Improving the MOTU Community

Jono Bacon jono at
Fri Mar 9 10:54:35 GMT 2007

Hi all,

This is going to be a long email, so bear with me. :)

Thanks very much for discussing the different issues about the MOTU
community in your last meeting. I had a look over them, and looked at
some of the things we can do to improve the community, and I would like
to offer some advice for things to do in this mail. I recommend you
follow this advice and implement the things I suggest, and then we
schedule another meeting which I will be at to discuss any other
improvements that can be made. One thing is clear - MOTU has incredible
potential, and with some of the right community building techniques, I
am positive we can improve things.

Fixing these problems basically falls into two core areas:

 (1) Making MOTU easier to be part of
 (2) Spreading the word and outchreach

Fixing (1) means improving the MOTU resources and fixing (2) means
babbling to the world about how cool MOTU is and getting people
involved. You need to make sure (1) is fixed before moving onto (2).

So, lets look at the things in (1) that need fixing first:

 * The MOTU Wiki pages - Looking at it is
just too difficult to figure out where to start - it is a mess of
informaton. Many teams face this problem, so I have created a consistent
design that can be seen at - you should make
use of this consistent design and use the same sections shown in the
above link. This is what you put in the sections:

    - Roadmap - more on this later.
    - Getting Involved - write a simple guide to getting started - what
are the first five things every MOTU should do? Write them into this
page as a really simple guide. This is the very first thing that every
new MOTU should read.
    - Knowledge Base - each of the guides, documentation and HOWTOs but
doing MOTU things should be linked inside this section. This should be
an index of MOTU knowledge - existing and new MOTUs go here to find out
how to do things.
    - FAQ - work to make a huge and detailed FAQ answering the typical
questions about MOTU that you often get on the list and IRC channel. You
should grow a culture in MOTU that if something is asked that the FAQ
does cover, the FAQ should be updated. This will create a definitive
document that you can always point people at. :)
    - Contacts - in here list the mailing list and IRC channel as well
as any key contacts who are happy to answer specific questions. This
would be a good place to put mentors.

Getting your wiki pages together is priority #1 - it will make MOTU a
much easier project to approach. This design I have constructed is also
being used by other Ubuntu projects on the wiki.

 * Define a Roadmap - You may have done this already, but the team needs
to have a consistent set of doable goals that can be approached. Only
you folks can know what these goals are, but they need to be clearly
documented. The roadmap is essential so that the team know what needs
working on and so that new MOTUs can start working on something. It can
be particularly useful to identify the kind of things that new MOTUs can
get started with too.

 * Create regular events - Right now you have a regular MOTU meeting,
and it seems you sometimes have MOTU school. I would *really* recommend
that you regularly have sessions that teach MOTU skills and also have a
Q+A session for MOTUs. As an example, I have a monthly Community Q+A
session which proves popular for people to just come along and ask what
is on their mind. I recommend having a monthly Q+A session in addition
to the MOTU meeting, and then having at least one tuition session each
month. This creates a rich set of events that makes MOTU feel alive and
kicking. Packaging is hard, so people need (1) documentation and (2)
events to help them get started.

So those are the bits and pieces in (1) that need sorting first, but now
lets look at the outreach goals in part (2). This is *hugely* important.
MOTU basically needs regular pimping - people of the world need to know
it is a cool and important project to be a part of. So, you should each
do the following:

 * Blog, blog, blog! - I very rarely see MOTU appear on Planet Ubuntu.
This needs to change. If you have a blog, blog about MOTU, if you don't
have a blog, get one from and blog about MOTU! Write about
events, things you are working on, things you have learned, packages you
would like to see packaged, things you need help with, amusing doesn't matter what. I would like to see at least two
posts about MOTU every day when I read Planet Ubuntu. This is *hugely*
important - blogging is the way you spread the word about the project
and get new people involved.

 * Publicise your events - A MOTU event is useless if people don't know
about it. Firstly, make sure it is in the Fridge events calendar.
Secondly, make sure you blog about it and talk about what the sessions
is all about - you should particularly get people excited about the
tuition sessions - they are awesome opportunities for people to get
involved with MOTU. You should also put the events in the topic of the
IRC channel, mention them on the MOTU wiki pages (see the events page in
my design for the wiki pages) and push them elsewhere.

 * Pimp MOTU - Get yourselves interview on podcasts and websites such as, go to conferences and talk about MOTU, speak at Linux User
Groups about MOTU and anything else you can do to promote the project.
This is all about getting people excited and fired up about MOTU.
Everyone can play a part here, but you will have natural people in the
MOTU community who are good at interviews and pimping the project, and
they should be encouraged to do this.

So, there are some things to get started with above. I recommend you
work on each of these things as a matter of urgency, with the wiki pages
being the first thing to work on. :)

When this is up and running we can schedule an IRC meeting.

Hope this helps.


Jono Bacon
Ubuntu Community Manager
jono(at)ubuntu(dot)com /

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