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From "Dennis E. Hamilton" <dennis.hamil...@acm.org>
Subject OpenOffice User Forums (was RE: An introduction and a discussion about ...)
Date Sun, 31 Jul 2011 20:04:08 GMT
Thanks for the great introductory note and discussion, Terry.

I'd like to focus on this a little differently.

Namely, sustaining OpenOffice.org as it is, at least in terms of user-facing and use-authored
sections.  Core development and bug reporting might be factored out of that structure to integrate
with the specific demands of the Apache project.

I believe this is consistent with the planning that David Fisher points to:
<https://cwiki.apache.org/confluence/display/OOOUSERS/Site-PPMC-Plan>

<https://cwiki.apache.org/confluence/display/OOOUSERS/Transition+Planning>
[Note that there are more forums than the Spanish-language one.  We probably need the full
list.]

Terry, can you help us answer some of the questions there?  Can you help us find other maintainers?

 - Dennis

INFRASTRUCTURE RESTRAINTS?

However we do this, there is an infrastructure hit, whether supported on a third-party service
(requiring fees) or on the Apache.org infrastructure but with the OpenOffice.org domain and
subdomains.

There may be a technical barrier to operating this web site and forums on Apache infrastructure.
 The PHP license appears to be Category A although I haven't found an official classification
by Apache.  PHPBB is distributed under the GPL and that's problematic, especially with regard
to customizations, i.e., MODs, that may have been made for the OpenOffice.org forums.  We'd
have to determine whether there is actually a policy issue for Apache in terms of operating
such software on Apache infrastructure.  It might be a non-problem, but we need to ask them.

[With regard to LAMP, I don't think Apache runs Linux - it appears to use FreeBSD wherever
I've seen the OS exposed - and I suspect alternatives to MySQL, such as PostgreSQL are used
as well.]

So how can we address this concern positively?  What solutions have minimal friction and maximum
preservation and perpetuation of the valuable resource that the forums and materials are?
 I think that is so valuable that we should leave no stone unturned in seeking a workable
approach.

 - Dennis


-----Original Message-----
From: Rob Weir [mailto:apache@robweir.com] 
Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2011 12:05
To: ooo-dev@incubator.apache.org
Subject: Re: An introduction and a discussion about the OpenOffice User Forums

On Sun, Jul 31, 2011 at 9:49 AM, TerryE <ooo@ellisons.org.uk> wrote:
> Hello all,
>

Hi Terry -- Welcome to ooo-dev.   Your note got caught in the
moderation queue and was delayed.  This typical happens when you post
from an address other than the one you are subscribed with.

> My name is Terry Ellison and I am the lead community administrator and
> maintainer for the OOo user forums (user.services.openoffice.org).  I was
> one of the core of community members which set up the forums in October
> 2007, and before that I was active on the alternative (English)
> oooforums.org.  I am also a moderator on the VirtualBox.org forums and a
> member of the QA team on phpBB (the forum application used to implement the
> forums).  My contributions to the OOo development itself are small (I fixed
> a couple of memory leaks in the Basic RTS and understand the code base of
> this subsystem). I had 30 years service with EDS (now part of HP) rising
> through system development, technical mangement to eventually operations CTO
> for Europe, before retiring early because of illness (ME/CFS which I am
> slowly recovering from)
>

The important thing here, I think, is contributions to the OOo
project.  This comes in many forms, and contributions to user support
are just as critical as contributions to the source code.

> What I would like to discuss here is what we do with the forums.  In the
> four years since their creation, we have added another 8 language forums to
> the original English one: French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Hungarian,
> Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese.  Across all forums we have some 75,000
> registered members, who have created 300,000 posts on 78,000 topics. We have
> also gone through 5 phpBB version upgrades.
>
> However, the main use of the forums is not by the posting members, but by
> guest users who browse these topics to find answers to their OOo problems
> and the search engines which index the forum content.  We get roughly
> 200,000 page requests / day (that is web pages -- the images, CSS, etc. add
> ~4 x in terms of Apache requests).
>
> I and the rest of the OOo community activists believe that this content and
> facility provides a valuable service to the wider OOo user community, so we
> are keen to see its continuity and seamless transfer to part of the
> Apache.org project.
>

Right.  This was discussed on this list in the early days of the
project.  The typical Apache way to handle user support is via a user
mailing list.  But I think it was generally acknowledged that this
would not be sufficient for Apache OpenOffice.  The traffic would be
very high and that in itself would deter both users from subscribing
to ask questions as well as experts from subscribing to answer them.
Forums handle that kind of usage pattern better.

It was also brought up that we might want to try a specialized Q&A
service, like StackExchange, for support.  Systems like these have
mechanisms for rating questions and answers, and earning points for
giving good answers, etc.  So there is an aspect of crowd moderation
to it.

But so far no one has stepped up to migrate the forums or start something new.

> The technical aspects are a little detailed, but this was my professional
> area, so these aren't a risk if I am allowed to support this.  I'll leave
> these to further discussion and the appropriate cwiki page.  The main issues
> seem to be of approvals, support, infrastructure resource allocation, since
> the technology set used by the forums is phpBB + OOo-specific customisation,
> and this is a new service for the current infrastructure team even though it
> runs on a standard LAMP stack.
>

On the customizations, are they purely UI, or do we have functional
patches as well?

> The purpose of the note is to raise this issue with the wider community and
> to provide a vehicle for discussing any related queries.
>

Apache has a "menu" of services it makes available to projects,
including wikis, mailings lists, Subversion repositories, etc. If we
want to get something added to that "menu", like phpBB, then we need
volunteers to work with Apache Infrastructure to get it supported.
This would require a critical mass of admin volunteers able and
willing to support phpBB.

Does anyone know, is there a good Apache-wide list that we could put
out a call to other projects, to see if any of them would benefit from
phpBB support as well, and especially if any of them have experienced
phpBB admins able to volunteer to help get phpBB supported at Apache?


> Regards
> Terry Ellison
>


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