Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

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markw
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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by markw » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:44 pm

It probably wasn't clear, so I'll clarify. I'm not suggesting shutting the forums down completely, just no using them for technical Q&A any more. There could still be technical discussion, although it seems most of that happens on the mailing list anyway. In that situation you'd want far fewer boards than there are now, most of them seem to be extremely low traffic already.
The user base is broad, with greatly varying habits, interests, and preferences. I'd advocate keeping what we have and adding to it, rather than reducing the variety of venues.
The only thing implied here that I disagree with is that the comms infrastructure around the project/platform should be set up to fit the habits and preferences of the current users. I think that kind of fragmented structure is a luxury for really big and popular projects. There are significant benefits to having certain types of activity focussed in specific places to maximise participation. Instead the correct tool for a each type of communication should be selected based on its suitability for hosting that communication.

A brief example of how this goes wrong from my experience at the Symbian Foundation:
The 3rd party Symbian developer community had a lack of deep knowledge and expertise about how to get the most out of the platform. When the project went open source lots of Nokia/Symbian staff members with deep knowledge were happy to share it with the community. However, the staff had existing comms workflow (habits/preferences) based around email - they signed up to mailing lists and waited for questions that never came. The 3rd party developers had habits/preferences set up for discussion boards (from previous Symbian and Nokia developer forums) so they came to the Symbian Foundation forums and asked questions that weren't often answered. (StackOverflow was new when the Symbian Foundation started and I tried to get them to abandon forums for tech Q&A in favour of it then - the more traditional marketing folks wanted to "own" the developers and have them coming to our portal regularly so the plan was sadly killed).

Right now, the situation looks similar for LiveCode - the most experienced contributors seem to prefer the mailing lists, while the newer community members don't find the lists and ask questions on the forum.

I don't suggest shutting down certain comms channels, just having very clear policy about what sort of communication happens in different places and encouraging people who post in the wrong places to shift habits. The other thing I saw with Symbian was that when you could get people to break out of their habits and engage with one another in a common place, great stuff happened - stuff that can only happen with open source. When 3rd party devs had problems that there weren't easy answers for, there was often someone motivated to improve the platform or tools to help solve them. The more quality answers were being given in a particular technology area, the more the community around that area grew.

No doubt some people will not want to change their habits and their contributions will likely be restricted to the channel they prefer. It's a relatively small price to pay for more efficient comms and knowledge sharing all round in my opinion (and it is just one opinion).

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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by FourthWorld » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:15 pm

markw wrote:It probably wasn't clear, so I'll clarify. I'm not suggesting shutting the forums down completely, just no using them for technical Q&A any more.
I think that depends on how we define "technical Q&A".

I don't know why the Symbian staff soured on having multiple venues; seems unnecessarily self-limiting.

In contrast, Canonical's community management of Ubuntu actively encourages people to provide support in whatever venues they like, and RunRev seems the same. I'm sure they welcome Stack Overflow along with other similar venues for broadening the range of options for helping folks get the most out of LiveCode.

If by "technical Q&A" you mean code base contributions, I would agree. One area where RunRev will need to provide guidance on is how they manage contributors as distinct from users. But the Kickstarter campaign only completed a few days ago, and from the plans outlined there the team at RunRev seems well oriented to the very different needs of the contributor community. I suspect we'll hear from them on the contributor process soon, and I'm pretty sure they don't intent to manage the code base through these user-to-user support forums.
Right now, the situation looks similar for LiveCode - the most experienced contributors seem to prefer the mailing lists, while the newer community members don't find the lists and ask questions on the forum.
That's not a bug, it's a feature. :)

RunRev generally points people to these forums when looking for user-to-user support, but there are a good many who simply prefer the format of email lists. Rather than shut the list down when they created the forums RunRev choose to maintain it, so now everyone can choose whichever form they prefer.
I don't suggest shutting down certain comms channels, just having very clear policy about what sort of communication happens in different places and encouraging people who post in the wrong places to shift habits.
It seems the strongest need for clarity is separating code base contributor management from end-user support, and I'm confident RunRev will provide that.

But beyond that, for those looking for user-to-user support there's no significant difference between the mailing list and these forums, other than the format and some of the audience. Most who answer questions in either forum are the same people, and the rest have chosen the venue they use simply because they prefer it.

I see no harm in letting people have what they want. The mistake Symbian's managment made was discouraging options; in contrast, RunRev encourages people to participate in any support venues they like.

In fact, in addition to these forums and the user-livecode list, we've also had new communities spring up on Google Plus and Facebook as well, and regional user groups have begun to pop up in various places like the one we hold each month in SoCal. Adding Stack Overflow and other such venue to the mix only broadens the options available for helping folks get the most out of LiveCode, and I would imagine RunRev would welcome that.

Like the original inventor of the LiveCode engine, Dr. Scott Raney, used to say, "Let a thousand flowers bloom." :)
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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by monte » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:48 pm

I think the problem can be resolved by as many of us as possible taking questions from the list and forums and answering them instead on StackOverflow... then post the url to the forum. It will gradually wean people off asking technical questions on the forum which is better suited to discussions rather than asking concise questions and acknowledging the correct answers.

Here's some examples:
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1526 ... 1#15262661
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1528 ... 7#15282067

Cheers

Monte
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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by Simon » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:48 am

Hi Monte,
Can you show me what a "Tagged LC" example would be like in StackOverflow?
Then I'd have an idea of what this change would mean.

Thanks,
Simon
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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by YogiYang » Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:07 am

I would not suggest SO as there people (moderators) seem to close questions (more faster then they are posted).
--
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monte
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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by monte » Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:56 am

@Simon what change do you mean. I'm not suggesting a change. I just think its a better forum for technical limited scope questions. See the examples I posted above. The goal is to build a community knowledge base rather than trying to find answers from a discussion threads which generally don't form a consensus on the correct answer.

@yogiyang the questions will be removed it they don't fit within the guidelines on the FAQ but that is a good thing. It means people need to craft questions well which leads to better answers. Obviously the current forums are necessary for both more general discussion or statements but stackoverflow isn't designed for that.
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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by Simon » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:16 am

Hi Monte,
@Simon what change do you mean.
...by as many of us as possible taking questions from the list and forums and answering them instead on StackOverflow...
I'm with you I think... But I'm not a user of StackOverflow.
Oh, but you could mean "as well as" which wouldn't be a change unless I wanted to help. So, I wanted to help but don't understand what it is.

The tag thing was something you mentioned elsewhere, something about 1500 votes? I figure I'm only interested in stuff regarding LC (probably more accurately the only thing I can help with) and I thought if you had an example (not LC) I might get behind the idea.

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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by shaosean » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:48 am

Using the forums to ask questions is okay, but people just need to use the search before posting to see if it has been asked and answered previously..

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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by markw » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:03 pm

FourthWorld wrote: I think that depends on how we define "technical Q&A".
Specifically, well bounded questions about whether certain things can be done and how to do them in LiveCode. StackOverflow has a pretty good guideline about the sort of question that is allowed and if it's allowed there it should probably be there rather than on a forum or mailing list - the efforts of community members applied in this way have much more long term value, because they can be rated by other members (voted up/down) and accepted as working by the original asker of the question. They can also be edited by others (with sufficient trust) to improve accuracy or referencing - it makes it into much more of a collaboratively created knowledge base than one-off questions and answers.

For more open questions, or real beginner "how do I go about creating a 2D game" type of questions which invite discussion, a forum or mailing list is the right place to go.
ForthWorld wrote: I don't know why the Symbian staff soured on having multiple venues; seems unnecessarily self-limiting.
They didn't, they rejected the idea of telling people to go to a 3rd party site. They were perfectly happy for people to use StackOverflow, mailing lists, our forums, OEM forums, fan forums, meetups etc. The major problem was having too many fragmented communication channels for the size of the community, which was much bigger than the current LiveCode community.
ForthWorld wrote: In contrast, Canonical's community management of Ubuntu actively encourages people to provide support in whatever venues they like, and RunRev seems the same. I'm sure they welcome Stack Overflow along with other similar venues for broadening the range of options for helping folks get the most out of LiveCode.
I said fragmented comms is a luxury for large and highly successful projects, this is a good example. The trap to avoid here is mimicking the strategy of someone successful when they've achieved a certain scale rather than what they did to get there. Jono Bacon of Canonical wrote a great book on community management and it recommends focussing comms channels. Helping people out wherever they happen to prefer to hang out should never be discouraged but also pointing them towards a common place where they can find a lot more people willing to help should only improve the quality of support they get.

This is the critical part - if lots of new users are coming to the platform because it has gone open source, where do they go for help? Should they just be left to find one of the many support channels for themselves, or should RunRev (and community members) guide them? If guidance is provided, what should that be? In general people want to ask questions wherever they're most likely to get a quality answer quickly. Right now, going on activity I'd say that's the mailing list but a horde of newbies coming to the mailing list would almost certainly kill it with too much traffic and repeat questions (because it's tough to search or read the archive and mailing lists become near impossible to follow past a certain post volume).
One area where RunRev will need to provide guidance on is how they manage contributors as distinct from users.
This is actually one of the biggest challenges. Where do new contributors come from if not the users? It's essential to keep contribution discussion (and it's more likely to be discussion than StackOverflow style Q&A) separate from user discussion to avoid noise for both but how do you tie them together enough such that it's not too big a jump to go from user to contributor. You're right, the RunRev team seem pretty clued up on this topic and I'm sure they'll have a plan.
I see no harm in letting people have what they want. The mistake Symbian's managment made was discouraging options; in contrast, RunRev encourages people to participate in any support venues they like.
The potential harm is a relatively small community is fragmented and the quality of help people get is reduced. Also, if you have poorly suited comms tools when a lot of new users show up then the level of repeat questions and moderation required wastes the time of the experienced few - they could be spending time answering new questions and instead they're pointing people to previous answers and moving posts to the right boards.
In fact, in addition to these forums and the user-livecode list, we've also had new communities spring up on Google Plus and Facebook as well, and regional user groups have begun to pop up in various places like the one we hold each month in SoCal. Adding Stack Overflow and other such venue to the mix only broadens the options available for helping folks get the most out of LiveCode, and I would imagine RunRev would welcome that.
I'm really not advocating the removal of any support channels, just focussing specific types of support in a places where individual contributors effort will provide the widest benefit.
Simon wrote:The tag thing was something you mentioned elsewhere, something about 1500 votes?
StackOverflow users get reputation points for asking and answering questions, editing and voting on answers. There is currently no "LiveCode" tag on StackOverflow. Adding a new tag to the site is a bit like opening a new board and requires a certain level of reputation (=moderation privilege) - specifically 1500. I've not been a major StackOverflow answerer (I use it all the time to find answers) because the platforms I've been most experienced with have had their own forums, so I'm still over 1000 short of that level. The most active users gain more than 1500 reputation in a week though, so it's not a significant barrier.

@Monte - I'm impressed with your taking the idea and running with it so quickly. :) I haven't learnt enough about LiveCode to confidently answer many questions yet but I'll join in as soon as I get there. I also think it's worth trying to persuade other LiveCode experts to join the effort and also RunRev to "officially" point there as a support channel, at least as officially as they do with these forums, when there are a few more people on board with the idea of answering there.

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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by sturgis » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:12 pm

Hopefully the search on SO will better handle the common english words and phrases than we can currently do here. Honestly don't know how to completely solve that issue no matter where discussions are hosted, but improvement is surely possible!

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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by monte » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:18 am

@markw I've been thinking about this for a while but until I read that it's ok to ask and answer your own question I couldn't think of a way to build the knowledge base there to a critical mass that would get livecode queries returning StackOverflow pages in google which I think is the point when people will start posing questions there... There are many posts to lists and forums that are in the nature of "Hey guys I worked out how to do this cool thing". Why not reword it into a question/answer and post to StackOverflow to help create the knowledge base?

One of the things I've done is kill the mergExt.com forum and suggest in the FAQ there that people post to either StackOverflow or the forums with mergExt in the question/subject. This should over time both reduce my support load and help in raising the profile of LiveCode.

If anyone has the time and they identify a question that they know has been answered well before and gets asked regularly then po

I've said this a few places but one of the things that people can do is to jump on there and up vote anything LiveCode related. Each up vote = 10 points of reputation so we could quickly have someone over 1500 if we did that. The tag also acts like a wiki site about the tag so it's a great place to promote the platform.

And just to be clear since I'm taking heat on what I've decided to do I do think there is a place for both the lists and the forum. I'm not proposing dropping anything although I do definitely think the forum needs a big cleanup and more regular attention from RunRev.
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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by FourthWorld » Sat Mar 09, 2013 1:06 am

monte wrote:And just to be clear since I'm taking heat on what I've decided to do I do think there is a place for both the lists and the forum.
Reviewing those threads it seems that any resistance wasn't to anything you wanted to do, but what you were asking others to do, e.g.:

"I think the problem can be resolved by as many of us as possible taking questions from the list and forums and answering them instead on StackOverflow"

People use different discussion venues for a wide range of reasons, and each has its own unique merits. Stack Overflow is an excellent addition to the mix of options available for people learning LiveCode, and the responses I've seen to what you've chosen to do yourself there have all been positive.

Please count me among them. I think your initiative to boost LiveCode's presence on Stack Overflow is an excellent move.
I'm not proposing dropping anything although I do definitely think the forum needs a big cleanup and more regular attention from RunRev.
Agreed on both counts. My moderator privileges here are limited to spam-busting activities, but if I had the opportunity to reorg these forums I'd jump on it in a heartbeat. :)

The team is now in deep planning mode following their stellar success with the Kickstarter campaign. Given the attention to the details of community management they've evidenced thus far, I suspect they have some good ideas for ways to makes these forums, and other venues, more useful for the fast-growing user base.
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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by monte » Sat Mar 09, 2013 1:59 am

FourthWorld wrote:Reviewing those threads it seems that any resistance wasn't to anything you wanted to do, but what you were asking others to do
Clearly poorly worded, however, just because I'm asking it doesn't mean people are required to do anything... I think it's a worthwhile endeavour and I was encouraging others to help out. It's obviously up to the individual to decide if and how they want to be involved. Some might like to just upvote livecode things, some might choose to only answer questions posed there, some might like to take the time to take a discussion from the list or forum, clarify the question and provide the correct answer so there's a clear record in an easily searchable place...
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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by monte » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:17 am

There's now a livecode tag. I asked on meta.stackoverflow.com and seemed to be getting a slap on the wrist for asking but then suddenly a heap of questions were tagged ;-)

http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions ... 019#171019
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Re: Help Us Take LiveCode Open Source

Post by FourthWorld » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:38 am

monte wrote:There's now a livecode tag. I asked on meta.stackoverflow.com and seemed to be getting a slap on the wrist for asking but then suddenly a heap of questions were tagged ;-)

http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions ... 019#171019
Sorry you got slapped, but glad to see the tag. Good work.
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