Not working w/ community: A respone to a post from Jono

In a recent post on his blog, our wonderful community leader Jono describes several internship positions within the Ubuntu Community team, one of them being "Ubuntu Community Documentation Author." One of the responsibilities is to "Work with the Ubuntu Documentation Team, Learning Team, and Ubuntu manual project to liaise around collaboration and best practise for materials production." This blog post is a response.

The problem is this is yet another example of ignoring the current community and its current workflow/structure. I’ve been working on the Ubuntu Documentation Team since the very earliest of days,including the ubuntu-doc mailing list, spending time in #ubuntu-doc, etc and don’t ever recall a discussion w/ people in this group on what they are currently working on, what the current standards are and what the current best practices are. The Ubuntu Doc team has an established Style Guide, a workflow and also very established teams, including a way of moving from non-committer to having commit access.

The other frustration is this is not the first time the Doc Team has been ignored. Out of the blue came the announcement of the "Official Ubuntu Manual" and it’s blessing by the Community Manager without discussing or even mentioning it to the Doc Team. The compliant that drove the creation of the Ubuntu Manual is the current help system is not printable in a book or manual format. A while ago the Doc Team had quite the discussion on whether or not to switch from the current format (able to be printed out and used as a manual) to the current format (topic based). This switch was hotly debated and you can look through ubuntu-doc mailing list to see exactly what was talked about. However it seems no research was done about this. One day this appeared on the on the scene blessed and ready to go as another official project.

I know this seems as a big rant but a lot of the community was ignored in the creation of this position. The doc-team is a group that most people don’t know about but we spend a lot of time and hard work to create the best system documentation possible to allow you (the user) to use and understand how to use your system to its full potential. Spend sometime on #ubuntu-doc or the ubuntu-doc mailing list ( to figure out how the community works and join in the fun

10 thoughts on “Not working w/ community: A respone to a post from Jono

  1. Pingback: Another Ubuntu-Doc response: Get Involved « A Conservative Techie

  2. Hi Jonathan,

    Sorry you are frustrated: this was never intended. I know you have some frustrations with the docs team, but let me focus first on this specific role.

    My original plan was to first announce the opportunity for the interns and then post to the Ubuntu Docs list about the role, but the day I announced it there was some controversy – see the comments on for details, so as I mentioned in the comments I held back on progressing with the roles until I had spoken with HR – hence no post to the docs team mailing list.

    Today I managed to speak to HR and re-posted the blog entry with adjusted roles at – unfortunately, I have been in calls all day so I didn’t get a chance to post to the docs team mailing list.

    In addition to posting to the mailing list I was planning on asking yourself, Matthew East and a few others for recommendations and possibly even asking if one of you could interview any candidates when we source them.

    I apologize for the concern.


  3. Hey, firstly the Ubuntu Manual Project is by no way officially supported or endorsed by Canonical.

    Secondly, when I started the manual project I did contact a couple of people from the docs team through the mailing list about our project and was met with a fair amount of negativity. Last year I had tried to help with documentation but found it pretty damn impossible to get into the team in a position to actually be able to help.

    The docs team are more welcome to collaborate with us, and we would love their collaboration, but they’ve just been ignoring us. I must admit I myself have not been particularly good at communicating with them, but we have been incredibly busy working on UMP.

    At UDS I plan to talk with the docs team on how we can work together better 🙂

  4. Sorry for the delay in responding to the comments, if you follow my twitter/ feed you may have seen my mom is in the hosptial.

    We talked over this on the ubuntu-doc mailing list several times, I’m refering to the email you sent saying that it was blessed by Jono as being an official Ubuntu project. That email was the first time a lot of us on the team heard about the project that is going on. We had quite the debate on the mailing list when we switched to the topic based help system. Might want to check the history of the mailing list

  5. @Jono

    Thanks for the response, also thanks for reaching out to me via facebook chat and also in email. I’m working on getting back to you tonight on those

  6. Jonathan: whoa…what did Benjamin say about me saying it “blessed as an official project”?

    I have never claimed the manual project is “official”: I rarely do that. Can you link me to a post?

  7. Jono,

    There is no post from you that has ever claimed it to be official. There are several comments from Benjamin in a thread on starting 12/22/09 that led people to believe it was a blessed by Jono/official project

    “I ran the project past several people before I started
    it, including Jono Bacon, and all my responses were positive.”

    ” He is really excited about the idea…”

    “I was talking with Jono Bacon tonight…”

    All of this is what has rubbed several contributers wrong about this project.

    There is also a thread on starting Jan 12. 2010 about the project as well where there seems to be several comments about it being official.

    While “official” has been dropped from the wiki page( it did appear in earlier views, see the email from Matthew East in the thread startin Jan 12.

    BTW I haven’t forgotten the promise to respond to you. It’s late for me and I need to be headed to bed but wanted to respond ASAP to this one as well. Working on a response to your emails but want to make sure they are coherent and right now it isn’t because i’m tired

    • Hey Jonathan,

      I think those comments by me mentioning Jono might have been misinterpreted. Jono never “blessed it as official” – he was just giving his support and thought it was a cool idea. That was the only reason I mentioned him in the emails to the docs team.

      As for the stuff on the wiki page, I believe there was only one time where the word “official” appeared and it was in quite a different context to what you are portraying here. At the start of the project, we were hoping to become “official” so we could be included on the CD.

      Since then, that has somewhat changed – we’re waiting till UDS to talk with the Docs team so we can lay out some goals for 10.10. Right now, we are not aiming to be on the CD, instead focusing on raising awareness of the downloadable PDF and also looking at publishing with

      I think that everyone has got the wrong idea here – we have the same goals as the docs team overall, to improve Ubuntu education and make it easier for new users to get acquainted with Ubuntu.

      I want to see the docs team and UMP work together, and at UDS I will be working to define a clear set of goals for our team so that’s possible.

      For now, just enjoy the fact that Ubuntu is getting better everyday and that the amount of resources and material new users have is always increasing.

  8. Thanks for the response, Jonathan.

    While I am happy to clarify that I think the Ubuntu Manual Project has made some great strides in building a community, spreading awareness of the project and bringing together contributions, and Benjamin has been a fantastic leader in this regard, I have always been very conscious to not claim it as ‘official’ over something else.

    The manual, the docs team, the learning project and others each play some key roles in helping to build best of breed documentation and training for Ubuntu. I am really keen to ensure I can be as supportive as possible in helping the projects to work together.

    Jonathan, you are rock-star and I love your work, and take your time and then get back in touch with me and let’s see how we can help the doc team together.

    Sleep well, buddy. 🙂


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