Re: Listening to user base

On Sat, Jun 25, 2011 at 6:32 PM, Giovanni Campagna
<scampa giovanni gmail com> wrote:
> Hello Release Team,
> I'm writing this directly, instead of sending it desktop-devel, because
> I somehow feel that a management action could be needed on the issue I'm
> about to raise. Please read everything on a neutral tone: I'm not
> complaining myself, I'm just reporting what I see and asking for a
> clarification.
> I've been looking around for a while, say a few months, and I've been
> seeing complaints everywhere - planet gnome, linux weekly news,
> slashdot, random blogs, and above all gnome-shell-list. Everywhere,
> periodically, someone comes and complains about the very same problems -
> and punctually he is answered: "it's by design". Some people even
> prepend: "I know it seems a bug, but", which shows that there is
> disagreement even inside the "inner community".
> Did it happen in 2.28? 2.30? 2.32? I don't remember such a volume, but
> maybe I didn't notice. Is it normal to have so many people upset? Was it
> taken into account before each of the problematic decision (or will be
> now)? Is it normal to decide "for the greater good", without considering
> potential user reaction?
> They say there is no such thing as good or bad publicity: even so, it is
> a safe decision to ignore these people and let them rant publicly? Is
> the marketing team aware of this? (and yes, I'm asking you, release
> team, instead of them, as I think you are responsible for the whole
> community, being the ones who take final decisions)
> Moving on to more technical matters: is there a process for escalating
> issues? Do we just allow maintainers to have final decisions on their
> respective modules? How is the community involved (if it is involved at
> all), should a disagreement arise? Can we expect maintainers to reach a
> reasonable compromise, or they're allowed to decide whatever they like?
> What if the developers and designers disagree? Should developers just
> accept the design team decision? Are developers allowed to override the
> design team if they believe they are making a mistake? Are developers
> allowed to take decisions on technical, architectural reasons, instead
> of focusing only on user experience?
> More generally speaking, who is setting the goals of the project as a
> whole - release team, marketing team, design team, maintainers,
> developers? Who is deciding what GNOME OS will look like (at all
> levels)? Who is deciding what are our target users, and who therefore we
> can ignore as people "we're not designing a desktop for" (exact quote
> from a thread on fedora-desktop)?
> Is it based on market research? That is, is it provable that this
> approach will make it easier for GNOME to gain new users? Or maybe those
> users will never use GNOME, don't even know about it, and with this
> we're just losing users from previous releases? Or maybe they will use
> GNOME, but not knowing what it is, they will provide no advantage to the
> rest of the community?
> Actually, what is the project following? Market share (as in: the more
> users, the better)? Abstract design concepts (as in: the cleaner, the
> better)? Functionality (as in: the more features, the better)? Something
> else?
> And the other side, who is allowed to communicate those goals, and speak
> in the name of the community? In particular, what we do if people
> particularly influential and well respected in the community come out
> with: "honestly I'm not really liking the culture around here lately"?
> Do they still represent us? Should we change, because our leaders
> change?
> I don't think there is a right answer to those questions, and I just
> hope that will start a positive discussion within the release team. Or
> at least, I'd like to be reassured that the release team knows of the
> problem (assuming there is one).

Hey Giovanni,

this email is really too long to answer. Queuing dozens of
unanswerable questions doesn't make the whole any more answerable...
Just a few points:

- Going from 2.x to 3.0 is really not comparable to going from 2.28 to
2.30 or from 2.30 to 2.32. Why do you even compare these ? It is very
much to be expected that some people are upset and uncomfortable with
the amount of new and changed things in 3.0; after all, this was the
first major overhaul of the desktop in ~10 years.

- Saying that the release team is 'responsible for the whole community
and making the final decisions' is putting a bit too much on our
shoulders. We are neither the spokespeople of GNOME nor are we the
designers of GNOME; the role of the release team is mainly to ensure
that our release process runs smoothly. And yes, that does include
interacting with marketing and design, but we are not the ones doing
it all ourselves.

- But yes, we do need direction and goals for the project. Absent a
'strong man', the best we can do is to keep relying on the same basic
principles that we always have: meritocracy and

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