Planet Ubuntu Is Not Broken
January 29, 2014 10 Comments
Over the last few months, community members have discussed improving planet.ubuntu.com. Some of the conclusions were:
- planet.ubuntu.com is important
- planet.ubuntu.com serves to remind that Ubuntu is not just software
- planet.ubuntu.com gives the perception that Ubuntu is not important enough for even its contributors to write about it
- the planet platform uses us
- the problem is really Ubuntu membership
Some suggestions were:
- planet.ubuntu.com should not allow non-Ubuntu content since it waters down the site
- planet.ubuntu.com should be moderated
- planet.ubuntu.com should have a zero tolerance policy for posts that violate the Ubuntu CoC. Posts should be deleted in less than five minutes or 500 page views (whichever comes first)
- remove authors who have not posted about Ubuntu during a span of one year
- change the look for planet.ubuntu.com to be more modern and interactive
- deactivate Ubuntu membership for those who are not actively contributing
I hold a different opinion on what planet.ubuntu.com should be like than those seeking change; though, I respect their right to have a different opinion. Here are some of my opinions and responses in reference to planet.ubuntu.com:
1. One of the conclusions from this data is seriously flawed as the data was incorrectly interpreted.
The conclusion posted by the polls author is that Ubuntu members outnumber non-menbers by a factor of two to one. Obviously, the author was incorrect. Despite being corrected in comments the author did not revise their summary or conclusion. They expressed shock that it was not ten to one. Worse this is the data that allowed them to draw the conclusion that planet.ubuntu.com is an echo chamber.
2. The pool size for the data is very small
Some of the other data is interesting, but with the total number of responses being less than 300 I am not sure that the sample is statistically significant. Considering that there are currently 756 Ubuntu members listed on launchpad, that means that less than 12% of the Ubuntu members responded to the poll. The number of people associated with loco teams on launchpad is 17766; that would mean only 1.4% of those people responded to the poll. Canonical announced that there were 12 million Ubuntu users in 2010; if we assume that there was no growth, then 0.0014% of them responded to the polls.
3. Ubuntu is about more than software
This was one of the conclusions that I agree with the poll author on. What I find interesting is that the author suggests that removing content that helps make individual contributors and users feel part of a community waters down the planet. For me if the site was just information about the latest build of Unity or a report on a loco team event in Saskatchewan it would lose that community feel. It would be more sanitized than a typical work place. Most people get to know their co-workers by talking to them about non-business items over the course of the work day. With the Ubuntu community being spread out globally, planet.ubuntu.com is where that interaction happens.
4. Ubuntu members should have their membership revoked if they are no longer actively contributing
Membership is currently granted for life with the only requirement being that a person will take the time to renew their membership every two years. Changing that is not a decision that should be taken lightly. I also doubt there is a need to do that in order to help clean up posts on planet.ubuntu.com. The Community Council has been working with members of the community since August, 2013 to remove non-Ubuntu members from the planet.ubuntu.com feed. There are also significant issues with defining an actual process to determine who is active and who is not. I think a cost-benefit style analysis would yield a result that spending community resources (people and time) reviewing membership activity is worth the possible benefits (cleaning up planet.ubuntu.com posts), especially since the planet feed can be managed without changing membership. In short, too much energy would be expended on something of minimal value.
5. Zero tolerance for CoC violations
I agree with this; however, it is not always an easy item to resolve. During my time serving on the Community Council, this issue has been addressed three times. In most cases, the offending posts were removed quickly and the author was contacted. In at least one case it was possible the author’s blog had been hacked and they were not responsible for the offending posts.
6. Offending posts should be deleted in five minutes or less
While that would be a fantastic goal it is unrealistic and likely not achievable given the volunteer nature of the community. As was stated above this is an issue the Community Council has dealt with and in all cases the posts were remove quickly.
7. Negative action vs. positive growth
The negative suggestions of membership removal and moderation indicate a defensive posture to me. I would rather take a positive approach and try to encourage community growth through more people earning membership and more people posting on their blogs. Moderation and removal of membership is not a way to support and encourage an open community.
In closing I would like to end with a quote that I find great value in:
Vision without action is just a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.
~ Joel A. Barker