Request for Ubuntu Doc Leadership

David Planella david.planella at
Wed Mar 16 18:30:20 UTC 2016

Hi all,

Apologies for the delay, which was on my end. We've been discussing the
topic on our team call and we'd like to propose a meeting with the docs
team. While the original e-mail covers the issue in great detail, and we've
got some ideas, we'd like to get the doc's team views and come up together
with a plan moving forward.

I'd like to propose some dates for a meeting, to be reviewed around the end
of the week to pick a date. If you are a member of the docs team or if you
are interested to help, please choose the date(s) that work for you. If you
are willing to attend and the timezones are an issue, please let me know as
well, and I can add an extra choice:

And an initial agenda (feel free to edit):


On Fri, Mar 4, 2016 at 12:03 AM, Elizabeth K. Joseph <lyz at> wrote:

> Hello community team,
> We are approaching you on behalf of the Ubuntu Documentation team to
> ask for assistance with the issues the team is undergoing.
> The Ubuntu Documentation team maintains the following documentation:
> – The desktop documentation at
> – The serverguide at
> – The community help wiki at
> We maintain documentation for how this documentation is maintained at
> The team is loosely organized in three subteams, each team taking care
> of one of the components mentioned above. In each team we have only a
> few people that can be considered active; some of those only barely.
> The state of all of the components can be described to be more or less
> stalled and in desperate the need of more contributors. With the
> string freeze for Documentation just a couple weeks away (March 17),
> at this point we risk not having updated documentation for 16.04,
> particularly for the Desktop.
> In the case of the community help wiki, the situation is even worse;
> not only has it encountered spam attacks lately (which only mean more
> work for the admins, who have been manually applying documentation
> "patches" that contributors send to the ubuntu-doc mailing list), it
> also has a lot of content that is completely outdated, useless and
> unstructured. Due to the spam attacks, most community members can't
> currently take any action to improve the situation.
> Following a meeting with the Community Council[0], we have begun to
> identify what we feel the team needs, both in the short and long term.
> We believe one of the major underlying issues to this situation is the
> teams inability to make decisions. The active and not so active team
> members all have their own opinion on which tasks are sensible to take
> on a certain component. This is especially problematic as sometimes we
> have had volunteers signed up to do the work, but the team has wanted
> to consider the issue further, ultimately stalling the process. When
> most efforts to improve the situation seem to be in vain, it is no
> wonder the team is not attracting new contributors either.
> As the Documentation team does not have a leader to steer the overall
> direction, there is no way to easily resolve the problem.
> Additionally, for various reasons, nobody from the current
> contributors is willing to step up and take the leadership position.
> Our request and recommendation for the community team at Canonical is
> to bring some leadership to the team from outside of the team.
> Ideally, the person would be a Canonical employee who would have part
> of their paid work assigned to working with the Documentation team. We
> think the request is fair considering the documentation is important
> and useful to many Ubuntu users and thus valuable to Canonical.
> We believe that a stable, fresh and adequately objective leadership
> could help the team resolve the underlying issues and ultimately,
> start growing the contributor base again. As part of and in addition
> to leading and guiding the team, the leader could take on the
> following tasks:
> – Work as a mediator with the members to resolve disagreements, be
> able to reach a consensus and get along with the work
> – Work with other Canonical employees, encouraging them to take part
> more in writing documentation, especially with the components they are
> working with themself
> – Work with the Canonical IS team to resolve technical difficulties
> the community help wiki is experiencing
> We feel their role as a leader on this team would not be because they
> work for Canonical, but because they are able to do the organizational
> work that is needed. Anyone able and willing to do this would be
> welcomed by us and the rest of the Documentation team. It's simply
> come to a point on the team today where we are not able to fill this
> role with a volunteer contributor.
> We do not think that the recommended arrangement has to be permanent
> unconditionally. Building up a team and getting it working by itself
> sometimes takes only time. We hope that with the leadership, the team
> can build up the contributor base and ultimately, find a new leader
> from within. If a leader is nominated, we will happily schedule a
> checkup meeting to see how things are going, if there are other
> actions that should be taken to grow and build up the team and if the
> outside leadership is required any more.
> Finally, we'd be happy to chat with anyone wishing to take on this
> role about the history of the team to give them some context for how
> we got to where we are. The Documentation team has always been quite
> small and has struggled to get contributors, but it was with this LTS
> release that we have finally hit a breaking point.
> Sincerely,
> Elizabeth K. Joseph (pleia2) and Pasi Lallinaho (knome)
> [0]
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