Lets Make the Dot Better

I remember when I first started taking an interest in KDE and particularly when I started contributing articles to the Dot that it seemed a bit of a shadowy organisation. Who were they? How did they get articles? How did they decide when and whether to publish articles and why did my stuff disappear for a week or more without reply? Who writes for the Dot?

The life of a Dot editor

Well, now I’m on the other side (so to speak) I’m painfully aware of the following: KDE.News relies on you, that is KDE promo contributors and the wider community, for its existence.

Being a Dot editor is a busy job. We have to receive your articles, make them nice (or worse, depending on whether you like our edits), upload them into Drupal and add html tags, adjust pictures and often source them too. Complex articles can take an hour of work and a few days of emails – that’s just the stuff we do, after the article is written.

Add in that most (all?) editors are heavily involved in other areas of KDE and it is not surprising that we have little time to write stories (I write less than I did before I edited) or even to scan blogs and news sites for ideas. In short, we publish what you send us.

Who writes for the Dot? People like you.

The Good, the Bad and the Dot

Now, Jos did a little research in to the Dot readership and summarised the results. The good news was that you seem to mostly like what we’re doing 🙂 and since then we’ve introduced some of your suggestions such as syndicating Dot stories on to Planet KDE. But there were a couple of main themes that we haven’t made a lot of progress on:

  • More technical content explaining KDE technologies – things like Sebas’s recent article about Akonadi
  • More application news and previews of upcoming apps – also technical in a way

So, why don’t we publish more of that stuff? People don’t send us much of it. And because we do not have time, the Dot editors do not commission content, at least, not in the role of Dot editors – we may ask for volunteers to write things on KDE Promo. And of course, we can never make things happen unless we do them ourselves – we can only suggest what other people may like to do.

As Jos mentioned, some of the people in KDE-Promo are not all that technical, so we might be as confused by the latest buzzwords as the rest of you 🙂 And there is, at this point, no one monitoring releases of KDE software from the Dot team or KDE Promo. So the first we know about individual application releases is often when we read a blog post on the Planet.

Making Things Happen

So how can we get more of the kinds of articles that you would like on the Dot? Well, if there’s something in particular that you think should be written about, you can send a mail to KDE Promo and hope that someone picks it up. You may get lucky but people there are quite busy too. Or you can write it yourself. Of course, just in the way that KDE Promo people might not have the technical knowledge for some articles, the technical people in our developer teams might not have (or not believe they have) the writing skills to do an article about the application.

So here is another idea: if your application or team is doing cool stuff and not getting enough publicity, why not blog about it and ask for a volunteer (or several) to become your “press team”. They can join your mailing lists, pick up on what is going on, write articles about your cool new technologies and your releases. If you’re someone with writing skills (you can read this? then your English is probably good enough) but you don’t want to get sucked into general KDE promotion, why not see if there is an application you can help out?

Writers: do not wait for someone to come and ask you to write an article. It (generally) won’t happen.

Application teams: do not wait for someone to come and offer to write an article for you. It (generally) won’t happen.

Wrap up

I hope that didn’t sound negative. I’m proud of what the Dot achieves (what other free software community has anything as varied, well read or – I think – well loved?). I’m proud to be a part of the team that makes it happen.

But good things only stay good because people work hard on them. They only become great when more people work even harder.

Readers who could be writers: get yourself on the kde-promo mailing list and offer to write things (we can provide ideas and there are some already). The Dot also has general guidance on the stuff we’re looking for.

Developers: if you don’t have the time or skills to write articles to promote your software, ask someone to do it for you. Blog about your need for a writer. Ask us on kde-promo.

The Dot is your news site where you write the news. Help us make it even better.

8 Responses to “Lets Make the Dot Better”

  • Kelly says:

    Well, it’s a really minor thing on the technical side, and most people wouldn’t even notice, but could you add an Atom feed to supplement your RSS 1.0 feed? That would be great.

    • Stu says:

      I just had a quick look – seems we’d just need to add an extra Drupal module. So in principle it wouldn’t be difficult, just need to find someone to do it.

  • Kurt says:

    In earlier times The Dot was worth to read because it was not promotional and not sectarian in self-appraisal and enforced hugging in the comments section. I really enjoyed KDE. Now there are all these promotional phrases, user-unfriendly as it may get. I would like to see the
    * recent Bugs fixed
    * EBN Krazy results
    * translation status
    * features

    • Stu says:

      Thanks for the comment. I have a few questions:

      “sectarian in self-appraisal and enforced hugging in the comments section” presumably refers to the comment voting up and down?

      “promotional” – I don’t entirely get that one. Are you saying that the Dot seems to have become less objective? We are KDE people writing about KDE so we’re generally going to be quite positive.

      “all these promotional phrases, user-unfriendly as it may get” – again, I’m not quite sure what you mean. Any examples?

      The other items could be solved to some extent by the return of the commit digest and similar ideas. If someone will write that kind of content we’ll publish it.

  • Kurt says:

    It is not a developer discussions, in IEEE ethics

    You expect appraisal of the work, you don’t struggle anymore with each other. Who dissents gets excluded. It is a sectarian code:

    The frontpage website features infospam “The KDE® Community is an international technology team dedicated to creating a free and user-friendly computing experience, offering an advanced graphical desktop, a wide variety of applications for communication, work, education and entertainment and a platform to easily build new applications upon. We have a strong focus on finding innovative solutions to old and new problems, creating a vibrant atmosphere open for experimentation.”

    Mission statements are fine. Screenshots are better. Screenshots were amateurish. Now they all look the same. Thus everything’s more artificial.

    When apparently a development or maturation process does not scale there is nothing wrong with admission and talking about the challenges, and how to overcome the situation, how to improve the pace of development.

    • Stu says:

      Hi Kurt, thanks for the clarification. It seems these are mostly issues with http://www.kde.org and Kde organisation in general, rather than dot.kde.org.

      I’m not dismissing what you’re saying, but it’s not an area where I am involved in the teams that would make changes to it (KDE web team). SO I can give my opinion below, but as I’m not one of the people working on this, my opinions are not going to change anything.

      Personally, other than being maybe a bit too wordy I don’t see a problem with the KDE code of conduct. Trust me, it doesn’t stifle discussion or stop disagreement on mailing lists – but telling us to try and keep constructive and not get in to personal attacks, is there really anything wrong with that.

      As for the front page text, well – what is KDE? Maybe it’s a little vacuous and we could improve it…

      And amateurish screenshots are better than pretty ones? I’m not sure. Personal preferences I guess.

  • I know this isnt KDE Promo but the mention makes me think that there needs to be better coordination better the different KDE groups. KDE Promo did a great series of interviews that are a perfect complement to the Akademy videos but you could never find them if you looked at KDE.org.
    If you dont something nice to promote KDE but dont tell anyone about it, it kind of defeats teh purpose.

    That series of KDE Promo interview also carries the proud tag at the bottom: UPLOADED FROM A IPHONE.
    Freedom haters!! 🙂
    Heck, even Matt Assay is forced to eat his own dogfood now.

    I know KDE is very strong in Brazil, France and Germany but Ive never seen any foreign language articles or even interviews. There is a whole spanish speaking continent, whether I understand teh language or not, it would be nice to see such material because it gives the feeling that it is truly an international effort. (I was at FISL this year…. 8,000 free software participant is truly amazing!)

    I like the DOT and hate crapping on peoples working but even with the site revamp, it still feels cold and unwelcoming. You HAVE to put dates on articles.
    If I have a choice between going to DOT or PlanetKDE, Ill go with the latter. (Id swear most of my friends have no clue what the difference is between both)

    • Stu says:

      Hey Jack,

      Well I’m also in KDE Promo so this is on topic 🙂 Actually all the Dot editors (I think) are also on the promo list so we’re not isolated. However, the general point of more communication between teams: sure, I agree.

      So, those interviews at Akademy. do you mean the ones mentioned in the Dot article at http://dot.kde.org/2010/07/07/akademy-2010-almost-being-there ? Those were on the Dot and that Dot story would have been linked from the front page of http://www.kde.org… If you mean some other videos or have a better idea for promoting them, please let us know

      The videos were indeed uploaded from an iPhone – that’s what the guy doing the video happens to have (it was his personal phone, not a KDE one). The ‘uploaded from’ tag must have been added automatically and sure, maybe we should have taken it off if possible. If Nokia (or another vendor of phones with free software stack) would care to give him an N900 or something for doing future interviews he might be up for that 🙂

      Foreign language articles: Dot policy is English only, partly because the editors (which includes people with English not as first language) can all edit in that language. We do however sometimes link to articles in other languages. If there are people around who would translate articles to other languages and vice versa then maybe we could look at adding multi-language support.

      I/we have been trying recently to get more news in from KDE communities around the world (we did have an article on FISL in South America for example). I’m pushing for more news on events from South America and Asia too. We have also added Spanish blogs to Planet KDE (available via a configuration menu at the top) and hopefully more will follow.
      I don’t feel like you’re crapping on our work 😉 The question was about making the Dot better, you’re just saying how that could happen for you 🙂

      Um, we do put dates on articles at dot.kde.org (both on front page and in the article itself). Or do you mean in the news feed at http://www.kde.org front page?

      We’ve recently added the Dot articles to Planet KDE (again via a menu option) so that it is possible to just check Planet KDE and also pick up the Dot news. The way we see it is that the Dot if official news, kinda like a pick of the most important stuff, while the Planet is for people who want to know everything. Actually I think the Dot misses some of the important ‘techie’ stuff from the Planet, which is one of the things I’d like us to work on.
      Heh, long answer… Anyway, thanks for the comments. If you disagree or I’ve misunderstood what you say please correct me 🙂