Feedback Welcome

Recently some concerns were raised to me in a Community Council meeting about some areas of the community, and how much influence and motivation some of our community members feel they have on Ubuntu.

I am determined to identify some solutions for these challenges. Our community should be fun, inspiring, and productive.

I want to start out by learning more about our community’s perspectives, so I issued a survey to all Ubuntu Members to gather some more input and find patterns in areas of success and concern. You folks should have an email about this in your INBOX with a link to the survey. I appreciate if you could take a few minutes to share your thoughts.

I am also interested in soliciting general feedback too from across the community, and I would like to invite those of you who have views or insight into some of these community challenges to send me an email to jono –AT– ubuntu –DOT– com. All correspondence will be private and I would like to encourage you to be as frank as possible.

Thanks, everyone.

  • Craig Maloney

    Any particular reason why this is only available to members? Seems like a self-selecting group bias.

  • http://twitter.com/jspaleta Jef Spaleta

    Members are stakeholders in a significant sense in the community leadership meritocracy.  It is the membership pool which is most likely where the community leadership is going to be drawn from.  And while non-members like myself have important opinions to share on the matter,  asking material stakeholders to weigh in help identify the problem from their perspective is not unwise.

    Membership has its privledges. Why else become a member?  Being specifically asked to be part of process problem solving thinktanking ahead of a larger discussion is perfectly reasonable.  Though perhaps the expectation that this can and should be done entirely through private discussion to be effective might not be.  The rest of us sitting in the cheap seats will have more than enough opportunity to throw peanuts on-stage.

    -jef

  • Craig Maloney

    That’s a very valid point, but wouldn’t it be more useful to poll the folks that aren’t as engaged with the community as well? I understand we can send Jono mail directly, so perhaps I should toss my peanuts that way instead of just random drive-by comments on the blog.

    I dunno though. Feels very managerial to me. Like asking the management of a company how things are going, instead of asking the rest of the company.

  • https://launchpad.net/~shermann Stephan Adig

    Jono, I filled in the survey, but I have to say, many questions are not really representing the issues inside and outside the community. I know for sure, that the questions are just a snapshot of what you thought C. can ask the community.

    The same is with the voting of the new members of the CC. I, in this example, don’t feel represented by any of these new candidates for different reasons and I think that there are more community members who are feeling the same.   IMHO one important question, which comes to my mind, is:

    “What community does C. want?”

     A technical one with really smart people, doing a lot of extraordinary work, including upstream, downstream and worker bees like the packaging fraction?

    Or do we want a social one, which is more likely to be a good or bad marketing machine?

    Right now, we have all those people, but 

     – the technical fraction is smart, but silent  – the social fraction is not always smart, but noisy.

    So, what community does C. want?

    Technical elite or social (sometimes harmful) marketing?

    And yes, without social marketing Ubuntu wouldn’t be in the mouths of the world, but in the beginning we had the social marketing mostly done by the technical fraction. 

    Damn, this comment is already too long ;)

    sh 

  • oCean

    I don’t think it is a useful thing to regard the several audiences that the project has as a single community. There are various communities, each with both it’s own focus and interests as well as it’s own influence and motivation. Would be sensible to distinguish these various communities and consider different approaches for each of them.

  • Anonymous

    Could you please make the survey questions public ? There are non Ubuntu community “members” which care about the community. Do you plan to publish the survey results ?

  • http://gkn.me.uk/ Greg K Nicholson

    The main problem is that the community has no input over major developments in Ubuntu.

    For example, Unity replacing the Gnome desktop; the indicator menus replacing the notification area; integration of Ubuntu One; change of logo; change of theme from Human to Light; moving the BFB to the launcher.

    All of these things were designed and developed in secret by Canonical, and landed fully-formed. It is Free software, but in practice you can’t contribute.

    In this respect, Canonical operates a lot more like Google and OpenOffice.org than like Mozilla. Mozilla develops in the open—it uses an open wiki, bug tracker and mailing list to do all development except security fixes.

    Whereas Ubuntu isn’t community-developed. The community’s only functions are promotion and bug reporting. Otherwise, it’s a group of spectators.

  • http://castrojo.tumblr.com Jorge Castro

    Unity’s code and all indicator work has always been published in Launchpad in the public.

    We also have an open wiki, bug tracker, and mailing list to do all the development. 

    If you’re concerned about the design issues in Unity done by the design list, then that’s only a small part of the OS.

  • http://gkn.me.uk/ Greg K Nicholson

    Oh, yeah, the code’s published for Unity. So is Android’s—that doesn’t make it community-developed.

    The design isn’t a small part of the OS—it’s what makes Ubuntu Ubuntu.

    Other than design (how Ubuntu looks, feels and works), all that’s left is the implementation. I don’t think anyone believes that the essence of Ubuntu is a top-quality implementation of any-old-design. (That would be Debian.)

    The Ubuntu community won’t be excited just by non-buggy code. (Again, that’s Debian.) Besides, not-being-buggy isn’t exactly Ubuntu’s greatest virtue.

    The wiki and mailing list are open. But the wiki isn’t actually used for development: it’s a graveyard of community ideas that were never implemented.

    Community members can post to the mailing list and wiki, but it won’t actually achieve anything unless sabdfl or mpt notice and adopt the idea. Most community members have no influence at all.

    Mozilla at least seem to listen and consider ideas. If the Mozilla community wants rationale for a change, it usually gets one. The Ubuntu community usually gets sabdfl saying “I wanted it this way. I’ll listen to feedback.” then the decision is never questioned again.

  • http://gkn.me.uk/ Greg K Nicholson

    I should say: none of this is meant to be a swipe at anyone at Canonical. Ubuntu wouldn’t exist without Mark. He has the right to do whatever he wants with it, and so far he’s had a lot of success by doing so. Kudos!

    I contend that the community’s interest and engagement (as collaborators, rather than as a crowd of spectator/commenters) will increase and decrease along with the level of influence they believe they have.

    Mark and Canonical can choose what level of relationship they want with the community.

    I hope Canonical chooses to afford the community real influence, and in return Canonical can expect engagement and a reciprocation of that respect.

    Or, they could offer less influence to the community, and have more control over their product, a less complicated life, but less of a deep engagement with the community.

    Either way is fine. We’re all grown-ups. We all wish each other luck in any event.

    I think ill will only creeps in where one party expects more than it gets.

    (As an example, perhaps Gnome broadly expected Ubuntu to collaborate on Gnome Shell; when Ubuntu went its own way, disappointment ensued.)

    I think older community members already understand from experience where the community has its influence within Ubuntu. But newer recruits and more mercurial well-wishers may be mistaken and disappointed.

    In this respect, perhaps we should more clearly demarcate these boundaries between community and Canonical. Red Hat will have done this from the start with Fedora—maybe we could learn from their approach.

    tl;dr: in a relationship, set clear expectations about who gets what privileges.

  • http://gkn.me.uk/ Greg K Nicholson

    I should say: none of this is meant to be a swipe at anyone at Canonical. Ubuntu wouldn’t exist without Mark. He has the right to do whatever he wants with it, and so far he’s had a lot of success by doing so. Kudos!

    I contend that the community’s interest and engagement (as collaborators, rather than as a crowd of spectator/commenters) will increase and decrease along with the level of influence they believe they have.

    Mark and Canonical can choose what level of relationship they want with the community.

    I hope Canonical chooses to afford the community real influence, and in return Canonical can expect engagement and a reciprocation of that respect.

    Or, they could offer less influence to the community, and have more control over their product, a less complicated life, but less of a deep engagement with the community.

    Either way is fine. We’re all grown-ups. We all wish each other luck in any event.

    I think ill will only creeps in where one party expects more than it gets.

    (As an example, perhaps Gnome broadly expected Ubuntu to collaborate on Gnome Shell; when Ubuntu went its own way, disappointment ensued.)

    I think older community members already understand from experience where the community has its influence within Ubuntu. But newer recruits and more mercurial well-wishers may be mistaken and disappointed.

    In this respect, perhaps we should more clearly demarcate these boundaries between community and Canonical. Red Hat will have done this from the start with Fedora—maybe we could learn from their approach.

    tl;dr: in a relationship, set clear expectations about who gets what privileges.