some thoughts about contributing to gnome

Dear GNOME developers,

Motivated by the current discussion about "why it's not fun to hack on
gnome" I want to explain you some of my thoughts (a user's view) about
the problem:

Yes, it's (mostly) fun to use gnome.

Yes, it _was_ fun to help (testing, writing bug reports, fixing small
bugs, ...).

But no, contributing is not fun anymore.

You ask why?

a) Bug reports are sometimes completely ignored, not even set from
UNCONFIRMED to NEW for several weeks. No reaction. No questions to the
reporter. Nothing.

I know that hacking on open source projects depends on the good will of
the developers. I know the users should not demand things. But it is
not ok if help is ignored or rejected. Further I know that filing bug
reports is not enough. But even if bug reports contain a deeper analyse
of a problem or patches for very obvious bugs, these are just ignored

You (the developers) can't say on the one hand "please help us, please
contribute, please file bugs, ..." and reject (or ignore) the help on
the other hand.

b) Writing bug reports to evolution seems to be quite useless. Either
these bugs are completly ignored or you'll get quite rude answers. Just
read some of evolutions's bug reports. Sure, the evolution people are
not the same as the other gnome desktop hackers, but evolution is part
of gnome and so this falls back to the gnome developers as well.

One example: I've filed a security related bug report. In short: If you
configure SSL for IMAP and than fetch email your password will not be
encrypted (only after you restart evolution). The reaction was: it
worked always in this way -> NOTABUG.

c) The users have no or only very little possibilities to stear the
direction of gnome: e.g. features vs. easy-to-use desktop, ...

It's just quite useless to file bug reports for additional features. Sure,
some projects like epiphany with its extensions are on the right way:
Provide a stable core of an application, but let the "power users" use
extensions for more functionality. As an example metacity would be very
cool if it would have only some more features.

Unfortunately I can't forget the dogmatic process of the HIGyfication
some years ago. With only a little bit more understanding on both sides,
much of the flame wars and project forks would have been avoided.

d) There is only very few documentation about debugging gnome:

How do I strace/gdb/ltrace/valgrind an application/an applet/a bonobo
component/a plugin?

How can I install an application/an applet/a bonobo component/a plugin
locally (as user) without building the complete desktop with a special

e) Contributing code seems to be hard, too. Just as an example: The
Bounties. As far as I read in bugzilla and some mailing lists, some
people spent much efford in creating patches. But sometimes they got
only rude answers or just no reaction. This can really not be the way to
attract new developers. Additional it is really no fun, if you search
for a feature, see that it was already contribute by someone, but not
included and so it is no longer compatible to a recent version of a

It is possible, that hacking on gnome is still fun for some of the
developers, but not for us "users".

I hope the very best that the complete discussion will end up in a
better understanding of each other. Let's start again to work together
and let's create a better GNOME than ever!

Best regards,

P.S.: For all mentioned bugs I have appropriate bug numbers, but I don't
want that you look just at them but on the others, too.

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