17 Nov

Where’s Me Support?!

Over the two (2+) plus years, I started many projects within the Open * communities that I’m apart of. Most of these projects I started were meant to be worked on with two or more people (including me, of course) but I never had luck in getting anyone to work together with me. Okay, once it has succeeded and two (2) or three (3) times, it was close but still failed. That one time when it succeeded happened because I was on the Membership Board where the members had to be committed.

Because many projects meant for collaboration failed that means either that the communities don’t have enough people willing to work with me (or on anything!) (or a time commitment) or I have networking issues. The latter is within my control and the earlier is one of the problems that most of the Open * communities face.

Lacking support and the feeling of not getting things done over these two plus years is making me to lose motivation to volunteer within these communities. In fact, some of this has already affected four teams within the Ubuntu Community: Ubuntu Women, Ubuntu Ohio, Ubuntu Leadership Team, and Ubuntu Scientists and no news or any activity is shown. As for others, I’m close in removing myself from the communities, something that I don’t want to do and this is why I wrote this. It’s to answer my question of: Where’s my support?! (“me” in the title, but it’s for the lightheartedness that this post needs) I know of a few that maybe feeling this also.

As a thought, as I wrote this post, is what if I worked on a site that could serve as a volunteer board for projects within the Open * communities. Something like “Find a Task” started by Mozilla (I think) and brought over to the Ubuntu Community by Ian W, but maybe as a Discourse forum or Stack Exchange. The only problem that I will face is, again, support for people who want to post and to read. I had issues getting Open Science groups/bloggers/people to add their blog’s feed to Planet Open Science hosted by OKFN’s Open Science But that might be different if it will have almost all types of Open * movements will be represented. Who knows.

Readers, please don’t worry, as this post is written during the CC election in the Ubuntu Community, it will not affect my will to run for a chair. In fact, I think, being in the CC could help me to learn to deal with this issue if others are facing this but they are afraid to talk about in public.

I really, really don’t want to leave any of the Open Communities because of lack of support and I hope some of you can understand and help me. I would like your feedback/comments/advice on this one.

Thank you.

P.S. If this sounded like a rant, sorry, I had to get it out.

4 thoughts on “Where’s Me Support?!

  1. You’re not alone. We have all had that feeling of toiling in the wilderness.

    The problem is that collaboration on a project requires a collaborator who is not obnoxious, has compatible interests, agrees with your approach, and at the same time.

    Example: The Puppy Linux distro was run by one fellow for about four years…until he lost interest in doing it (alone). Five years later, another person picked up and continued the project (mostly alone).

    Example: Think about how many moribund and forgotten GitHub projects you have run across with a lone contributor.

    One way to stay pleasant and sane is to find an activity that is both Ubuntu-related and social. Join an existing (related) team that has some activity and chatter. I usually suggest learning to Triage in the Bug Squad, or perhaps Support Guru in the Forums. These complement your coding and skills with personal interaction.

    I doubt another online platform will help – we already have plenty of platforms for reaching collaborators. It’s not a technical problem, and we cannot code our way out of it. The pool of potential collaborators isn’t murky – it’s shallow and transient.

    The best technical solution I can think of is to encourage coders to finish and package their projects and upload to Debian, so the software and code get seen by the widest possible audience. And Debian already has mentors to help with that….

  2. Ian is absolutely right, we’ve all been here. The majority of projects I’ve started have failed without ever gaining any interest other than mine.

    There are three things I would recommend that make this easier:

    1) Find a new project leader early. Finding and keeping that #2 contributor is the hardest thing to do, but if you let yourself be that person (by making someone else #1) you can make that easier.

    2) Know when to let go. Sometimes an idea is bad, but more often it’s just not in the right place at the right time. You probably don’t have enough time to do all the things you want to do already, so don’t spend it on something that’s not working out, move on to the next thing while you still have motivation to do so.

    3) People generally don’t remember projects that fail. I could fill a page with projects of mine that have failed, but you probably don’t know about more than one or two. Nobody is going to hold it against you if you let them go. Keep trying until you find your runaway success, and that’s what you’ll be remembered for.

  3. Perseverance is key. Right now my job is holding me back from many things I’d like to do. For example, I can’t even donate to a political campaign in support even if I wanted to. After that last 127 page form I had to fill out, I’m going to be scrutinized for contacts with persons who are not US citizens or US nationals. That kinda sucks when you have an aunt-in-law who is Canadian.

    This is a very difficult time for many things. I would dare say it is a second Gilded Age. Just hang in there. That truly is the best I can say while I continue to work for the nasty people.

  4. I wish I had a good answer, as others have said, we’ve been there too. Michael offers some great advice already. I’d also recommend joining a community where things are going very well and you don’t have to be a leader. It’s amazing how inspiring and energizing it was for me to go back to projects where I’m just working on a couple non-leadership tasks and watching the project succeed around me. It gave me energy and perspective when I went back to projects that were suffering, and gave me ideas on how to improve them.

    There’s also sometimes no salvaging some projects. We can chat about this at some point if you’d like, but I’ve worked for years on some projects that never really became self-sustaining, regardless of what I did. Sometimes I handed them off to others who wanted to give it a go, other times I just let them die (painful!) and other times I dragged them along because of feedback here and there from folks who expressed that they felt there was still value in them (exhausting!).

    I will mention that your work in the community has been inspiring to me and I’m thankful for your help when we’ve worked together. I’m very glad you decided to run for the Ubuntu Community Council, we need people like you who care and want to help the community, the CC is a great place to do that 🙂 Good luck!

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