[maemo-community] Deprecate the maemo-community list?

From: Kathy Smith kathy at revdkathy.com
Date: Sat Jan 16 12:01:28 EET 2010
Posting this to the email as well as the forum in the interests of completeness. I'll shut up again now.


I spent my insomniac hours last night with a question: why?
Why is this a problem? Why do we need a change anything? What's the root of all this.

Framstag used the word 'fragmentation'. Is the Maemo community fragmented? You bet it is. There's old guard v n900bs, developers v end users, happy people v complainers, mailing list users v t.m.o. - and bloggers, tweeters and let's not mention the IRC crowd. Are we going to require all posters have an n900 next? Cos I know a number of 770/n800/n810 users who already feel a hell of a lot more excluded by the n900-heavy atmosphere around than they do by their method of communication. Do we insist everyone be a developer in the interests of 'unity'? Should we insist everyone serve 2 years as a probationer so that all True Members are 'old guard'? Should we shut down IRC and require posters to sign an NTA (Non-tweeting agreement)?

In other fields we celebrate our diversity. We make it work for us: a good project needs an ideas person, a few skilled devs, a designer/artist or three, sometimes a Nokia insider, testers, more ideas, more testers and good old end-users. 

The price of that diversity is that sometimes it bites us in the bum when it comes to communication. Heck, we don't all speak the same first language - which can cause a whole other range of issues. 

So rather than try to address the problems by enforcing a false uniformity, can we instead look at tackling the problems themselves? What exactly are the difficulties with people using different methods?

1) People on the mailing list don't know what's happening in chat. Errr. No. Sorry, I don't buy this one. I simply can't make myself believe that anyone on the mailing list doesn't know that t.m.o. exists. Sure, you might have problems with of browser access for a period - say while on holiday - but I don't think there's anyone who can't look in at the forum from time to time to see what's buzzing. If people aren't doing that it's because they're choosing not to. And they should retain that choice - aware of the risks.

2) People on t.m.o. don't know what's happening in the mailing list. This one has more credibility. Heck, I'm all over this board like a rash, and I still thought all the mailing lists were for developers. But the solution to that, surely, is to make the mailing list more visible? At the moment 'join a mailing list' is one line on the front page. Could it have some links on the forum? Maybe a notice at the top of the relevant forum saying 'the subjects in this forum are also being discussed in this mailing list'. (Please not a sticky - I hate stickies!) 

If the mailing list denizens are feeling "Oh Teh Noes! We don't want that rowdy lot joining our mailing list!" I have two things to say. One is that us voluble forum types can fall strangely silent on a mailing list as it's not our natural medium. (I may not say much but I am reading now, so you can't insult me behind my back any more  )The other is to request that you ask yourself whether you are really concerned here to keep the functionality of the mailing list or to keep that nice cosy feeling you get from the smaller Old school group where you feel you know everyone. If it's the latter, maybe the formal maemo.org channels are not the way to do that: I'm trying very hard not to use the word 'clique' here, because I don't think it does apply. But it could. 

3) Decisions have been enacted based on the debate in one medium without the users of other medium being aware. WTF??? Just reading that makes me want to slap someone with a wet haddock, let alone typing it. That's not a flaw in the system, that's the fault of the people. Knowing that people connect to the community in diverse ways, no decision should ever be made and enacted until people in each medium have had the chance to contribute their opinion. Isn't that part of the job of the Council? To ensure they hear all opinions before making big decisions? I assume the council are members of both - and presumably occasionally on IRC too?

"That's inefficient and inconvenient". Yes, it is. But community is not always efficient and convenient, because it involves people, and people make things messy. They don't fit into tidy boxes, and forcing them to just chases them away. Sometimes inefficient and inconvenient is the price we pay for the wonderful, rich diversity we enjoy in this community. 

So the proposals:
1) Encourage people on the mailing list to look in to the forum from time to time to be aware of what's buzzing.
2) Make the mailing list more visible, and encourage more forum posters to be involved.
3) Make sure the Council don't make decisions until people in all the media have had the opportunity to input their opinions. 
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