Re: Release notes

On Wed, 2008-01-09 at 02:35 -0200, Lucas Rocha wrote:
> Hi Elijah,
> Some quick comments:
> - Finding writers is always a tough task. GNOME Journal has a pool of
> random writers. Maybe it's a good place to make a call for volunteers.
> - However, the most demanding/relevant work around the release notes
> is not the writing itself but gathering information from developers
> about the major achievements in their modules. Finding people with
> competence, energy and patience for doing this is quite hard.

Yes, a series of people have offered to help over the years, mostly
failing. Most never do anything and don't respond when it comes time to
do work. One or two (For instance, Jorge for 2.20) do at least write
some initial text, which is very useful, but almost nobody does the
research or write-ups of research, even when I've tried to coordinate it
via wiki and emails. I'm not optimistic.

But Davyd Madeley is the exception. He's actually managed to do at least
one whole set of release notes and done it very well. I've tried to
persuade him to lead 2.21/22 because I don't want to do it every time,
without success so far. If he agrees then I'll promise to do 2.23/24 as
a thanks, but I'm not planning to do 2.21/22.
>  The
> general process for organizing the release notes is documented[1] but
> the actual work for making it is not. I'm sure Murray can comment more
> on this.

Yeah. I've added some more suggestions to the existing page:

I don't think there's much more to it. You just have to be persistent,
on-schedule, and ready to admit you don't understand stuff.

Elijah's idea of sneak-peak articles is fine, and would help provide
ideas. However, these generally end up having a totally different focus
than the real release notes because 
- People get confused about what is in GNOME and what is not.
- People have only a fraction of the information that we have when we've
done the research. For instance, I only got the information about
Evolution for 2.20 at the last minute and I then decided to make it the
major item.

Unfortunately, journalists often seem to use these very early articles
to write their reviews of the actual release, instead of using the
actual release notes, so they are often hopelessly wrong. I don't know
what to do about that.

> - The Roadmap is supposed to help the preparation of the release
> notes. However, we didn't provide good ways to "validate" the Roadmap
> info (for some modules) at the end of the development cycle so that it
> could be realibly used as a basis for the release notes. This is
> something that I plan to improve for the 2.22 release.
> --lucasr
> ps: Murray is probably quite busy after the birth of his kid. Maybe it
> will take some time until he replies.

Yeah. I have small windows of opportunity.

> [1]
> 2008/1/6, Elijah Newren <newren gmail com>:
> > Hi Murray,
> >
> > I'm horrible.  I meant to check with you a few months ago on this
> > topic, and then it got lost in my big TODO pile.  Really sad,
> > particularly because we've lost some good time to act on this.  :-(
> >
> > We talked about the release notes at the last release team meeting (in
> > September?).  While I knew the release notes were important, I don't
> > think I ever realized just how important the release notes were until
> > seeing the contrast in the last two cycles; 2.18 and 2.20 didn't seem
> > very different to me quality-wise in any overall measurement other
> > than release-notes (where they were drastically different).  Yet 2.18
> > got us awful press and 2.20 was received totally differently.  So, I
> > think you did the most mportant job in 2.20, and you made it totally
> > shine.  Thanks a million.
> >
> > The reason release notes came up was not just much better reactions we
> > got due to your hard work; we were also worried about too much work
> > being placed on your shoulders.  We were wondering what we might be
> > able to do to get a team of volunteers to help you out with this task,
> > and wanted to solicit your advice.
> >
> > In addition to some potential names of people that we might contact to
> > ask if they'd be willing to help, there was one idea that was thrown
> > out:
> >   - Try to find volunteers that are willing to write up sneak-peek
> >     articles, much like Davyd's old articles.  Promote this and try to get
> >     multiple people writing such articles.
> >
> > If this could be pulled off, it has a couple potential advantages:
> >   - This would provide material for the person who writes the final
> >     release notes, hopefully making their job easier.
> >   - This gives us a good idea of how thorough volunteers are and
> >     whether they understand the size of the task (we're guessing that
> >     most volunteers just don't understand how big the "release notes"
> >     task is and buckle under pressure after having already
> >     volunteered)
> >   - Having multiple sneak-peek articles would rock anyway
> >   - If someone fails to write up a sneak-peek article, we really don't
> >     lose too much, unlike what happens when release notes writers fall
> >     through.
> >
> > But that may be a big if, and there may be better ways of encouraging
> > new contributors.  Thoughts?
> >
> > Thanks for all your hard work,
> > Elijah
> >
murrayc murrayc com

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