A brief resume 2 months after the revitalization session

I’m currently writing a community blog post about the revitalization of the Server Working Group, where I have been involved (and still are). So I got to thinking about docs in light of those experiences.

Facts about contributors & members

  • We started with 8 participants, which is still the maximum we gained at a meeting.
  • A total of 11 participants showed up over time.
  • In April (the latest 4 meetings) there were 4 steady participants (bcotton, darknao, pboy, shaunm) and 2 occasional ones (copperi, pbokoc)
  • Almost all ‘actions’ were spread over 2 participants (bcotton & darknao), a few over 2 others (pboy & pbokoc)

Given that bcotton’s engagement is temporary, after 2 months, obviously a kind of ‘core team’ of 2 1/2 people has mingled out. Not particularly overcrowded.

The question of membership and decision making

py0xc3 has compiled a current status list:

  • 9 current group members wanting to continue
    • 3 of them active since revitalization meeting, the others didn’t even show up once
  • 5 intend to join
    • 1 steadily active
    • 2 now and then
    • 1 did show up once
    • 1 didn’t show up yet
  • 36 current members
    • 36 not even responded

In seamanship one would say: very unstable ship, more ballast than pay load

It may be time to make a cleanup

  • Contacting those where contributions still seem possible.
  • Deleting all others, especially also commit privs. for the repos.

Membership documentation and commitment

We had the idea to generate a member’s list, but didn’t so far.

  • Re-activation of the FAS group and adding those participants who until now steadily participated and contributed (and, of course, want to be in the group)

  • Creating a member’s list in our team docs that contains name, email, and intended type of contribution (we don’t need just a "I want to be a member).

  • Communicate the change (and call for contributors) in the community (user list, devel list, community blog, etc)

Problem with our membership situation: a long list of people who are “sort of” in, but de facto are doing nothing, create a paralyzing context, hinder any form of goal-oriented awakening, and lead to churn of interested parties rather than joining.

What we have achieved so far

User relevant improvements

  • search capability (darknao)
  • date of the latest update (darknao)
  • improved visibility on download pages (darknao, pboy)
  • at least a PoC to improve content / installation guide(s) (pboy)
  • created a how-to contribute to release notes (pbokoc)

Wear & tear

  • link to “latest” (darknao)
  • migration of repositories (darknao)
  • tidying up the unfinished issues (not yet finished) (all)

Miscellaneous

  • a long list of ideas, announcements, intentions, never touched or assigned to someone

Maybe (hopefully) I missed something right out of my head.

The current, more or less spontaneous touching of isolated tasks hinders clearly visible and comprehensible success feedback and goal orientation. Such a situation is not attractive for new members (nor for existing).

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I agree with this. On the other hand, we also haven’t made a concerted effort to recruit new contributors. A session at Nest With Fedora might be a good opportunity to 1. showcase what we’ve done and 2. try to get people to join us. In addition, we can work with Mindshare and Ambassadors to make docs recruitment a part of our presence at events.

One thing we could do is reach out to some of the larger teams and ask them to have a “representative” on the docs team. This wouldn’t be a “you’re responsible for all of the docs, good luck!” but more of a “you’re the person who connects the docs team with Workstation/KDE/QA/whatever”.

Unfortunately, this is often the case in community projects. It’s easy to come up with ideas. It’s harder to implement them. Especially when they’re more than “bite sized”. That’s part of the reason I like putting the action item review at the top of the meeting: it helps us keep up on the things that people agreed to do (getting more people to agree to do more things is another matter).

Another thing not included in your summary is the lack of movement on the CentOS side. We’ve been very Fedora-focused, which is perhaps a chicken-and-egg problem. I know that I haven’t done as much to engage with CentOS as I probably should. The joint CentOS/Fedora team was an experiment to begin with, and it may be time to admit that won’t work unless there’s someone (or several someones) who are very active in both communities.

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