Monday, October 05, 2020

Is okular-devel mailing list the correct way to reach the Okular developers? If not what do we use?

After my recent failure of gaining traction to get people to join a potential Okular Virtual Sprint i wondered, is the okular-devel mailing list representative of the current okular contributors?


Looking at the sheer number of subscribers one would think that probably. There's currently 128 people subscribed to the okular-devel mailing list, and we definitely don't have that many contributors, so it would seem the mailing list is a good place to reach all the contributors, but let's look at the actual numbers.


Okular git repo has had 46 people contributing code[*] in the last year.

Only 17% of those are subscribed to the okular-devel mailing list.

If we count commits instead of commiters, the number raises to 65% but that's just because I account for more than 50% of the commits, if you remove myself from the equation the number drops to 28%.

If we don't count people that only commited once (thinking that they may not be really interested in the project), the number is still at only 25% of commiters and 30% of commits (ignoring me again) subscribed to the mailing list.

So it would seem that the answer is leaning towards "no, i can't use okular-devel to contact the okular developers".

But if not the mailing list? What am i supposed to use? I don't see any other method that would be better.

Suggestions welcome!

[*] Yes I'm limiting contributors to git commiters at this point, it's the only thing i can easily count, i understand there's more contributions than code contributions


dhaumann said...

What about an announcement on the kde-community mailing list? That seems a valid approved to me. And post in parallel to the okular mailing list and on the planet, and link it on reddit/r/kde. What's important is to also target new developers, and you reach them only via reddit and the planet.

For Kate this recently worked quite nicely and we got several color theme contributions.

Kleag said...

Don't know if it is compatible with rules or ethical, but you could gather the emails from last year commiters and write to all of them, with possibly a suggestion to join the mailing list.

Jonathan Riddell said...

This does nicely suggest we need to move to Discourse for mailing lists (as well as user forum) so that people can interact how they expect, through the web or by email as is their choice.

Albert Astals Cid said...

@dhaumann kde-community would maybe work for like the sprint, but not for other things like "Let's increase the minimum required version of cmake"

@Kleag i don't know maybe, sounds a bit aggressive, but could be an idea, maybe they don't even know the mailing list exists?

@Jonathan You need to stop pretending one can use Discourse via email, you can't. And even if you could I don't see how Discourse would help, you're suggesting people are not subscribed because they don't like mailing lists, I need proof of that.

Simone Gaiarin said...

I report my experience. The time I can allocate to the contribution of Okular is unfortunately very little, so for now I try to contribute on the part of the code base I touched, i.e. the annotation toolbar. This means that I try to follow up also on the bugs related to the annotation toolbar. Occasionally I comment on other issues or test some MR.

I never liked the mailing lists because there are way too messages coming in that are unrelated to my area of interest and I do not have the time to screen all those messages every day. Maybe it's just me that is not able to use a mailing list correctly, e.g. putting some sort of filter.

What I would ideally like is to:
1. receive only sporadic messages regarding general things, e.g. a sprint, "increase the minimum required version of cmake"
2. receive mails regarding bugs of my competence (this already happens when someone triage a bug on bugzilla and assign it to me or adds me to CC)
3. receive mails regarding MR I may be able to review (this already happens when someone cite me in gitlab)

A possible solution for point 1 could be to add a tag [General] or something like this to the mail of the mailing list, so that I can filter only those. This however needs to be done manually for each email I guess.

I do not know how discord works, but having some solution that allows to subscribe to only some "channels" would be a good solution.

Regarding kde-community, personally I am not going to subscribe to it given my little time.

I follow planetkde and I get most of my news regarding KDE from it.

Nate Graham said...

I think Simone's point is a good one: for infrequent contributors, just getting general news and important updates is important and the mailing list is unsuitable for it because the signal-to-noise ratio is too low, probably due to the automated emails from bugzilla. Personally I'm not subscribed to okular-devel for the same reason. It's really only suitable for a person whose full-time job is to work on Okular. I suspect that doesn't describe many (or any) Okular devels these days.

If the mailing list was only used for human-to-human emails, and there was a second one you could subscribe to for bugzilla notifications, that would help a lot and I think you might see more people subscribing to the humans-only mailing list.

That said, even with this change, mailing lists are dying because of poor UX, and I agree with Jonathan than moving to Discourse--or another modern option like Hyperkitty, or *something* else--is of critical importance or else we will lose our ability to coordinate communication with younger contributors. KDE doesn't seem to have a problem attracting younger folks these days. We have tons and tons (and I do mean tons and tons) of people in the 15-20 age bracket in the VDG. However none of them subscribe to mailing lists. Like, none of them. Seriously. We have a VDG chat room which is full of young people connecting via Matrix and Telegram (not IRC, notably). But the VDG mailing list is dead, dead, dead.

Maye Discourse isn't the way to go. I'm not an expert in these things. Hyperkitty seems pretty nice and it's got a good email workflow AFAIK.

Albert Astals Cid said...

I think the problem is, you all are not actually using a proper email client to read your mail and just using gmail terrible web interface (or gmail terrible Android app)?

I really don't see the problem with the emails you don't care about, i clean all of them in like 20 seconds, DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE, boom gone :)

About people being in chat rooms and not mailing lists, that's just bad, I can't follow a chat room, i have an actual work to do and the UX of chat rooms is not made for "reading later", but i can follow a mailing list just fine. So anything that involves chat rooms won't have me contributing.