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24 January 2008

That thing called #zope

A few thoughts on community or so

It seems that I hang out a lot on the IRC channel #zope on Today this was again noticed by a few people, when someone looking for help addressed me directly instead of the people on the channel in general. Usually I'm on #zope when I'm at work, and most of the time my work comes along pretty well to answering the occasional question. Despite helping with some problems, today I've committed something like 60-80 lines of code (it could have been more, but some problems require a lot of research and result in little code - in this case I was trying to find out why one of my pages crashes IE6). So it's not like I'm not doing anything besides "chatting" :-)

To me, #zope is a useful resource, even though there have only been a few questions I've asked (and got answers for) versus the many I'm helping with. But I remember some times when #zope got me out of deep water. Helping out on IRC really is an easy way to contribute to a community, and for a developer dependent on a particular Open Source software, the community has a big importance. In #zope I seem to have the role of asking back, asking for details and tracebacks, even when I don't know anything about the particular area in question. This often seems to have the result that someone more knowledgeable unidles and provides the real answer.

On the other hand I'm sending a lot of people to #plone, the channel for a certain CMS which I'm not particularly fond off, which is built using Zope. Many new users can't really distinguish, so they're either unaware of the appropriate channel, or they ask in the wrong channel just because they didn't receive a reply right away in the proper one. Plone has its own particular set of problems (probably a set from the BTree package, so all of them can fit in). The people who know these problems have their own channel, so it's really worth it asking in the right place. Also keep in mind that these are all volunteers helping out in their spare time: Show some patience!

Posted by betabug at 19:15 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
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Re: That thing called #zope

Helping in a chat can be "dangerous" for the so called communities.

If you show to the people that the chat is a place where they can solve their questions without prior research. You'll find yourself one day sending them to RTFM.

For the good of a "community" are things that can be indexed by search engines. So you'll answer once and others will learn multiple times.

So the problem for me is not to find a good answer, is to find someone with a good question.

Posted by: graffic at January 25,2008 00:15
Re: That thing called #zope

graffic, you're right they should go for the documentation. Unfortunately with Zope it isn't always easy to find which documentation to read. But I tell people quite often to RTFM :-)

One thing that IRC helps for the documentation is to identify the things that are really an issue. That's how the idea for the witch was found for example. Also I quite often put interesting thoughts from IRC on my blog.

Posted by: betabug at January 25,2008 09:01
Re: That thing called #zope

One of the most interesting things about IRC channels like #Zope (or any other project channel) is that you could get access to urls and documentation that you couldn't find "googling".

One of the first things I always ask when explaining a problem (for which i'm searching for a solution) is if anybody knows about a good doc to read about that topic.

And offently people appears with interesting urls to that documentation.

Posted by: Wu at January 25,2008 13:13
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