
I would like to bring this to everyone's attention :

UDS Mountain View : Call for Topics
http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=277761

sicofante
October 15th, 2006, 06:15 PM
I'm afraid it'll be terribly hard to find people who can spend their life just reading these forums. I'm wondering how're we going to overcome this "little" issue.

aysiu
October 15th, 2006, 06:17 PM
I'm afraid it'll be terribly hard to find people who can spend their life just reading these forums. I'm wondering how're we going to overcome this "little" issue.
Actually, there are plenty of people who spend their lives just reading these forums... uh... not that I know anyone like that... personally.

But we generally tend to also spend that time trying to help people, not gather information to communicate to the developers.

yman
October 16th, 2006, 05:00 AM
I can contribute a few hourse a week, and seeing that I write JS and know some programing in pascal & java, I think I could be good enough as a begining. I think the real issue is getting it started, and I'm eager to post my own ideas, but what were talking about is creating a special section for discussion about suggestions, exactly so people don't need read the entire forum. I think if we can get this to start and publicize it then people would know about it and want to be volunteers.

ubuntu_demon
October 16th, 2006, 10:12 AM
I'm hereby volunteering to be a future member of the Ubuntu Ambassadors team.

But IMHO it's best to start with doing it for Kubuntu only because we have hobbsee's support.

For clarification : I can't make the decision to through with the Kubuntu Ambassodors idea. Once we have some suitable volunteers and we have the idea more clear we have to communicate with hobbsee and ubuntu-geek to make it happen.

Here's a short term solution :

UDS Mountain View : Call for Topics
http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=277761

UDS Mountain View - collecting interesting forum threads
http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=1622842

maniacmusician
October 16th, 2006, 02:07 PM
alright guys, i posted a poll regarding this idea in the cafe, we'll see how much interest it generates, and go from there.

John.Michael.Kane
October 16th, 2006, 07:39 PM
@maniacmusician I like the idea your putting fourth,however. I feel it needs to be implemented in way that there is accountability.

If your going to go through this there should be some way to vouch for those being considered for that kind of position. also those who do vouch for members being ask to be "Forum Ambassadors" should be held accountable in some way.

You don't want to have a situation where things are not being address properly,and that those choosen do not have the members of the forum members full trust.

az
October 16th, 2006, 07:57 PM
It's a fantastic idea that needs people to make it happen.

My two cents:

Probably the only real reason why developers don't spend a lot of time on the forums is that the forums are really really big.

If there was a group of people who could point out a few threads here and there to a developer who could actually use the idea being discussed, we would probably see a few more devs actually jumping into conversations here.

That would require a bunch or people to monitor the forums and be aware of what devs to get in contact with for various topics.

yman
October 16th, 2006, 09:13 PM
alright guys, i posted a poll regarding this idea in the cafe, we'll see how much interest it generates, and go from there.

can you post a link here please?

yman
October 16th, 2006, 09:28 PM
I like the idea, but how about putting a button on threads to recommend them to the embassadors, who can then reccomend them to devs? that isn't to say I don't agree with the idea, It's just a thought.

PriceChild
October 16th, 2006, 11:44 PM
If there was a group of people who could point out a few threads here and there to a developer who could actually use the idea being discussed, we would probably see a few more devs actually jumping into conversations here.

That would require a bunch or people to monitor the forums and be aware of what devs to get in contact with for various topics.

Yeah not sure about how to choose this "group of people". How do we know what they think is important fits with what everyone else wants?

I like the idea, but how about putting a button on threads to recommend them to the embassadors, who can then reccomend them to devs? that isn't to say I don't agree with the idea, It's just a thought.Much better. Might take a lot of coding, but something similar to the "report bad post" crossed with the thread rating system could be good.

Pricey

maniacmusician
October 17th, 2006, 12:31 AM
it was moved into a different section, sorry about that.

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=278375

maniacmusician
October 17th, 2006, 06:14 AM
oh no it would not be a scanning the forums thing. didn't you read my first post in the other thread? :p or was it too long or something? I explained the proposed process there. I think it's pretty organized. I wouldn't dream of making people scan the forums, it's bad enough that they'll have to read all the way through threads that will most likely be 50+ pages.

yman
October 17th, 2006, 06:20 AM
oh no it would not be a scanning the forums thing. didn't you read my first post in the other thread? :p or was it too long or something? I explained the proposed process there. I think it's pretty organized. I wouldn't dream of making people scan the forums, it's bad enough that they'll have to read all the way through threads that will most likely be 50+ pages.
I read that entire thread, mind you, but I forgot it all.

(NOT an edit!): OK, I looked at that post again and didn't see a word I disagree with. however, how would the ambassadors know where to look? that is why I assume there would be a special section for those "free thought threads".

EDIT:

Ubuntu Forums Statistics
Threads: 272,619, Posts: 1,618,375

I agree that it is quite unrealistic to expect the ambs to scan the entire forum.

maniacmusician
October 17th, 2006, 06:25 AM
=-O! wow what an interesting idea! I never thought to recycle teams of ambassadors. Though it would be every couple of release cycles, not months...the whole process happens once for every release, or that is the plan anyways. I think recycling the ambassadors is a really cool idea, except we probably won't have enough volunteers to do that. But its still a really amazing idea.

Though it might also be good to keep some kind of constant in there. for instance, I know that even if I don't go for being an ambassador, I will still want to be looking in on the project, see how it's going. there should be some familiar structure or person there every time, to hold it all together. otherwise, it might deviate from its original purpose over time

maniacmusician
October 17th, 2006, 06:27 AM
well as I outlined in my first post at the other thread :p, specific threads would be created for brainstorming. And the ambassadors would monitor those threads. Which is why it needs to be very organized and whatnot so nobody loses track of whats going on. It shall all be centralized in a handful of threads. probably no more than 6 or 7 at a time.