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Thread: What happened to the Ubuntu community?

  1. #1
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    Question What happened to the Ubuntu community?

    Around a decade ago, when I started using Ubuntu, people were excited. Linux was always about customization and making your system the way you want and the community was enthusiastic to get involved with anyone wishing to do this or that with their system. Now it seems like a lot of people have become judges and gatekeepers - wanting to vett others - rather than be helpful. The energy and enthusiasm surrounding Linux (and especially Ubuntu) is something that drew me to it and made me love being a part of this community. I don't think I'll ever abandon Ubuntu but I do find it sad that people aren't as eager as they once were.
    Last edited by blahboybaz; March 17th, 2024 at 09:51 PM. Reason: Improve readability and clarity.

  2. #2
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    Re: What happened to the Ubuntu community?

    They typical users of Linux systems has changed drastically over this time. In 2005, it was mostly tech-nerds, willing and wanting to learn everything. These days, it is people asking "what do I type to make everything work now". There are plenty of nerds left, but that isn't the default.

    Also, many posters have over 30 yrs of experience and remember when people told us how to do things that weren't the smartest ideas; there was a better way (for certain values of "better").

    There's no single expectation that covers everyone. We each want slightly different outcomes and expecting everyone to have the same level of social grace isn't realistic either.

    People don't like to be talked down to. But if you do and they don't understand the answer, they are just as likely to be disappointed, or even mad, about the answer provided.

    Every forum has people posting not to actually be helpful. The UF moderators see hundreds, if not thousands of spam posts daily. If most of what you see is posts that clearly have alternative goals than helping others with Ubuntu, it would be easy to become a little disappointed or even jaded.

    If you'd like the forums to be more helpful - why not help others more than your 19 posts would reflect? YOU can change the overall tone of these forums, if you like. You'd be welcome.

  3. #3
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    Re: What happened to the Ubuntu community?

    The world has changed dramatically in the last decade. Because we live with it day to day, we don't notice it, but the change is nothing short of astronomical. When I joined these forums, the forum paradigm was central to community‑based help and discussion. Now, social media is the de facto watering hole for every gathering under the sun. Forums like ours have become yesteryear's platform, which, in the IT space, spells "antiquated".

    But social media is a dreadful and unworkable medium for generating a sense of all encompassing community. It has been well demonstrated by now that social media is primarily good at generating self‑reinforcing echo chambers that promote tribes, silos and cliques. And then, in ever escalating shades of militancy. The dominance of social media in our lives has diminished so many other communities; why would Ubuntu be different?

    People's attention spans have also evaporated. I used to write lengthy, complete responses to help requests and people would actually take the time to read them. These days, if you can't answer a question inside of 30 seconds, people's eyes glaze over and they get distracted by the squirrel outside their window.

    Forums are designed to answer questions over lengthy periods. Often, many days. Forum members have to make it home after work hours, spin up a VM, try to break it in the way that the OP did, and chase down a solution after iterative queries and exchanges. In our new world of instant gratification, this just doesn't cut it for the vast majority who have been conditioned into possessing the attention span of a gnat.

    And last but not least, Linux itself has become mainstream, commercialized and big business. The main contributors to the Linux kernel and thousands of critical apps/libraries are now multi‑trillion dollar megacorps who support FOSS out of carefully calculated self‑interest. It's no longer a loose community of hippy‑nerds who build Linux to scratch some personal itch. This changed dynamic cannot but affect all communities that are downstream, including this one.

    Red Hat has suffered even more than Ubuntu from this loss of a sense of community. Just head over to the Fedora Forum if you want a taste of the same travails.

    I suspect that every forum has experienced this same community decline. The ultra‑techie forums like Arch, Gentoo and Slackware might be a tad more resilient, but they are mostly the playground of über‑nerds who constitute a far greater share of those respective user bases than Ubuntu's users do.

    The Ubuntu community is larger than these forums of course. But I don't see an alternative platform advancing that sense of community that you posted about. In the end, your assessment is probably accurate. I just don't know what the solution is.

  4. #4
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    Re: What happened to the Ubuntu community?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFu View Post
    They typical users of Linux systems has changed drastically over this time. In 2005, it was mostly tech-nerds, willing and wanting to learn everything. These days, it is people asking "what do I type to make everything work now". There are plenty of nerds left, but that isn't the default.

    Also, many posters have over 30 yrs of experience and remember when people told us how to do things that weren't the smartest ideas; there was a better way (for certain values of "better").

    There's no single expectation that covers everyone. We each want slightly different outcomes and expecting everyone to have the same level of social grace isn't realistic either.

    People don't like to be talked down to. But if you do and they don't understand the answer, they are just as likely to be disappointed, or even mad, about the answer provided.

    Every forum has people posting not to actually be helpful. The UF moderators see hundreds, if not thousands of spam posts daily. If most of what you see is posts that clearly have alternative goals than helping others with Ubuntu, it would be easy to become a little disappointed or even jaded.

    If you'd like the forums to be more helpful - why not help others more than your 19 posts would reflect? YOU can change the overall tone of these forums, if you like. You'd be welcome.

    That seems reasonable and understandable. I remember back in the day (12.04, 14.04) coming on the forum and it was just ALIVE with activity! We would jump on newbies posts 2 or 3 of us at a time and then the guy would go change something while we were still responding (they didn't always communicate status updates real great) and we'd have to backtrack and try to wrangle them in. Yeah I learned not to `rm -rf` on an encrypted disk right here on this forum too - that was a hard lesson. Well.. it was nice while it lasted I guess. Now its all about irc I guess.

    TheFu It seems like I recognize your username from way back in the day too. Weird.

  5. #5
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    Re: What happened to the Ubuntu community?

    Quote Originally Posted by DuckHook View Post
    The world has changed dramatically in the last decade. Because we live with it day to day, we don't notice it, but the change is nothing short of astronomical. When I joined these forums, the forum paradigm was central to community‑based help and discussion. Now, social media is the de facto watering hole for every gathering under the sun. Forums like ours have become yesteryear's platform, which, in the IT space, spells "antiquated".

    But social media is a dreadful and unworkable medium for generating a sense of all encompassing community. It has been well demonstrated by now that social media is primarily good at generating self‑reinforcing echo chambers that promote tribes, silos and cliques. And then, in ever escalating shades of militancy. The dominance of social media in our lives has diminished so many other communities; why would Ubuntu be different?

    People's attention spans have also evaporated. I used to write lengthy, complete responses to help requests and people would actually take the time to read them. These days, if you can't answer a question inside of 30 seconds, people's eyes glaze over and they get distracted by the squirrel outside their window.

    Forums are designed to answer questions over lengthy periods. Often, many days. Forum members have to make it home after work hours, spin up a VM, try to break it in the way that the OP did, and chase down a solution after iterative queries and exchanges. In our new world of instant gratification, this just doesn't cut it for the vast majority who have been conditioned into possessing the attention span of a gnat.

    And last but not least, Linux itself has become mainstream, commercialized and big business. The main contributors to the Linux kernel and thousands of critical apps/libraries are now multi‑trillion dollar megacorps who support FOSS out of carefully calculated self‑interest. It's no longer a loose community of hippy‑nerds who build Linux to scratch some personal itch. This changed dynamic cannot but affect all communities that are downstream, including this one.

    Red Hat has suffered even more than Ubuntu from this loss of a sense of community. Just head over to the Fedora Forum if you want a taste of the same travails.

    I suspect that every forum has experienced this same community decline. The ultra‑techie forums like Arch, Gentoo and Slackware might be a tad more resilient, but they are mostly the playground of über‑nerds who constitute a far greater share of those respective user bases than Ubuntu's users do.

    The Ubuntu community is larger than these forums of course. But I don't see an alternative platform advancing that sense of community that you posted about. In the end, your assessment is probably accurate. I just don't know what the solution is.

    Somehow I seem to have a hard time getting along with folks in those other formats. Maybe it's because conversation happens so fast (with a forum you get the chance to think before you speak) - so inevitably I end up getting ticked off at someone on irc or whatnot; there's a spat, then I disappear for a long time, vowing to never return. I've done that so many times but this last time I just deleted my irc client all together and haven't been back in years. I don't miss it but there doesn't seem to be an equivalent in terms of activity.
    Last edited by blahboybaz; March 19th, 2024 at 04:50 AM. Reason: Adding a bit of clarity and completeness.

  6. #6
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    Re: What happened to the Ubuntu community?

    What bothers me the most, is when someone asks a question about something, and is answered with a questions OR an opinion!
    Never, ever answer a question with a question. 90% of the time, that tells me the person with the second question doesn't know the answer, then gives an opinion.

    It is not to clarify the OP's original question. Or at lease 90% of the time its not. Rather. I don't know the answer, so I will throw a question back at you.
    I'm not seeing this here per say. It was another forum lately that I noticed this a LOT.

  7. #7
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    Re: What happened to the Ubuntu community?

    One trend I have noticed recently is people coming to the forum, asking a question, and then never coming back to see if there was an answer.

    It may not be a new thing exactly but it seems more prevalent. I find it a tad frustrating since I come online with the best intention to help and then the person simply does not reply.

    It may be down to social media and attention span as DuckHook suggested or it may be a combination of other factors, suggested also by VMC and TheFu.

    Regardless, I always try and remind myself why I joined these forums in the first place, why I applied for Ubuntu Member status, and why I continue to come online to help when I can; namely, the spirit embodied in the Ubuntu Code of Conduct.

  8. #8
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    Re: What happened to the Ubuntu community?

    Quote Originally Posted by VMC View Post
    What bothers me the most, is when someone asks a question about something, and is answered with a questions OR an opinion!
    Never, ever answer a question with a question. 90% of the time, that tells me the person with the second question doesn't know the answer, then gives an opinion.

    It is not to clarify the OP's original question. Or at lease 90% of the time its not. Rather. I don't know the answer, so I will throw a question back at you.
    I'm not seeing this here per say. It was another forum lately that I noticed this a LOT.
    Wait a second or two!
    Some new users ask a question in this forum but give so little information that it's impossible to answer them sensibly without asking them questions.

    I do it very often and can see no other way to help such users!

  9. #9
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    Re: What happened to the Ubuntu community?

    I have noticed a decline in traffic as well. I have also noticed some of the issues pointed out in the OP. Call me weird, but sometimes that's what I need.

    I joined the forums in 2018 or 19 because I couldn't get lubuntu to install on my computer. It's still a major production to do a fresh install. I got many, many tips, ideas, etc., and can now do installs without majors issues. Sincce that time, I've gotten A great deal of help, and my fair share of sarcasm' but 98% of the time, the help was there,albeit slow to come at times. People here are very helpful, but they have a life outside of the forums, please understand that part of the equation.

    That said, I go through the forums daily. I'm looking for 2 things. 1) is people that are having an issue that I've been through and could offer advise or at least point them in the right direction. And 2) I'm looking for things I'm struggling with and haven't asked for help yet, or problems I feel I may have in the future. For example, if I buy a new computer and I have a driver issue, I may have seen something to get me started in the right direction.

    I probably had an easier time with learning what I know now, because I didn't come from a long term use of other OS. I had a computer 1999 - 2000, with windows 98se, but haven't had a computer of my own since, until 2018, when I bought this one. I didn't have to "unlearn" Windows first. I have a fairly large appetite for knowledge, and search for new thing to try. It's cost, in that I had I've had to do a fresh install( before I had backups), or restore from a backup. That's how I learn the best. I often would prefer someone to point me toward resources, so I can figure it out on my own. I just learn better that way. You fix my problem, problem goes away, you point me to where to look, I learn it and have to ask again in the future.

    I agree that some people that respond to posts seem to be "putting on a show", but are really just checking you out. That, IMHO, is the exception, not the rule. Most of the people here are not only willing, but eager to help people, no matter the level of experience. I seen newbies asking simple questions, and seen 'old-timer', with a great deal of experience, asking for help. None of are perfect, but most of us make an effort to help with what we know.

    Just remember a few things. People here are here to help. They donate time, share their knowledge, and help if they can. They do not get paid for this. Also, the advise given may not be 'the answer', but just a another piece of the puzzle, put in place for you. And sometimes, yes, addition info is needed, hence the answer a question with a question. Answers may be slower to come that you want, but keep in mind, as I said earlier, these people have a life outside the forums, and furthermore, they may be on the other side of the earth, so times are very different.

    Well, that about takes care my 3 cents worth,(I'm willing to pay a little extra...lol). Take it for what it's worth. If you see a problem, then be part of the solution.

    Bye for now.
    I'm a firm believer that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask.
    Lenovo ideapad320-15iap, 1.1G Intel processor with onboard graphics, x64, 1TB SSD, 8GB ram
    lubuntu 22.04.1, fully updated

  10. #10
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    Re: What happened to the Ubuntu community?

    Quote Originally Posted by ajgreeny View Post
    Wait a second or two!
    Some new users ask a question in this forum but give so little information that it's impossible to answer them sensibly without asking them questions.

    I do it very often and can see no other way to help such users!
    +1

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