Re: On the Interaction with the design team


Allan Day wrote:
> Dave Neary wrote:
>> There is no transparency about what the design team is, who has
>> what skills, etc.
>> Many stakeholders and developers who have design problems do not have
>> any relationship with the design team at all.
>> This is the problem I think we need to solve.
> We're a small team - we can't solve every design problem in GNOME all at
> once. :) (Just saying.)

Are you suggesting that's also a problem we need to solve? :)

I could about 10 people with design skills who are contributing, or have
contributed, to GNOME:
Allan Day, Matthew Thomas, Calum Pringle, Mairin Duffy, Garrett LeSage,
Jakub Steiner, Felippe Contreras, Lapo Calamandrei, Jeremy Perry, Hylke
Bons, David Siegel, Andreas Nilsson, Evangeline McGlynn, and Jon McCann

and I'm certainly missing some (I left Ivanka off because she's on
honeymoon, and I debated adding Nick Richards from Intel to the list
too, since I'm not sure). Maybe the absence of a central place to talk
(like, say, a list of some sort) is keeping the size of the design team

> Design in the open is a new challenge, of course...

Do you think so? I'm not so sure. Every time I hear someone say "this is
a new problem, the rules don't apply", I feel like people might be
ignoring the past.

>> We do need to create an environment where designers can feel free to
>> brainstorm, create, and design. We also need a way to have a feedback
>> cycle with developers.
> Feedback is a separate problem to enabling participation, no?

Really? Isn't that semantics? Aren't they both different ways of saying
"creating a dialog between developer and designer"? How do you define
feedback, and how do you define participation? I don't understand why
one would be different from the other.

>> The compromise solution which I proposed last year (off-list), and which
>> a number of people did not think was a good idea, was to have a mailing
>> list whose membership was moderated. Archives would be public, but only
>> designers & some key developers would be members - all other email to
>> the list would be moderated.
>> This addresses part of your concern - the argumentative, confrontational
>> nature of GNOME mailing lists - while also allowing an area where people
>> outside the design team can see who is who, who does what, and get a
>> feel for the culture of the team.
> A moderated list might be a good way of allowing people to make contact
> with our designers (not a massive problem, but it's a problem). It might
> also be useful for passing the odd message around. I'm not convinced
> that a list would provide a good way to enable people to participate
> more easily, however - and isn't that the most important requirement?
> So I'm not thoroughly opposed to your idea, but I'm not massively
> enthusiastic about it either. But it's not me you've got to convince -
> it's the others you expect to use this list. There's no point in setting
> up a design list if there aren't any designers subscribed to it.

Let me be clear (I just saw some IRC chatter that leads me to believe
that I wasn't): my proposal was an idea, a compromise between open list
and no list.

The main complaint of designers (common since Dan Winship's famous
slab-related "Stop energy/bike shed" rant 5 years ago: has always been that it's impossible to
do design work on a public mailing list because there's too much noise,
some people get bogged down in details while you're still working on
over-arching design principles, etc.

If the moderated (note: not closed, moderated) nature of the list is a
problem, do away with it & have an open gnome-design list.

When Seth Nickell designed and coded Yarrr a few years ago, it was a
recognition that design work includes three types of communication:
real-time chat, archived discussions and versioned documents. As others
have said, I think the design team needs all 3 too. However you choose
to have your archived discussions is up to you, but a mailing list seems
to me the best option available.

But you tell me - if I'm trying to solve the wrong problem here, what
*is* the problem? Or do you think that there isn't one?

> And really: is writing a message to ddl the best way to make this
> happen?

Well, maybe :) At least we're having an open discussion. Hopefully we
can generate an idea or two which will help.

> Well, designers don't make changes to GNOME on their own. ;)

This is exactly right.

The dangerous scenario here is if the design team continues to grow in
scope, but does not convince more developers to buy into their vision.
What happens then is either the design team changes the way they work to
co-exist with the developers who disagree with them, or rely on the
developers who agree with them to make the changes, even in modules
where they have traditionally not been maintainers. This has already
happened in a few control-center related modules, as the concerns of
traditional maintainers have been undercut by another developer just
doing it and committing changes.

If this phenomenon spreads further, it could cause damage. If you're
wondering why I'm bringing this up now, then that's the reason - I fear
that the design team, continuing to work as it does now, will cause
damage to GNOME.

You cann that doom & gloom if you want - I prefer to call it risk

> This issue is largely one of perception and the need for better
> community engagement, in my opinion. We need to take the time to talk to
> people in the community and explain what's happening. That takes time
> and resources, of course.

And also a forum.


Dave Neary
GNOME Foundation member
dneary gnome org

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