Ubuntu Open Week - Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter: Or How To Achieve Organization Out Of Chaos - tyche - Mon, Nov 2, 2009

   1 [17:01] <tyche> Hi
   2 [17:01] <tyche> My name is Craig Eddy - known as Tyche in IRC and in the Ubuntu community - and I am an editor for the UWN.  And in the past few weeks people have asked me various questions about the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter.
   3 [17:02] <tyche> Some of them have been of the nature of, "I told you about it in channel, why can't you put it in the UWN?"
   4 [17:02] <tyche> Others have been, "can I contribute to the UWN?"  And there have been others.
   5 [17:02] <tyche> I'd like to address some of the questions by explaining the fondation of the Newsletter, and how it gets put together.  Along the way I'll be describing some of what actually goes on in the process.
   6 [17:02] <tyche> As I go through this presentation questions may arise.  Please, open a text editor (not a word processor) and type your questions in there.  Preceed your question with the word QUESTION to gain a moderator's attention.  At the end of the presentations, you can then copy them into #ubuntu-classroom-chat, and I'll do my best to answer them.
   7 [17:03] <tyche> This presentation will be repeated on my blog, http://tycheent.wordpress.com/, which is also attached to the Planet Ubuntu.  So if I couldn't get to your answer in channel feel free to comment there and I'll try to answer it.
   8 [17:03] <tyche> The UWN is, and has been from the beginning, a way of letting the community know what's going on.  Sometimes within the community as a whole.  Sometimes as noting what's being said about Ubuntu from the outside.
   9 [17:03] <tyche> The first issue of the UWN came out in June of 2006, and a basic structure to the Newsletter.  General Community News, a section called "Ubuntu" that gave release information, and an In The Press section.
  10 [17:03] <tyche> But, along with that structure were the beginnings of how to go about putting the Newsletter together.  And thus was born journalism in an on-line Newsletter.
  11 [17:04] <tyche> Structure is important.  And between Issue #1 and Issue #166 the structure has changed (hopefully for the better) many times.
  12 [17:04] <tyche> Each change in the structure involved "executive decisions", and discussion with others about whether they were worthwhile and how to go about adding them.
  13 [17:04] <tyche> Now, we have the General Community News, that has incorporated the Ubuntu section.  The Ubuntu Stats, that give figures on Bugs, Translations and, recently added, Ubuntu Brainstorm Top 5 for the week.
  14 [17:05] <tyche> We also have LoCo News, that celebrates upcoming and just past events.  Also Launchpad News that tells of changes to our all important Launchpad server and sites.
  15 [17:05] <tyche> We have the Ubuntu Forms News that adds information on Tutorials and other ongoing information.  We have The Planet that lets people know what other things of interest are happening with individuals.
  16 [17:05] <tyche> In The Press is still there, but the format has changed over time to provide a summary or "teaser" to the article to which it is linked.
  17 [17:06] <tyche> In The Blogosphere outlines what other individual's opinions of Ubuntu are.  And In Other News covers information that doesn't fit the preceeding two categories.
  18 [17:06] <tyche> We also have a Meeting Summaries section that outlines what has happened in groups in the past month.  Information taken from that submitted by the various Teams and Councils.
  19 [17:06] <tyche> And then, there's the two that are the most tedious to do:  Upcoming Meetings and Events, and Updates and Security.  The first gives the information on meetings in the #ubuntu-meetings channel on irc.freenode.net.  The second lists all the posted updates - both those that are security updates and those that are applied to individual releases.
  20 [17:06] <tyche> Also recently added is the Glossary of Terms where some of thos nasty little acronyms that the average person might not know are defined.
  21 [17:07] <tyche> Also added to the structure of the UWN are the Credits, so you know who to blame for what's in any particular issue.  Hee hee.
  22 [17:07] <tyche> Structure is all very well.  But just like having a bunch of boards organized into a house doesn't make it a lived-in home, so this structure needs something else to actually BE the UWN.
  23 [17:07] <tyche> It's traditionally been the job of the newest recruit to visit the many links for the Security and Updates section and do the dull, tedious work of gathering that information.  And when a Beta is released, that can be a daunting task.  As an example, when Karmic Koala Beta was released there were 244 updates between the release date and the date of the UWN.
  24 [17:08] <tyche> Fortunately, that task, that used to be done manually, has now been automated with a script (actually a series of scripts, one for each sub-section of the Security and Updates section.
  25 [17:08] <tyche> Likewise, the Upcoming Meetings section, originally gathered from a calendar within the Fridge, was much more difficult to deal with than its more recent Google calendar, both in gathering information and in posting it.
  26 [17:08] <tyche> With the original calendar, the "repeating events" had to be manually posted to the Fridge.  With the Google calendar, those repeating events are taken care of with one posting.  Also, there are shortcuts that can be put in so that half the information can just be copied and pasted from the calendar to the UWN.
  27 [17:09] <tyche> Other sections, like the Forums News and the Brainstorm Stats are entered directly by specialized contributors (and we, who constitute the core group in the UWN REALLY appreciate their efforts and help).
  28 [17:09] <tyche> One of our editors, and our Chief Editor, have RSS feeds from various sources from which the links for In The Press, In The Blogosphere and In Other News are gathered.  Likewise, General Community News, LoCo News, Launchpad News, and The Planet are gathered from links within the Ubuntu community.
  29 [17:10] <tyche> And now the killer piece of information that causes the chaos of creating the UWN.  ALL of that is left as long as possible to make the information we put in the UWN as up-to-date as possible.
  30 [17:10] <tyche> When one has three to six people all trying to edit one page at the same time things get interesting.  In channel, one can see people saying things like, "Well, when SOMEONE finally lets me in, I'll dump my section in.  Hee hee"
  31 [17:10] <tyche> Good natured teasing, like that, helps us keep sane.  Some elements can be put in early, like the Forums (I've yet to tangle with Isabelle Duchatelle as she does her part), and the Security and Updates (Liraz Siri, partly due to the difference in time zones, always manages to get his section in before the chaos starts).
  32 [17:11] <tyche> But that still leaves a bunch of sections to go in, all at the same time.  The way we manage to do it is to compose our sections in text files (with all the wiki formatting) so that all we have to do is cut and paste to actually dump it in the page.
  33 [17:11] <tyche> A template was developed, to keep everyone on the "same page" for formatting.  That way, we can reduce the number of camelcases (wiki hot links, like LoCo) that we have to go and change in the actual wiki page.
  34 [17:11] <tyche> But that still leaves us with situations where 2 or 3 people are trying to edit the page at the same time (thank goodness for locks).  And, on top of that, we're correcting eachother's spelling and grammer, and making decisions on whether or not to dump a particular link.
  35 [17:12] <tyche> If we were trying to edit directly into the page, rather than the cut-and-paste method we use, the chaos would be worse.  As it is, the chatter in channel can get "interesting".  And all this while trying to beat a deadline to get the issue out.
  36 [17:12] <tyche> In addition, the chaos of the channel serves another two purposes.  The humor we insert helps to relieve the tensions of trying to beat the deadline.  And the somewhat social aspect of the channel allows us to interact, perhaps to change a style or correct a formatting "on-the-fly".
  37 [17:12] <tyche> But even more important, it allows us to proof-read eachother's work to make the issue as good as we can get it.  Mistakes DO get through, but we honestly try to keep them to a minimum.
  38 [17:13] <tyche> So, for 2 or 3 hours on a Sunday, the editors and contributors go through organized chaos to put something out that will inform and entertain you readers.
  39 [17:13] <tyche> Contributions are essential to the UWN.  Without them the issues would be bland rehashing of information that's already available to the community.
  40 [17:13] <tyche> New contributions - those outside our normal sources for information - need to follow the same structure that is set up for all the rest of the summaries.  There has to be a link that we can point to, so that readers can find out more information or even check to see if we actually summarized it properly.
  41 [17:13] <tyche> This reliance on hard links to put in each issue is important to us, as it keeps us honest.  You may notice that we don't editorialize in the UWN.  We're trying very hard to NOT offer our opinion, but just state the facts as we find them.  This is the essence of journalism as it pertains to the UWN, and the one place where YOU can help us.
  42 [17:14] <tyche> If you have information that you want to share with the community, GREAT!  But . . . we need it to be YOUR information, not our "opinion" of what you may have said in channel or in an email.  We need that hard link to point to.  This seems to be the hardest thing for me to get people to understand about the UWN.
  43 [17:14] <tyche> Also, it helps if the information you supply, on a blog link or where ever, gives us enough information so that we CAN summarize it in an intelligent fashion.  Remember, we can't know all the information YOU know about a subject.  If you like, you can run your ideas by me, and I'll happily help you build something that will be interesting and informative, from which we can draw our summary.
  44 [17:14] <tyche> Is it a new program?  What does it do?  How does it differ from other, similar programs?
  45 [17:15] <tyche> Is it an event?  Where will it be held?  What is the focus of the event?  What is the target audience?  Who is helping out with the event?  What, if any, companies or organizations are involved?
  46 [17:15] <tyche> One other point:  there is a difference between named contributors (people named in the Credits section) and editors of the UWN.  It's not a prestige thing, believe it or not.  It's based on ability.  New "named" contributors are given a specific task to complete.  They may also do some proofing, but primarily they are set to complete one particular task at a time.
  47 [17:15] <tyche> As they grow into working on the UWN, those tasks change to more complex tasks until they are able to handle anything that the UWN may throw at them.  At that point, they become editors.  Editors are the "clean-up hitters", the ones fill in for others that happen to be unavailable in any particular week.
  48 [17:16] <tyche> They also have more say in the editing of the UWN, based on their experience, and their viewpoint is valuable.  We encourage people to work their way through the tasks, so they CAN help out.  The more eyes and hands we have, the better the UWN runs, and the more fun with it we can have.
  49 [17:16] <tyche> Despite all that I've just told you, the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter isn't OUR newsletter.  It's YOUR'S.  The information that makes up the bulk of the newsletter comes from  you.  Every entry in the Upcoming Meetings and Events is something that YOU have added to the Fridge calendar.  All the Meeting Summaries, all the Security and Updates, and much more, come from YOU.
  50 [17:16] <tyche> Our purpose is to document them in a way that reaches beyond the range of your particular circles of influence.  Our purpose is to celebrate the advances you make, the achievements you accomplish, and yes even the setbacks you experience.  And for that we need your help.
  51 [17:17] <tyche> There are procedures you can follow . . . oh, nothing difficult . . . that will make it easier for us and better for you.  Little things, like providing a link for the agenda of your meetings to the Fridge calendar, or making sure that security updates and release updates are documented where they need to be.
  52 [17:17] <tyche> Another way you can help is to make sure you write up whatever events, new programs, or etcetera in a blog article or some format that we can link to.  This way, what's reported is what YOU want known, and not some vague opinion.  We who edit the UWN have had to scramble on a few occasions to get such links, and people haven't understood why.  The "why" is simple.  It keeps US honest in our reporting, and presents the facts that YOU want
  53 [17:17] <tyche> reported.
  54 [17:18] <tyche> Casual, "one-off" contributions are always welcome.  You can let us know in the #ubuntu-news channel or in an email to the list - ubuntu-news-team@lists.ubuntu.com or mailto:ubuntu-news@lists.ubuntu.com .  Be sure to include a link to where the information actually is, so we can add it to the UWN.  By the way, feedback about the UWN can also be addressed through the same means.  We like constructive criticism (and, of course, we ALWAYS like to
  55 [17:18] <tyche> hear compliments.  Hee hee).
  56 [17:18] <tyche> Right now, we have a pretty good balance of people helping put the UWN together.  However, there are times when we do need more help.  If you are interested in being listed as a contributor (one that does the nuts and bolts, tedious and hectic, work of putting the UWN together, contact us in the #ubuntu-news channel.  We'll gladly talk to you about it.
  57 [17:19] <tyche> Now that I've blathered on for what seems like forever, here's your chance to ask questions that I may not have covered in the presentation.
  58 [17:19] <akgraner> <gotunandan> [QUESTION]: on what basis do you decide ubuntu news/blogs is relevant ?
  59 [17:19] <tyche> And I'd like to thank Amber (akgraner) in advance for fielding questions for me.
  60 [17:20] <tyche> gotunandan: Mostly, we look to see if it's Ubuntu related, and provides INFORMATION.  Information may be positive or negative, as long as it's not just "selling" or FUD.
  61 [17:20] <tyche> Next?
  62 [17:21] <akgraner> <Rohirrim> [QUESTION]: Does the newsletter have a mailing list or is it just RSS feed?
  63 [17:22] <tyche> Rohirrim: That's a good question for which I don't have a good answer.  I BELIEVE it is set up on a mailing list.  I'm going to suggest that you ask that question in the -news channel.
  64 [17:22] <tyche> Next?
  65 [17:22] <akgraner> <TeslaUa> [QUESTION]: how about translations into other languages?
  66 [17:23] <tyche> TeslaUa: We're always looking for people or groups to translate the newsletter.  We have some who do and/or take information from the newsletter to add to their own.  But the core group doesn't have any translators in it.
  67 [17:24] <tyche> Next?
  68 [17:24] <akgraner> <openweek0_> [QUESTION]: Have you considered asking people to write a piece for you to link to? If you want to know about a certain issue I'm sure some people would knock up a reasonable piece for you.
  69 [17:24] <tyche> We're getting some GOOD questions, here.  I'm sure my splurb only touched on the highlights.
  70 [17:26] <tyche> openweek0: We've had people come to us and say "hey, how about . . ." then worked with them to develop a web page we could link to, so we could add their article to the UWN.  There have also been times when we've requested information from people.  But, I repeat, we rely on hard links - something someone else has  written up, not our opinion.
  71 [17:27] <tyche> Next?
  72 [17:27] <akgraner> <gotunandan> [Question]: i missed the beginning of the session, is there a specific place, irc channel, mailing list where one can submit info to be included in UWN
  73 [17:29] <tyche> gotunandan: I'm not ignoring you.  I'm having to go back through my splurb to find the actual links that I put up.  Just a sec.
  74 [17:31] <tyche> gotunandan: Tell you what, this entire presentation (possibly minus the questions) will be on my blog site, and the information will be in there.  So as not to hold things up, I'll refer you to http://tycheent.wordpress.com/
  75 [17:31] <tyche> It'll be on there a little after this session ends.
  76 [17:31] <tyche> Next
  77 [17:31] <akgraner> <TeslaUa> [QUESTION]: i would like to know how non-english versions of UWN are made and how to contribute. thanks.
  78 [17:33] <tyche> TeslaUa: Non-English versions are done by the translators.  Some of them simply take portions of the UWN and add them to their own newsletter, and you'd have to ask them how to contribute to those.  Others translate the whole thing (a daunting task, from my opinion), in which case the contribution would have to be in the UWN, itself
  79 [17:33] <tyche> Next?
  80 [17:34] <akgraner> [QUESTION] applications will need to be added in order to to use the scripts?  where are they found? and how much technical experience does one need?
  81 [17:34] <tyche> BTW, when I post the splurb to the website, I'll try to do a better job of spell checking.  :-)
  82 [17:35] <tyche> I'm not sure I understand the question about adding applications in order to use the scripts.  If you mean the ones we use for Security and Updates, it's BeautifulSoup - a python module - and is in the repos.
  83 [17:35] <tyche> Next?
  84 [17:38] <akgraner> tyche  - speaking from the beginner point of view with UWN  - you and johnc4510 do an amazing job of mentoring
  85 [17:38] <tyche> BeautifulSoup is a module that is needed to use the Security and Updates scripts.  Since I didn't create the python scripts we use, I can't really tell you what it does.  The scripts were created by a previous Chief Editor (Thanks, boredandblogging).  I'm just a user.
  86 [17:39] <tyche> akgraner: We try.  He taught me a bunch (and is STILL teaching me a bunch).  But the real test comes down to a new contributor's willingness to learn.
  87 [17:42] <tyche> What else can I help people with?
  88 [17:42] <tyche> One thing I'll mention about the socialization aspects of the UWN.  It helps to keep us on the same page with changes, and to be able to interact with eachother - offering suggestions and making corrections.
  89 [17:42] <tyche> It's as much an important part of the UWN as the links we go to for information.
  90 [17:44] <akgraner> <effie-jayx> QUESTION: how does Planet Ubuntu interact with UWN?
  91 [17:46] <akgraner> I think tyche is having some lag issues...
  92 [17:46] <jcastro> let's give him a few minutes to reconnect
  93 [17:46] <akgraner> about 130sec it would seem..
  94 [17:49] <jcastro> ok so tyche is having lag problems
  95 [17:49] <jcastro> let's go ahead and take a 10 minute break

MeetingLogs/openweekKarmic/WeeklyNews (last edited 2009-11-03 00:48:55 by 99-21-107-94)