Who is the Dot for?

That might seem a bit of a silly question, but it’s one that has kinda come up for discussion a bit recently as we’ve, quite unusually, decided to turn away a few articles about application development and maintenance releases.

Guidelines for application release articles

The result of that discussion is in the advice on the Dot article submission page and set out in the guidelines on the wiki. Since not everyone visits every page on the wiki all the time, here’s the most pertinent part of that guidance:

We cover, as much as possible, all feature releases of anything but very rarely development/maintenance releases except:

  • The software compilation (devel and maintenance)
  • First new platform ports (devel)
  • Really exciting new features (devel)
  • Significant new application (devel)
  • “Maintenance” releases which DO include new features (e.g. Amarok, sometimes)

    Of course, we take many other articles other than application release announcements and the general guidance on the Dot submission page covers them.

    Is this a change in policy?

    Possibly. In the past this hasn’t really been well defined, resulting in some inconsistency – for example turning down articles about beta releases of an application for which we’ve previously reported beta release. It’s more a case of defining a policy rather than changing an existing one.

    Why?

    It comes back to the question of who the Dot is for. It really serves two main audiences:

    1. Contributors to and users of KDE software
    2. The wider tech press (a lot of Dot stories get picked up elsewhere)

    Group 1 covers a range from casual users to early adopters, beta testers and developers. Some of these (early adopters to developers) are going to be interested in development releases. However, most of these probably also read the planet and/or the relevant mailing lists.

    Group 2 generally don’t report on development or maintenance releases for individual applications (with certain exceptions)

    So, group 1 probably don’t need development releases on the Dot to know about them; group 2 probably don’t really care.

    Proper maintenance releases without new features should go largely unnoticed by users – so they don’t really need to know about them until they appear as distro updates.

    Exceptions

    With regard to development releases, there can be more general interest in particular cases. First, the software compilation is bigger news because it is a lot of stuff (and lots of new features). Second, first development ports to Platform 4 are more interesting since some people are really wanting those (e.g. K3B and Kaffeine).

    With regard to maintenance releases, the exceptions are when some horrific bug is fixed or, again, the software compilation where there are going to be a lot of bugfixes.

    We’re unlikely to want to carry articles where the interesting point is that it is a new development or bugfix release, but where there is an interesting story and the release is incidental (such as in the examples above) then of course it could be interesting to carry it.

    Summary

    Hopefully that helps explain the new guidelines and putting this on the Planet makes a few more people aware than having it on the Dot submission page or the wiki alone. Comments and questions are welcome and if you’re not sure about an article idea you can always send an email to dot-editors@kde.org asking for our opinion before you spend time writing something.

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