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)


  • 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).


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.


Some additional information and suggestion(s)

My last reflection referred to the period up to April. Now we are one month further.

Facts about contributors & members

  • We continued to have 4 persistent meeting members (bcotton, darknao, pboy, shaunm) and one “half persistent” (pbokoc) and a smaller number or “occasional participants”, most frequently copperi
  • We had a continuous flow of communication between those members on discussion
  • “Actions” were decided in almost every meeting. Of the last 12 meetings, only 2 were without “Action”, with an average of 2.3 actions per meeting. So, each of the meetings were not a mere discussion event with a casual exchange of ideas, but were followed by concrete work.

So, from a “community building” perspective, the situation is promising. There is a good core from which we can pursue expansion.

And that matches the fact that we have accomplished in the last 2-3 months more than in the 2-3 years before. At least that’s my impression.

The next steps to improvement

From a sociological point of view, one criterion and a prerequisite for a successful and long-term viable informal grouping is that it does morph from an initially amorphous entity into a social structure and organization.

A bit less theoretical, we have to evolve a “face”. We need to become identifiable, everyone needs to know what to expect from us. We need to become “approachable” and “findable/searchable”. This includes several practical things.

Team page
In the digital era, “findable” means having a “home page”. The team page must briefly inform about and demonstrate:

  • what we do (and what we don’t do)
  • who we are (and is there anyone to respond to a request)
  • how “capable” is the team to work on the tasks (and can I even expect someone to answer qualified)

The discussion forum is too fragmented and extensive for this purpose. The issues are too detailed and time-bound, while we need something more time-spanning.

A first raw draft is available on hackmd.

Our Objectives
That’s another topic for a team page. We should define a kind of core task, mainly technical publication flow and document curation. And it’s a good idea, to ask the variants for a representative,

A first cut is included in the aforementioned draft.

Who we are
Here, the current situation is the worst we could probably be in. We have a long list of about 40 people who are some kind of “member”. But just 4-6 show up regularly. There is nothing more paralyzing than numerous “members” who never show up, but are still somehow “missing”. They are expected to come “next time”, but never do. And the group is perceived as permanently mostly incomplete and a “lame duck”. And who gets excited about a “lame duck” and wants to join?

So we have to determine who is “in” and who is not. At the same time, of course, we don’t want to exclude anyone. So we have to create a suitable and plausible structure. In case of documentation, maybe “editorial board” is suitable for continuous and regular tasks, maybe 6-8 people. And beyond that an “authors’ circle” and a “production supporter” for selective, occasional and time-limited actions as needed. So we would switch our weekly meeting from “docs team” to editorial board and organize something additional for special purposes and inviting authors and web experts on demand.

And we must be clearly different from the previous way. Therefore, not only a list still nicknames, but linked to a Fedora personal page and a brief description of the field(s) of activity / domain of expertise.

Footprints and Agenda
We must be linked to an “agenda”. Anyone must know what we are doing, planning, have done, etc. It is a first prerequisite to establish an onboarding process.

That seems like a promising idea. How can we make this “actionable”?

We need to leave "footprints ", therefore a team page with documents and other artifacts, especially a list of current projects / tasks, completed projects, etc.

Organization and Workflow
A defined structure must also be plausibly reflected in the organization and processes.

The people from whom we expect continuous and sustained amounts of work must be found in our organizational structure, such as the FAS groups. And they must be equipped with the appropriate access privileges. And on the other hand, we need to protect our work from unconsented changes.

So we need a set of set of

  • core / board/ …(how we name it) set of access priviliges

  • a dedicated author workflow (if an author e.g. permanently or at least on a long-term basis takes over the support of one or more specific article(s))

  • generic authoring workflow


Just a note for the books and to remember:

On our Office hours about the future curation of the docs pages, there were spontaneously some question about what doc team does, how to contribute, what we are planing next, etc. This meets my ideas about the need and the form of a team homepage. I would suggest to include it in our working plan for the next months.