Fedora disconnection?

Paul W. Frields stickster at gmail.com
Sun Jul 27 21:36:03 UTC 2008

On Sun, Jul 27, 2008 at 01:26:23PM -0800, Jeff Spaleta wrote:
> On Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 2:45 PM, Gian Paolo Mureddu
> <gmureddu at prodigy.net.mx> wrote:
> > There has been a heated discussion over several threads in
> > www.fedoraforum.org about how disconnected some users feel from the
> > development team, as well as a general "lack of direction" in Fedora's
> > leadership. The latest of these discussions started about an article (posted
> > a few months back here in the marketing list) about PackageKit and from
> > there it spanned a rather heated discussion about Fedora and a perceived
> > increasing developers<-->users gap.
> What exactly do the people who feel disconnected want?  Will they be
> content just knowing that their opinions are heard? Communication is a
> project wide stumbling block. Developers get frustrated at just trying
> to talk among themselves, we certainly aren't going to require that
> all the developers try to track general user discussion lists and
> forums. We can probably do a better job at communication, on a number
> of fronts but such effort can only go so far.  Rambling complaint
> threads on a forum or even the mailing list are just going to get
> ignored by the vast majority of people. Letting users pretend that
> participating in these sorts of long discussion amongst themselves
> will result in developer action is a disservice to everyone.
> Or is the an unspoken expectation in the discontented userbase that
> popular userbase opinion is suppose to drive the direction of the
> project?  Let me dispel that right now. Popular userbase opinion will
> not control the direction of any technology development that
> individual contributors want to use.  That is not going to change.
> Here's the deal. Fundamentally Fedora runs on the power of its
> contributor-base... not its userbase.  If there are group of users who
> feel they are not being served, they have the ability to organize and
> get involved as contributors. We could do a better job of encouraging
> those sorts of users to grow into contributors.
> So knowing what should be done, really comes down to knowing what the
> discontented users are expecting.

A frequent criticism of FOSS is that we don't have the kind of formal
usability studies that big companies can afford.  (Which is not to say
our usability is poor by definition.)  If end users feel that a
certain area is being neglected, one way they could influence the
development in that area is with usability studies.

Those usability studies, though, would have to follow generally
accepted best practices.  As Jef points out, a popularity poll is not
sufficient.  There used to be a Usability SIG in Fedora but it didn't
really pursue any of those goals.  If users wanted to restart such an
effort, it might prove worthwhile.  But developers will only pay
attention if there's solid, objective information for them to rely on.

Paul W. Frields                                http://paul.frields.org/
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