Digg Links

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Suggestion for a new "Gentoo Userday"

I haven't written anything lately, because I don't beleive in saying something with no purpose. I beleive, that if you have something to say, say it, if not - keep you mouth shut. We have too much background noise anyway.

So now, as I published in user relations ML, I'm suggesting something new - a "user day", sorta bugday for users.

The idea came up to me after a few things, amongst them:
1. Gentoo Bugday
2. Users Representatives are about to start to do something...
3. The need for users->dev flow

The concept:

I suggest having regular user meetings, which can take place in either
forums/irc/ML (choose your favorite medium). The main idea for this is
to give users a place to whine about anything that bothers them in
Gentoo, ask for something or suggest new stuff. It can be anything at
all, starting from "I don't like default color in prompt in default
screen" and up to "I suggest creating totally automatic installation
including very cute Gentoo girls (or boys, just to be politically
correct) performing the install".

This would allow a few things: a) anyone can offer or complain on anything
she/he likes or dislikes; b) users with no knowledge what the hell Bugzilla
is, can suggest very good things in plain language that otherwise would
not come up in any shape or form; and for some users c) to cry to
someone about their computer problems (and don't tell me we're not here to
be a shrink, simple "I hear you" means a lot to people); and d) to let
out steam so user can more calmly explain what bothers them.

On each meeting, all suggestions/complaints which are worth
consideration are noted and saved and later discussed in a smaller forum
of people. After that, it can either 1) be dismissed; 2) left for
further discussion or 3) sent to implementation, such as userrel meetings
or inserted into Bugzilla.

Those meetings can also be regarded as "brainstorming" days, so they can
be used for hunting users' needs for our great distro.

About what we do have now and why it doesn't solve the problem on hand:

1. Bugday
Bugday is a great idea for fixing bugs / implementing
enhancements/features and generally pulling users in. But, from majority
of users' point of view, it is not relevant as a place to cry or suggest
anything, because most of users (or at least many) do not know what
Bugzilla is. Explaining in plain language is still much easier, and
getting an answer in a matter of few seconds gives a feeling of
"service"; whilst ignoring causes people to leave or at least not to
bother in the future. In addition, bugday work is highly organized (by
definition, there's nothing wrong with that) and hence moderated. As
such, some things/ideas/suggestions will be automatically ignored/thrown
away, because of these constraints.

2. User Representatives are now in some kind of self search, trying to
figure out how and what they would do for Gentoo. Main issues that they
deal with right now are about an infrastructure, and organization. I
have no doubt that all of them are great people and will contribute to
distro greatly, and that in the beginning all teams have to work out all
the logistics. Hence, because I'm not a userrep, I have no such troubles
in my mind, and all I can do is provide my humble opinion on things.
On this particular matter, in my opinion, implementation should
originate with userrep. These meetings are for users, and hence
naturally that Userreps would take responsibility for this. Details can
be worked out later.

3. Today ee do not have any kind of process for concentrated user
feedback/requests. These meeting would allow users to say what's in
their mind, and would allow some kind of ideas to be born out of preliminary
discussion. It would also help to eliminate obvious erroneous or
unimplementable ideas so they don't even reach devs.

A few remarks about this suggestion:

1. This suggestion should not obligate devs to participate in those
meetings. Meetings are for users mainly, and there is a userrep team
which should attend and collect useful data. If there's something
userrep considers valuable, they would bring that to userrel as it is
userrel subproject.
2. Anyone who participates and suggests anything, should understand,
that there's *no promise* for suggestion to be implemented. There might
be lots of reasons for that, starting with lazy devs and to the point
where the idea was considered it was decided not to implement it for
different reasons. But it should not stop users to keep
suggesting/complaining at following meetings. On the other hand, should
an idea be taken to implementation, a user who suggested it should receive
a credit, because it shows respect and also encourages others that
Gentoo people listen to their users.
3. On a timely basis, a summary of suggestions/complains should be
published, so users would see that userrep team has nothing to hide.
4. Because of large the userbase, such meeting can grow to a very large
grouping. In such cases, different "sub-meetings" can be implemented,
for instance one for complaints, one for suggestions. Or, one for
desktop issues, other for install issues. Or anything else, imagination
is (or not...) the limit.

That's all for now,
Comments are welcome

No comments: