Recently, Randall Ross has been laying out thoughts on Planet Ubuntu after analysing a survey he did. His conclusions are strong and wide-ranging: that Planet Ubuntu should be the place for authoritative goings-on from those who are passionate about making Ubuntu; that it’s currently full of random titbits of unrelated content; that staying “on topic” should be baked into the system.
I really, really do not agree.
You see, the thing that Ubuntu has that everything else does not is our community. I read Planet Ubuntu because I care about us, the people who make this thing. Years ago, back when Planet Gnome was the place where all the innovation relevant to Ubuntu was happening, they used to have this argument: that Planet Gnome should only be about Gnome, not about Gnome people. To their credit, they always resisted this push.
The thing that Ubuntu has that everything else does not is our community. I care about the people more than I care about the technology. I care that Tony from the Ubuntu UK podcast worked for someone who raised funds for the Philippines. I care that Sam took a break from the Moka icon project to make cheesecake from tofu. I care that Mako rides pink bikes and that Elizabeth likes pink keyboards as well as marketing Xubuntu. Because we’re a community. Because we’re more than just what we do for Ubuntu.
Your Ubuntu news does not come solely from Planet Ubuntu. If I want to see every detail of how the sausage is made, every aspect of how Ubuntu comes from the minds of our people to the disk on my laptop, I’ll read the ubuntu-phone and ubuntu-devel mailing lists. Mostly, I want curated news. I want someone else to choose what’s worthy of my attention and highlight it for me. And Joey does a fantastic job of that at OMG Ubuntu, followed up by ILU or Web Upd8 or Softpedia. I love reading the in-depth writeups that appear on Planet Ubuntu, whether it’s popey summarising the Ubuntu core apps hack days or Kees going into deep detail on gcc security, but there’s more to life, there’s more to our community, than just the techie details. When Ubuntu gets something large and new from Canonical it’ll be on The Verge and Engadget and Forbes; when there are important announcements they’ll be on the Fridge; when there’s a cool hack it’ll be on the mailing lists and IRC. What I want is a place where we are one. Where the Ubuntu community can come together to be one family. I am what I am because of what we all are. Not because of what we all do. Because of what we all are. That means that Lyz is more than just PLUG, that Sam is more than just an icon designer, that Joey is more than just a reporter. We’re together. Don’t let that go. Don’t let Planet Ubuntu, don’t let our thing, be changed to be a place where you have to be “authoritative”, where “random titbits” are forbidden, where being “on-topic” is more important than being friends. Let’s let other places do press releases, let other places enforce rules about being technical, let other places insist that you mustn’t talk “off-topic”. And keep Planet Ubuntu being a place where our community comes together.