Today, I heard about something on our wiki that I should probably have known about months ago. But I have no real way of knowing when somebody adds something that might interest me, unless they announce it somewhere at the time, or happen to tag it with one of the categories I’ve asked for notifications about. (Most wikis have a recent changes feed, ours currently doesn’t, but I don’t have time to read my feeds more than a couple of times a week anyway, so I could easily miss stuff that way too.)
With the GNOME web team embarking on a re-think of its web presence, perhaps it’s time to think about the distribution of “live” information around the project generally. As it is, I just about have time to keep track of mailing lists and bugzilla. I only monitor a tiny number of IRC channels, I don’t have time to read planet.gnome.org often enough to guarantee that I won’t miss something interesting, I’ve never read the GNOME Journal, and I probably manage to glance at our support forums about once every couple of months– particularly unfortunate as they’re probably about our best source of end-user feedback, but I just find web-based forums such a drag to use1. Sun’s own JDS forum has the same problem.
So, how are we supposed to keep ourselves well-informed, and still have time to do some real work? In the past I’ve advocated “feedback meisters” who would trawl all those sources and collate user feedback into a central repository (maybe bugzilla, maybe not), so we could all be safe in the knowledge that we weren’t missing anything important from our users. But sometimes it feels like it’s getting to the stage where we need something like that just to keep in touch with what our fellow contributors are up to… and that can’t be good, can it?
1 I’ve just discovered this somewhat hidden RSS feed, which helps a little, but it’s limited to 20 items and topic titles only, so I’m still likely to miss a lot of things that way too.