How to help us, help BBpress…
I write this in response to the growing posts and their ever-increasing angrier responses from moderators, to people who are simply asking for clarification of (mis-)information.
The problem we have, as a community, is that we have no communication nor project management involved with BBpress.
A great example would be:
_ck_ rightly points out, and then gets angry at the poster, people are constantly asking the same questions. The bit _ck_ misses is that they are not pointless to a lot of people, or indeed one person, even if they are pointless to her. The point that hasn’t seen to be grasped by Sam/Moderators is that have an external facing Trac website that says one thing, when another is true, which is why people are asking the same questions over and over.
Instead of getting angry at people, why not change the date on Trac?? Even if you put it at 1st Jan 2010, it’s at least in the future and closer to being realistic than 1.0Beta 2 months ago.
I brought this up in October, and then again in December, and now again in February, but people who are new to this project or maybe not as involved ask _ck_ get their information from the website; but this info has been wrong for over 5 months. Which is why people are asking for clarification!
If you give people wrong/bad/out of date information, you have to accept that they will ask questions about it on the forum. It’s been the nature of humans throughout history, and we’re not going to change simply because it’s BBpress (sadly).
Given that the issue could be fixed by a BBpress person (not sure about user roles here so don’t want to presume that a forum mod could do it or if we need to wait for Sam); maybe we should stop being rude to people and fix it?
<u>A further example:</u>
It’s great that _ck_ knows that alpha 7 will break her plugins; but what about everyone else? Where is the blog post? Where is the forum post by Sam? Where is the sticky? Where is the announcement? Etc.
After much searching it turns out that 3 weeks ago _ck_ made a post about it, which has been off the front page of the forums section for the last 15 days. Brilliantly meaning that if you didn’t read the BBpress forums for a 5 day period at the start of February for any reason, then you won’t know about these massive changes. At the risk of appearing sarcastic, does anyone else think that maybe this should be the sort of thing we should Sticky/announce/keep on front page? Shouldn’t this sort of thing come from Sam?
But regardless it just re-emphasises the fact that communication about BBpress is close to non-existant.
Devs and Moderators tell us to use Trac, and then are surprised that people are confused about the roadmap saying that Beta comes out 01/08/08 .
Either update Trac so that people don’t get confused, or inform people in some another way (which is a little redundant as that is what the Trac roadmap is for).
It somewhat goes hand in hand with the communication aspect, but as any developer knows, rushing head first into coding with no long term view quickly becomes fruitless.
As a community, and i’m in no way saying that Sam answers to us (really want to make that clear), we have no freaking idea what the heck is going on at any given time. We’re either given an ever changing answer by a moderator, or we’re told that Sam will tell us (like the voice behind the curtain), or we’re left with the (wrong) info on the website.
Every change comes out of no-where.
We have no idea what the short, medium and long terms goals are.
As much as this software is ‘free’, anyone planning to use it on a website at least wants to plan a little in advance.
It’s very difficult to want to help/take pride/give back to an open source project when we’re constantly told “it’s ready when it’s ready stop asking” – and in fact shows a total lack of project management and control.
Who runs the BBpress project?
Do they know/can they answer:
- how many scheduled man hours until alpha 7?
- are people assigned to work on it, or have they been moved elsewhere?
- what is the testing time on alpha 7?
- how long and we holding open bug acceptance for alpha 7?
- what is the due date for alpha 7?
- what is the likelihood of hitting that date?
- what are the dependant factors?
- what impact does alpha 7 have on existing installations?
- have the testers been informed of this?
- have the contributors been informed of this?
- what potential conflicts are there between current versions and alpha 7?
I’m not specifically looking for answers btw, as I said before Sam doesn’t answer to us, but I’m not sure I believe that ANYONE related with this project can answer those questions, and that is really really worrying.
IT IS FREE – THEREFORE IT IS OK.
Free is good, free we like.
Free means we accept bugs.
Free means we accept it’s not ideal.
Free means we know we wont get a 100% fit to what we need.
Free doesn’t mean we accept no communication.
Free doesn’t mean we accept what communication we get being wrong.
Free doesn’t mean we accept no management.
Free doesn’t mean we should get slapped down for asking perfectly legitimate and reasonable questions.
Free doesn’t mean we should accept instant yet wide sweeping changes.
Free doesn’t mean we should accept a total lack of respect.
AUTOMATTIC IS NOT A COMMERCIAL COMPANY
No, really… it is, so can we please stop saying that it’s not. Sam, while a loveable rogue to be sure (and he’s very cute in his picture), he is not fucking Ghandi – he does this for a wage.
Automattic is not building BBpress out of the goodness of their hearts to save all the wee orphans of the world, they’re a company making a profit and paying people’s wages.
Lets drop the humanitarian line when someone makes a good point and the moderators want to slap it down, eh? Or am I wrong, is BBpress ending world hunger as we speak? No? ok, maybe lets stop this one then. Just a thought.
HOW TO FIX THIS.
At the risk of opening up an old wound, I made a list at Christmas time (the oh so fun Facebook thread).
Either pause development on BBpress 1.0alpha7 for a week, or engage someone else to do it but:
<u>Fix the website. </u> Seriously, spend time going through each static page (there are 20 of them) removing all the bogus/wrong/out of date information. Some pages are fine, some are really really out of date. Given how much has changed with BBpress since WP2.5 came out, if you haven’t updated a page since that time then you know it’s wrong before reading.
<u>Blog more. </u> Not in a twitter “I am eating an apple” way, but you’ve made 5 posts in over 6 months (and 3 of them were within 3 days of each other). That development blog is our window into the BBpress development. It says “hey, this project ain’t dead”; instead all it does now is say “we released this bit of software on this date”. It’s not a blog, there’s no info other than release dates of software that don’t work anymore (for the most part).
<u>Extend / Plugin section. </u> This drastically needs an overhaul. There needs to be an option to filter out plugins that either don’t work or haven’t been updated to the latest release. Lets be honest, some of these plugins are 2 years old, and as soon as you click into them that’s the first stat you see.
<u>Download section. </u> Kinda/probably/should/maybe say that if you download the latest version it won’t work with a wordpress install form the last 9 months. Even though it’s from the same company. And it says it does work in the About page. And says it again on the Integration page. Yeah, we should probably write the truth somewhere or people will keep asking…
<u>Trac. </u> Lets update Trac. If someone has an understanding of the project to the level that they can answer the Project Manager 101 questions above, then why not put some of that info into Trac? I’m confident (though it’s just my opinion) that people are more motivated to fix bugs if we know there are X outstanding before the next alpha, rather than a huge list that has be fixed in an unknown amount of time.
<u>Development documentation. </u> A tough one this, and time consuming. I get that, I really do. But it makes helping out really difficult. As someone with rusty PHP coding skills (I‘ve been a BA far too long), I find Navigating bbpress to be a pain, and while I understand wordpress comparisons aren’t favourable, documentation makes wordpress editing 1000 times easier.
<u>Give us an overview. </u> Sounds very simple, and most PM’s have an overview list for each project anyway (usually on a power point to fob directors off), but it would make life easier. Many of us still don’t know what ‘features’ are standard with BBpress and which will only be available via plugin. Many of us don’t know what features are intended on being added, or what direction BBpress is going to go in. These aren’t bugs, we can’t add them to Trac, but many good points have been raised on these forums in the past – and I don’t think it’s right of us to assume you missed them or have ignore them, simply because there’s no communication.
Last bug not least…
Any chance we could have a reigning in chat with some Moderators? It’s great that they give up their time to reply here, and help the community, but (and I don’t know if it’s just someone having a bad day) the comments are getting way more aggressive/argumentative/absolutist.
It’s not that the standard answers aren’t wearing thin ofc, it’s just that we know the answer is going to be:
- It’s free.
- Sam’s too busy to pass on info.
- Blame Matt.
- It’s free.
- Stop asking. It’ll be ready when it’s ready.
- It’s free.
- Automattic are here to save us all and do not make any moey at all ever and everyone works for free I loves them – please ignore the $29 million they got which included the development of BBpress in the pitch.
- Go to trac.
- Don’t believe Trac.
- Sam’s too busy to keep you lot updated.
- It’s free.
That’s said a little tongue in cheek, and I hope it caused no offence, but while the moderators are clearly trying to do a great job (and we thank them), rarely do we get answers or constructive conversation when we talk about things like this. We’re shot down very quickly that we dared to have a different view point, and then given one of the standard answers that blame someone else or that it’s free.
WE WANT TO HELP.
Anyone who takes the time to hang around this forum sees we want to help. Anyone who takes the time to write on the forum wants to support BBpress.
If you’re the only developer on BBpress, or the person making almost all of the plugins, or the moderator who slams anyone who asks a question: please let us help.
We can’t just rock up, roll up our sleeves and stick our hand up a cow’s butt (an old farming joke – sorry). We need some direction, we need to be able to ask questions, we need information. Once we know what stage BBpress is at, we can help in taking it forward – with you.
But right now, all we can do is right posts like these every 2 months.
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