Planet GNOME’s Lack of Love

In November 2007, we reported on the GNOME Board Elections of 2007, where Jeff Waugh was getting serious slack flack from some people in the GNOME community. One of the complaints centred around Waugh’s apparent inability to properly take care of requests to be syndicated on Planet GNOME, or other maintenance issues related to PGO. Six months later, this complaint is still valid, according to Rodney Dawes.On his blog, Dawes states that Planet GNOME is more or less “quasi-maintained” and that it is quite difficult to change anything on PGO “due to the lack of responsiveness from Jeff”. Dawes goes on to say that PGO is a GNOME site and service, “for the community and by the community”, and that as such, it is rather peculiar that it is apparently impossible for GNOME developers to fix the site if the need arises. According to Dawes, Waugh stated six months ago that a solution to the problems was in the works, which would be in place “in a couple of weeks”. “Now that it’s April, I’m very much wondering where that solution is, as I’m sure plenty of others are as well.”

To illustrate the severity of the problem, ITWire dug up several other cases where requests concerning Planet GNOME have been ignored over the past 18 months. The issue seems to stretch beyond the scope of PGO itself, as getting an account on svn seems to be just as troublesome for some people. Many people in the GNOME community seem to take issue with the fact that PGO is maintained by only one person, and that the process of getting added on PGO is not exactly what you’d call transparent. Waugh’s defence seems to revolve around him not getting the emails in question or his emails not arriving.

The most sensible evaluation seems to come from Bjorn Lindqvist (thanks to ITWire for pointing this one out):

One could speculate why one doesn’t
receive any reply:

1. Jeff gets so many mail each day that he forgot about it.
2. The mail got lost in the spam filter.
3. Jeff doesn’t like you.
4. Jeff doesn’t like your blog.
5. Jeff doesn’t like your politics.
6. Neither you nor your blog is elite enough.
7. in an old boys club.

Of those, only 1 and 2 are really plausible. But there is *no way to
know that*. Which is why you people resort to speculations which is
why this whole thread started.

Which is why a transparent process is really really important.

A common suggestion has been to process requests via the GNOME Bugzilla, which would provide a lasting record of all requests and replies, adding transparency to the process. Another suggestion, coming from Waugh himself, was to draw up guidelines and maybe adding some co-maintainers to the mix, but none of this has happened. As ITWire concludes:

Since [December 2007] there has been no discussion about the administration of the Planet on this mailing list. After 15 months, there are no guidelines for the Planet. There is a list of do’s and dont’s for the hackergotchis, period.

Having your blog published on Planet GNOME can be quite important for the project you are working on. PGO is read by many people interested in GNOME (really?), so it is a potential pool for finding new developers and users, and as such, writing about your GNOME project on PGO can be quite beneficial. In other words, PGO is not just a “my cat just threw up” kind of planet; it’s a way of getting new developers on board on your project. In addition, it is a community forum where new ideas for the GNOME project can be discussed, where people can propose new directions and plans, and where users interested in the development of GNOME (like myself) can go for getting the latest scoop on the next GNOME release.

It’s a shame that such an important part of the GNOME community receives so little love.


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