Why should we care?

Eep! EEp! EEp!

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
(Leo Buscaglia)

Don’t worry, this post is indeed KDE related.

No one would probably disagree that one of the most important aspects in open source is a healthy community, full of users and developers/contributors, each one caring for each other in any way possible. It is not about demanding a certain piece of functionality or behaviour, but working together for a certain target and a nice atmosphere.

We want to start a new initiative, a new fresh look at things. What are we offering? What are we doing good, but also what bits are missing? where do we fail? Sometimes it’s just the easy path to look at our own needs and not ask the actual users what they need.

We worked through that awesome book Lydia wrote, and realised that we are probably not listening thoroughly to all users and we want to change that.
We will start to listen, we will try to make a difference. Small steps, we can’t do it all in one day.

Ok, so we already thought of some items where KDE can improve, but that’s just what *we* have thought, and that’s just not enough, we need your feedback. Let’s give you our 5 minute brainstorm items:

  • We currently mainly communicate with users via bugs.kde.org. This medium really is not the best tool for that. It is not user friendly.
  • We have a great userbase.kde.org but developers don’t use it that much, nor is there any links from applications towards Userbase.
  • We are in no way effectively using web 2.0 technologies, for example live chat, to provide direct support to users from within our applications.
  • We have an more than awesome forum.kde.org where users can help each other, but it is not used a lot by developers, not linked from within applications, nor used in any marketing or promo efforts.
  • In that same forum there is a great system to talk about features, measure popularity of such new features and provide a completely documented feature towards developers. Not a lot of developers are using that. Instead features still are reported to bugs.kde.org.
  • There are new tools out there, for example for crash aggregation. We don’t use those, instead we use bugs.kde.org for those too. Crash aggregation would improve the usefulness of bugs.kde.org, by minimising duplicates and bugs belonging to other components.
  • Overall websites are a very important part of outreaching to the community. They are not effectively used by the developers and lack important parts of information
  • Lack of social media integration within all apps for example, or a ‘feedback’ tab as you see on many, many sites.

The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.
Tenzin Gyatso

All these ideas have let to the formation of a Special Interest Group called ‘water carriers’. Why water carriers? There is a certain group inside the KDE community which is not related to any development nor is a plain user group. Those who try to support users on a daily base. Compare it with the Tour de France, there are some riders that just bridge the gap between the source of the water (cars behind the riders) and the people riding with Moto 1.

We set a goal to focus on these items:

  • Come up with proposals that will create communities around applications.
  • Make sure users have a pleasant experience when reporting bugs, crashes and wishes.
  • Think about how KDE should communicate effectively and efficiently with users.
  • Make sure developers are communicating with users effectively to solve problems with applications.
  • Motivate developers and users to improve the available resources / knowledge about applications.
  • Lower the barrier to get quality support
  • Investigate and implement new technologies.

Does this make any sense to you? Are you willing to help? We are thinking of gathering a special group of users and developers which will provide feedback to us. Do you want to get involved? Do you want to help to shape the future of KDE? What are your ideas? Do you like the ideas given in the above list or is it just a waste of time? We are looking forward to as many comments as possible, we want to make KDE rock, but we need you to tell us what you need.

With the gift of listening comes the gift of healing.
Catherine de Hueck Doherty

(thanks to Tom Albers and Ben Cooksley for thinking and writing about it with me)

photo by: Carly & Art

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