Monday, September 01, 2008

Merges and Communities

Ok, it's been two weeks since the merge between the TeensOnLinux and TeenLinux communities was democratically halted. And so far, opinions have varied from tunys on the anti-merger side to bjwebb (early episodes) on the pro-merger side. Now, I'm not typically a moderate on most issues. On most things to me, there's right and there's wrong. There's no use in being half-right because you're also half-wrong. However, I found this issue to be painted too far in black and white. There was either merging, and consolidating the two communities into one totally new community. I didn't like that because it meant throwing away all existing infrastructure and work and starting from scratch. If you asked me, this would have been a HUGE waste of resources. It may be valiant, but still highly impractical. We even had TeensOnLinux PENS! It would have been a shame for those to go to waste. However, on the other side of the spectrum, two separate competing teen linux communities. To me, that's obviously unhealthy for the community as a whole because most resources will be divided between the two communities. I think this was the main point that the TeenLinux people said they were concerned about. And I, for one, agree with them on that. A community divided for no reason is definitely a waste.

However, I think a compromise between the two would be the best solution to this problem. While in ##teenlinux, I noticed that the conversations there are actually ABOUT Linux. They're nothing like the conversations in the ToL channel. Our conversations are far more diverse and... let's say wacky thanks to bobsalad helping to lead them. So that leads me to think that maybe we could work together as one community, TeenLinux being where serious conversations happen, and TeensOnLinux being where people socialize more. However, I believe that it's still not enough justification for two communities. It's sorta like #ubuntu and #ubuntu-offtopic. There's a reason they're seperate channels, but they're still under the same community. It wouldn't be right to be discussing the ext4 filesystem, then be interrupted by this person who just went to Disneyland. With two channels with different aims, that distraction will be largely mitigated. Now we also think about outreach. Now, I know that Teens On Linux has been highly popularized in media. Tunys gave a talk about it on OSCON, we were mentioned in Full Circle Magazine. There are already so many references to us that it would cause a huge confusion to new recruits if ToL were to disappear. So, I was thinking something like.... (you should have seen this coming) when Sun acquired MySQL. Although they're now really the same entity, Sun still allows MySQL a large amount of autonomy to do what it needs to do. They're together in all but name, and I think that's what the teen linux communities need to do. Cooperate instead of compete, but still maintain distinct identities. Specialization would also find a role here. TeenLinux, which is obviously capable of technical discussion, could continue doing so. We at TeensOnLinux could do what we do best and outreach to the outside world. All while sharing the goal of furthering Linux use among teens. Of course, there certainly can be an overlap of community. Those who both have the know-how and want to just hang out can be in both communities. So, this is a hand from me to the TeenLinux community of cooperation instead of competition (can't say anything about tunys yet).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome read, well done