Improving Community Health: Technical Concerns

Maybe for the ones who can upload code, yes. But, what about the people-based ones? But this coming someone who is mostly people-based? But I guess the question comes to how many are people-based rather than those who can upload code.

I am people-based. and had no problem documenting and quantifying many of my contributions in UbuntuForums, Brainstorm, etc., for Ubuntu membership. All those platforms have tools to quantify involvement already (Discourse does also). Some platforms, like IRC and LoCo, lack such tools…but those contributions seem covered by the testimonials.

I’m not seeing a significant technical barrier to membership application. I do see barriers to entry and to contribution…they look to me the same people-problems (not technical-problems) that book clubs and railroad clubs have, too.

I guess there’s IRC logs. One could always link to a particularly memorable support response or something.

For LoCos, I guess it would be a matter of linking to information about that event, perhaps an announcement or something, or better yet, the blog post of the results.

We should probably move this to the other thread, but could you enumerate what you see to be the problems?

I do understand how Discourse can keep track if it’s through the summary and activity from the user profiles. Does is also apply to the user groups that the system has?

No group-tracking that I’m aware of.

How to improve the Wiki.
Problems:

  1. Lack of contributors
  2. Lack of organization (tags, languages and templates)
  3. It’s difficult to get edit permissions.

Solutions:

  1. Call for contributors. Do you want to help Ubuntu? We need help here and here and here…
  2. Getting closer to what Wikipedia does.
  3. Accept anyone that had signed the code of conduct and allow the community council or someone else than just Popey to accept applicants.
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This is done already, actually. The problem, from where I see it, actually how outdated the documentation is, and its often too much. The wiki still refers to dead projects, recommend reaching to dead channels and to people that are no longer active. I know maintaining documentation is definitely a challenge but I think Ubuntu’s level is below acceptable.

Things outdated and lacking mentorship of any sort leads to lack of contributors, IMO. That’s what we should try to fix first and things should snowball appropriately.

PS: Only under specific conditions can users edit the wiki. So that is already done as well. We had to do that before due to spamming boots we were experiencing.

Let’s create a bot that warns about dead links and put a tag on top of the page.

I know but at the moment only Popey is accepting new contributors and some of them have been waiting years despite they meet all the requirements.

That is exactly the problem. The links are active, everything seems working fine but it isn’t.
Process’ documentation gone outdated, project and other similar informational pages do not contain relevant information anymore and it is not a matter of checking whether or not they return 404 or not. Is a matter of contacting people and eventually knowing no one is responsible for the projects anymore or the fact that no one has time to contribute and mentor.

Edit: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Kubuntu/GettingInvolved/Development#Getting_Started This page is the best example I can show you. Packaging/Coding is the only skill I can actually be useful, at least technically speaking (I’m a software developer IRL). I never was able to overcome the barrier of contributing to packaging because people just lack time. You do not have updated resources either. That guide above, simply forwards you to 10-year old resources. Although some contents are still relevant, I’ll assure you that most are not because things are no longer the way they were when they wrote the documentation.

Edit 2: If you think that is because it is about Kubuntu and they have their own wiki, then there’s this: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MOTU/GettingStarted

Ultimately, I think that is the main issue. We lack mentors and managers that are responsible for being facilitators. Throughout the years, these have been regular contributors only. Since we are losing contributors, they stopped having time to do both.

But again, we are only limited to what Canonical lets the community do. For that purpose, investing time and efforts in “smaller” distributions like Lubuntu or Kubuntu might actually be a better option because they are more independent than us, have their own governance body and things are healthy at the moment. They might have their own issues, sure, but at least they have more activity than us.

Funny thing about this:

  1. Kubuntu has moved their wiki. Obviously not ALL of their pages redirect to the new one but check out https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Kubuntu and then see where you end up.
  2. The best mentorship I have ever had has been from the Kubuntu folks. Their wiki pages are a nice supplement, but it’s their actual work with people that made a difference. I’ve had IRC chats and video conferences and all sorts of things.

Are we? I would say in relation to Lubuntu that’s not the case.

There is no reason we couldn’t collectively decide to do something different, regardless of Canonical’s opinion.

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Perhaps the Kubuntu page was a poor example because I wasn’t targeting Kubuntu specifically. The problem is that outdated pages is still a thing throughout the entire Wiki, even for Ubuntu pages. Note that Ubuntu’s MOTU page shows resources from 2009 and such. 10 year old materials…

I’m afraid we are not talking about the same communities :smiley: I was always referring to Ubuntu and not Kubuntu or Lubuntu. Ubuntu might be losing technical contributors. I cannot say anything about the other two communities.

Regarding our possible dependency, I don’t think you can have technical people working freely on the distribution when thereś a mother company that decides everything. Perhaps Kubuntu/Lubuntu is different for the obvious reasons but I’m afraid that does not apply to Ubuntu. Perhaps in some areas in doesn’t make a difference (LoCos, events, wiki & docs, and so on) but in other does (QA, packaging, development, etc).

And I think there’s two reasons for that:

  1. Projects died.
  2. The wiki is really difficult to work with (often failing to load properly) and frustrated folks stopped bothering with it.

Well, and see, that right there is where I have a problem. Kubuntu and Lubuntu are Ubuntu. Without Ubuntu, they simply don’t exist. There are technical decisions that are made on core Ubuntu pieces that ultimately affect the flavors regardless of their opinions otherwise (Simon hates Snaps and tried to have them abolished from Lubuntu to no avail). This is a meeting place for Ubuntu folks, as is AskUbuntu and Ubuntu Forums and IRC and etc. We’re all part of the same community.

That is exactly what I was asking about. Are we (Ubuntu as a whole) losing technical contributors? Pretty much all of the folks I remember from the beginning are still at it.

I think this depends. If it’s removing Snaps from an ISO or supporting a different architecture no one else does, probably not. If it’s starting up a new wiki somewhere, I don’t think anyone’s going to complain if we find a workable solution and start using it.

Well, yeah, I think we’re going to still end up using Launchpad to track bugs. That’s probably everyone’s biggest complaint, but it works well with the tools we have (ubuntu-bug) and that’s an important thing from the user side of things. And we’re still going to adhere to the Debian Packaging Guidelines (at least assuming the Snaps don’t take over everything). And we’re still, hopefully, going to send our patches upstream. But none of that seems particularly bad. Or does it?

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I don’t think so. Ubuntu is Ubuntu with one DE, the others are derivatives – derived from --officially accepted remixes with other DEs. Too much fragmentation. Ubuntu should’ve let all of them be remixes, without bringing them in as “derivatives.” They take the community away, how small or big it is (or was). Now, Ubuntu is only derivatives.

Considering the community and the future, something to be thought about.

If Kubuntu was no longer part of Ubuntu, I would not be either. My contribution to Ubuntu is through Kubuntu, even when I’m representing at a conference as a K/Ubuntu member. Most of the people who come to help out at both SeaGL and LinuxFestNorthWest are also flavor folks. Some Ubuntu people walk by and greet us, but they do not stay and help.

That did not use to be the case, when we still had a Pacific Northwest Ubuntu LoCo. The breakup of that group seemed to atomize everyone, unfortunately.

Removing the flavors would remove much of the active Ubuntu community. I doubt the Kubuntu team would stay together as a remix; we’d just coalesce around KDE neon. I hope that does not happen.

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If you done anything with the development of the default DE, say 2010 - 2017, and try to keep it going, and so on, you can say you helped Ubuntu. But, if you’ve concentrated solely on Kubuntu, there wasn’t much help. (Nothing personal!)

Ubuntu was made by a company, and to stay in the business, it has to spend money. By helping other remixes to come through, the company and the leader had helped the open-source world. But, the money was lost, and the idea was lost. And, most importantly, the enthusiasm is gone.

Enthusiasm is the life-blood, once it s drained, it can’t be brought back that easily.

At the beginning I liked when the remixes were embraced as official derivatives. Later, I saw the fragmentation coming in. The (free) users, went on to attack the company’s ideas of introducing new thoughts. And, so on…Those who stayed with Ubuntu from the beginning know that.

Fragmentation is the problem. Your own Kubuntu has a competitor in KDE Neon.

Flavours cannot be removed. Simply because, they are already there. Going back through the last decade, one can say that flavours shouldn’t have happened. If Kubuntu had been a remix from the beginning for example, its creator wouldn’t have to move out to create KDE Neon, just maybe. It is history now.

(I also have a KDE Plasma install btw, neither Kubuntu nor Neon, but OpenSuse Tumbleweed. I had both, but dropped them and went back to the old friend. Very good wiki.)

And, considering today’s Ubuntu default, what a new user would get, when searching the Ubuntu Wiki page,


tells something about the enthusiasm.

I don’t think you appreciate how official flavours work here. The terms “derivative”, “flavour” and “remix” have very distinct meanings. Let’s please not mix them up nor try to redefine them to prove a point, because it causes confusion.

Flavours are built from the same archive of software. The developers who work on those flavours all work on the same pool of software, collaboratively. They work together to ensure that changes which benefit one flavour, don’t break another flavour.

Remixes are also built on top of Ubuntu but often wish to be flavours, but don’t meet the requirements yet. So they typically work closely with the other flavour leads, and build from the archive, with a small number of additional packages, typically held in a PPA.

Derivatives take the work we have all built together and make something new, which may include many changes, and likely won’t be called “Ubuntu” in any way - see for example Linux Mint.

Ultimately a flavour is “just” Ubuntu with a different desktop, default applications, settings, themes, but crucially all the software is worked on in collaboration in the Ubuntu archive. Remixes typically aim to be a flavour, but that may take time.

Derivatives are outside the Ubuntu community, having their own support systems, bug trackers, communication channels. I do not believe we serve our community well to suggest we break up the flavours and push them out to the wilderness as derivatives, which seems to be what you’re suggesting.

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You said exactly what I said, only in different words,

fragmenting the community.

No, I am not suggesting anything of the sort, but show why the community got fragmented, from the history of last decade around Ubuntu.

For example, a certain computer device creator doesn’t fragment their devices by producing low-end and middle-end devices. Ubuntu was high-end, unique and niche.

I don’t believe there is fragmentation in the way you think.

There are a ton of distros, there are flavours within those distros. Each services a particular niche. Some people prefer one desktop over another, one theme over another, or the default selection of applications. The vast majority of those distributions have a vanishingly small number of users. Some of the distros have a few tens, some a few hundreds and a few have some thousands of users. Only a select few get beyond about 10K users. A few have hit 100K and one has hit around 500K or so. Ubuntu has millions of installs, more than all the others added together, multiple times over.

So Linux has fragmentation, for sure, but it’s not a bad thing. All these derivatives, and flavours are servicing the needs of their enthusiastic users who appreciate the choices the developers have made. Ubuntu doesn’t have significant fragmentation at all. We love the diversity of the flavours in our archive, and would actively increase that number. Because every additional flavour in the archive adds developers and brings in users and mindshare. It’s fine that those users are running something other than Ubuntu GNOME, it’s great. It’s not a bad thing.

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