[maemo-developers] How to destroy your community

From: Stephan Jaensch sj at sjaensch.org
Date: Tue Jan 19 16:49:08 EET 2010

> It is important to listen to newcomers.  They can provide much needed
> reality checks and maybe keep you from staring at your own naval too
> much.

I'm another such newcomer. As Quim said, one weak point right now is documentation (maybe more about finding what you need than about not having enough). While documentation is spread out between forum.nokia.com and maemo.org, it seems to me that the maemo.org wiki will be the principal hub for Maemo documentation. Am I correct?

Now, let's look at Maemo. It's a new phone operating system in a highly competitive area. iPhone OS and Android seem to be far ahead, and the #2 handset manufacturer just unveiled their own OS, Bada. So what is needed for Maemo? Developers, developers, developers. And while there are many applications already available for Maemo (as long-time community members are quick to point out), we are in dire need of slick, useful, finger-friendly applications. The kind of stuff that gets downloaded in the millions in the Apple Store. The stuff users are willing to pay for.

These developers work for companies. They are paid to develop these apps and probably aready have experience developing iPhone and/or Android apps. Now imagine their manager coming to them, asking about the progress they are making and those developers replying "sorry, I couldn't make any progress this afternoon, wiki.maemo.org was down".

Now I know Nokia just sponsors maemo.org, but maybe that's not enough. This is not a experience we want newcomers to have. Because it might be our only chance to get them as developers. As Jeff said running a website is not rocket science. I'm a sysadmin myself. I know it hurts when your baby is down, you don't need other people pointing that out, but fact is the situation was unacceptable and it dragged out for far too long.

Server migration is not rocket science either. So far we have a weekend of downtime plus data loss (!) because of a server move. In a business environment, that would seriously threaten the jobs of the people responsible for it. If maemo.org is the go-to place for all things Maemo, then Nokia cannot afford to run it like a hobbyist website.

> While it is certainly nice to get these reality checks delivered in nice
> ways, we should listen to what is being said even if we don't like the
> tone.

I too am of the opinion that people need to be woken up. I think the "you need to be around for X years to be taken seriously" replies are a dangerous thing for Maemo. First of all, this is not just a specialized tablet operating system anymore. We are competing against Smartphones now. The landscape has changed, the competition just got a lot tougher. People like Jeff (and me) come from this background. Frankly, I don't care how things were during OS2007 days. I care how things are compared to Android. And I don't need to be here for several years to witness the server problems. Having problems accessing developer.android.com? No, right? You couldn't take that site down even if you tried. That's the benchmark.

Sorry, had to be said. Just remember that all I'm trying to do is wake up people before it's too late. I love programming with Qt and I think the N900 is a very promising device. But in my opinion we need a critical mass of commercial developers for the users to come.

Cheers anyway,
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