Our community is at the heart of how we build Ubuntu. Recently there were some concerns expressed about some aspects of our community and I have been working with various community members and internally at Canonical to resolve some of these issues to make things smoother.

I just wanted to summarize some updates:

  • Regular, transparent planning – we want to improve how we plan the delivery of work items, and make that planning more nimble. While the major decisions are reserved for primary discussion at UDS, we want to regularly and transparently checkpoint progress on those projects, and ensure things are moving along. To do this the engineering managers at Canonical will perform this planning on a monthly basis with our community. An an example, with my team, we will decide at UDS what major projects we will work on and document the work items in those blueprints, and every month I will ask the team to commit to delivering an agreed set of work items that month and update the blueprints accordingly. This will make it easier to understand who is working on what, what needs to be done, and areas in which people can participate. This entire process will be completely open and transparent and I would like to encourage our wider community to use the same approach. As an example, this could be a useful technique for our LoCo community to use for planning their work too around advocacy campaigns. All of this work will continue to be tracked openly in status.ubuntu.com.
  • Training our engineers – our engineers at Canonical are expected to openly and transparently perform all work that is not considered customer/company confidential. While this expectation is clear, there are sometimes cases when this doesn’t happen (e.g. if someone joins Canonical without the experience of working in an open environment and isn’t really sure how to do this). I have prepared an internal slide deck with these expectations and workflows clearly laid out; my team will be working to ensure everyone gets the deck, reads it, and gets an answer to any of their questions.
  • Regular leadership problem solving meetings – one problem we have today is that we don’t have a regular problem solving meeting in our community in which our governing leaders are present at. Instead our different leadership boards (e.g. Community Council, Forums Council) tend to resolve issues pertinent to that specific board. We think it could be useful to have a meeting every two weeks that has representatives from our different governance boards and our community can join and raise topics for discussion. We are going to run the first one of these sessions tomorrow (Tue 19th March 2013) on Ubuntu On Air at 8pm UTC. We invite you to bring your topics there on IRC for discussion.
  • Online UDS refinements – as I blogged about last week we have released a survey to gather feedback about how to refine and improve UDS. We have already made some plans for some improvements but I plan on organizing a community meeting to discuss this more next week (I can’t later this week as I am at an event). I think there is an opportunity to refine the format of UDS into a form that becomes a useful and repeatable way of coordinating meetings in a community.
  • Weekly Updates – I have reached out to the engineering managers on some of the core projects at Canonical and asked them to provide weekly updates of work going on. We have already seen the first updates for Ubuntu Touch and Mir.
  • Prepping announcements better – while the major announcements are now out, one piece of feedback I received is that our community felt ill-prepared around things such as the Ubuntu Touch announcement, and people such as our IRC/Forums/Community councils were inundated with questions and didn’t have good answers to those questions. If we need to make future announcements in the same way again, I am going to ensure our core governance boards are clued up first and we provide a FAQ for our community to refer to when getting these kinds of questions. This should relieve this concern.
  • Improving our community on-ramp – one area where I want to drive some improvements is making it easier for people to join the community. We started some work a while back to improve the community landing page on ubuntu.com and I have asked Daniel Holbach to drive that work to completion. I am also working with the Ubuntu Touch and Mir teams to ensure that they have awesome documentation and guidance for how people can participate. A good example of the progress being made here is the Mir documentation. If you would like to help improve these docs, then feel free to dig in and help, or share your ideas on the mailing lists.

I want to get as much feedback on these steps moving forward as well as other ideas and areas in which we can focus. You can always grab me on IRC on freenode (my nick is jono) and I hang out in #ubuntu-community-team. Also feel free to drop me an email and join my regular Q+A session every week. Unfortunately, this week’s Q+A session is canceled as I need to be at an event, but I will be back in the regular slot next week on Wednesday at 7pm UTC on Ubuntu On Air.

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