Standing in the street trying to hear yourself think

Tim Hawkins tim.hawkins at
Fri Jul 3 00:00:15 UTC 2009

Would the production of a system similar to the "Yahoo Answers"  
approach help with some of this, Yahoo Answers
awards points to answers that are chosen as top answers for various  
questions, and in essence becomes a "living FAQ". Its more
task orientated than the wiki, as its based on a question/answer  
form.  Its less intimidating than the forums as its not a discussion  

The points system encourages people to contribute to increase their  
"karma" or their peer status, particular participants's points
levels could for example be used to award "emblems" for particular  
levels of engagement, such as "expert", "guru" etc. Potentially
points could be used to award resources on the upcoming Ubuntu One  
system, or other ubuntu related resources.

It would be in Canonical's interest to encourage participation to make  
product adoption more widespread.

Any thoughts?.

On 3 Jul 2009, at 07:45, Onno Benschop wrote:

> As Ubuntu becomes more and more popular, the resources we use to
> communicate within our community become saturated with the sounds made
> by new and learning users. This is not a new thing, nor is it
> undesirable, but unless we find ways to deal with the increasing
> background noise, we have a real chance of drowning.
> To be clear, I'm not saying that we need to hide from users, nor  
> that we
> should build islands that isolate us from their efforts, but that the
> systems we use today do not appear to scale well. Spend a few  
> moments in
> #ubuntu and you'll be surrounded by many users with questions and few
> with answers. The same is true in the Ubuntu forums, the mailing  
> lists,
> launchpad, etc. Searching for issues that need resolution will often
> result in many hits that are people adding "me too" messages, or  
> adding
> incorrect advice, which then in turn results in more posts. This is
> getting worse. That is, the noise is increasing.
> The power of our community is that we provide access to all comers,  
> but
> that's also our weakness. Not everyone is an expert and not everyone
> will ever be an expert. Some who think they're experts are not,  
> despite
> their well meaning attempts at providing pages that show users how to
> "fix" something by doing something in a "non-Ubuntu way" causing bug
> reports that don't exist from users who followed the advice.
> Should we find ways of distinguishing expert advice? Who decides what
> constitutes an expert?
> What I've written thus far scratches the surface of what I'm  
> attempting
> to convey. I've been trying to write this email for six months, and I
> can only provide two anecdotes to attempt to describe in another way
> what I'm getting at.
>    * In 1990 I was a participant and contributor to the usenet group
>      Alt.Best.Of.Internet, or ABOI. When AOL joined us online, ABOI  
> was
>      swamped with users posting anything and everything to the group.
>      Despite our best and sustained efforts, the group died in the
>      onslaught of excited new Internet users who overwhelmed us.
>    * Today it was suggested that what I'm getting at is the phenomenon
>      that standing in the middle of a noisy street is a very hard  
> place
>      to concentrate on anything. You really need to find a place where
>      you can close the door and think. While closing the door is  
> simple
>      enough, it defeats the purpose of sharing our efforts in a
>      combined effort with the user community.
> I'm not attempting to proscribe how to resolve this, what I'm  
> attempting
> to do with this email is start the discussion about how we might go
> about planning for success.
> What are we going to do about the exponential growth in Ubuntu success
> and exposure?
> How are we going to continue to flourish and grow while "the masses"
> arrive with their questions and bug-reports?
> Perhaps I'm seeing something that isn't there. Perhaps others are
> already thinking about this and I've just come along to add more noise
> to that discussion - if so, I'm sorry.
> -- 
> Onno Benschop
> Connected via Bigpond NextG at S31°54'06" - E115°50'39" (Yokine, WA)
> --
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