Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Brainstorm Big 5 - May 2013

These are a few of the more interesting current ideas on Brainstorm. When you prepare for UDS, also do a quick Brainstorm search. It's a good way to see what users have thought about the topic in the past.

If you want to leave Developer Feedback on a Brainstorm Idea, but lack permissions, then please contact me. I can assign you permission, or simply add your response for you.  (ian dash weisser at ubuntu dot com)

The all-time top four:

The current top four all-time Brainstorm Ideas. They change from time to time as new ideas overtake old ideas, or as ideas get merged or implemented or closed.

You may see a common theme among them:

1) Restoring the bootloader by Ubuntu Live media
2) Graphical frontend to edit GRUB menu
3) Provide a simple interface for labeling partitions and external drives
4) Better Hardware Profile Manager

Here is what I see: None of these seem like features requested by unskilled users.

Instead, these seem more likely to be used by migrating power-users who have imprinted upon previous systems...and then discovered their first hurdle on the learning curve.

Now, I'm not proposing that we should implement any of these ideas. Instead, consider it a data point - here is one measure of how Ubuntu is perceived by rather skilled new users. Not what they actually need to be productive, but what they spend their time looking for fruitlessly.

And when they don't find it, some of them rant about Ubuntu. Goodness, just look at some of those comments.
  • Do we want these issues to be the first hurdles for this type of user?
  • Is there an easy alternative we can draw them into?
  • Is there a better message that Ubuntu, Launchpad, the forums, the Teams, etc. should be communicating to them?
  • Are these opportunities to begin their learning curve in a kinder, gentler way?
  • I wonder why those users, after overcoming the hurdle, did not implement a solution to help those who came after them?

Monetization by committee

To round out the Big 5 this month,

Alternative Sources of Income

The top Idea of the past six months, this is a crazy-quilt of monetization ideas.  I've been -among other things- a banker and a real-business-with-employees owner and a QA inspector, so I completely understand how unrealistic some of the money-handling-and-administration Solutions really are. But like the all-time top-four (above), the real message is the intent and the context.
  1. People are still really frustrated by [what they think are] bugs.
    Frustrated enough that some are willing to pay [small amounts] for bug bounties.
    Yet apparently not frustrated enough to actually get involved.

  2. There is also a lot of FUD still floating around about unity-lens-shopping, and some new users are still getting attracted to the tinfoil-hat crowd's message.
  • Is this an opportunity to recruit for the Bug Squad? LoCos? Teams? Upstreams?
  • How can we make our commitment to personal data privacy clearer?
  • How can we improve the message that Ubuntu users are participants, not customers?

Feel free to discuss in the appropriate Brainstorm Idea page, or in the comments section of this blog, or by e-mail...or anywhere else you like. Like at UDS.
Yeah, at UDS.
See you on IRC at UDS!


Lance said...

I'm sensing a strong overtone to this post that you're frustrated that people aren't fitting your definition of the ubuntu contributor mold. Might be a good idea to take a step back and reconsider a few things.
First, Ubuntu users are many things among which many consider themselves customers. I don't think we should try to limit the definition of a user. Customers and participants aren't mutually exclusive.
Second, most people that think money will fix what you think they are calling bugs are really trying to address a much larger problem. There currently isn't a healthy market for apps in the ubuntu ecosystem. They use the term bugs because you use that term, and they're trying to send you a message. We are missing apps, or functionality in apps to do what they are wanting to do. The only way to make a living developing around ubuntu is through a sponsor Corporation. So these apps don't have developers to make them. Instead if trying to turn them into developers, or "contributors", we need to create the ecosystem which will attract the developers.

Apple's iphone app ecosystem is a good example. I know many app developers that say they can't ignore it because of the superior revenue it generates in comparison to other ecosystems.

Basically I'm trying to say this: Let's try to expand who can be a part of Ubuntu by changing Ubuntu and not expect them to change to be a part of Ubuntu.

Ian said...

Change Ubuntu how?
Change the app ecosystem how?

Lance said...

I don't really know how.
I do want us to realize that it's us that needs to change if we want to expand beyond the 10% tech crowd.

Paddy Landau said...

Ian, I wonder if you are accidentally making some unwarranted assumptions.

For example, consider restoring the bootloader by the Ubuntu Live media, which I personally support.

You say, "… none of these seem[s] like features requested by unskilled users."

Correct. It is the skilled users who want this added. They are the ones who have spent many hours helping unskilled users to do this; and who have written up solutions in Ubuntu Forums, Ask Ubuntu and Community Help. Such a request will make their lives — and those of the unskilled users — easier.

My comment should also answer your question, "I wonder why those users, after overcoming the hurdle, did not write a solution to help those who came after them?"

The answer is: "They have done so."

From what I have seen, the Brainstorm is used mostly by advanced users who have seen what is needed, both first-hand and by virtue of helping the community. They do indeed represent, albeit indirectly, new users.

Ian said...


Great points!

I have duly changed "did not write a solution" to "did not implement a solution."

Is that changing the intent? Sure, but that change is closer to my original intent. You're right that documetation and tutorials are indeed available.

You and your fellow gurus in the forums do a terrific job helping new users, and creating those tutorials.

Thanks also for all your great, smart work in Brainstorm.