Exploring Solutions: Better Tools for Large Initiatives

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On very own example of Prairie Initiative we can see that there is no convenient place/way on d.o to plan and manage big initiatives/activities.

Currently first idea which comes to mind when one is managing initiative like Prairie is building separate website for it. Ideally this should not be the case as d.o must provide environment for this kind of work and not force people going elsewhere.

There are 2 possible ways to manage big initiatives right now: via issue queue and via g.d.o. Both are not working very well, probably because both of them were designed for other purposes.

If we take g.d.o example:

  • group is just a blog-like stream of posts, all of a same "value". Among them there are more important ones and less important ones, posts with different purpose and they all are just thrown together.
  • cross-posting stuff from various groups might be good "for general reference" but it clogs the content of the group itself, sticking in between more relevant posts.
  • for mock-up discussions we use different 3rd party sites, which results in information being spread around various places, making it even harder to find it and follow changes.
  • 3rd party sites we use are not very convenient either - often one has to register there, they do not notify about new changes and comments etc.

Please post your own troubles and thoughts here.

My vague ideas are next:

  • Create space/new content type specifically for this purpose on d.o
  • Highlight most popular/active initiatives on the front page or elsewhere to attract more participants and to generally let more people know what is going on around drupal
  • Implement sort of "incubatory" period for initiatives to avoid people registering every little thing as initiative. Lets say something similar to stack exchange way - first an idea of initiative. Then when it gets certain amount of interested people/participants - it goes into active phase and initiative page gets created.
  • Initiative page should clearly tell:
    • what this initiative is about, what is the end-goal
    • who are people leading the movement - initiative leader, people responsible for certain parts of it/certain kinds of work.
    • how can person participate, what can he/she do right now
    • at what stage initiative is right now, and what needs to be done next in order to achieve goal. (i think its common problem for big initiatives, while watching long long walls of posts one might get a feeling that nothing actually is moving anywhere, and that initiative is not going close to the final result at all - which is of course highly demotivating)
  • Different types of work happening should be distinguished e.g. creating place for initial brainstorming/discussion, place for proposed solutions/mock-ups, place for general discussions/chit-chat.

Comments

"Ideally this should not be

Jeff Burnz's picture

"Ideally this should not be the case as d.o must provide environment for this kind of work"

Not really sure about that, the infrastructure on d.o moves glacially slow (for good reasons) whereas an initiative might need to be very agile and have use cases that are way outside the norm, building a separate site just might be more effective, I don't have an issue with this - if I'm working hard on something I want the tools, features to enable that work, I don't really care if they're on abc.drupal.org or where ever.

There's a handbook http://drupal.org/community-initiatives which is where initiatives start out or self document as they go - maybe we can do something more useful with that?

Agree that separate site

tvn's picture

Agree that separate site might be more flexible tool, but initiative pages inside d.o have own advantages for example less hassle for people to participate (no need to register on yet another website and keep up with whats going on there). Imagine prairie, support infrastructure, design 4 drupal 8 and drupal.org redesign all had separate websites. Much less people would follow all 4 of them and participate.

And thanks for reminding about that handbook! Definitely something should be done about it.

Group configuration

LP's picture

"group is just a blog-like stream of posts, all of a same "value". Among them there are more important ones and less important ones, posts with different purpose and they all are just thrown together."

That is the default configuration, but there's a fair amount of structure available to group admins.

Of the 23 groups I'm a member of, only Documentation , Forum Improvements, NYC , and Usability use taxonomy to organize group content. Beyond that, group owners can use panels to organize the main page, create pages that are linked by tabs across the top of the main content area, and even replace the default right sidebar with custom panels w/views.

So.. I think that there's not necessarily full use of the tools that are already available.
As a manager of one group, I've found it difficult to find documentation on how to use these features, be it a tutorial, discussion of best practices, or case-study of a very active group.

Thanks for your comment!

tvn's picture

You are absolutely right about not full use of the tools and difficulty with finding documentation. I did some research on that as well (one thing I've found is this video http://drupaldojo.com/session/organicgroupspanels-gdo, posting in case someone else is interested). However even with this tools group is still not the most convenient place for planning large initiatives. Especially when its so not obvious that these tools exist and how to use them. So this is definitely something for us to work on.

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