PR and all help-related suggestions/offers/proposals

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PR and all help-related suggestions/offers/proposals

Post by Webunny » Sat Nov 30, 2013 8:17 pm

As we've all been aware for the last months/years, there is some feeling among many of the ordinary forum and ROS users, that little thought is given, otr interest shown, to any side-projects or offers of help, from the dev-team or ROS 'officials'.

I recently had a long conversation about this with Amine, and he was a bit surprised by this, and not completely aware of this situation. First of all Amine wishes to express an apology on his behalf for not keeping up with the forums. He is pretty busy it would seem, and so is z98. He also wants to assure that everyone who contributed to ROS, as a user, forumposter, tester, translator, etc. has equal standing as a ROS-member, in his eyes. He deplores the feeling of we (non-coders) vs. them (coders) that has slowly creeped up. With his permission, I'll post the relevant parts of our conversation here, so that other can read and comment on it, as they see fit.

1) About the absence of him/many coders on the forum:

<AmineKhaldi> I see a big problem here
<AmineKhaldi> let's start from the last point: the forum
<AmineKhaldi> please note that the (little) free time I have goes into dealing with many fronts related directly and indirectly to ros (ie in and outside of the project, into other projects and so on)
<AmineKhaldi> I really tried to get into the forum, I even posted once or twice or so, but I couldn't add it into the list of things I do continuously
<AmineKhaldi> that's why I know nothing about the forum until someone informs me about it (usually here, over IRC PMs)
<Webunny> look, I'm not blaming you; i know you are busy. But I didn't even know who was going to deal with it; for the same token, you could have delegated it to someone else of ROS
<AmineKhaldi> I was informed about jim's statement in the forum about the closed team principle => I spoke to him and showed him that I even created an irc channel to help our PR guys
<AmineKhaldi> and asked Z to relay this plan to the forum members who were interested
<AmineKhaldi> (and no one came)
<AmineKhaldi> jim relayed this to the forum => you showed up
<Webunny> true

2) About equality and how he sees PR.

<AmineKhaldi> now, let's address the big problem that I saw:
<AmineKhaldi> you seem to think of yourself less than a community member, and I want to pinpoint the issue here
<AmineKhaldi> we are all equal, and the concept of "loop" applies only when sensitive info is involved (like the foundation stuff, internal development stuff, and things like that)
<AmineKhaldi> anything normal is available for everyone, and we can all work on things equally
<Webunny> well, I may be a community member in some respcts, but I'm no coder
<AmineKhaldi> re. PR, all what was required (by the devs) is to let the official stuff out of the way
<Webunny> hmm, amine, I appreciate the thought, but in reality that is never actually true
<AmineKhaldi> ie when anyone does anything, he just explicitly says it's his own thing, not related to official ros in any way
<AmineKhaldi> this way, it can cause no harm to the project, only benefits
<AmineKhaldi> (even if people mess things up, it would be their own views/actions, it wouldn't represent the project)
<AmineKhaldi> and the plan was always that, when good actions shine, the official guys approve/share them...etc
<AmineKhaldi> "well, I may be a community member in some respects, but I'm no coder" anyone who contributes *anything* to the project is a member in my eyes
<AmineKhaldi> even the guy who provides nothing but *constructive* criticism
<Webunny> Yes, but aren't you being a bit to theoretical about it? 'Equal for all' is very nice, but I mean: just look at the amount of emails I had to spend with you and z98, just to get a minor side-project started
<AmineKhaldi> and to some levels I can even take the good bits of non-constructive ones too, when I have the resources to do so
<AmineKhaldi> well, you need to not count the other emails, just mine
<AmineKhaldi> because I had no idea what was going on before
<AmineKhaldi> I'm an actions guy, I don't like to talk too much unless the extensive planning is required

3) About criticism and how to handle that

<AmineKhaldi> I'm saying this because I get the impression that the dev team is restricting progress in other areas (except code)
<Webunny> well, my criticism as of late is, that non-coding people really feel like it's an uphill battle if they want to do stuff
<Webunny> like translating
<AmineKhaldi> while all they asked for is to use "official" presence/actions/opinions only when one of them is allowed
<AmineKhaldi> and for the rest, an explicit mention of the lack of this official thing is required, other than that everything is permitted
<AmineKhaldi> isn't that reasonable to ask for ?
<Webunny> hm, well, for the dvd project, of course, it was official
<AmineKhaldi> (speaking officially required a certain awareness in one or several levels, thats the only reason it's restricted)
<AmineKhaldi> no no, in general
<AmineKhaldi> the us vs them thing that I get the vibes of
<AmineKhaldi> especially in PR
<AmineKhaldi> (because that didn't amount to anything sadly)
<AmineKhaldi> I mean, jim thought we're acting like a closed team, that raised the alarm for me
<Webunny> well, PR really doesn't seem the forte of ROS, to be honest
<AmineKhaldi> confirmed by your statement earlier
<Webunny> have you read the posts on the forum about that?
<AmineKhaldi> that's understandable and expected given our resources
<AmineKhaldi> nope
<Webunny> many (non-coders) seem to feel like that
<AmineKhaldi> yeah, I wasn't addressing just you
<AmineKhaldi> but you're the only forum guy around
<Webunny> I don't agree with all of them on all points, but I can see where it's coming from
<AmineKhaldi> so I was hoping to relay the message to not only you, but also to anyone like you
<AmineKhaldi> (over there)
<AmineKhaldi> it's a pretty simple request, that you guys seem to think of as a severe restriction ?
<AmineKhaldi> and as a result, nothing came out of you in terms of PR ?
<AmineKhaldi> ie that's what's blocking the guys from doing PR ?
<Webunny> hm
<Webunny> well, amine, it depends on how restrictive it becomes when one considers it has something to do with it being 'official'
<Webunny> maybe we should look at it in a pragmatical way
<Webunny> it goes like this:
<AmineKhaldi> it's easy: something like disclaimer: I am not affiliated with ReactOS, I'm just a fan/supporter, or anything that explicitly says something along these lines
<AmineKhaldi> ie this is my own view/action, not theirs
<AmineKhaldi> as simple as that
<Webunny> people (non-coders) propose something to do to help ROS
<AmineKhaldi> they don't need to, if they respect this
<Webunny> but there is either no official reaction, or a negative one
<AmineKhaldi> they may only *inform* us before/after they do it
<AmineKhaldi> just so we endorse/share/adopt it if it's good

4) Why no response or a negative reply from a dev here should not be interpreted as an official response of ROS.

[Of course, the question then remains when/how DO you get an official response/endorsement?]

<AmineKhaldi> you seem to compact the whole dev team into one or several persons who go to the forums ?
<Webunny> even though it's ambigous, because 'they' are alos the ones making the actual code
<AmineKhaldi> but each one of them speaks for himself usually, no ?
<Webunny> well, everyone does
<AmineKhaldi> that's why pushed for monthly meetings
<AmineKhaldi> so that we can get our plans together
<AmineKhaldi> and it's working nicely
<Webunny> look,if you have only 2 or 3 persons of the coders actually dealing with the forum, it's natural for all the rest of the non-coders there, to go with what they say
<AmineKhaldi> that makes sense, but did any of those devs suggest that you guys are allowed to PR for ros without that rule ?
<AmineKhaldi> (without the explicit mention that we talked about ? )
<AmineKhaldi> because only then they would be wrong
<AmineKhaldi> if they discourage you or anything, that's just the result of *their* views
<Webunny> example: you yourself said that you don't frequent the forum much. Now, this is understandable, but it still means that there is little mutual conversation with different actors on it.
<AmineKhaldi> not the whole team certainly
<AmineKhaldi> because simply, we have different opinions
<AmineKhaldi> and when we meet, we discuss things, and settle on one
<AmineKhaldi> either everyone agrees, or we vote
<AmineKhaldi> (usually we always agree with the one with the best point)
<Webunny> that may be, but that's not something the endusers on the forum notice
<AmineKhaldi> no, I am one of the rare team members who can talk to *everyone* here
<AmineKhaldi> that's needed in order to be able to help coordinating and managing stuff
<AmineKhaldi> I just can't add the forum to my system yet, despite my intention to
<AmineKhaldi> (I tried, trust me)
<Webunny> ... 9&start=15
<Webunny> there you see an example
* AmineKhaldi checks
<Webunny> I think the original proposal was something for a PR thing with non-profit orgs on youtube
<AmineKhaldi> what should I be looking at ?
<AmineKhaldi> (it's too much to read carefully)
<Webunny> but people either get no response, or a negative one. Same with offers of translation.
<Webunny> well, that of bernardtt, for instance
<AmineKhaldi> ok, let me see
<AmineKhaldi> ok, I see a tiny problem here

5) The tiny problem: when does one let people do something officially (and/or unofficially)?

<AmineKhaldi> "This will indirectly help "users" engage with other "users" and not "users" to "devs" "
<Webunny> he indicates that that particular topic (of (the lack of) involving non-coders) is pretty common
<AmineKhaldi> so why do we have official twitter/facebook/whatever presence ?
<AmineKhaldi> if these means aren't enough to share stuff about ros ?
<Webunny> ah, you mean the proposal for a fan-site
<Webunny> I'm not too keen on that myself
<AmineKhaldi> I mean this lack of understanding of how "fans" work in foss
<Webunny> no, I just wanted to indicate a lot of people feel a bit neglected
<AmineKhaldi> I understand, but are they tackling things correctly ?
<AmineKhaldi> if I want to help ros with PR, I would need to share/retweet/blog/anything about ros stuff, no ?
<Webunny> see DOSguy too
<AmineKhaldi> and *if* something requires an official action, like joining an event or so, *then* I go to the ros guys
<AmineKhaldi> am I misunderstanding how PR works ?
<Webunny> ? well, that's talking on the principle of the matter, but on itself, the problem is this: the original post of that thread was about making a PR for a non-profit youtube thing
<Webunny> and I don't think he got any response, or maybe a negative one

6) Determing the worth of help, and: why don't people go for it themselves?

[A tricky business indeed.]

<AmineKhaldi> that's *one* PR thing
<AmineKhaldi> what else is going on by this guy for example ?
<AmineKhaldi> or was it a one time thing then "hmm, these guys don't care, so I won't PR on myself either" thing ?
<AmineKhaldi> ie if we neglect PR due to our lack of resources, so should the community ?
<Webunny> you can't really expect the coimmunity to go through with anything, if they don't know if it's ok with the ROS team
<AmineKhaldi> because PR certainly can be done without even involving ros officially
<AmineKhaldi> that's the thing !
<AmineKhaldi> that's the source of the problem, in my view
<AmineKhaldi> why is that ?
<AmineKhaldi> the only thing they need from the official side, is official presence/actions
<AmineKhaldi> like the event example I gave
<AmineKhaldi> because one can't simply join an even with his friends, and does a presentation, and goes like: "this is not affiliated with ros, we're just some fans supporting ros, and we're participating in the event in their name"
<AmineKhaldi> you see ?
<AmineKhaldi> only a tiny bit of PR needs official involvement
<Webunny> I don't think it works that way
<AmineKhaldi> the rest can be freely done, just with the explicit disclaimer that we went over
<AmineKhaldi> if you want to blog about something in ros, do so
<AmineKhaldi> if you want to tweet about it
<AmineKhaldi> facebook share stuff
<AmineKhaldi> like stuff
<AmineKhaldi> ..etc, you don't need the official channels
<AmineKhaldi> hm ?
<AmineKhaldi> what doesn't work this way ?
<Webunny> from the stance of a simple user, they regard the dev-team as something that has to approve or at least acknowledge things. This impression is sometimes enforced by a few negative comments of devs, I guess.
<AmineKhaldi> then we need to fix that
<AmineKhaldi> my understanding is: just mention explicitly that this wasn't official, and you're good to go
<AmineKhaldi> how do you guys see it ?
<Webunny> I dunno. Maybe you should place a post there, then, explicitly saying so

7) Speaking on behalf of ROS.

<AmineKhaldi> I believe that Z and vic already did so ?
<AmineKhaldi> because when they were into the PR team thing, they told me that some members wanted to be part of the official thing
<AmineKhaldi> (not just fans, but fans who can speak on behalf of ros)
<AmineKhaldi> that, obviously, needs at least some training, don't you think ?
<AmineKhaldi> ie you can't be expected to speak on behalf of ros, without knowing what you're doing
<Webunny> well, depends on the level
<Webunny> not as such, no
<Webunny> but you have gradations or levels to that
<Webunny> for instance, as I said:
<AmineKhaldi> so when I saw that training was needed...etc, I set up this channel
<AmineKhaldi> so that anyone who has questions...etc would find help here
<AmineKhaldi> until they become ready to speak on behalf of ros, in an organized manner
<AmineKhaldi> (going through Z and vic)
<AmineKhaldi> => no one showed up
<Webunny> if someone was proposing to translate the site, I would say: ok, do it. If after a month it was unsatisfactory, I would revoke his translation rights
<Webunny> nothing more, nothing less
<Webunny> but if one comes up with a whole plethora of 'tokens' one has to prove oneself, before even being to able to help, people are just going to feel it as being difficult
<AmineKhaldi> and now I see stuff like "I really wanted to join the PR team, but the devs themselves never wanted anyone w/o technological knowledge to join the PR team"

8) How to communicate to others and ones' presence on the forum, irc, etc.

<Webunny> amine; it's all good and well you tell me, but I'm not part of the PR (yet ;-)) , so I can't speak for neither the devs nor for all non-coders, of course. I really think what you say to me here, should be said to all those people there too
<AmineKhaldi> what is PR that you're not part of ?
<AmineKhaldi> we certainly don't have a PR team
<Webunny> true
<AmineKhaldi> there's just vic and Z who are able to blog and write...etc about ros
<AmineKhaldi> the forum guys who are interested in PR, what do they have in mind ?
<Webunny> well, maybe some effort could be done there, and let more people post things?
<AmineKhaldi> they're certainly not exploding the ros pages/stuff in social networks
<AmineKhaldi> so what are they planning exactly ?
<AmineKhaldi> let more people write in the official website of ros, just like that ?
<AmineKhaldi> (without technical awareness of what they're writing about ? )
<AmineKhaldi> because if you mean writing things to be reviewed by Z/vic, this was already suggested
<AmineKhaldi> I remember one guy refusing to go through that
<Webunny> well, what do you mean with 'just like that'. Are there no non-coders with technical awareness?
<AmineKhaldi> so who's unreasonable in this case ?
<AmineKhaldi> just like that as in directly
<AmineKhaldi> write, publish, it's on behalf of ros
<Webunny> maybe they could just send an example, and if it's good enough, it gets posted, or something?
<AmineKhaldi> that's exactly the plan
<AmineKhaldi> but good luck convincing them of this
<AmineKhaldi> the guy I mentioned, I can't remember his name
<AmineKhaldi> but he was constantly complaining about our news...etc
<AmineKhaldi> so I offered him exactly that
<AmineKhaldi> he said he can't do it
<AmineKhaldi> I even asked him to consider writing 160 chars max snippets (for twitter) to no avail

[I'm not sure who he means; can anyone fill me in?]

<Webunny> Anyway, I think a more pronounced presence of devs/or officially-related persons on the site/forum would be a good thing. Even if only a go-between between the two.
<AmineKhaldi> well, let me suggest the inverse
<AmineKhaldi> not just this
<AmineKhaldi> ie you guys are free to come to irc, where the real action is
<AmineKhaldi> because not all of us have the resource to be in both
<AmineKhaldi> (personally I couldn't, as I mentioned)
<Webunny> hmm...well, see, that's already one extra hurdle
<AmineKhaldi> "If you want to be given the responsibility for Dutch translations and get us to add Dutch as a language back to the site, you'll need to provide a token demonstration to the project."
<AmineKhaldi> a simple reply with "what should I do, concretely, for that ?" would be enough to give you an answer
<Webunny> I'm into the IT sector myself, Amine (not as a coder, however), and I know one thing: endusers can be really ignorant in that regard
<AmineKhaldi> I would add something like "I can email you drafts of the translations that I work on"
<AmineKhaldi> to show that you are seriously committed to maintaining it
<Webunny> ask yourself: how many normal persons can go to a forum? A lot. How many would know how to go to irc? not many.
<AmineKhaldi> not anymore
<AmineKhaldi> now irc is clicks away
<AmineKhaldi> web interface => #reactos + nick => connect
<AmineKhaldi> (

[Which is true, I noted that myself too, recently. Still, IRC is a fleeting medium; I'm not TOO keen on it myself. Fora are still more easy to use, and people are more comfortable with it, imho]

10) About commitment and a solid community. Also: the big picture. And the lack of resources. And what was first: the egg or the chicken?

<AmineKhaldi> considering how much "commitment" we receive, it makes you really skeptic
<Webunny> cautious is good, overcautious makes it give a wrong vibe, though
<AmineKhaldi> nah, please consider history
<AmineKhaldi> so please treat our overcautious is a normal one
<AmineKhaldi> with nothing as personal or so
<AmineKhaldi> you can probably sense it, because a project with a solid community wouldn't be in the shadows for 10 years
<Webunny> I do understand that sometimes the offered help doesn't pan out
<Webunny> I said so myself in a post
<AmineKhaldi> people don't even retweet us
<Webunny> but then again, if you don't risk much, why not let people try?
<Webunny> say you have ten people, and 7 amount to nothing, you still have 3
<Webunny> if you're overcautious and let none of them do it, you get 0
<AmineKhaldi> please look at the big picture:
<AmineKhaldi> our frontpage is lacking severely
<Webunny> obviously, you can't be too lenient an,d free-wheeling with core-coding...
<AmineKhaldi> (the english one, that is, the main route)
<Webunny> but for all the rest, like a translation? Should be doable.
<AmineKhaldi> we went with drupal, and that didn't solve our problems
<AmineKhaldi> because when I planned and coordinated the website revamp, the goal was a live frontpage
<AmineKhaldi> one that immediately shows you that ros is alive and kicking
<AmineKhaldi> (realtime updates of all our activities: commits, bugs, news...etc)
<AmineKhaldi> but the technical side of things didn't deliver
<AmineKhaldi> we went from RosCMS to Drupal, and we're still far from our goals
<Webunny> hmm, yes
<AmineKhaldi> so you can see that, compared to this big problem, translations seem like a trivial matter
<Webunny> I filed a bug today about that
<Webunny> the comments section on the mainpage doesn't work well
<AmineKhaldi> we need some activity streams, linking social media to the articles/frontpage...etc
<AmineKhaldi> so much to take care of
<AmineKhaldi> you see ?
<AmineKhaldi> so anything extra would require more supervising...etc
<AmineKhaldi> (Z would need to check the status of translations for example)
<AmineKhaldi> hence being cautious
<Webunny> well...checking translation COULD be done by someone else too
<AmineKhaldi> speaking of which, if you happen to know any drupal gurus, please send them our way
<AmineKhaldi> nah
<AmineKhaldi> look around
<Webunny> I think z98 is doing too much to be properly doing all of it
<AmineKhaldi> that's exactly what I call "lack of resources"
<AmineKhaldi> people are not stepping up
<AmineKhaldi> all I see is talking
<AmineKhaldi> what we need is commitment (like yours) and actions
<AmineKhaldi> you seem to be the only one who has that
<AmineKhaldi> where are the others ?
<Webunny> yeah, but you get into a chicken or egg problem
<AmineKhaldi> well, let's break it
<AmineKhaldi> can you please guide as many of them as possible, to come here ?
<Webunny> no-one steps up, and thus it's not offered, and no-one offers it, because no one steps up
<AmineKhaldi> I will be here, helping as much as I can
<Webunny> I think you still miss the importance of having an offical air about you/it/a proposal/suggestion
<Webunny> if you ask to come here, it will have far more effect than if I ask it
<AmineKhaldi> well, please feel free to quote anything from our discussion

Anyway, that was the gist of the conversation, and I didn't feel like summarising the whole thing. If you have any remarks, comments, solution, let it be heard (well, written). I'm sure I can relay the most important parts to Amine if needs to be, the next time I talk to him. Or, ofcourse, you can go directly to the irc-pr chan yourself. He seems to be waiting for more people there, after all. For less transient talks a forum is better, though.

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