[ubuntu-uk] getting help - UK List

Alan Pope alan at popey.com
Mon Jan 29 20:23:34 GMT 2007

On Mon, 2007-01-29 at 19:33 +0000, Matthew East wrote:
> On Mon, 2007-01-29 at 17:45 +0000, Alan Pope wrote:
> > On Mon, 2007-01-29 at 14:54 +0100, Matthew East wrote:
> > > On Mon, January 29, 2007 1:10 am, London School of Puppetry wrote:
> > > > is there a list somewhere of Ubuntu experts
> > > 
> > > There isn't such a list for the UK. However, developing one would be a
> > > very worthwhile task for this team to carry out - face to face help is a
> > > very important type of help which is much more difficult to find for
> > > Ubuntu than it should be.
> > 
> > How would you envisage such a list operating? 
> > 
> > Would this be a "not an Ubuntu official partner, but willing to help"
> > type list?
> There is already one of those: http://www.ubuntu.com/support/marketplace

Yes, I was aware of that, wanted to clarify what you were suggesting.

> What I had in mind was more something by way of freely available
> community support.

I always find that a little tricky.

For me (whether right or wrong) I like to choose how and when I
contribute to the community. As with everyone else I have a limited
amount of time to spend between this/that/theother. I also (as with
everyone else) have requirements to pay bills and feed myself and the
family. So this leads to a careful(ish) balancing act between:-

a) Work - stuff that pays bills
b) FLOSS stuff - contributing to the community for free
c) Other - family stuff etc

If someone were to pay me to do b) then I could do less of a) in order
to do c). If I were to advertise my free services then the balance might
tip more towards b) detracting the attention from those vital c) and a)

At the moment I can walk away from a computer, not looking at the
support tickets, mailing lists, email (to do a) or c)) knowing that they
will either pile up and I will have to go through them when I get back,
or someone else will deal with them.

If the contact is direct via email/phone/IM/whatever then the system of
one-to-many turns into one-to-one. This is of course potentially
beneficial to the recipient of the help, but less useful for the helper.
More of my time would be dedicated to helping one individual - and
whilst that would be a fulfilling task, it's not time efficient. Think
of all the other people who have the same problem now or in the future
who will not benefit from the private conversations between myself and
the person I am helping.

I would say we are better off pointing people to the support ticket
system, as there are many eyeballs on it. For example I was going like e
demon on that between October and December last year, but this year have
barely touched it due to other commitments. Do the people asking
questions get no support as a result? No, because there are loads of
other committed people who the work load-balances around.

Compare that with the person down the road who needs some one-on-one, if
I am away doing a) and c) then they are left in a situation where they
may mail/phone/IM/whatever me and get no response, or get a very delayed
response. How does that look/feel for them? In addition as I focus my
attention on them, talking them through whatever issue they have, what
happens to all the other people who are waiting for their support
tickets to be answered in a way that will benefit future google-users?

I appreciate some people need a little hand-holding, I really do. But
when someone is desperate for help (machine wont boot) they will expect
the person helping to drop stuff to come over to help won't they? That's
how I often find people with problems. 

I know I have worded this mail from my perspective, but I am pretty sure
it's not far off how many people feel about helping with the community. 

Am I out of order / hypocritical / wrong? Please tell me. I would like
to offer as much time and support to the community as I can, but I like
the idea of time-inefficiency built-in.

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