[Mageia-discuss] Suggestions

Dale Huckeby spock at evansville.net
Sun Oct 24 05:13:13 CEST 2010

> On Sun, 24 Oct 2010, Michael Scherer wrote:
>>  that Tux99 wrote:
>>> that Michael Scherer wrote:
>   . . . .
>>> Well, writing better description is a task that do not requires
>>> technical knowledge, and that any packagers could do, if people send a
>>> patch.
>> Come on... the effort of adding a decent description is minimal for a
>> packager, the effort for a normal user of making a patch is much
>> higher, this is not a very friendly answer towards the users...
> I think I demonstrated in the past that constant friendliness toward
> users is not one of my distinctive characteristics.

<Grin> I appreciate your candor.

> The patch arguent is invalid, because people can also send mail, like
> "here is a better description of package $FOO because I didn't
> understood the current one and I wanted to help".

But you didn't say that. You said "send a patch" which is not so user
friendly. Oh that's right, you already addressed that. But yeah, if
I could just send the desired text via email that would be easy, and
for that matter learning to create and send patches would be pretty
easy to learn, too. Just never had reason to before.

>>> Since I never received anything for my own packages for this kind of
>>> problem, shall I assume that my packages are fine ?
>> I don't know which ones are your packages, this wasn't meant personally
>> towards you or anyone specific, I don't think including a decent package
>> description in all Mageia packages (each packager for their own
>> packages) is such a bad or hard thing to ask for.
> If this is not a hard task, my question still stand, why does no one, be
> it packagers and non packagers do it ?

You give the reason packagers don't do it below. As for the reason non-
packagers don't do it, it probably doesn't occur to them, they don't
know where to start, who to talk to, etc.

> We could rely on the packagers for everything, but 1) that doesn't scale
> 2) that doesn't work.
> That doesn't scale because packagers time is a finite ressource.
> And that doesn't work because packagers ( at least me ) most of the time
> do not read descriptions, so they do not see something is wrong.
> Managing and knowing softwares is our duty, which place use in a
> position far away from someone that discover the system. Kde had 3
> majors releases since I started to use Linux, so of course the packages
> descriptions change, yet I didn't read them since years. And the same
> could be said of most packagers.

That's a common effect of expertise. The expert knows too much to easily
put himself in the shoes of those who know very little. When we went
from index cards to computers at a university bookstore where I used to
work the department manager, after a few weeks, asked each of us to
write step by step instructions beginners could use to accomplish various
tasks, and it was striking how much we inadvertently left out. We'd say,
"go to such and such a file", forgetting that only a few weeks earlier
none of us knew how to "go to" a file. It must be that much harder for
programmers to put themselves in the shoes of ordinary users and realize
how much they don't know that needs to be spelled out (in what must be,
for the expert, excruciating detail). I've helped people users who were
unable to make sense of expert instruction because it assumed too much
and explained too little, so there's definitely a need for nontechnical
or semitechnical contributors.

> And I think that most of use naively think "if something is wrong, at
> least 1 person will say it". yet, it doesn't happen.

Yes, you are being naive. Other packagers aren't going to say anything
because it's not their package and because, like you, they don't really
notice the missing descriptions. And ordinary users aren't part of that
world, so it doesn't occur to them to say anything, or to contribute
in any way, because it would seem presumptuous. I think Mageia should
make a special effort to recruit, to make to feel comfortable, users
who might want to contribute but don't know how, who feel kind of lost
at sea when it comes to knowing where to begin.

> So if we want to scale and make it work, then we need to find how to
> make people who are directly concerned contribute. And so, the best way
> to find why something didn't happen is to simply ask to people who are
> directly concerned.

Exactly. There needs to be some way new users can be informed, either in
the install process itself or via, say, an icon on the desktop which,
when clicked, explains briefly what Mageia is, how users can contribute,
where they can go to get more information, etc.

> So again, why does people do not send improved description ? Because
> they fear we will nuke them from orbit ? Because our email are so
> obfuscated that no one can find them  ?

No, but they do need handholding and encouragement, because while this
environment (programmers working together to create a distro) is in a
sense "home" to you for them it's foreign soil.

Dale Huckeby

p.s. You're not really going to nuke me from orbit, are you?  :)

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