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#131 2006-02-26 00:14:21

Jeremie
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From: Provence, France
Registered: 2004-08-11
Posts: 1,578
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Re: [feedback] How to bring txp back on track ? Let's debate !

ramanan wrote:
Textpattern is a tool for managing a weblog.

Well, no it’s not.

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#132 2006-02-26 00:32:40

Jeremie
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From: Provence, France
Registered: 2004-08-11
Posts: 1,578
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Re: [feedback] How to bring txp back on track ? Let's debate !

Overall, a very nice post Sencer. Lot of things, lot of good things. Thanks. It will take some time to digest it.

Sencer wrote:
We’re in the process of working things out there, though little of that is connected to organizing community contributions. We do hope to arrive at a solution for a bug and feature-tracker that is directly accesible by more people than only ourselves, in the meantime we’re making do with the tools available, which on the public side, are the forums, the wiki and the mailing-list.

[And other sentences in the overall post]

It’s very good to know that you three have some kind of control over things. It felt like since Dean drifted away (and well, even before that sometimes) some things you weren’t in control, or maybe in some kind of dark “autopilot”. One example was the TracD down, no communication on it and down&up, fewer commit around it, etc.

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#133 2006-02-26 01:27:10

neutrino
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From: East of the Diablo Range
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 134
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Re: [feedback] How to bring txp back on track ? Let's debate !

@Sencer said:
(about organizing community contributions)

This is where it where it gets a little muddy for me.

I think this is the gist of what started this (I can’t say for sure), the “muddiness”. It is a huge task to consider how to manage all that in a way that makes the majority happy. Everyone is here for different reasons and of course the software is primary but in an environment were no gets paid most of the incentive to stick around is in that muddiness. I know coders and programmers aren’t exactly famous for the people side of the equation (It’s not my favorite part either) but it appears more and more these days that coders are being forced into it. I think there a bunch of people here who would be happy to carry a lion’s share of that communicative load if they only knew what to communicate. Maybe, perhaps that 2000 words you had going could be split up over time and delivered on a more regular basis? Just a thought. I am a little sorry for the effect it seems to have had on you.

I’ve also been under the impression that there was lots of behind the scenes chatter going on that kept things moving smoothly. [Edit: So that is something to be said for the way you guys do do things, it didn’t really show, like David mentioned, it’s hard to pin down.] I was shocked to learn that some of the top ten contributers weren’t getting answers to their queries and that they felt the way that they did. I also assumed that the devs were either in close contact with Dean or else all authority had been handed over to you guys. I would just suggest that some decisions be made and that the “gang of four” or 5? let one or two of the trusted members of the community into your communication mechanism so that they can “come down off the mountain with the word.” Disclamer: I am not a Xtain in this current climate in my country/the world—I just seem to be stuck in the metaphor. Maybe Mary could have some access to the devblog? If she wants?

Last edited by neutrino (2006-02-26 01:29:39)

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#134 2006-02-26 01:34:57

squaredeye
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From: Greenville, SC
Registered: 2005-07-31
Posts: 1,495
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Re: [feedback] How to bring txp back on track ? Let's debate !

I saw the first post here a few days ago and now look at it. Its great to hear from Sencer and Zem on a few issues. For me its been a great experience to get involved in something like TXP that has so much going for it. From the force of a thread like this, I for one am convinced that TXP is alive and well and that a lot of folks care about it (use it and like it).

I don’t care to weigh in on these issues that much (for the reason that I feel so new here), although I am/have enjoyed being helpful where I can.

  • workgroup (Rights and Permissions) – although mostly just for morale and maybe a few low end ideas
  • helping new users to work through understanding how to use TXP
  • participating in the forum (if I can, I just volunteered)
  • and whatever else I can do (even if I don’t code :)

I resonate with the suggestion from Zem to wait and have faith, but I’ve havn’t been around long enough to feel worried :)

Matthew


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#135 2006-02-26 02:49:21

Anark
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Registered: 2004-08-14
Posts: 101

Re: [feedback] How to bring txp back on track ? Let's debate !

Sencer recasts the guidance issue in terms of mediation vs. p2p — which is a move I commend of because it resists the preconception that guidance needs to be imposed from above, that there needs to be a roadmap handed down from the top of the hierarchical pile.

My own preference is bottom-up and peer-to-peer. My guess is also that the best “mediators” would be the people who already run certain parts of the overall effort.

The issue would then be how to communicate better, with more clarity, what the different moving parts of the overall effort are and who is in charge of what.

The unified-look-and-feel idea for all places associated with TxP is an attempt at using “corporate identity” ideals to establish some of that clarity at a presentational level.

Doesn’t go deep enough — doesn’t refresh the parts that need to be refreshed.

It isn’t command and control structures or “corporate identity” that needs to be centralised. The one thing that needs to be centralised is a communication effort: Textpattern shouldn’t be scared of its “scattered” and “all over the place” nature: distributed development is called distributed for a reason. Textpattern, should, however, make it very clear — a lot clearer than it is right now — what’s there, what’s being done, who’s in charge of what — and do it in an easy-to-find place, in an easy-to-use manner.

So: how’s about a community map rather than a roadmap? This could be some actual visual carthography that maps out where the stuff is, who’s associated with the stuff in what capacity. That map would work as a visual interface to a wiki on Who’s Who Around TextPattern and a Who’s Doing What Around TextPattern.

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#136 2006-02-26 08:59:39

Sencer
Developer emeritus
From: cgn, de
Registered: 2004-03-23
Posts: 1,803
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Re: [feedback] How to bring txp back on track ? Let's debate !

@Skubidu:

It’s something we would like to implement in a future version.” (until here, it’s what you have been saying) “Let’s say we implement it in version 4.1 that might come out between april and august 2006. So please could you do one thing: Create static HTML site of every subtab, so we know how it should look like and that we are sure nothing gets lost. It is Mister X who cares about the version 4.1 – so please contact him that you can arrange things.”

I said I would like to see it (or at least some of the ideas) to go into crockery. I didn’t ask about static HTML files, but for a patch file, because that’s better for us to handle. I didn’t give a time estimate, because we don’t do that (because we can’t). When we can, we will.

Did you read mary’s response to my post in the mailing-list? I would say we were in agreement. I didn’t see that she was having a lot of trouble or disappointment with the response.

That’s the point where we are talking about communication. And it’s this kind of communication that is important because you need to know if it makes sence to invest time in these things.

To speak in general terms (not w.r.t. to the admin-facelift): How can we guarantuee things will go in, before they are done and we can take a look at it? What if the things ends up as a humongous patch that doesn’t patch cleanly against the current branch? What if it takes me more time to get the patch to check-in cleanly than it did for you to do your work? What if the support and bug-reports take more time than all of the rest together? Who guarantuees me, that I will not have to spent a multiple of the time on it than you did? My point is: we have as little guarantuees as you or anyone else. Everybody here is taking risks and ends up spending time on things that at times he doesn’t want to, or that go in vain. And this isn’t magically different, when you have an official title or passwords t the repository.

One such example is the comments patch. I am not complaining about it, because at the time it did help us making a small leap forward in that area. But it generated support requests and put us in a position to do plent of follow coding (across several releases), that I am pretty convinved (in hindsight) it would have taken less time to do it from scratch ourselves in a way that incoorporated all the side effects. And again, so it doesn’t come across the wrong way: I am not complaining about the patch, it did help us at the time. We made the call estimating the positive and negative effects ( – after the patch was done! -) and we still didn’t get it right.

Do you write blank cheques to your friends, where they can fill in the money amount? I thought so. I don’t like making promises, where I have no idea how much it is going to cost me either.

You are right that not complaining about that. Not at all. We are missing a “considered feature list”: Thing that have been in the discussion (forums, mailinglist) that are not implemented yet but which will be integrated in future releases. So it’s about the if not about the when.

In the context of communit contributions the only reason for that is to have people contribute to those ideas. And that you will find in the assignments we posted. Those are things that we would like to spend some time on, but not all the time that seems to be necessary to get them done. We explicitly posted assignments for people to help with that.

And with respect to theme-related stuff in crockery we will do something like that again (though probably not in the form of an assignment).

Then there’s also the feature request wiki, where zem seeded a few topics in which we are intereted.

Alexandra:

‘email us (devs)’ does not work

well, you do have my phone number. ;) But seriously, I didn’t say emailing was a solution to everything, I said it was a solution to get thing plugged on the weblog. I know it has worked from the mails we got that ended up as weblog-posts. I am sorry if we missed a topic(s?) that you wanted to have mentioned on the weblog.

neutrino:

I think this is the gist of what started this (I can’t say for sure), the “muddiness”.

No, you misunderstood/misquoted me. I didn’t say the process now was muddy, I said that which was suggested in this topic was muddy to me, because I didn’t understand how exactly it would improve things. Though this says as much about my understanding (maybe more so than) as the suggestions themselves.

let one or two of the trusted members of the community into your communication mechanism so that they can “come down off the mountain with the word.” Disclamer: I am not a Xtain in this current climate in my country/the world—I just seem to be stuck in the metaphor.

It’s funny, because when I joined the dev team last summer, that’s exactly what I thought. Having followed things for a while from the outside and understanding the needs of the community (also from my multi-year experience as a sometimes frustrated phpBB-user), I thought I would be able to communicate the things needed in order for people to happy. I guess it didn’t quite happen.

Anark & hcgtv:

So: how’s about a community map rather than a roadmap? This could be some actual visual carthography that maps out where the stuff is, who’s associated with the stuff in what capacity. That map would work as a visual interface to a wiki on Who’s Who Around TextPattern and a Who’s Doing What Around TextPattern.

I like the idea.

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#137 2006-02-26 11:50:04

alexandra
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From: Cologne, Germany
Registered: 2004-04-02
Posts: 1,368
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Re: [feedback] How to bring txp back on track ? Let's debate !

I refer to Sencers first post above.
My impression is (please correct me if i am wrong) Sencer talks about two different ways of handling the communitys communication and coordination:

  • peer-to-peer
  • authoritarian

I agree with Sencer, saying: I don’t think it’s possible in an Opensource project to execute authority over other people’s time and work.
Then again pure p2p does not work either otherwise most OS projects would work p2p but that is by no means the case.

Example:
WP just announced:
We recently decided to split WordPress up into logical divisions and allow people to volunteer to help out with particular sections, be it as an organizer, a tester, or a coder. You can view the various sections and sign up to help with one on the Codex. In a week we’ll begin contacting the various rockstars who volunteer to coordinate and organize everybody.
(http://wordpress.org/development/2006/01/help-out/)

Obviously WP relies on a group of people coordinating WP development. Communication seems to be top – down.

Then again Matt Mullenweg answered the question:
Q. Why do you think WordPress has become popular among bloggers?
MM: Well, … we pay very close attention to our users …
(http://weblogs.about.com/od/bestofblogsdirectory/a/MattMullenweg.htm)

I think this is a nice example how things should work. It is neither a pure p2p network nor an authoritarian. WP listens to users (bottom-up), pay attention to users (bottom-up) and coordinates/communicates with users (top-down).

As far as i am concerned, i`d love to see the TXP project mature into a sustainable structure. A structure between loose p2p and strict authoritarian.

As Dean is not around anymore my suggestion was and still is: set up a group of people (coordination/leading group) guiding TXP a bit. Those people do not necessarily need to be programmers. In fact i believe it should be people with great social skills – which programmers often lack a bit ;)

[note to Sencer: there is much more in your post i like to pick up but then again my post would get terrible long and i liked to avoid too long posts. still, thanks for your reply. much appreciated]

Last edited by alexandra (2006-02-26 11:54:29)

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#138 2006-02-26 12:09:44

davidm
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From: Paris, France
Registered: 2004-04-27
Posts: 719

Re: [feedback] How to bring txp back on track ? Let's debate !

<strong>Well, Sencer : thanks for this post !</strong> That’s the leadership I have been expecting, taking matters into your hands and try to work things out. Plus, a lot of things I wanted cleared up are cleared up and that’s big progress to me. I still have to re-read it and think about answers to particular points.

In the meantime, I’ll try to be short addressing the key points :

  • “So that which is under discussion is everything else that affects textpattern as a project, not textpattern as a software” : Exactly ! I wished I had found this line because it sums it all up and it would have avoided some misunderstanding early in the thread about what we meant to initiate here.
  • <strong>spontanneous organization </strong>: the p2p model or spontanneous organization => while I am a big fan of this (and once again, against a bureaucratic model) and even wrote a thesis on how to apply chaos theory to management and organization, it has its limits or rather, a few key elements of organization are required to make it work : communication and decentralized power structure are primary for spontanneous organization to occur.
  • <strong>the muddy part</strong> : it must have gotten buried in my (too long) posts here, so let’s list it => 1) Extend the project Team to other areas than development. Yes, it changes something to have access to resources and have “titles” : first it allows core contributors to take initiative without going to “central command” :P, and second it allows people to know who to refer to, it’s not an ego trip here. Plus it will allow for devs to focus on dev and rely on other to handle the rest. 2) Create a project team board on the forums to (freely) discuss project orientations in various area, and keep others posted on where we are in our respective areas. Email is not sufficient. And self-organization as suggested requires coordination otherwise it’s muddy chaos, yes. 3) Have a montly newsletter to communicate about what is planned and what has been done in the various areas of the project. I am pretty sure this will be most appreciated by textpattern users and give a lot more clarity to where we are going. Plus, believe me, it will help the team itself structure its work and get a better perspective. Last but not least, it will allow feedback from users. Other things (TBD), like regular interviews of team members in Txp Magazine could help.

I hope this is clearer :)

Last edited by davidm (2006-02-26 12:36:20)


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#139 2006-02-26 12:22:43

colak
Admin
From: Cyprus
Registered: 2004-11-20
Posts: 4,970
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Re: [feedback] How to bring txp back on track ? Let's debate !

Mainly the problem is not a hierarchical structure. This would not work in a an open source project (i agree with sencer). The problem is the number of people currently working in txp. Specifically, more programmers should be invited to contribute to txp directly as opposed to the code repository or whatever other method is currently used. The current 3 programmers who are working on the sv documents should expand to about 5-6. I can, (and so can most of us here) name a number of programmers currently active with txp whom I think should be invited (if they haven’t been already) to the core team. Maybe there is no problem with communication amongst the current core group but as Mary implied in her departure note a couple of months ago, not all is rosy (having said that, I’m not certain if Mary meant the programmers when she wrote something like: “some people will be glad to see me leave”).

A neutral coordinator would be very useful for cases like that (if that was actually a case). The coordinator should not be a leader of the group nor an administrator but more of an arbitrator between the programmers should a disagreement arise but also between the programmers and the users in the forum.

The ‘position’ of this person could also be temporary. ie a new person can take over either every few months or on every official release. In this way, people who do not have much time to contribute forever would probably volunteer knowing that there will be a finite term of service. One problem which the programmers might be facing is boredom (Again misquoting Mary when she said that txp is not an end in itself). A rotational coordinator would alleviate this problem and so (did I mention it before?) would an expanded number of programmers.

Last edited by colak (2006-02-26 12:24:18)


Yiannis
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#140 2006-02-26 12:28:37

davidm
Member
From: Paris, France
Registered: 2004-04-27
Posts: 719

Re: [feedback] How to bring txp back on track ? Let's debate !

Colak, while I agree extending the dev team could help, I think we would go off track again by making this about dev only. And it’s not about hierarchical structure, but having strucutre to begin with, and a transversal one at that (coordinating) which in turn will help communicating…

I’ll repeat the three points made above :
1) Extend the project Team to other areas than development.
2) Create a project team board on the forums
3) Have a montly <del>users mailing list</del> newsletter

Last edited by davidm (2006-02-26 12:35:52)


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