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Author Topic: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?  (Read 26196 times)

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bitcloud

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Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« on: November 17, 2006, 08:30:56 pm »

I ask this with utter respect for a really outstanding piece of software. I understand you will get a lot of newbies asking a lot of questions before doing thorough searches, and it's best to have guidelines in place to avoid this, but having patience is a major part of keeping a customer base. Many contributers and moderators understand this and are exceptionally helpful, but there are a few who really taint all your hard work with a bitter aftertaste.

There is one particular developer who I can only expect has savant like coding abilities because his social engineering skills are non-existent. I would hate to think how many potential users of coppermine have abandoned it after encountering his abrasiveness on these forums. How many talented would-be contributors have chosen to instead devote their time to a more friendly project?

I don't write this for any personal reason - all of my experiences on this forum have been alright, but I've seen countless threads where people have been rudely shut down, abused, insulted or otherwise degraded. These people are your base - your code is just a bunch of text files if it's not being used. As successful programmers have always known, people aren't "stupid" for not knowing how to use your code. Don't treat them that way.

The forum itself is convoluted and confusing & the search doesn't seem to work properly. Don't simply dismiss these comments as they are not meant to be pointless critisism. They are simply meant to illustrate why you get so many users "asking stupid questions" after their several hour long searches come up naught.

Please don't mod me down for making this observation. I really like coppermine, I think most of the team are exceptional, and many on the forums are extremely helpful.
It's just sad to see certain moderators viewing their own extremely grateful users with such contempt.
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electrode

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2006, 07:10:13 pm »

It's a fact of life. You encounter all sorts in your sojourn of life, and you need to have a bit of a thick skin.  Part of the frustation expressed answering what must be the same silly questions over and over again, comes from the structure of this board and the inadequate means of capturing the knowledge base. There's a job for someone who wants to volunteer to redesign the boards and to capture the documentation and knowledge in a structured, organized and accessible way. Any volunteers? 

There's lots of examples around of better structures for capturing knowledge. Look at the Wiki model for instance. I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to add a wiki to this site.

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bitcloud

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2006, 07:46:05 am »

Yeah I imagine a wiki would be a great addition..

There are a lot of fairly noob questions flying around which must frustrate, but "noobs" are a fact of life... Open source communities tend to view them with distain, but I really think this is the reason OS often gets ignored by the mainstream. I remember when the linux pushers were asking why people never adopted linux, instead of choosing windows... I asked how to install linux, and got such an arrogant response that it turned me off linux in general... People wanted the mainstream to adopt it, but not at the expence of their ego pedestal... They'd seem to want to confound potential users (or "noobs" if you wanted a thoroughly patronising name) with their leet speak or arrogance more than they want them as users...

I hope this doesn't happen with coppermine, because if you can successfully wade through the minefield of insults and condescension in these forums, there is a wealth of information about a really great piece of software. There are alternatives out there that are *far* more user friendly, have much more patient and understanding communities (and from what i've read, more features under the hood). New users are rated with negative karma, which amounts to scowls and distain. If coppermine were the only option I'm sure many people would tolerate it, but it's not so people have no reason to simply swallow the bad taste in their mouths...

Do you guy's want to stay competitive? I would tone down the elitism and condescension. The new logo is a good idea for 1.5, and I would couple that with a site frontpage redesign (the current one is convoluted and points in a thousand different directions  - does anyone who *knows* what imagemagic is, need you to link them to the site for example?) and a friendlier attitude toward your users...
Electrode's right - the wiki is also a great idea!
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lamama

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2006, 06:44:51 am »

I thought about responding to your first post days ago...

Bitcloud, I hope you haven't earned all your negative karma points just for starting this thread. It's important to hear such critic, it's IMHO not totally pointless.

You may be right with some points. Some supporters reactions may be harsh or unfriendly sometimes.
But: there are only a few regular supporters and a lot of silly questions by people who don't even know the docs but want to run coppermine, sometimes without zero knowledge about setting up a web page.

Sometimes it would be more honest just to tell them: Forget about CPG, join smugsmug or webshots etc. and get lucky.
Some have only basic knowledge and want to learn and understand how cpg works, even if it's their first website project ever.

Others come with no expierence how to behave here or how to work properly with such support sites.

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wade through the minefield of insults and condescension
Ok, it's your subjective point of view. I've made bad and maybe 'insulting' experiences in this forums and I've found some good advice and positive feedback too, even from the same supporters.
It's easy to be misunderstood here, not everybody has english as first language, humor can be misunderstood as unfriendliness or arrogance.
I've gained negative karma points in the past (because of some silly reason where I felt totally misunderstood) and have been angry about supporters and DevTeam members. I had been to the point of never asking anything here again and avoiding this place completly.

Well, after a few days I'd calmed down and thought about more constructive ways, like sharing my own knowledge about coppermine, coding and webhosting. I'm no expert, but if it helps and more expert supporters can spent their time on more serious issues - fine.  I try to be more friendly and more patient than I've experienced it with other supporters - on the other hand I had to find out how easy it is to loose patience myself. ::)

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I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to add a wiki to this site.
Thought about that Idea, esp. for translations of the docs it would be a good idea.
Indeed: it could also be used to start a better kind of FAQ and knowledge base.

Maybe the board could use some kind of "newbie" section for coppermine-first-timers and such with no website-experience. Perhaps it can help the expert supporters to concentrate on more sophisticated problems.

But this is getting OT...
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donnoman

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2006, 02:50:00 am »

I think this post is entirely disingenuous.  The Coppermine project is not a representation of totalitarianism.  It is more accurately a Benevolent Dictatorship.

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An authoritarian leader who exercises his or her political power for the benefit of the people rather than exclusively for his or her own self-interest or benefit, or for the benefit of only a small portion of the people

The main reason I continued developing and participating with the Coppermine community can be attributed directly with my respect and awe of the developer of which you speak.   I was impressed with his ability to maintain order, not to be afraid to tell people what they needed to know.  I've never read animosity into any of his posts, he is direct and to the point, and his goal is to maintain some semblance of order in this massive unwieldy forum.  Unlike most of our society who soften things up for the challenged, you always know where you are at with him. I appreciate that honesty. It is a large credit to him that Coppermine was salvaged and has grown to the point at which you now enjoy the fruits of countless hours of his and others labor. 

Even if you've been on the receiving end of some brutally honest communication, and I have been ... more than once, I respect him because it was the truth, and am still in awe of all of the early developers commitments that have produced this fantastic application.

Truthfully, what would you rather have?  A dev who never shows up in the forums, or a dev who shows up in the forums, answers questions, helps countless people, but tells you to mind the board rules? It's a thankless gruelling job, and I really appreciate that he does it, otherwise I and the other devs would have to pick up the slack. 

I tell you what, I'll listen to your rant and consider it more, when you reach half of that dev's posts in this forum.  Heck I might even pay attention when you reach half of mine, and that's setting the bar really low comparatively.

Instead of barking up this tree, it won't accomplish anything anyway, why don't you setup a Coppermine wiki.  Nothing says it has to be hosted on Coppermine's site.  Set it up, advertise it on the forums, manage it, herd all of the contributers, edit it.  That is far more helpful to the Coppermine community than trying to do ... I'm not sure ... whatever deconstructive thing it was you were hoping to do with this post.
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bitcloud

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2006, 03:52:01 am »

Don't misinterpret what I was saying...

I have enormous respect for said dev. I know what a thankless job running a forum can be, I'm just seeing more and more people switching to alternatives, and I wouldn't like to think those switches could be avoided by a little more patience on the forums. It's already been indicated that the observation will be taken on board, so thanks, but now i'm repeating myself, so I won't continue this discussion any further.

I personally haven't been on the recieving end of any harsh words, and I've recieved a lot of negative karma for even trying to offer this outsiders perspective.

It's not about one of us being right or wrong here... It's simply a constructive critisism from someone who thoroughly enjoys & respects coppermine. Constructive critisism is a pretty thankless task too, but I know it doesn't fall on deaf ears.
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donnoman

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2006, 05:58:40 am »

I think the reason I felt I needed to respond to you was that there isn't anything constructive about the criticism you have offered. If anything I think it was only demeaning.  What exactly do you expect us to do with your criticism?

Why does Coppermine need to retain users who feel compelled to switch to a different product for whatever reason?

We are not a company, we make no profit whether we have 5 users or 5 million.  Certainly supporting those 5 million users will cost us more in both real dollars, time required, and frustration.

The devs create an application that you are welcome to help support, extend, and develop.  If you don't like the devs responses to certain questions; beat them to the reply with something that you feel is more helpful. 
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lamama

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2006, 12:01:34 am »

why don't you setup a Coppermine wiki.  Nothing says it has to be hosted on Coppermine's site.
To me it would look like some kind of separatism. If this is the "home" of Coppermine, it should be 'officially' hosted here. Example: IIRC Gaugau tried to convice someone who started a separate german CPG forum to cooperate, but without success (Actually, we have two seperate german cpg boards - one almost dead board and one in total opposition with this official board).

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that there isn't anything constructive about the criticism you have offered.
If you're applauding DevTeam members for their honesty, why not accepting when other users are hurt by a too large amount of honesty and put that frustration into a post? IMO he doesn't have to be very constructive in that case. In a certain way he is just honest.  ;)

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I'll listen to your rant and consider it more, when you reach half of that dev's posts in this forum.
Argh, you don't really mean that, do you?
Simple users must have the 'right' to give a feed back, even if they are not as experienced as DevTeamers or are forum members for a few months and not since the very beginning. And it's not really fair to slap them with bad karma just because their feedback is somehow 'emotional' and therefore not "constructive". How can you be constructive when you feel misunderstood or even 'insulted' (regardless how subjective it is)?
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donnoman

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2006, 04:12:00 am »

I don't always have to be right, actually I encourage intelligent dissenting views because it helps flesh out problems and create better solutions.  I don't even mind constructive criticism.  My point was there was nothing constructive offered with his plate of criticism, only a good helping of in my opinion, unfounded criticism.  He admittedly hasn't been on the recieving end, so I think he has even less of a basis to complain. He is complaining by-proxy.  And he didn't approach it as "is there something we can do to make this forum more friendly." He comes out swinging with "totalitarianism" in the subject line.... He lost me at totalitarianism, that's an insult any way you want to interpret it.  Saying later ... "I ask this with utter respect"... is just a lame cover.  His goal was to encite a backlash of agreement against the devs.  In my opinion he was dishonest when he said "I ask this with utter respect", he had already shown utter disrespect by the subject line.

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To me it would look like some kind of separatism. If this is the "home" of Coppermine, it should be 'officially' hosted here.

I couldn't disagree more.  How many places can you get help with PHP. Certainly not just on PHP.net, nor even Zend.com. There's a plethora of places to get good help with PHP.  I think Coppermine suffers from not having third party specialized support by dedicated members, so that the devs don't have to field all of the questions.  It is why I support a separate site dedicated to plugins and their development.  If you are a developer and want to talk about developing plugins, it's a great place to go, because thats all we will talk about.  Whereas in the plugins forum you have all requests, announcements, me toos, and will someone make me a ... and other general distractions.  One of the complaints that was fielded about the forums being unwieldy I think is valid. If we had more third party boards such as mine for plugins where I can take some of the administrative burden away from the core devs, and I can specialize my forum for my area of interest and it would help the overall Coppermine community.  And I really like the idea of a community supported Coppermine Wiki; I think that would spur a lot of community participation to get it up and running, and I don't think it has to be hosted on Coppermine's main site. 

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why not accepting when other users are hurt by a too large amount of honesty

Suck it up, were not your babysitter, therapist, mother, employee nor slave.  If you want my respect and patience you have to earn it.  It's not hard... you just have to ask an intelligent question. 
 
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Argh, you don't really mean that, do you?

You bet I do!, maybe not half of the devs, particularly that dev because nobody will be able to match him, but unless you've spent some of your own precious time helping others, and getting a little frustrated with consumers who don't do a modicum of self help and then consume, consume, whine, and then consume some more. Then you have absolutely no standing to whine about the support that developers give other people. Step into a supporters shoes for a while before you go ranting.  I guarantee it will take the edge off of your complaint.
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lamama

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2006, 11:51:29 am »

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Step into a supporters shoes for a while before you go ranting.
I've been.  ::)  Surely not as much as others around here, but enough to experience my own impatience more than once...

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and then consume, consume, whine, and then consume some more
You're right, but we all started as consumers somehow, somewhere, before we're ending up as contributors or supporters, don't we?

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were not your babysitter, therapist, mother, employee nor slave.
Not? Ahhh! That explains a lot...  ;D

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I really like the idea of a community supported Coppermine Wiki;
Have to think about it... Actually, I've got not the time to start one. I could contribute, but not much more. Any others who like to start a CPG wiki?
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Joachim Müller

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2006, 07:35:00 pm »

Side-note: a wiki has been considered (and started) several times already by various devs. All efforts to start one have been in vain, so the wikis ended up "dead", basically because of the "rogue editors" issues and questions of authentification. I suggest starting another thread about the wiki idea though.

Joachim
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electrode

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2006, 12:38:08 am »

Let's take this opportunity to truely thank all the developers for the fantastic job they've done making this software feature rich, stable, configurable and versatile without program changes, and also for their tireless effort at supporting the users. Bloody well done if you ask me!

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donnoman

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2006, 02:55:13 am »

See, now thats how you improve karma  ;D 
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bitcloud

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2006, 07:30:03 am »

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What exactly do you expect us to do with your criticism?
1) I would suggest increasing new users to +10 karma to begin with, so they can lose karma without falling into a fairly insulting negative karma area.

2) I would try and have a little more patience and respect for your users. What is your projects mission? Create a fantastic bit of software? or create a fantastic & popular bit of software. If you want it to be popular you have to support your users. Anyone who visits this site has done so because they are your customers. If you don't want customers, thats fine - stop suggesting/promoting this software. If you DO want customers, you'll keep them by being a little patient and treating them with respect.  ;)

3) I would not be so quick to click the "bad karma" button. Some users might make mistakes, and they don't need to get negative karma to remind them they've been bad little boys/girls (the negative karma thing is particularly offensive to new users. I would not be surprised to see the number of users rated with negative karma, leaving these forums, and leaving coppermine altogether)

4) Improve on your search engine. It doesn't seem to work properly - people are searching for hours and coming up blank and then losing karma for "re posting". Perhaps a search "sticky" so some search terms return stickies results at the top of the page...

5) Allow for users to participate in the forum without intervention or moderation.

I've already stated those points, and most of the moderators have read it and undoubtedly taken it on board, knowing where it comes from, but for you donnoman, I've outlined it a little more comprehensively.
I don't get anything out of posting this (except bad karma it seems). If it wasn't me, someone else would have down the track, and quite frankly the sooner an outsider illustrates these points, the sooner you guys can see how the community appears to "noobs" (ie real professional members of society who are not programmers, but seek to take advantage of this great software) as they are "belittled" by an unecessarily overbearing forum. It might be a nice community for those who are initiated - insular communities always are - but you have a shop front, you have customers and you have competition. Being insular isn't to your advantage.

btw donnoman.
I'm sure the irony of receiving good karma (or praise) by hyjacking a thread isn't lost on anyone here...
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Joachim Müller

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2006, 08:44:37 am »

What is your projects mission? Create a fantastic bit of software?
Correct

If you want it to be popular you have to support your users.
Who says so? This is wishful thinking. We don't have customers - Coppermine is an open source project without any fund raising activity. No profits, no customer. Coppermine has got users, not customers. It's up to the devs what level of support they want to provide. There are various open source projects (and some of them far more popular than Coppermine) which don't come with support at all (not by a forum nor email). All users have to agree to the board rules when signing up. The board rules clearly say that we're not going to answer questions that are already being covered in the docs. We clearly say that having read the docs is mandatory before being allowed to post. You want to see this changed? Then fine, you're welcome to stay around here and answer the same questions over (like a trained parrot) that are being answered in the documentation.


Improve on your search engine. It doesn't seem to work properly - people are searching for hours
Oh, so you suggest that we re-write the search engine that comes with SMF? We're not only suppossed to give support, but code for other projects as well? If your search doesn't return the expected results, there's simply something wrong with your search terms. You should re-phrase them. Surprisingly, as the search index of the board grows, search queries for non-specific words (like "upload" or "picture") won't return usable results. This is to be expected from a forum that contains  180,000+ posts in 32,000+ threads. If you know a way to improve this, we're looking forward to your code contribution.

Perhaps a search "sticky" so some search terms return stickies results at the top of the page...
We have loads of sticky threads. Many users blatantly ignore to read them before posting - they post anyway, only seconds after registering. That's how support boards work: not everyone is playing by the rules, but many do. Those who play by the rules often don't have to post their question, as they find the answer by searching first. They usually never bother to post something like "I have been looking for XXX and I found it on the page YYY", as it wouldn't make sense.
Those who don't play by the rules have to be reminded of them.

but for you donnoman, I've outlined it a little more comprehensively.
This thread has started as a flame in the first place (and you cowardly failed to mention my name although you constantly bashed me), and it is going into a direction where things get personal. I'm not going to tolerate this much longer. Call it totalitarianism if you want, I call it doing what needs to be done.


I'm sure the irony of receiving good karma (or praise) by hyjacking a thread isn't lost on anyone here...
I agree that the "thank you" posting has been posted with good intentions, but is slightly off topic here; it should have been posted in the thread "THANKS to the devs". However, as you can see, there are methods to receive positive karma - the best methods are being discussed in the thread "We need your help". Let's see some actual contributions from you instead of spreading confrontational postings all over the board (because that's my job, remember ;)?).

You (bitcloud) are correct in some aspects - I often fail to add some encouraging "icing" on top of my moderation replies - they often might sound harsh and rude. One possible reason might be that English is not my first language, another possible reason might be that I spend a lot of time working on the project, so I tend to post only short notes, without playing nice. But of course you are right: I'm human, I make mistakes. My postings often  are too harsh - users who don't know that this is part of my job won't realize this and might leave in frustration. I apaologize for this.

However, I don't apologize for the karma ratings I have given - if you insist I can post reference to the postings where you misbehaved (in terms of breaking board rules), but I can't see any point in such a discussion. You didn't get negative karma for starting this thread (at least not from me). Meta discussions about karma won't improve your karma though - there are threads that explain this in detail.
The only karma-related thing on my todo list is to add a mod to SMF to make the karma only visible for the privileged groups who are allowed to rate in the first place. Karma rating is being used as a tool for supporters to be able to spot and track users who constantly misbehave. It is not meant to disappoint users in the first place.

Bottom line: I'd like to see this thread closed without having to lock it. I can see that there has been a heated discussion, and I can see your point. However, as suggested above, you should review your attitude: Coppermine is a non-profit open source project, not a product of some company. Therefor, your expectations just don't apply. I strongly suggest reading the brilliant document "How To Ask Questions The Smart Way" by Eric S. Raymond to understand what an open source project is and how you're suppossed to deal with support staff.

Joachim

P.S. Target audience for Coppermine are not complete newbies, but people who know their way around in HTML, CSS and in running and maintaining pre-made PHP-driven apps with a mySQL backend (I try to avoid the term "webmaster"). Hobbyists and beginners are welcome to use it as well, but they mustn't expect to be spoon-fed.
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donnoman

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2006, 09:16:36 am »

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btw donnoman.
I'm sure the irony of receiving good karma (or praise) by hyjacking a thread isn't lost on anyone here...

Actually it wasn't lost on me, but you opened the door with "totalitarianism" and I felt his response was counterpoint to your subject, therefore was germane to the thread.  So I gave him the benifit of the doubt... Which isn't that what you were asking for?  Wouldn't giving him a negative karma be precisely the kind of activity that you were railing on about?  I hope that irony isn't lost on yourself.

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would suggest increasing new users to +10 karma to begin with
  It's not worth the time nor effort, though if there's a way we could hide karma altogether except from moderators I think would serve the same purpose and would end these discussions about karma permanantly.  Or we could just disable it.. I don't use karma for anything. If you ask a good question, and I'm paying attention, I'll answer it; I don't care what your karma is nor mine for that matter.  It's not a contest, and I won't win any prizes.

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4) Improve on your search engine. It doesn't seem to work properly - people are searching for hours and coming up blank and then losing karma for "re posting". Perhaps a search "sticky" so some search terms return stickies results at the top of the page...

Talk to SMF or improve your search skills, don't know what else to tell ya.  I can find what I'm looking for.  I search the same board with the same tools as you do.

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2) I would try and have a little more patience and respect for your users. What is your projects mission? Create a fantastic bit of software? or create a fantastic & popular bit of software. If you want it to be popular you have to support your users. Anyone who visits this site has done so because they are your customers. If you don't want customers, thats fine - stop suggesting/promoting this software. If you DO want customers, you'll keep them by being a little patient and treating them with respect. 

* What is your projects mission?

I can only speak for myself, but I am involved in the project simply because I liked the other devs, I liked the support and comraderie in the forums from other users.  I kept coming back long after I had my single use for a gallery setup and functioning.  I work on the project for entirely selfish reasons that have nothing to do with the fame and fortune that is absent  with donating to an open source project.

* stop suggesting/promoting this software.

I never did, so it would be hard to stop.  The "customers" as you call them (I call them "users" because calling them "customers" implies they paid and I owe them something in return)  seem to find the project on their own just like I did a few years ago.

* 5) Allow for users to participate in the forum without intervention or moderation.

Now you're just talking about Nihilism   ::)

Now that we've sparred a while, which was entertaining,  let's get down to it:

What constructive thing are YOU willing to do to help the Coppermine community that might make it more friendly to newbies?
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mentalist3d

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2008, 03:16:32 pm »

Just thought I'd add my ten bits worth to the discussion.

When I first joint the CPG forum, I was taken aback by some of the abrasive replies by the mods, but it is a large forum and so it's very understandable the attitude and stance the mods take. If the mods were to reply nicely to every topic and thread, I'm sure their voluntary time will increase, which in turn = less time in developing new features and helping with legit requests and support.

Secondly, some of the stand offish replies are funny and the only way a newbie will learn is to grow a thick skin and be told straight, otherwise you will never learn. I've been berated a couple of times but hey it just means I do my searches better and make sure any posts I now make are relevent and hopefully posted in the correct area.

Keep up the good work and hopefully one day I will gain enough working knowledge of CPG to be able to provide others the same help and support I have recieved at this forum :-)
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DJMaze

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2008, 09:12:01 pm »

It's a shame moms and dads never teach their kids anymore how to behave.
Now we have karma to do that for them online  ;D
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There are 2 kinds of users in this world: satisfied and complainers.
Why do we never hear something from the satisfied users?
http://coppermine-gallery.net/forum/index.php?topic=24315.0

dojo

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2008, 02:21:51 pm »

Sometimes even the most patient person can go up the walls when people just won't search. I have found I have a short temper too sometimes all because of this. No matter what you write or how many tutorials you post, people will come ask the same questions ... This is the problem with such a successful script ;)
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Hein Traag

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Re: Is forum totalitarianism affecting coppermine's popularity?
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2008, 02:37:10 pm »

As this thread seems more likely to be a honeypot for flamethrowers is it not a better idea to just close it ?
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