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GNULinuxMatters.org released, some retrospective

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ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13

Hey everyone,

I finalized the release of the GNULinuxMatters.org website.
There is no big change in content, this is essentially a transfer of the planet.getgnulinux.org site. However, the website does now constitute an "official" place for the GNU/Linux Matters association.

One significant addition is the call for "partnerships", which is brought forward on the site. Our bank account should be opened this week and I will now be working more on trying to fund ourselves.

Otherwise, the organisation is slightly clearer. I think the redirections from the planet.getgnulinux.org all work (including RSS feed).

---

Looking back: GGL went online almost 11 months ago and we've traveled a long way.
Today I'm quite confident that we can turn it into a very successful "enterprise" (in the original sense only, GLM is strictly a non-profit). I now work full-time on it, it's not an easy job, and here are my observations and thoughts on how things go. (It's self-criticism, I don't blame anyone)

  1. Things take time
    That's the most important lesson I learn. Everything takes an awful lot of time and I'm bad at predicting how much (usually by a factor 2). Writing in forums, correcting a paragraph in GGL, writing posts on the blog, etc, each thing eats lots of time. Time is the most important thing I need (before money or anything else in fact).
  2. Maintenance grows exponentially
    By this I mean that we grow linearly, but the amount of work just to keep in shape is inflating hugely. I could keep myself busy 24-7 just answering and discussing in the forum. Then there's a large number of things to maintain, lots of excellent ideas flying around, emails, technical details in the sites to be improved, the paperwork of the association, etc. So it is easy for me to work 2 days, without my sister being able to spot any difference. It's not wasted time, but in the end, it's the same for our audience.
    This has led me to try to organize myself better. I often stay away from the forum and work hard on something, communicating little, then try to catch up with all threads at once. I also have stopped entering everything in our project manager. It's not always pleasant but it works.
  3. Simplicity is better than efficiency
    This sounds stupid, but when many people are involved, it definitely pays to be simple. We really have many systems (SVN, webSVN, ftp accounts, stats accounts, project manager, 15(!) translation wikis, 2 mailing lists, 1 test site) for basically a 10 page website and its translations. And because writing pages still requires code editing, there's one entire translation that's ready (Galician) but which has been waiting for 4 months now.
    We still have left-overs of a messy page organisation (like the forgotten community.getgnulinux.org site) but it's getting simpler.
    Having all the important pages well-organised on the GLM.o site should help quite a lot.
    I hope the switch to DocBook will go in that direction too.
    And I'll be back to the Project Manager, this time only entering the main items instead of detailing everything.

So what?
In the coming months, I fear I will not be able to handle everything immediately and fully. It's too much work to do everything very well, and, the key point is, it doesn't always result in a distinctly better GGL site for visitors. I'd like to get sufficient control to spend time on important long-term aspects - instead of usually running behind things ;-) Easier said than done Cool

On a more positive note, I am getting almost entirely satisfied with GGL.o now. I hope that within the coming month I can let the content aside and work more on side-sites, promoting our project, building up instead of continually re-working the base.

If any of you has a project he/she is willing to pursue, please don't hesitate to say so in the forum, anytime.

Well, enough rambling. Just concluding with one sentence, the motto of a French community on free culture:
"La route est longue, mais la voie est libre"

which means
"the road is long, but the way is free".

Olivier.

Gustavo's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-11
Agreed

Hi!

ariadacapo wrote:

One significant addition is the call for "partnerships", which is brought forward on the site.

If we wanted to call for sponsors, we'd have to apply for an special permission, right? We can do something like http://www.fsf.org/donate/patron/index_html

ariadacapo wrote:

Otherwise, the organisation is slightly clearer. I think the redirections from the planet.getgnulinux.org all work (including RSS feed).

I think so too.

ariadacapo wrote:

Looking back: GGL went online almost 11 months ago and we've traveled a long way.

For sure! Sometimes I feel like I've been here for years. I even joined GGL when I was still living in Venezuela!

ariadacapo wrote:

Things take time
That's the most important lesson I learn. Everything takes an awful lot of time and I'm bad at predicting how much (usually by a factor 2). Writing in forums, correcting a paragraph in GGL, writing posts on the blog, etc, each thing eats lots of time. Time is the most important thing I need (before money or anything else in fact).

You're definitely right. I myself have faced this a thousand times.

ariadacapo wrote:

Maintenance grows exponentially
By this I mean that we grow linearly, but the amount of work just to keep in shape is inflating hugely. I could keep myself busy 24-7 just answering and discussing in the forum. Then there's a large number of things to maintain, lots of excellent ideas flying around, emails, technical details in the sites to be improved, the paperwork of the association, etc. So it is easy for me to work 2 days, without my sister being able to spot any difference. It's not wasted time, but in the end, it's the same for our audience.
This has led me to try to organize myself better. I often stay away from the forum and work hard on something, communicating little, then try to catch up with all threads at once. I also have stopped entering everything in our project manager. It's not always pleasant but it works.

Just to answer my emails you should spend a whole weekend Evil or Very Mad

ariadacapo wrote:

Simplicity is better than efficiency

I don't think so:

The time spent on maintainace is inversely proportional to the time spent on setting up the system -- Narea's Law.

Whatever we don't implement in the initial stage will make us waste much more time when maintaining the project, no matter whether we were aware of the unimplemented feature or not. It will also lead us to an eventual complete rebuild.

However, in practice, we seldom have enough time to implement every single useful feature in one go, so we must sacrifice efficiency in order to release something that "just works", but then we'll be doing by hand something that can be automated.

So I think that simplicity is just the way to go for the time being, but it's not better than efficiency.

ariadacapo wrote:

We really have many systems (SVN, webSVN, ftp accounts, stats accounts, project manager, 15(!) translation wikis, 2 mailing lists, 1 test site) for basically a 10 page website and its translations.

... and counting...

ariadacapo wrote:

Having all the important pages well-organised on the GLM.o site should help quite a lot.

Agreed. BTW, would you mind me moving the SVN repos, WebSVN and the PM to *.gnulinuxmatters.org?

ariadacapo wrote:

I hope the switch to DocBook will go in that direction too.

I think so.

ariadacapo wrote:

Well, enough rambling. Just concluding with one sentence, the motto of a French community on free culture:
"La route est longue, mais la voie est libre"

Je suis d'accord.

Cheers!

ariadacapo's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-07-13
Gustavo wrote: The time
Gustavo wrote:

The time spent on maintenance is inversely proportional to the time spent on setting up the system -- Narea's Law.

Gustavo, I love your theory =) All we have to do now is to write-up, and become rich with our business book :-)
Thanks for your thoughts

Olivier.

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