Call for Contributors to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter

The Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter (or UWN) aims to be a place for Ubuntu that contains summaries, links to articles, and statistics from the Ubuntu Community in one weekly newsletter. It’s existed for more than a decade, with the first issue being in 2006, and with a couple of different community members leading the newsletter, the most recent of which was Elizabeth K. Joseph, who stepped down in February after leading for seven years. I have been involved since late 2015, and when Elizabeth stepped down, I stepped up to lead UWN.

At this point I truly got a sense for how tough it was to lead the newsletter; when I first started publishing issues on my own, we had a couple of contributors, but it recently has been reduced down to Chris Guiver (who I can’t thank enough for his contributions, he’s really been great) and myself. We had a lot of UWN issues that would turn into two week issues because between Chris and myself, it would be quite a bit of work, and by the time I got to publishing, it was midnight or 1 AM with me having to wake up early the next morning. Some weeks would be better than others, but regardless, it was reduced down to Chris and myself spending a large amount of time on it. This is not how it should be done, in fact, when Elizabeth led the newsletter, it went like this:

  1. On Friday, collect articles and put them in the Google Doc, then send an email to interested summary writers to collect summaries over the weekend.
  2. On Sunday, transfer the newsletter over to the Ubuntu Wiki, and send a call out to interested editors.
  3. On Monday night, do one last editorial review, then publish the newsletter.

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with Chris, and we decided that UWN would go on hiatus for a bit, to give us both a break and to gather more contributors, so that’s where we are now. Ideally, we would like three or four people, if not more (the more people the better), that would be willing to help with summary writing and editing over the weekend. Here’s what each involves:

Summary writer:

  1. Between Friday and Sunday, visit the Google Doc and find an article which needs a summary.
  2. Read the article and write a 1-4 sentence summary of the article. We have some general style guidelines available here, but don’t worry if English isn’t your strong suit, the editors will fix any mistakes.
  3. (Optional) Add your name to the credits.

Editors:

  1. On Sunday, read over the newsletter and check for any spelling/punctuation/grammatical errors.
  2. Click links and make sure they work.
  3. (Optional) Add your name to the credits.

Summary writing shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes per summary (often less) and editing usually takes anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. This is a great way to get started contributing to Ubuntu, because not only is it easy to make drive-by contributions, but it helps you figure out what is going on in the community and where you might want to get involved through reading the articles.

If you’re interested, please respond to this or join #ubuntu-news on freenode, and we’ll be happy to have you. :smile:

I’ll respond here on Friday with a link to the Google Doc (so we can hopefully publish Issue 521 on Monday) and put this post on our various social media accounts.

Lastly, I’ll be looking for ways that we can better automate publication of UWN, and that might involve fixing some issues with the scripts, so any suggestions about UWN in general are appreciated. :wink:

Thanks!

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the next issue should be #523 in my opinion

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That’s how they did it when there was a 5 month hiatus in 2010, but I’d rather not skip numbers…

Anyone else have an opinion or should we go with #523?

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuWeeklyNewsletter/Issue521
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuWeeklyNewsletter/Issue522

to use #521 means work done (in oct-2017) get wiped
(added later: apologies for not using telegram for my ‘comment’)

Oh, gotcha. Alright, then it’s decided (unless anyone has any other good ideas). :wink:

You can get some new contributors from the outreach tasks of google code-in. Have you added tasks to help with the weekly newsletter?

Also, I would suggest to use wiki posts on this discourse instead of google docs. Then everybody here can help.

If you don’t mind me saying this, the the UWN is not that interesting to read. Maybe you can get some inspiration from PCLinuxOS monthly magazine.

That’s on my TODO list.

That’s not out of the question, that’s maybe something for next issue or the issue after that.

If you don’t mind me saying this, PCLinuxOS Monthly Magazine isn’t that interesting to read. :wink:

Although I do agree that a format change could be considered, I don’t think a 12 MB PDF file once a month is feasible. :stuck_out_tongue:

Its more friendly, more family. I don’t use PCLinuxOS, but I like to read it. I learned a lot reading it.

I recall UWN was super-useful years ago to share information and announcements that otherwise languished on obscure mailing lists.

UWN is still there, but so are other news alternatives (of varying quality, of course). Goodness, a lot of news pops up here, too…

Perhaps it’s time for an azimuth check of UWN’s place in the Ubuverse?

Maybe you’re right. I recall wimpy expressing the same on Lyz’s stepdown at #500 (via podcast), and the disappointment of the then key team members (Lyz, Paul, myself, Simon, Jose) at the lack of response we hoped for…

I first noticed the UWN as it appeared years ago on my ubuntu screensaver (gnome 2; maybe 10.x). I like reading, hate browsers, graphics or moving-pictures so it was right for me - but i’m weird.

It takes me 3-6 hours a week which I don’t mind, but its only worthwhile if others get benefit from the product.

@tsimonq2 I’m in. Point me in the right direction. Meaning where to coordinate, etc. I’ll read through the post here. I mostly browsed the title and responded simply because you and I had discussed previously.

My biggest issue is that weekend are tight for me (kid activities), but I’ll have a go.

Still very subjective. :wink:

I still see the use of it, it’s a central newsletter that combines all Ubuntu-related news into a nice, neat, weekly format. Could the format do with some revising? Sure. But I still think it’s a good place to get Ubuntu news.

One thing I do see is duplicate if not conflicting efforts from Canonical. They have an “Ubuntu Newsletter” that is from the “Ubuntu Team” but doesn’t really advertise that it’s the Ubuntu Team at Canonical that has the voice there, not really from the community as a whole. While I do see the benefit for a specific Canonical-focused Ubuntu newsletter, I don’t (personally) think it’s right to (just like insights.ubuntu.com, which claims to be “Your source for Ubuntu news, articles, tutorials, e-books and everything else in-between”) say that it’s from Ubuntu when only Canonical authors get a say. Yes, there are people that work on Ubuntu at Canonical, and their work really does matter a lot, but there’s also quite a few community members. :wink:
That’s what I sort of like UWN for – in a place where Canonical controls what goes on the main Ubuntu blogs with little opportunity for community to jump in, it gives people who are doing great things a voice for people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to present their opinion and the really great things they’re doing.
(please, correct me if I’m wrong, because I hope I am)

I went back and listened to the relevant episode and didn’t find much commentary on it, maybe @Wimpress would be willing to reshare his opinion. :wink:

Agreed, this is not at all a new problem, but one that has become more critical to the survival of the newsletter.

I haven’t used Ubuntu 17.10 with GNOME (I’ve been meaning to try it but haven’t had the chance) but I’m wondering if there’s a way we could implement something like this nowadays, whether it be in the Ubiquity slideshow or in some way on the desktop (not just for UWN but anything else worth announcing). Thoughts from anyone?

And that’s one thing that I’m wondering about – I’m unsure if there’s not many people contributing because we don’t have many people reading or if it’s because of something else…

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I’ll give more details and say something here tomorrow afternoon US time, but on Friday we’ll be working on this Google Doc.

Thanks for your interest. :wink:

I appreciate the work done all these years, and still find the weekly newsletter useful, so I’m not saying it must die or change…

But :slight_smile: now that a change in format was mentioned, IMO it would be nice to have a ~15 minute podcast/video that summarizes the recent topics in this hub. You can publish the script for people who prefer text, which will be similar to the newsletter, maybe smaller. And that will encourage people from other areas of the community to participate here in the hub. If you want to see your activity highlighted on the weekly summary, make a post here. Discourse will surface relevant content, so you will not have to dig for it. And the same people wanting to highlight their activity can help to prepare the script.

(or feel free to just dismiss everything I said;))

I like this idea. In fact, let’s give it a try this issue…

Where do I go to find the most notable posts? Or are you suggesting that people submit them?

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I am suggesting to use this: https://community.ubuntu.com/top/weekly

And to start a wiki post to redact the script, where people can help submitting topics.

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Sure, I just need to get an API key from an admin and I’ll be able to (properly) script that. @popey?

We can get more news in http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk daily.

There is already at least one weekly podcast summarizing Ubuntu news in general: https://fullcirclemagazine.org/feed/podcast. I really shouldn’t listen to it while running - I frequently stop to fiddle with the player and back up to listen to an important bit again.

And, of course, there is venerable @popey and @Wimpress http://ubuntupodcast.org/ discussing general Ubuntu and community topics.

Might either of those, with a bit of adaption, scratch the podcast itch? It may be easier to feed quality content to existing venues than to re-invent.

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