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Re: On maintainers not responding to bugs

On Wednesday 07 March 2007, Pierre Habouzit wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 06, 2007 at 12:49:56PM -0500, Matthias Julius wrote:
> > Pierre Habouzit <madcoder@debian.org> writes:
> > >   Like every packaging team in debian, mailing the pkg-$team@l.a.d.o
> > > or debian-$team@l.d.o depending on how old the team is. Usually that
> > > list is in the Maintainer or Uploaders field of the control file.
> > > #debian-$team is also a good place to look. Those things are
> > > _obvious_.
> >
> > Do you expect potential helpers to search various list archives or
> > mail maintainers to ask whether they need help?  I would guess only
>   no I expect them to contact the teams, and entry points are obvious.
> Hiding behind the fact that entry points are not waved under their nose
> and that because of that they can't help is, well, Ubuesque.

You're missing a couple of points here:
1) That only gets you the help of those that are actively seeking to get
   involved (and that's a small minority of potential helpers)
2) Those actively seeking to get involved with Debian will tend to look jump
   in in areas that both interest them AND obviously need help (or at least
   they'll jump in there first.

To give an anecdotal example:

I first got actively involved with Debian, because I saw a message asking 
for translations of the debian-edu install questions, that stated a 
translation would only take 10-15 minutes. I figured "I can do that", and 
got more and more involved from there (and I wasn't the only one to help 
out in reaction to that mail)

From what I've observed that's a quite common patern

-> asking for help, and taking care where and how to ask, can make a huge
   difference in the amount of help you receive.
> > >   Again, I do not appreciate the latent criticism of the big teams to
> > > hide their understaff problem. It's blatantly bogus hence iritating,
> > > almost insulting.
> >
> > Don't you wonder why it is perceived like that?
>   Yes I do, especially given that in that thread those teams have
> claimed many times they need help, and that people continue to pretend
> like it never happened.

There's been a couple of blogs about the fact that in response to this 
thread somebody jumped in and started working on antiquated KDE-bugs.

-> seems like asking for help had some effect in this case doesn't it?

Secondly debian-devel is probably not the best forum for getting help with 
triaging old bugs why not? Because most people on the list are already 
heavily involved with Debian, and busy working on their own little 

So maybe asking for help on debian-kde, where there's people around who 
might be convinced to pitch in a little time and effort once or twice would 
be more productive. I'm thinking something along the lines of:

  Subject: Adopt a bug community drive

  Hi all, greetings from the KDE-team

  First for the good news: we're currently managing to keep up with new
  bugs and quality of the KDE packages is good and improving :)
  However we have a lot of old antiquated bugs on kdebase that pre-date the 
  formation of the kde-team, and we need your help to clean those up.

  We'd like each of you to pick out just 1 old bug and help update the
  information in it (you're of course welcome to do more then 1 :). 
  Mostly this is a question of doing what people on this list are always
  doing, namely aks the submitter for the necessary information to get at
  the cause of the bug, and checking if the bug has been reported in the KDE 
  bugzilla, and so on.

  To make helping even easier here is a step by step instruction on cleaning
  up old bugs in the Debian BTS:
  1) point your browser to the list of kdebase bugs at [1] 
  2) pick a bug (send a reply to this message on list to avoid multiple
     people picking the same bug)
  3) check the upstream BTS to see if the same bug is reported there, if so    

NOTE: point 2 is opportunity for a bit of bit of social engineering: 
      if everybody in the team picks 1 antiquated bug to follow up on and
      sends a reply to the list, people will have the impression that
      something good is happening, mostly the'll go "well, I can do that",
      and will thus be more likely to jump in.

Important points here are:
1) you ask for help
2) you do so in a forum where people are interested in KDE, and a lot of
   people won't be heaviliy involved yet
3) you point out that helping out does not require special skills or major
   effort (thus lowering the barrier to entry)
4) you give a step by step instruction of how to get involved (again
   lowering the barrier to entry)

> So Yes I wonder if it's not that it's just easier to pretend it's our
> fault

Nobody is saying anybody is at fault, which doesn't mean there's no room for 
Cheers, cobaco (aka Bart Cornelis)

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