Doing something about signal:noise complaints

James Westby jw+debian at
Fri Jan 23 11:53:14 UTC 2009

On Thu, 2009-01-22 at 11:19 +0000, Andrew Sayers wrote:
> Hi all,
> Ubuntu developers tend to complain about the ratio of signal to noise on
> this list - that is, the percentage of posts that take up their time
> without helping them to improve Ubuntu.  Many developers have apparently
> unsubscribed from the list for that reason.  Grumbling developers are
> never a good thing for a project, so I'd like to see what can be done
> about it.

I think your premise is slightly flawed. You say "tend to complain",
whereas I have a different impression. I have heard a few complaints
from a minority of developers.

Yes, not all posts on ubuntu-devel-discuss are that useful. Yes,
having good interaction between users and developers is important.
However, I feel that this problem may be being elevated above its

> Having asked around on IRC, I get the impression that no-one really
> knows enough about the issue to suggest a better solution - for
> example,
> is it that there's too much noise, or not enough signal?  What types
> of
> noise do people consider most objectionable?  What are the leading
> causes of noise?

Or that most people don't really consider there to be enough of a
problem to do something about.

Yes, there are posts that are rude or pointless, but we know perfectly
well how to deal with each of these cases. I don't think we need to 
dwell too much on these issues. They won't really go away without
strict and full moderation.

> I'm open to better suggestions, but it seems to me the best way of
> getting answers to the above questions is with a survey, so I've
> written
> one up.  Hopefully the answers will let us have a more informed debate
> about what to do next.

Thank you however for trying to gather more information about the issue.
That is definitely the way to proceed. I would caution that the feedback
may be skewed somewhat towards the opinions of those that see a problem,
as they are probably more likely to respond to such a survey.



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