Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-project (502 mails)

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[opensuse-project] Re: Come and help!
  • From: Jim Henderson <hendersj@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2011 16:30:35 +0000 (UTC)
  • Message-id: <io9rrb$44i$>
On Fri, 15 Apr 2011 18:04:34 +0200, Per Jessen wrote:

Jim Henderson wrote:

On Fri, 15 Apr 2011 16:31:51 +0200, Per Jessen wrote:

I think it's entirely appropriate to redirect someone when better help
is available elsewhere. That it happens to be to another openSUSE
forum or list, that's life, we chose it that way.

You choose to use e-mail lists, Per, and that's fine - others in
overwhelming numbers use the forums: We currently have 56769
registered users there.

This isn't about the medium, Jim - it's about where the best help can be
found. When someone advises me that I'd get a better answer elsewhere,
it's my problem if I choose to ignore that advice.

But it *is* about the medium, Per. If the users aren't comfortable with
or don't like the medium where help is provided, they'll avoid it like
the plague. You might give the best possible help on all aspects of
openSUSE, but if you make the users jump through hoops that *they* feel
are unnecessary, they simply *will not do it*.

Why do you think we've got 56,000+ registered users on the forums and
there are, what, a few hundred users on the opensuse-users mailing list?
I can tell you that it isn't because the majority of users think mailing
lists are more convenient than the forums.

It's that the users (a) feel they get good enough help on most things in
the forums, and (b) that they use the medium *they prefer*.

If you don't want to participate there, that's fine - I've absolutely no
problem with that, as we've discussed in the past. But when one starts
taking the attitude that "we know better than the users what they want"
when it comes to social interaction, the users will say "um, no, we
actually do know what we prefer, and if you won't provide it, we'll find
someone who will" is actually the way users react. I've been involved in
online forums of one kind or another for close to 30 years and have
literally talked to tens of thousands of people from all walks of life;
this isn't conjecture or theory on my part, it's based on decades of
experience working online with customers and users.

Which incidentally is why I'll tell you that user preference is going to
be the primary driver, but I'm not going to tell you that you MUST use
the forums - you're free to use what you want, of course, just as the
users will. And what I see looking at the stats here and in the forums
is that the users have declared their preference. We can choose to
accept that choice or we can push them away from openSUSE by telling them
that they MUST use a mailing list if they want any help at all.

Or we use the current setup, which is two levels of interaction - 'the
masses' who use the forums use them to get basic help, and the MLs are
used for more advanced users who need a deeper level of help from people
writing code. One of the issues I see with this, though (and I've seen
the same thing before) is that when developers work in a bubble with
little to no awareness of what is going on with the users, developers
will tend to develop things that users don't need or don't want. I've
seen that happen more times than I can count from Novell's engineering
department specifically (mostly pre-SUSE).

At some point, *we* have to go where the *users* are and use what the
users find most convenient to them.

I beg to differ. If you want help, go to where help can be found.

Do you want to grow the openSUSE user community or shrink it?

If you want to shrink it, that's the way to do it. If you want to grow
it, you make it convenient from the user's point of view. The harder or
more inconvenient it is (or is perceived to be), the fewer users you end
up with.

Remember that this isn't the cathedral, Per. It's the bazaar. ;)


Jim Henderson
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