Bug#862980: Update the homepage, to show the social face of the project, and be more attractive for newcomers
On 05/19/2017 05:59 PM, Laura Arjona Reina wrote:
> At the Diversity and Inclusion BoF in MiniDebConf Cambridge 2016 
> it has been suggested to update the Debian website frontpage exposing
> more the social part of the project (currently, it's very centered in
> Debian the OS).
> Other suggestions/comments, in order to make the website more
> attractive to newcomers:
> A rewording of the two paragraphs about Debian in the homepage could
> be a good start.
> For sending your proposals, any way is welcome:
> * Plain text with the new paragraphs
> * html
> * diff against the current source file:
Culture does determine, how a group of people
carries out a task, including software development.
However, in the same vain, the culture of open source
software development is not the culture of hanging
out and feeling cuddly. The American and British culture
does differ from German and North-European cultures
by the fact that the Brits and the Americans seem to
evaluate the presence of other people's company much more
than North-Europeans and Estonians do. Germans seem to be
somewhere between, closer to North-Europeans than the Brits.
(Due to some plunder by Estonian
politicians and Pulblic Relations specialists
Estonia is now officially classified as
a Northern country, but I as a native Estonian
think that Estonia is really NOT a Northern
country and that the Estonian culture has its
own "quirks", which sometimes are for the better
and sometimes are for the worse. But, again,
generally speaking, we do tend to be perceived
as "cold" by the Brits, sometimes even by Germans,
but it does hold that, again, I'm generalizing here,
that the Estonian engineering tradition tilts
very much to the side, where basically, when an
Estonian looks at a web page of an open source project,
the main thought in his/her head is, despite the
fact that he/she does not say it out loud,
at least not in that kind of wording:
"Get me the technical facts without
the marketing bullshit and cut the social crap,
keep the social crap to Yourself! If I want socializing,
I'll do it among the people that I CHOOSE and
at a setting that I CHOOSE and at a time that I CHOOSE."
That's at least the case with native Estonians,
which includes me. Estonian Russians are "friendlier",
more social, but what I gather from my Estonian Russian
friends, they are not "too thrilled" either, if
they stumble on social chit-chat at a place, where they
expect technical, hard, straight to the point, details.
It's OK, even endorsed, to be thorough and go into lengthy
details, but those details must really be technical details,
not some text reflecting gratitude towards some sponsor or
party that helped, nor are other social stories acceptable,
unless they are relevant to the set of technical requirements.)
My suggestion is that in stead of trying to cram
as much information to the front page as possible
(Example of a failure.)
or to go to the other extreme, where the front page does
not contain almost anything technical but a few
marketing slogans, which can be swapped out from
marketing slogans from 10 years ago without anybody noticing
(Example of a failure, where in stead of
relevant information total nonsense marketing slogans
are displayed, which are so useless that slogans
from 10 years ago could be used without anybody noticing, id est
the, "We know the future, because we're building it", or
the "It's time for an upgrade", or
the "Accelerate Your experience", etc.)
a more structured approach can be helpful.
The main page of the Debian project might be
totally clean of everything, except a few,
straight to the point, links that lead to
"totally different", target audience related, "worlds",
which can have totally different rules and styles.
The main page links might be named:
x) Sales Pitch: A 100% volunteer developed Linux distribution that has
the planet Earth's largest package collection.
x) Social Interaction
x) Technical Details
That's it. only those 3 links and the 3 regions
would be totally separate worlds with very different
style rules and goals. Website administrative details
would be at some sub-page of the "Social Interaction" link.
The sales pitch links leads to a page with introductory
videos, user stories, news, etc. The news link can be
shared by the "Social Interaction" world and the
sales pitch world. Page explaining the various
"Committee structure" and alike can be shared between the
Social interaction page and the technical details page.
IRC and alike is described/linked at the Social interaction page.
That's just my very subjective opinion about
how to avoid ruining the Debian main page by turning
it to "another FacebooK", while also keeping the
Brits and Americans sufficiently happy with
a sufficient amount of the "cool brotherhood vibe".
In the end open source software projects are
technical projects first and foremost and if
the Debian project becomes "too social", then the people, who
actually do the hard work, will move to
some other project. There's plenty of "social projects"
already available and many of them even pay the bills,
unlike the volunteer run Debian project.
What regards to the issue that different people
may have conflicting technical interests or even
different amount of rigor in personal standards
(read: sloppiness and a total lack of tests at one extreme and
formal verification at the other end of the extreme +
the differences in opinion, what is considered "formal enough")
then that is actually solvable by technical means.
A solution can be that people vote for choosing
a few "Techno-Nazis" to be an architect or a set of
architects that use/enforce the software development
methodology that I describe at my home page:
(archival copy: https://archive.is/DymWW )
Prior to the voting all "Techno-Nazi" candidates
form teams and the counting of the votes is done so
that the team that gathers most votes, gets to
fulfill the "architect" role. The idea of the pre-vote
teams is that by declaring oneself to be part of a
team of "Techno-Nazis", a person states that he is
confident that his working style and choices are
similar enough to that of the founder of the team and
ALL OTHER team members that he/she is able to trust
his own code to be edited by those people without
having to worry that flaws or subjectively poor style choices
have been introduced.
are allowed to be part of multiple, competing, different,
pre-vote teams, but the registration to a team
must be accepted by absolutely all prior team members,
id est each previously registered team member has a veto power.
The reason, why I use the expression
"Techno Nazi" is that due to the sandbox based
development methodology even the developers with
"laxer habits" (read: developers, who are relatively sloppy)
are motivated to vote for the most rigorous candidates
that they know of, even if they do not like the candidates
in person. The conflict of styles is solved by the
development methodology and the "Techno-Nazi" architects team
is actually the party that protects the sloppy ones
from the attacks of the not-so-sloppy developers.
Obviously, what is considered sloppy is subjective, but
the contemplation holds even, if the word "sloppy" is
replaced with the expression "different school of thought".
Thank You for reading my letter/comments.
You may forward my letter at will.