KDE Hopes for a Flood of Ideas
A project that has no goals — no bugs to fix, no features to implement — has only stagnation to look forward to. The best prevention for this kind of stagnation is an active community of users who are quick to share what they want with the developers — even if there is the occasional users vs. devs feature stalemate. The KDE Project has no shortage of community-contributed ideas, and to keep the concepts flowing freely, the powers-that-be have implemented a new feature of their own: A designated section of the KDE Community Forums christened The "Brainstorm" Forum.
What exactly will be taking place in this special forum? A mix of things really. The initial step will resemble a digital suggestion box, with users encouraged to post their hopes and dreams — well, alright, most desired features — which will then go into a moderation queue. Forum staff will perform a triage of sorts, reviewing all submissions and removing duplicates, spam, and such — though not explicitly stated, one presumes removals will be limited to such "clutter" and will not involve decisions on legitimate requests. Once a request has been approved, it will move to community voting, where other members of the KDE community will have the opportunity to support or oppose the feature request — within the bounds of the community's Code of Conduct, of course.
At regular intervals, the most-supported requests will be passed to the KDE developers for consideration. Of course, whether the feature is implemented will still hinge on the availability of a developer to code it and the willingness of the developers as a whole to permit it. However, by organizing feature requests apart from the developers — rather than mingling them in a bug-tracker — the community reduces the administrative workload on its programmers, providing them with more time to code the requested features.
Moreover, having an organized system of community voting will make the community's wishes much clearer, and perhaps reduce the number of features doomed to the dreaded "wontfix" pile. It's easy enough to toss aside something with supporters measured in single digits; it's altogether another when it's double-digits — in percentages. After all, if enough users want something, they'll eventually get it, one way or another.
For now, the system is being described as a "first public test run" — a beta, if you will — and all KDE users are encouraged to visit the new forum, try it out, and share their thoughts on the process. A reminder, though, from those powers-that-be: The Brainstorm is for feature requests only — crashes, crunches, and other miscellaneous catastrophes should continue to be fed to Bugzilla.
Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.
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