The Triangle of Fedora User Zen… or perhaps the Bermuda Triangle of Robyn’s Very Tired Mind

So….. I did a lot of thinking this evening on the discussions of the NOT YET SOLIDIFIED OR SET IN STONE User Base Triangle, as discussed earlier this week during a FAB meeting.  Of course, I’m totally wiped out from all the work we plowed through at the Marketing FAD, so who knows if any of this is even coherent.  I think it is – maybe some of my definitions are off, but it’s a start.

Basically – it comes from the User Base work the FAB SWG has been drafting up.  Rather than have these folks as Horizontal Layers of addressable markets – which, it seems, makes a lot of people think that what is defined as the “absolute bare minimum type of user” will actually be the only people we market to (NOT TRUE) – I decided that the Horizontal categories should actually be the Fedora Foundations – Freedom, Friends, Features, First.   And that the User Base people should actually be vertical groups, overlaid onto the Foundations – the higher their understanding / experience of those foundations are, the more likely they are to become serious contributors, over time.  There are 4 user base “buckets” – I added a fifth one to the diagram, Developers (there’s a longer name, actually, but that’s the short version).

  • Features: This is what gets the User Base in the door.
  • Friends: After being in the door, individual Users can become Friends via various paths.  Reaching out to someone tweeting about their experience, good or bad; responding to help requests on forums; commenting on blog posts; for some users, IRC, mailing lists, etc. Getting local users to attend FUDCons.   Reaching out and basically doing one of the many things that the Fedora community excels at already: being a Friend to those new users, starting the dialogue, and helping users not just understand Fedora the Distro, but also Fedora the Community.
  • Freedom: This is where users are aware of how they can contribute to Fedora – whether it’s submitting a bug, being willing to discuss and/or document an experience, working on the wiki to contribute thoughts, coming to a meeting, supporting other Newer Users who are going through what they went through.  They realize that they have the Freedom to change things for the better.  Further along in their path up this horizontal bracket, they start to learn about things like F/LOSS, TOSW, and perhaps even the concepts of how licensing affects them, and how being an open community helps to better the very product they are currently using – and they become participants in that community.
  • First: This level is truly about innovation.  It’s about doing the things that make Fedora the Distro, AND Fedora the Project, a true leader.  This is about empowering contributors who may have been working on helper tasks to embark on bigger projects; getting engineers to do New Things that nobody has done before; anything that is a new way of thinking.  These New Things become Features – and those features head down to the bottom of the triangle, paving the way for a new group of Users to discover Fedora.

This is all about moving people UP the triangle in their understanding of the Foundations – living by the Foundations make Fedora the Community a great place to be, and encourages users to stick around.  Some users, perhaps a portion of some of those on the edges in this diagram, may never do more than be friends, and that’s okay; other users, as they discover Freedom, will move up.

Robyn's User Triangle Draft

Draft goodness, yo... might want to click for larger version for readability's sake

There is quite a bit of redundancy between the diagram and what I’m saying here; but, there is also quite a bit of additional context built into the User Base Triangle draft I wrote.  For all I know, this may not be what the Board has in mind.  But the bottom line is that I think we shouldn’t think that these users are stagnant, and we shouldn’t think ourselves, internally, that we’re only targeting a certain group of people with a certain level of expertise.  That’s not the case at all.  We should be doing everything we can to move people who are reaching out from being Friends to Friends who know what Freedom is – and helping them use that Freedom to do New Things.

Anyway… HOLY CRAP, I’m tired.  Link to my fp.o page with my personal draft is here. I just realized that the “inexperienced computer users” box seems to span the triangle in a way that says, “I’m all of these groups,” and that’s not it at all; it’s more like… those guys are outside the triangle, and unlikely to move UP the triangle in their self-actualization of Fedoraness. I realize this picture is like… completely miniature / miniscule, but a larger version appears on the previously mentioned fp.o wiki page; also, I provided the Inkscape .svg file so that you can take what I’ve done and recraft your own version…. or alternately, you can take it, delete everything and create your VERY OWN! That’s right folks. I’m just -that generous-. So generous, I’ll link you to that .svg directly. (It actually seems, at least for me, that if you click on that link it will still open a picture; I’m not sure if you download it, that it will actually work in the magical ways that I sort of implied. I think it should, though, be able to be downloaded, opened in inkscape, and turned into further goodness. I’m sure someone who actually knows what they’re doing could inform us all of this!)

Speaking of generous: I would love your generous feedback. I love the nice kind, and mostly love the flame kind.  If anyone is thinking I may be on to something here (other than thinking that what I’m on is drugs, and it’s a bad idea, of course!) – I’ll refine this in a few days and throw out version 2.0, which could be new and improved with gradients, better colors, layers that are locked together, fonts that are slightly larger, and words that are more concise.  And if not – Believe Me, I have a little notebook brimming with ideas on all sorts of things, which I’m sure you’d love to read about in yet another one of my fabulous, rambling blog posts.

I may write / modify this blog post tomorrow as I clarify things more. Or as others clarify things for me. I say tomorrow; I mean later today, it’s 2am.  I’m completely wiped from the awesomeness that was Marketing FAD (thumbs up!) and the flight home yesterday from RDU to PHX next to the lady who barfed TWICE and also was a total space invader with her elbows crossing my personal space area… over the armrest… into my ribs (thumbs down!).

On a different note: I went from Inkscape Noob to Okay Inkscape Novice in a few hours this evening. Not bad! (Note to self: instead of spending 30 minutes trying to figure out how to do $simpletask, several times, CONSULT MANUAL ONLINE. Seriously. It’s all in there, Robyn.)

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