What do you think about the signal:noise ratio? Survey results

Andrew Sayers andrew-ubuntu-devel at pileofstuff.org
Tue Feb 17 07:36:34 UTC 2009

There are a few general points that I thought were worth highlighting:

There is a gulf between the way that developers and non-developers see
the world.  This is reflected in their interests, their speech, and
their approach to issues.  While Ubuntu has many ingenious
technologies to improve developer/user interaction, technological
solutions can only ever have a limited impact on this interpersonal

While the number of useless posts isn't so bad, we could definitely
stand to increase the number of useful posts to the list.  This list
is an important place for interaction between developers and
non-developers, which isn't currently being used to its full extent.

Few people are currently planning to leave.  Either everyone that's
going to leave has already left, people leave shortly after making
their mind up to leave, or people that complain about noise don't
respond to surveys.

ubuntu-devel-discuss is peanut butter, ubuntu-devel is Marmite:
everyone vaguely likes u-d-d, but either you love u-d or you hate it.
I personally see that as healthy, but it's important to be aware that
u-d isn't "open to the public" in any more than a technical sense.

Perceptions of "signal" and "noise" are more about style than
substance.  People don't really mind what topics you choose to discuss
on here, so long as you're clearly trying to improve the lives of your
fellow Ubuntu users.

I get the general impression that u-d-d provides a lowish quantity of
information to developers - high enough for them to subscribe, but low
enough that they can drift away when targeted by inappropriate

I'd also like to suggest two ways of making the list better:

First, we should write up the section 2 comments as guidance, and post
it somewhere useful.  Perhaps in the charter, on a web page somewhere,
or in an e-mail sent to new subscribers.  Because the guidance shows
that attitude is the key, this should encourage new people to
contribute even if they're not steeped in Unix knowledge, and should
encourage constructive behaviour in those who don't take naturally to
the collaborative approach.

Second, we should write up a page in FAQ format, with headings like "I
am having trouble setting up my computer/have found a bug in a
program/would like to help improve Ubuntu/etc." and contents like
"post your message on such-and-such list/forum/IRC channel".  The
guidance currently available (e.g. at
http://www.ubuntu.com/support/CommunitySupport) focuses too much on
listing all the things *we* do, and not enough on answering the
questions *they* have.  A page of concrete examples will do a better
job of avoiding misdirected messages.

	- Andrew

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