If you were to walk up to someone on the street and ask them to name one problem — any problem – that they are aware of, it is unlikely that they would be able to stop at one.
Chances are pretty high that many of the problems they know of, you will never have heard of or come across personally.
Sadly, lack of awareness is the single largest cause of problems not being fixed.
Think of it as being like the person who always parks across your driveway. If you park down the street and wait for them to move – rather than honking the horn – they’ll never know they’re obstructing someone.
How do we raise awareness of problems that we have? Well, in the software world, we have what are known as bugs.
People report problems they have discovered by raising bugs. This horn-honking makes the problems more visible, and people who can contribute to making a difference act on these bugs.
Both reporting the bugs, and the followup by others are actions which change the world for the better and should be celebrated.
Ubuntu does this really well with it’s initiatives like Bug Jams, 5-A-Day and Hug Days.
Sadly, reporting ‘bugs’ with non-software things (like Community) is not quite so straightforward.
As there is no bug tracker for problems we see in our community, to report these “Community Bugs” we sometimes have to take action with other tools. Some of us use blogs to raise awareness of these issues. Sadly, sometimes these reports get confused for the problem itself, because they make the problem more visible.
This is a very wrong way to approach the problems being raised, and it saddens me. A lot.
Making a problem visible does not (and should not) mean it is a problem unique to us. It should never be used as a measurement of something we are doing worse than others, just because we are choosing to act while they do not. On the contrary. It means that we are better at dealing with those problems.
Blogging about problems we see in our community should be seen as a good thing, not a bad thing. Why? Because this blogging is action. The alternative is no action, and that is much worse.
Of course, having to rely on blogs to do the job of an issue tracker is not ideal. What I’d really love to see is a real way to report Community Bugs, where their visibility is something that equates a positive action.
Because action is change.