Podcast #48 - Sponsored by Powdermilk Biscuits

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Welcome to Stack Exchange Podcast #48! Our guest today is Jorge Castro, member of the Community Team at Canonical (of Ubuntu fame). We also have Robert Cartaino, our very own Director of Community Development, here at Stack Exchange, as well as the usual suspects - David Fullerton, Jay Hanlon, and Joel Spolsky.. Our guest Jorge Castro works on Ubuntu, at Canonical. He says to pretend it's double Os instead of U's: Ooboontoo. (David, Jay, and Joel work on Stack Exchange, at Stack Exchange.)

  • So, Jorge! What does a Community Manager at Canonical do? What's the role, and what does that actually mean day to day?
  • At Canonical, the Community Team is a part of the engineering department, not the marketing department. They are tasked with doing things that help engineers do their job and help people improve Ubuntu.
  • Jorge usually wears pants to work. Usually. The whole team is distributed, and they use IRC, Trello, and Google Hangouts to keep everything moving remotely.
  • This is all well and good, but what do community managers actually do? Nobody is really sure, either at Canonical or at Stack Exchange. Jorge walks us through the team's core responsibilities.
  • Robert gives his view on the core role of a Community Manager (by the way, we are hiring community managers!)
  • Jorge's team just terminated an experiment with crowdsourcing feature requests and ideas. It was the Ubuntu Brainstorm, and it was originally written by an enthusiast who just kind of decided that it should be done, and Ubuntu picked it up.
  • Side note: You can't handle the Knuth.
  • To finish the Brainstorm story, last month it was decided that… it wasn't really working. The barrier to contributing to Ubuntu is getting lower and lower, so people with features to discuss can just show up to the Developer Summit. The moral of the story is that it's in the process of being shut down, but it's not ideal to just close all of the communication channels (because sometimes users have great ideas). We discuss the advantages and pitfalls of crowdsourced feature requests.
  • Jay bought this last week.
  • Anyway. The barrier to participate in Ubuntu is getting lower, so it's easier to get peopletruly involved - instead of halfheartedly participating in the Brainstorm and feeling like they're involved.
  • Ask Ubuntu is one of our sites! It's our fourth biggest site by number of questions, with 140k questions, and 3rd for traffic with 231k visits per day. Jorge has been involved with it just about from the start, but he's not a moderator - just a 20k user.
  • One initial problem was the cyclical nature - every time a Ubuntu release came out, there was a flood of new users asking new questions and the answer rate plummeted to the bottom of the list. Then the review queue came and saved the world!
  • Jorge has a feature request: custom review queues. He even went through the proper channels and proposed it on Meta!
  • Robert walks us through Community Self-Evaluations. The system picks out a certain number of questions, and the community goes through and gauges whether or not the information available is better than the other information out there on the internet. We discuss it for a while.
  • So what's missing for Ask Ubuntu? What could we build that would make it work better? Jorge says the biggest problem the site is having right now is user confusion about what is a bug report and what's a configuration issue.
  • Site launches! As of this recording, Open Data and Network Engineering are in public beta. Go check 'em out!

Thanks to Jorge Castro and Robert Cartaino for joining us, as well as the Usual Suspects (MINUS Producer Alex, who gets NO credit).

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