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Introduction: new community guy, and some discussion



Hi, everyone. :)

This is going to get a little long, I tend to ramble, apologies for that
in advance. So let me put the important stuff up front, so the busy ones
among you can skip the stuff down the bottom :)

Hi! I am Adam Williamson. I am working for Red Hat as of this Monday.  I
have been hired into the Fedora QA team essentially to drive community
involvement in the Fedora QA process. RH - and, to put a more personal
touch on it, Jay Turner, who's responsible for Fedora QA - felt that
Fedora could really benefit from more community involvement in the QA
process, so my role is to try and help develop that. To give you some
basic background, I'm 26 (27 on Feb 22nd) and I live in - and will be
working from - Vancouver in Canada. I was born in the UK and moved to
Vancouver nearly five years ago now. I love it up there. I like to play
tennis, swim, read, drink fine Canadian beers and wines (yes, wines!)
and am a rabid Canucks fan. My personal blog is
http://www.happyassassin.net , where I write about work and random stuff
that is broken and annoys me, and how terrible the Canucks are. :) I am
logged on IRC 24/7, pretty much, as adamw. I'll be there a lot of the
time and if I'm not, make sure my name is in your message (or just send
it as a query) and I'll see it when I'm back. I always read and reply to
my mail, and I'm on MSN and a few other things too. I'm an easy guy to
talk to :) 

I previously worked for Mandriva as - most importantly - the community
manager, but also Bugmaster, package maintainer, and doing some PR,
proofreading and translation stuff also. I ran Mandrake / Mandriva
exclusively on my systems until very recently, so I should say straight
out that I'm by no means a Fedora expert yet. I'm going to try and learn
fast, but I will probably say some really dumb things that indicate I
totally misunderstand something about Fedora, so please, when that
happens, tell me I'm an idiot. :) But from Mandriva I come with a pretty
solid knowledge of Linux in general and the awkward issues that affect
regular joes in particular, and from the community manager role I hope I
have some useful ideas about how to make it easy for community people to
get involved in the process, make valuable contributions, and be valued
by both RH and the wider Fedora community in turn.

I know there's a few issues surrounding this, so let me address a few
things that have come up:

#1, yes, I'm coming in from outside. I understand what this means; I'm
not going to pretend I can teach you guys anything about Fedora, I hope
to be learning that from you.

#2, I know some may be worried that RH is not really changing anything
by this - that I will be 'wwoods mk. 2'. I'm here in Raleigh for
orientation and I've had a lot of chats with wwoods and in many ways I'd
be very happy to be wwoods mk. 2, because he's awesome :). However,
there's an important practical difference.

wwoods is a guy who was already inside Fedora QA with a full-time job to
do and, when it was decided that there needed to be better community
involvement, he stuck his hand up and said he'd try and make it work.
Which is awesome of him. But it was always an add-on to his existing
work, and now he's stuck trying to balance things out and not really
having time for everything - he has to try and trade off the community
stuff against the need to, for instance, just help with getting F11
testing going in a pure practical way. Of course he's still going to be
around and we'll be working really closely together. But there's some
important differences for me. Basically, this *is* my job. I don't have
any other role. I am 100% on the Fedora side of things, I have no direct
RHEL involvement. The community is my sole focus, I don't have any
direct responsibilities to test X or Y or write test cases or anything
like that. I won't have to try and trade off other things against
community work, it's all I have to do. I may get into other stuff as a
secondary concern, but this is my primary, must-do stuff. So I think
this really does mark a change for RH, to have someone whose sole area
is to try and drive community involvement, and I hope I'll really be
able to bring the long-term dedication and commitment to the role that
that allows. I am here permanently (or right up until I screw up and
make Fedora explode), so this isn't a half-hearted temporary effort, I
really want to help grow this community in the long term.

#3, as I mentioned above, I'll be working remotely. I think this is
important. I've been chatting with a few of you already, and one point
that was raised is that - since the current internal QA team are all
pretty much in the same place - there's a feeling that a lot of 'water
cooler' stuff goes on, that the RH guys may be doing stuff between
themselves that just doesn't get out into public.

I think being remote is really great for things like this, because I
don't get internal shortcuts. I can't just wander over to someone's
cubicle, I can't walk down the hall and grab the coder and get a fix. I
try intentionally to do absolutely as much stuff as possible out in
public - on mailing lists, IRC channels, even through my blog or forums,
anywhere where everyone can see it and look back on it later - and
generally keep in touch with the experience that external guys have,
rather than what internal guys have, because it's easy to miss out on
understanding the things that external people have to deal with if you
use the systems they can't access all the time. So that's something I
definitely want to bring to this work.

Well, that's that. :) Finally I just wanted to talk about a few things
that came up today while I was jumping in with two feet to some
discussions, like the meeting earlier.

I had really great chats with leitz and viking_ice (J├│hann Gu├░mundsson)
covering a range of topics - thanks for all your insights and wisdom,
guys, that was awesome. Anyone else who wants to just grab me on IRC and
tell me what I ought to be doing, please please do, that would be great.
Various things came up, but one I wanted to record here was Johann's
idea about expanding the scope of QA.

Johann's suggestion - which was discussed somewhat in the meeting today
and I believe has been brought up before - is basically that we should
expand the scope of 'QA'. At present 'Fedora QA' really specifically
covers the bits that make up the Fedora distribution, and nothing else -
and even some bits, that are covered by other SIGs, don't really come
under our domain. Johann's idea is that we consider all testing-type
work within the Fedora project to be QA, and bring it all together and
unify it so that people doing 'QA' on, say, documentation, the wiki, or
artwork use the same systems and processes as people doing 'QA' on
Anaconda or GNOME. This would be organized on a SIG basis, so that the
new, expanded 'QA' group would have representatives from each SIG who
would communicate around.

I think this is a really big idea, but one that would have clear
benefits - it would allow good ideas and best practice to spread through
the different groups, and having standard test systems and procedures
has clear benefits, for instance in allowing people to work 'QA' on
different areas easily, and simply to understand the results coming out
of each group. It is a *big* idea, though, and one that no-one in QA -
either the community or internally - is in a position to just push
through by fiat. To get it done, you'd need buy-in from each SIG, so
that it could be done collaboratively with enthusiasm on all sides.
wwoods has given me some names of people in other SIGs who might be
interested in an idea like this, so we might be able to get together
with them and put together a little proof-of-concept of how it might
work, so I'll be talking to Johann more about that, and I hope we'll be
able to get something going in that line. Even if it's just to find out
that no-one else wants to do it, at least we'll have tried!

Other than that I guess I'd just like to mention a few things I'll be
doing. Once I really understand the QA process and the group dynamics we
have going on here, I'll be trying to reach out to people via mediums
that maybe haven't really been used before to try and grow the
involvement in QA - particularly through the forums. The other thing I
definitely want to do is to get involved in writing up the processes
involved in community QA on the Wiki, so we can point people who are
interested in joining in with the effort at a page or group of pages
where they can learn what they need to know to get involved and start
contributing usefully. I think that's a really big thing to encourage
new people to get involved - they don't need to know the 'special
people' who can tell them what it is they need to do, they can just read
about it. I wrote a lot of stuff (of that type, and others) for
Mandriva, so I'm planning to be writing definitely some of that myself,
but it would also be cool if others could get involved in that. So if
anyone thinks it would be fun to join me in getting more stuff written
down in a way that's clear, simple and easy for new people to follow,
please do let me know! Finally, for purely selfish reasons (I forget
crap *all the time*) I floated the idea of having a calendaring system
that everyone in the QA team could use, to track events. It turns out
there's already a Fedora QA calendar on Google Calendar, but it looks
like it's not really heavily used - it just has a permanent recurring
event for the weekly meetings, with no specific description of what will
be covered in each meeting. I'd like to make it much more shiny, so
there's a description of each individual event and maybe even an agenda,
and cover all the test days and so on. One thing that's quite new that
people may not know about is that Google Calendar supports external
services, including CalDAV, pretty well now - so you don't have to use
GMail to look at or modify the calendar, you can integrate it into many
apps, like Evolution, pretty easily. You still need a Google account,
but it doesn't need to be one you really use for anything. So if anyone
has any feedback on that idea - including 'it's a dumb idea, it's
Google, it's proprietary crap!' - please let me know. :)

Well, that's that. Sorry for rambling, like I said! I'll be reading
through the archives of the list to get a feel for who's involved in
this community and how things work both on a practical and social level,
and see what I can do to try and grow and maintain the community. I love
to talk to people and get your ideas about things, so please do email
me, or pin me down on IRC, and let me know your thoughts, ideas,
complaints, and just generally vent at me, I love that stuff. :) Thanks
a lot, everyone, and I really hope we can work together to grow this
community and improve the quality of Fedora into the future.
-- 
adamw


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