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Re: What do you want to learn?

[Sorry for barging in here if I'm not wanted, but I thought I'd be my
helpful self and throw my two penneth worth into the ring]

On Sun, Aug 01, 2004 at 10:41:54PM +0100, Helen Faulkner wrote:
> >So, the website is nearing mostly-completion (don't worry, I promise to let
> >everyone know when I finally finish!), and I was thinking a few
> >things..
> Can you please remind us of where the website is, when you are finished 
> with it.
> I wonder if we could put the website address into the signature of 
> emails from the mailing list, once the website is done, or at least into 
> whatever the list sends to someone who has just subscribed.  Then people 
> who subscribe to the list will immediately learn about the website even 
> when others might have stopped talking about it.

I'm pretty sure you could get listmasters to change the blurb at the bottom
of the e-mails, but ask them direct.  One thing I *know* you can get put on
the list's info page is a link to your mailing list "FAQ" -- if it's not in
traditional FAQ format, I'm sure it won't be a huge problem.  Ask
listmaster@lists.debian.org to get it set up.  (Add "Pasc is a legend" for
priority service <grin>).

> actually appear...).  This will quite possibly occupy me for some time - 
> does anyone else get *really* confused by the instructions in the New 
> Maintainer's Guide and/or the Developers Reference - all that 
> terminology!

"Welcome to the world of the Acronym.  Although existing in a diluted form
in the wild, the members of the Debian project have interbred the strongest
acronym producers to create many acronym-rich documents and webpages. 
Rumour has it that they are currently working on their most complex project
to date -- a manual which consists entirely of acronyms.  Let's go inside
for a sneak-peek..."

> I'd be inclined to suggest a seperate list for that, since such traffic 
> might not be wanted by everyone.  Specifically, if someone joined the 
> list and they were just starting to learn about debian, she/he might be 
> put off by a blizzard of technical email, if the timing was wrong.

I'll put another vote in for "separate list".  Having just subscribed
recently to debian-x, I'll add another vote for "create a separate list". 
Having piles of unknown bug reports drop into your inbox is disconcerting
when you've got some idea of what's going on, but someone subscribing to
debian-women for a support group is likely to take one look at the bug
reports and upload records and unsubscribe straight back out again,
especially if there isn't a lot of other chat going on.

> >For people just learning the way things work, co- or team-maintenance can
> >teach you quite a lot and give you time to become comfortable with your
> >skills. Indeed, this is the preferred method for many people, and it helps
> >you get to know other developers and wannabe developers, as well as giving
> >you the opportunity to figure out who you work best with and which projects
> >are more interesting to you.
> Sounds good to me :)  I would be interested in that.

Linking in with an existing group is a good bet in general -- you get an
instant, interested support network, and some concrete examples to work

> >I personally tend to learn better when people explain to me, rather than
> >reading long documents, so I'm generally in favor of tutorials where you
> >can ask questions. I don't know if the list or IRC is better suited for
> >this kind of thing -- presumably they could operate in tandem. I'd not want
> >list members to miss out on IRC discussions, though, and not everyone has
> >the time or inclination to spend hours on IRC. :)

IRC isn't real good for tutorial type stuff, in my opinion -- it's way too
easy to get sub-conversations happening and losing focus.  Lists keep this
down by (a) allowing you to just ignore whole messages full of irrelevance,
and (b) giving people time to reflect on what they're saying, and maybe
going "naaah, I won't post that to the list" if it's not going to add value.

Would it be of assistance to hold a "school of the air"[1] session on a few
basic topics?  It would take a fair bit of effort to develop the course
materials, but once they're done keeping them running is fairly easy.

> I don't usually have the time for long hours of irc.  I'd personally 

Me either.  Some people do, however, so it's one option.  The spotty
archival of IRC sessions is a bit of a problem, though, whereas mailing
lists tend to be archived well and are easily searchable.

> good.  One possibility would be irc sessions that are decided on in 
> advance - maybe we could have a weekly discussion at a specific time, 
> with topics posted in advance.  That way people who are interested in 
> that thing could join in.  But it would mean people who knew something 
> about that thing would need to know they could be there then, and some 
> would be unavoidably excluded by timezones etc.  Of course we could 

Coordinating timezones is going to be your big problem, especially with
getting people who can devote a few hours of uninterrupted time.  For
instance, I'd find it hard to find a full block hour to just answer IRC
questions -- if I'm at work, I process my e-mail but I'm lucky to get more
than about 10 minutes straight doing it -- I get interrupted a lot.  As a
data point, I started this e-mail about an hour ago, and I'm not that slow a
typist.  The evening is similar for me, between the evening's domestic
duties and quality time with my wife, there's rarely any big blocks of time. 
Any that I do get tend to be devoted to those things that need contiguous
blocks of time -- programming and such.  I could easily help out with
answering e-mails and whatnot, but IRC hookups would be rare.

- Matt

[1] For those unfamiliar with this concept, it's a kind of correspondence
school, but with more correspondence between the students, rather than
typical correspondence courses where all communication is student<->teacher. 
It's used in outback Australia to educate schoolkids, when the nearest
established school is a couple of days drive away.

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