…this is one of them.
As Wayne Beaton reminds us, successful Open Source projects at Eclipse (or anywhere) require an active community, and that requires participation from the folks writing the code. Working on the code that powers JSDT and WTP Source Editing is only part of being a Committer. Of equal importance is interacting with users, fellow committers, and adopters. But something’s been lurking in the back of my mind around all of this and I can’t quite see a solution.
A few months ago Konstantin sent a link to wtp-dev to a question on StackOverflow. To those who’ve never used it, a gross oversimplification would be that it’s a programming Q&A site. One of its creators, Jeff Atwood, is responsible for the well respected Coding Horror blog (which everyone really should read, but take with a grain of salt, even if the rate of posts has dramatically slowed since the launch of stackoverflow and co.).The post was a question about overall WTP performance, and although some progress on providing concrete answers was made, its existence gives me pause. Not because the impression seemed to be that we don’t care about performance (we do), nor quality (we do), and that there were surely lots of people willing to step in (a retort from Zombieland‘s “Tallahassee” comes to mind), but the problem for me was that it wasn’t asked on our own forums. There are lots of questions related to Eclipse on Stack overflow, and many of them have gone unanswered for a very long time. My gut reaction is to simply answer as many as I can, but that’s not practical. I’ve tried it, and answering older questions never seems to attract the questioner’s attention for followups or filing real bug reports. Plus I already spend a fair amount of time in eclipse.org’s own forums and IRC trying to make sure WTP questions don’t go unanswered.
So how do you make progress in a situation where an active and vocal part of your community chooses to congregate somewhere other than the place you’ve carved out just for them, away from the folks who might best be able to answer their questions?
Honestly I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t blame the forum software, after all Eclipse’s forums have always had a traditional NNTP service underneath them, and I’m a staunch advocate of continuing to do so as it lets me use whatever interface I’m most comfortable with. StackOverflow’s an invaluable resource provided by some pretty smart folks, and I can’t really fault users for asking questions there. And so here I am, a quarter to 4 in the morning, hoping that getting this out in some form will finally let me get some sleep. Somehow I doubt it.