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To: "Jan Bilek" <clonolu@...>
From: "Alec Warner" <antarus@g.o>
Subject: Re: Re: How to improve the trustees
Date: Sun, 3 Feb 2008 22:50:32 -0800
On 2/3/08, Jan Bilek <clonolu@...> wrote:
> Hi again,
>
> I want to write some kind of 'a summary answer' addressed to all of
> you who reacted to my posts - thank you very much for your answers.
>
> Obviously there were many things that I was not informed properly
> about and you have explained many of them to me - thanx.
>
> Please forgive me for being so sceptical about those 'formal and
> instititutionalized' ways of doing things (regular
> meetings/summaries/named positions). I do realize now that I saw only
> a small part of a picture when I wrote about it and I hope nobody took
> it personally (if someone did - I am so sorry about it).
> BTW - this might be some kind of a cultural issue; seeing your names I
> guess none of you is from eastern Europe... we used to live in this
> centrally and formally organized society based on regular meetings,
> summaries and people assigned to every task possible - and it was not
> efficient, it sucked and everybody hated it.
> It might be useful to know about this issue - seeing this
> (http://www.google.com/trends?q=gentoo) I would guess great deal of
> people interested in Gentoo are from eastern Europe.
>
> My goal is not to criticize, my goal is to get closer to the truth
> about current state and possible future of Gentoo.
>
> As an user I had almost no first-hand experience. I had to rely on
> second-hand conveyed information:
> Daniel Robbins claiming that there is a crisis in Gentoo (he is some
> kind of an authority to many users - when he says something I have to
> take it seriously). Some of his arguments seem to be very logical and
> insightful and some things seem to support his opinions:
> - so many people obviously supporting him
> (http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-644321-highlight-robbins.html).

The thread was locked (which in hindsight was unfortunate).  While I'm
sure the numbers look compelling I doubt they tell the whole story.
This isn't to say they should be dismissed out of hand; just that they
only represent a subset of the data.

> - Gentoo used to be 'bleeding edge' - it's not anymore.

I'm really digging for specifics here.  'bleeding edge' is very
unspecific.  It is my experience that major updates are available
hours or days after release.  Are you dissatisfied that this is not
true for some packages, or dissatisfied that the packages are marked
for testing and masked instead of being stable or ~arch?

> - I remember the last big crisis 'Robbins vs. McCreesh', valuable
> developers leaving Gentoo as a result... and in my opinion
> Council/devrel were not able to handle it, the only outcome I noticed
> was toothless CoC - that didn't seem like viable management to me.

I don't think we have ever handled internal nor external conflicts
well and we could easily use improvement in this area.

> - complaining users - I have read so many complaints, many of them are
> very similar and frequent (let me paraphrase): 'Gendoo developers are
> arrogant'. 'Gentoo is a club for elitists'. 'They do Gentoo just for
> yourselves, they don't care about users'. 'I wanted to help Gentoo but
> it's too difficult to get in'. 'It takes too long for ebuilds to get
> to the official tree and I miss important apps'. 'Gentoo's structure
> is not flexible enough - Arch is also great and it's much easier to
> contibute', 'I sent patch but no one carred', 'dev told me in response
> to a bug report I filed 'get over it and move on'.

Arrogant?  I'd imagine some are; I personally try not to be and I'm
sure I fail at it quite often.

I don't think Gentoo is a club for elitests; you should trying the
commits list sometime.  People think this system is awesome and they
have no idea of the technical layers of muck that it barely runs on.
The only consolation is that most other places are in a similar boat
;)

I certainly develop for myself and not for users.  Now this is a fine
line to walk.  Developing for yourself means you work at your own
pace; it doesn't give you the right to be mean to folks or to
contribute negatively.  It means you don't really get deadlines and
you get to choose what to work on regardless of others input.

I would counter-argue that a *subset* of users have unrealistic
expectations  such as having ebuilds in the tree hours after release,
or fixing a bug just because it was filed, or asking for crazy code
changes to the package manager to fix their corner case that is not
sane.  The point is that most developers are pretty nice and will
probably help you if you ask in a courteous manner and most users are
nice to talk to and help.

>
> On the other end:
> - developers claiming that technically Gentoo works better then ever.
> And as for me Gentoo really works well.

Compared to what it could be it sucks; but I agree it is possibly
better than it used to be.

> - my personal experience with Gentoo developers is great - you have
> been very nice to me. And I have read many posts from people like
> Grant Goodyear and the others - to me they seem to be very smart,
> communicative and constructive people.

I'm glad your experiences have been positive.

> - some of these complaining users seem to me to be just people who
> like to follow the strong leader no matter where he leads them.
> - some of these complaining users seem to me to be just whiners who
> want everything, don't understand anything, don't even bother to do
> anything and just call developers 'arrogant bastards' when they are
> not able to give them what they want - of course for free.

I would group these people together; but they are a useful group
regardless.  If gentoo had no detractors I would be worried ;)  There
is always some truth to the complaints and it could be useful to look
for the underlying cause of some of the complaints and fix them.

> - many of users (talking about myself right now?) don't understand
> what is going on, trying to figure it out, confused by inconsistent
> news, misleading information and sometimes lack of information (some
> want missing apps but don't know about overlays, some are talking
> about Arch and it's openness (AUR) but maybe don't know about details
> of Gentoo's QA and security/quality issues related to the openness,
> some are talking about bad communication but don't know all the
> channels of communication, don't have time to follow up...etc. etc.).

We don't have enough cohesion right now to present a unified front.
PR is composed of only so many folks and those folks in turn are
driven by events from developers and users in a bottom up fashion; aka
they don't report news unless they are told or they know about it.  We
have about 100+ mailing lists for projects and no one can monitor them
all.  This was supposed to be how the GWN operated; news would
percolate to the GWN folks who would create a weekly newsletter;
however submissions stopped coming in which is why the news stopped.
I think many users enjoyed the content in the GWN and I think we could
possibly try something like that again.  How do we notify users that
the news is basically driven by their input?  We have no reporters;
which means we need people to act as them for us.

>
> We all know that communication is crucial. Someone could say users are
> responsible to find the information they need. But it's useful (for
> Gentoo, even for developers) to make it as easy as possible for them.
> I think this "A more "in your face" approach" idea you came up with is
> great and as an user I can say "yes, that's what I need everywhere
> where it's possible".
>
> Generally... I think that it's better to suppose that the complainers
> might be right and look into it (and maybe find out that they are
> not). If they are right you can fix things. If they are not you can
> explain it to them and you are not going to lose them. That's why I
> have written those posts - trying to express my actual thoughts and
> see if they can be helpful or they will be just put right.
>
> At least by giving you an opportunity to correct my misperceptions of
> some things related to Gentoo I also gave you an opportunity to
> communicate to users who google "gentoo crisis":-)
>
> Thanks for all the work you do for us,
> Jan.

Thanks for writing.

-Alec

>
>
> P.S. - I am sorry about that formatting issue - my fault.
> --
> gentoo-nfp@g.o mailing list
>
>
-- 
gentoo-nfp@g.o mailing list


Replies:
Re: Re: How to improve the trustees
-- Jan Bilek
References:
Re: How to improve the trustees
-- Jan Bilek
Re: How to improve the trustees
-- Christian Faulhammer
Re: Re: How to improve the trustees
-- Jan Bilek
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Updated Jun 17, 2009

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