Jorge Castro’s recent post Let’s Reinvigorate the Water Cooler about what is ‘wrong’ with the forums started me thinking about the ‘social’ part of the Ubuntu Community. I think the issue that is being discussed is larger than any issues with the forums. Focusing on the products people are using Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, mailing lists, or forums is not the right focus. The issue we are discussing is communication and community. The last year and a half as been a difficult and bumpy one for the community in regards to communication; there is a communication problem. The problem is not that the forums are broken or that developers do not like forums; the issue is improving communication in the community.
When I look at the Ubuntu Community I see several sub-groups:
- Sys Admins / Dev-Ops
- Core Developers / App Developers
- Marketing / Evangilists
- Artists / Design
There may very well be other groups, but this small sample is good enough to illustrate what I feel the issue is; the groups do not cross-communicate naturally. Each group has a ‘style’ of communication that works for them. There are people who cross between the groups and when the project was smaller that was enough to ensure ‘good’ communication. The project is larger now and that is not working well at this point.
The Question Becomes:
Is there a communication platform or tool that will naturally encourage these sub-groups of the community to communicate with one another.
A Different View:
Jorge has put in to focus one very clear point:
In Ubuntu we mostly run our own infrastructure. Mailing lists, forums, launchpad, and so on. We also participate in places where we don’t really control the platform. These include Facebook, Google Plus, reddit, and Ask Ubuntu. Anyone of these services could go away today and we’d be pretty much left out in the cold.
I took something a bit different than Jorge intended from this point; there has been a great deal of growth in the tools used to communicate. This is something has caused me issues with my own communications; I do not like to post items to Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, Ubuntu forums, and my blog. What ends up happening is that I post to the one I like the most and that fits the style of communication desired. (example: I am posting this on my blog because it is longer that 140 characters and it is more suited to a blog than Google+). I know that I have a different audience for each service and there are times I would really like everyone in all audiences to see my posts, but it is a pain to post on multiple services.
The Same Desired Outcome:
Even though I view the problem differently I think the desired outcome is the same. What the Ubuntu Community needs is a reliable communication platform that naturally encourages the various sub-groups in the community to communicate with one another. In order to do this I believe we have to cast aside our preconceived ideas based on the current forms of communication and be open to different options.