Recently Casey Ho emerged from the Pidgin community doing many interesting things trying to gather feedback from the users, but what really got me interested was the new brainstorm based on Ubuntu’s brainstorm.
In a very short time it received hundreds of votes and very good feedback on Casey Ho’s blog. Apparently it was too convenient, and Pidgin devs didn’t like that.
Just like in a totalitarian rule, the brainstorm was quickly shut-down regardless of what users thought. Luke Schierer explained the reasons, which can be narrowed down to: developers whined about yet another place to receive feedback.
So, when users organize that doesn’t help to build a community, but a “clamoring mob of users”. Instead, feedback should be received in the usual way, which is slow, difficult and very restrictive; exactly how Pidgin devs like to work.
It looks like a rational response, except when you think about it for two seconds and ask yourself: what is the difference between a user and a dev? The official blessing of the Pidgin’s junta? X number of blessed patches?
The truth is that in functional open source communities, the line between devs and users is blurry; community members are both devs and users at the same time.
Let’s take an example:
About 4 years ago, voice and video was the most requested feature, but there was no way users could convince developers of that and it was clearly stated by the developers that voice and video would never be implemented, because Pidgin (at that time Gaim) was an instant messaging client, and just that.
However, some users did not accept that and started a friendly fork called gaim-vv which gained some support from the the core developers, but eventually was killed by some decisions by the main developer. Ubuntu Brainstorm made obvious that vv was the most requested feature by far, and eventually a proposal came to Google SoC, that’s how Maiku became a core developer.
It’s quite easy; users vote for features, some features are so relevant that some users decide to implement them, and if they like the development process they keep submitting patches until they are trusted and get commit access. Google SoC facilitates the process for some users.
But Pidgin devs are somehow unable to see that; what users want is irrelevant, only what devs want is relevant; therefore the brainstorm was a bad idea. And they still claim that user feedback is welcome.
I added a
track trac ticket to add back the brainstorm section. You can vote there to fight back 😉
BTW. If they are so open to user feedback why all their blogs have comments closed except Casey Ho’s?
The ticket was changed from “Add a brainstorm section” to “Make trac provide various features like Brainstorm”, carrying out the 2 votes it already had, which is like to change “I want a cheetah” to “I want a falcon with features like a cheetah”, no, I want a “brainstorm section”; don’t put words on my mouth.
In a brainstorm, subjects can’t be changed precisely because of this reason, so the first thing to change in trac would be that, which doesn’t really make sense.