You probably already have a good idea about the social aspects of our small meeting, thanks to a few active bloggers out there. And now I will give you some insider information on what exactly went on between activities barbecues and plain rides.
Main topics of discussion
- Userbase (http://userbase.kde.org/) and user participation
- kde.org and underlying server infrastructure status
Userbase and user participation
The main problem observed by the userbase team is an alarming lack of willing contributors. People are generally not interested in writing the articles, but rather on reading something that is ready and prepared. There could be more then one factor responsible for the above mentioned problem, but generally speaking they all could be summarized into the two: a) ease of use; b) lack of initiative.
Unfortunately ease of use is something we can not entirely control, as wiki structure itself creates most of the issues, such as wiki syntax and necessity to register. The later was discussed and decided to let anonymous contributors in to ease the pains of registration. The only suggestion there was to update the front page, and sidebar to make it easier and more intuitive to search for topics and to immediately see a list of the most popular pages so far. This point however relates to the users moreso then it does to the contributors.
Lack of initiative has been discussed at lengths during the sprint and a few interesting suggestions came up. First of all it may benefit our web community to have a running initiative where the most active participant would receive some sort of recognition such as Contributor of the Month title. Every year we could also choose a contributor of the year out of Contributor of the Month list and recognize the person publicly at annual KDE summit (Akademy).
We believe such an initiative would greatly benefit our web presence and community in general, and, if successful could be used in other areas of KDE such as help and FAQ.
On top of that many technical issues have been discussed and fixed during the sprint, but I think the details would make little sense to the most of you as it requires detailed knowledge of Wiki internals.
kde.org and underlying server infrastructure status
The second major topic we have looked into is a poor state of KDE web presence and how can we aid that.
There is a saying in English - “The first impression is the most important”. Currently the first impression of a first time kde.org visitor is somewhat confusing. Too many choices while very little to actually tell a person what the website is all about.
In the past we have tried to let people have as much information as possible up front. Thus we have had modelled the front page in an super-informative way. It is evident however that this way is no longer acceptable in an age of ever increasing information consumption. People need to become aware fast, otherwise they loose interest. That is why this time around we decided to go with a much simplified model akin to that used on the majority of commercial websites. On top of that Promo team had remastered the main menu, which effectively will make site navigation much easier for the first time visitors.
To accomplish this goal we decided it was about time we retired our old Capacity framework in favour of a ready-built, fully supported CMS system. The main reason behind the decision is was to reduce time and effort used for maintenance of the site, and reallocate this time and effort towards improving usability and our general visibility on the web.
Keeping in mind that our website is non interactive, and is essentially just a collection of static pages we have explored a few potential candidatures. One of the most likely solutions we looked into is WordPress. The main reasons for this choice were - general ease of use and maintenance; active backing community; backwards compatibility; and existence of a ready-to-use revision control system. To learn more about the discussion please refer to the following blog entry - http://www.omat.nl/2011/06/03/webworld-2011-day-2-joomla-or-wordpress/
Other, minor points of discussion, and things to come
Beside the above mentioned major topics we also discussed the status of kde.org many existing subdomains and child sites. You can find the detailed outcome of this discussion in this blog entry - http://neverendingo.blogspot.com/2011/06/webworld-2011-day-1.html
Possibility of using the reward system to get KDE Forum users involved with documenting KDE applications has been touched briefly. This will naturally depend on the results of Wiki experiment outlined in the section 1 (Usesrbase and user participation) of this report.
An idea of utilising wiki pages as a form of application documentation supplement has been proposed. In itself the idea is rather interesting and in a nutshell is to use existing application wiki pages as inapplication Help menu pages by either converting those to Docbook format, or replacing Docbook format with HTML data altogether. This will accomplish two major goals - a) it will free the developers from boring and tedious task of creating a dokbook, so they can concentrate on perfecting an application; b) will read us of yet another markup format aka Docbook. The idea is still very raw thought and will require more discussion and greater community approval before it can be taken seriously.
Finally, things planned for this year (2011) include, but are not limited to:
- kde.org will move to a new backbone;
- kde.org will beget a new look and feal;
- dot.kde.org will move to a new backbone;
- the number of subdomanes kde.org currently has will be greatly reduced;
- UserBase will receive a usability facelift;
- Initiative contributor system for Userbase will be finalized and executed;
- all changes and innovations will be dully described in blogs and dot articles;
I conclusion I would like to state that this sprint was a success on many levels. Many things have been accomplished, and a definitive action plan has been laid out. Some fresh, innovative ideas have been discussed and set aside for the future. Liters of beer has been successfully consumed.
Congratulations to all the involved parties, and thank you for participation.