Re: [IxDA] An open letter to the IxDA Community

30 Apr 2010 - 8:03am
3 years ago
4 replies
763 reads
zakiwarfel
2004


On Apr 30, 2010, at 1:43 AM, David Malouf wrote:

1. Patience or Energy: [...] This means having good faith that the people behind doing stuff have the best intentions and good heart. Or jump in and HELP and don’t be such a douchebag as to go into a friend’s house and tell them the food is bad w/o even volunteering to do the dishes!


First, let me say that I do appreciate all the energy and effort that has gone into trying to provide a platform for future growth for this community. I was one of the original people along with Dave who helped start this thing. I've been involved in some form or another along the way. I've poured considerable time and energy into this community, much of it behind the scene. So, I know what step up and volunteer looks like. 
That being said, I was extremely concerned about the choice of Drupal for this community. I don't have anything against Drupal, we've used it and I have someone in our design studio who's pretty well versed in it, which is why I was concerned and continue to be concerned. Drupal is a complex platform that takes a great deal of technical expertise to implement and maintain. If there's any doubt, just look at the issues we've had here and continue to have. If you have that expertise on staff, then awesome. But we don't. And that is a mistake. It's a bad business decision.
I'm not, nor was I ever involved in making the platform decision for IxDA. However, I gone through this discussion with dozens of clients over the past 15 years. It's a decision process I'm very familiar with. It's not an easy one, but it is a critical one. 
This community is about experience. That's what it has championed since it's inception. So, yeah, I do agree with the question of "How can a community like this put forward such a poor user experience?" That's not discounting the efforts that have gone into it, but rather questioning the decisions that went into choosing a platform. 
If this was a community of hackers, engineers and hardcore techies, we could probably get away with all the technical issues we've had of late. But we're not. We are a community of Designers. Some of us as Designers are techies and geeks (I'm one of those). But if we're going to champion experience, then it needs to start right here, at home. And we're not doing this. 
If this were one of our clients, we'd tell them to eat it and pick another platform or start over. We'd tell them that in hindsight, this choice was a mistake and they should admit it. When they tell us that "we're already too deep into this to turn back" we'd reply "Nonsense. If you really cared..." We need to eat our own dog food and we're not. 
We've all bitched about clients who make bad business decisions and then don't own up to them. Well, we've become that client. Congratulations. 
I don't think the complaints here are unwarranted. If anything, I'm glad to see that this community is so passionate about how bad it's been lately that they'll stand up and say something. I wish more people would do that. Just make sure you're considerate and respectful when you do. 

2. Show me money or show me attention: We change the model of the organization to one that is more financially focused so that the level of quality we all want to achieve is what we can afford as an organization. This can mean having dues, or levels of membership (free & not-free). This can mean adding advertising to the site (we already have an ad model in place for the conference and many local events).


Well, I think the community is showing a great deal of attention. Seems like the most popular topic in the past 3 months has been complaints about the site and mailing list. That's a lot of attention. As for the money factor, If we have a community of 10k-20k plus, then even something as meager as $10/year would provide a healthy budget for this org to operate on. As for ads, well if you're not willing to cough up some dough, but you want stuff fixed, then putting up with ads is pretty much the trade off. 

Cheers!
Todd Zaki WarfelPrincipal Designer, messagefirstAuthor of Prototyping: a practitioner's guide http://bit.ly/protobk----------------------------------Contact InfoVoice: (215) 825-7423Email: todd@zakiwarfel.comBlog: zakiwarfel.comTwitter: @zakiwarfel----------------------------------In theory, theory and practice are the same.In practice, they are not.


Comments

30 Apr 2010 - 6:05pm
j.scot
2008

Perhaps IxDA goes the fundraising route (it works for KCRW), holding regular fundraisers... perhaps there's an annual membership fee. Either way, I'd pay because I have enormous respect and appreciation not only for the purpose of the organization, but also for those who have so generously given their time to its cause.

Thank you all.

30 Apr 2010 - 10:33pm
Elizabeth Bacon
2003

Hi Todd,

A lot of people considered the technology platform question. Drupal was a fine choice for its core nature as a CMS system, basic website platform and for its Organic Groups functionality. We got the site themed quickly and otherwise got a bunch of features "out of the box" that we wanted in the site. It's also open source, and has a larger and more dedicated development community than any other CMS. Admittedly its default nature is a bit unsophisticated and some things are like nails on a chalkboard for IxD types (like buttons labeled "Save" instead of "Post" and "Drop" instead of "Unsubscribe"). However, the technical problems are centered on the mailing list features. I think that on balance it has turned out that the decision to use the rudimentary Drupal-based mailing list functionality rather than building that out using core Mailman infrastructure was probably not the right one, although GVS might still feel differently. I don't know if it's too late to change course in that regard, but hopefully the infrastructure team is evaluating the cost/benefit of such a switch.

(Off topic but wondering how your post got separated on the website from the original thread? Did you reply via email and cut out those footer links perhaps?)

Cheers,
Liz

3 May 2010 - 9:20am
zakiwarfel
2004

As most of the complaints that I've seen are related to the mailing list, I think that this is one of the biggest points of failure. Perhaps we can consider going back to Mailman for the list. 
As for Drupal as a CMS, I agree that it's an awesome platform for that, but only if you can support it. It doesn't really matter how fantastic the technology is if you can't support it then it's the wrong solution. And that's why from a business standpoint I think it was the wrong decision. As a community, we're struggling to work with this technology decision now. I have high hopes that we can get this turned around, but I don't know any of us that if this was one of our clients we would call this a successful project. 
How did my post get split? I don't know. Yeah, I probably trimmed the bottom, because trimming posts is courteous. 
So, how do we fix it? Well without knowing all the details it's hard to say. We can try and find some Drupal experts to lend a hand. Not sure how realistic that is as I'm not really sure how messed up the implementation is. We could try a fund raising push to pay for support. There are any number of options.

On May 1, 2010, at 12:53 AM, Elizabeth Bacon wrote:

I think that on balance it has turned out that the decision to use the rudimentary Drupal-based mailing list functionality rather than building that out using core Mailman infrastructure was probably not the right one, although GVS might still feel differently. I don't know if it's too late to change course in that regard, but hopefully the infrastructure team is evaluating the cost/benefit of such a switch.

(Off topic but wondering how your post got separated on the website from the original thread? Did you reply via email and cut out those footer links perhaps?)

Cheers,
Liz

3 May 2010 - 5:10am
Rakesh
2009

From iphone

On 30-Apr-10, at 6:40 PM, zakiwarfel wrote:

> On Apr 30, 2010, at 1:43 AM, David Malouf wrote: >> 1. Patience or Energy: [...] This means having good faith that the
>> people behind doing stuff have the best intentions and good heart.
>> Or jump in and HELP and don’t be such a douchebag as to go into a
>> friend’s house and tell them the food is bad w/o even volunteering >> to do the dishes! >> > First, let me say that I do appreciate all the energy and effort
> that has gone into trying to provide a platform for future growth
> for this community. I was one of the original people along with Dave
> who helped start this thing. I've been involved in some form or
> another along the way. I've poured considerable time and energy into
> this community, much of it behind the scene. So, I know what step up
> and volunteer looks like. That being said, I was extremely
> concerned about the choice of Drupal for this community. I don't
> have anything against Drupal, we've used it and I have someone in
> our design studio who's pretty well versed in it, which is why I was
> concerned and continue to be concerned. Drupal is a complex platform
> that takes a great deal of technical expertise to implement and
> maintain. If there's any doubt, just look at the issues we've had
> here and continue to have. If you have that expertise on staff, then
> awesome. But we don't. And that is a mistake. It's a bad business
> decision. I'm not, nor was I ever involved in making the platform
> decision for IxDA. However, I gone through this discussion with
> dozens of clients over the past 15 years. It's a decision process
> I'm very familiar with. It's not an easy one, but it is a critical
> one. This community is about experience. That's what it has
> championed since it's inception. So, yeah, I do agree with the
> question of "How can a community like this put forward such a poor
> user experience?" That's not discounting the efforts that have gone
> into it, but rather questioning the decisions that went into
> choosing a platform. If this was a community of hackers, engineers
> and hardcore techies, we could probably get away with all the
> technical issues we've had of late. But we're not. We are a
> community of Designers. Some of us as Designers are techies and
> geeks (I'm one of those). But if we're going to champion experience,
> then it needs to start right here, at home. And we're not doing
> this. If this were one of our clients, we'd tell them to eat it and
> pick another platform or start over. We'd tell them that in
> hindsight, this choice was a mistake and they should admit it. When
> they tell us that "we're already too deep into this to turn back"
> we'd reply "Nonsense. If you really cared..." We need to eat our own
> dog food and we're not. We've all bitched about clients who make
> bad business decisions and then don't own up to them. Well, we've
> become that client. Congratulations. I don't think the complaints
> here are unwarranted. If anything, I'm glad to see that this
> community is so passionate about how bad it's been lately that
> they'll stand up and say something. I wish more people would do
> that. Just make sure you're considerate and respectful when you do. >> 2. Show me money or show me attention: We change the model of the
>> organization to one that is more financially focused so that the
>> level of quality we all want to achieve is what we can afford as an
>> organization. This can mean having dues, or levels of membership
>> (free & not-free). This can mean adding advertising to the site (we
>> already have an ad model in place for the conference and many local
>> events). > > Well, I think the community is showing a great deal of attention.
> Seems like the most popular topic in the past 3 months has been
> complaints about the site and mailing list. That's a lot of
> attention. As for the money factor, If we have a community of
> 10k-20k plus, then even something as meager as $10/year would
> provide a healthy budget for this org to operate on. As for ads,
> well if you're not willing to cough up some dough, but you want
> stuff fixed, then putting up with ads is pretty much the trade off.
> Cheers! Todd Zaki Warfel Principal Designer, messagefirst > Author of Prototyping: a practitioner's guide http://bit.ly/protobk
> [1] > > ---------------------------------- Contact Info Voice: (215) 825-7423 > Email: todd@zakiwarfel.com [2] Blog: zakiwarfel.com [3] Twitter:
> @zakiwarfel ---------------------------------- In theory, theory and
> practice are the same. In practice, they are not. > > > (((P

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