Recent Doc Team meeting - Poll idea (Do people really use computer-based help?)

Gunnar Hjalmarsson gunnarhj at
Wed Jun 11 06:50:00 UTC 2014

2014-05-10 15:33, Penelope Stowe wrote:
> On Fri, May 9, 2014 at 4:14 PM, Peter Matulis
> <peter.matulis at <mailto:peter.matulis at>> wrote:
>> I think polling Ubuntu users is good enough since there are former
>> Windows/Mac users among them.  But you raise an interesting point:  do
>> we want to know whether a user will even *look* for in-computer help?
>> My original idea was to determine to what degree Ubuntu users first
>> *know* about it and, if so, whether they *use* it.

To the extent people don't know about the existence of Ubuntu Help, I'd
say that the first step to take ought to be to make them aware of it,
which I suppose would be a desktop design thing.

Personally, even if I - like many other Ubuntu users - have the habit of
looking for help on the web, I find Ubuntu Help to be a well-structured
resource with a useful search feature.

Let me remind of Martin's message:

Possibly we have a situation where few people know about Ubuntu Help,
but if they did, they would use it to a large extent.

> My concern with limiting to current Ubuntu users in such a poll is that
> in my experience, the more tech savvy the user, the less likely they are
> to use in-computer help. Among the people I know, it's the non-technical
> users who use the in-computer help. They are also people who tend to
> currently not use Ubuntu, but would if it was something installed for
> them. My concern is that if we were to only poll current Ubuntu users,
> we'd likely end up removing in-computer help which would then make it
> harder to "sell" Ubuntu to non-technical users. That's fine if we're
> okay with not expanding to a less technical user base, but one of the
> things that has been said for the entire time I've been involved with
> the project is that one of the goals is to make Ubuntu accessible to
> everyone regardless of technical ability.

I share that concern 100%.

Also, the poll idea was initially brought up by Peter on the latest docs
team meeting under the topic "Find a driver" when we were talking about
the lack of desktop guide contributors.

If I understood it correctly, Peter's underlying thought was that if
people don't use the installed Ubuntu Help feature, but rather look for
help on the web, we might drop the ubuntu-docs package and with that
free the desktop guide subteam from the burden of meeting release
schedule deadlines.

However, personally I don't think that deadlines are bad. On the
contrary, a deadline may make people wake up and do things that else
would not have been done. Consequently I don't believe in dropping the
package as a response to the problem with a lack of contributors.

So, getting to know about user behavior and expectations is generally a
good thing. But a poll ought to be preceeded by an in depth discussion
about what it is we want to know. We haven't had such a discussion yet,
have we?

Gunnar Hjalmarsson

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