PR Test Respin

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Z98
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PR Test Respin

Post by Z98 » Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:26 pm

Since some people believe they did not get a fair chance last time, I've spoken with other ROS team (devs and admins) members and based on their feedback am doing a second test. This one is basically open to all who want to participate, and people can send their submissions directly to me at my ziliang@reactos.org email. However, a couple of things need to be made explicit, because too many people are making too many assumptions about both what the PR team can and should do and what is expected of members of the PR team.

Due to the current state of the project, the target of any PR effort are competent system developers. Once introduced to a topic, such people will want to know technical details, and any PR member who hopes to "sell" the concept of ReactOS to them must be able to answer such questions, or know what to do to find the answers. Otherwise prospective developers are put off by the apparent disorganization implied by the inability of the project's official representatives to answer perfectly reasonable development related questions. PR for finished products might be able to get away with that, but not so for a project that seeks involvement from others. People who feel they are presently not qualified must be willing to learn. Taking part in the PR team involves actual work and effort to become more effective communicators, both in terms of prose and in understanding of technical details. In many respects, we are training you to be technical writers and speakers, because our audience is already technically savvy.

As far as the actual work the PR team would do, it is not limited to writing some blog post talking about ReactOS or mentioning the project on forums you frequent. Such activities can already be done by community members and does not require any form of centralized coordination or sanction (so long as people do not attempt to imply they speak for the project). Such activities would be at best fairly minor matters for the PR team, and thus do not by themselves serve as a good metric for whether someone is able to contribute to a formal PR team.

The PR team would theoretically be responsible for writing news items, putting together presentations of both technical and non-technical nature, creating posters, doing interviews, etc. The time investment in all of the above are considerable. Delegation of the work may also mean if there are too many people interested in doing one thing but not another, a PR member gets assigned to something they find less interesting. If you have trouble staying motivated to actually complete the task when such things occasionally happens, then you may want to ask yourself if you should really attempt to join the PR team. One also has to be able to work both alone and with others. For example, putting together a presentation may require two or three people coming up with topics, creating the powerpoints, writing down talking points, and doing graphics. On the other hand, actually giving a talk at a conference might see you doing it by yourself, at which point you'll need to be able to hold your own alone, cause there really won't be opportunities to ask others for help.

Finally, onto the test itself. Note that this "test" is a tool for us to gauge the current skillset of an applicant so we know what training is necessary before trying to distribute tasks. It will attempt to gauge three things: the current writing ability of the applicant, the current technical level of the applicant, and the ability of the applicant to figure things out, with help as needed. Note the last part. That's important.

With a revision of ReactOS of your choosing, write about your experience of getting it to run and installing an application of choice on it. This can be on any platform that you want, whether it be real hardware or VM. Note that we are not requiring successful installation of the application, but in the case of doing this in a VM, we do expect that you'd at least get as far as booting to the desktop and getting the installer into the VM and executing it, even if you need to ask for a lot of help to get to that point (consider it a preemptive start of your training). If you find yourself stuck, AmineKhaldi and Caemyr/Haos have volunteered to help you. You can reach them either in the #reactos IRC channel (you might as well also learn how to get onto IRC as well) or over email, amine.khaldi at reactos dot org and caemyr at myopera dot org respectively. You can of course also email me with questions. Also, I would prefer that people not post their drafts publicly until we get you some feedback. After which it is your decision whether you want to post it or not.

Sidenote: graphic designers would not actually be part of the PR team, so if you're a graphic artist that wants to help, contact me separately.

DOSGuy
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by DOSGuy » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:07 pm

I think I finally understand the disconnect between the PR Team founders and the community. It's an issue of semantics. You're looking for a team, while the community wants a committee.

The terms "team" and "committee" are often used interchangeably, but they're actually quite different. I'm used to serving on committees, which is where a bunch of equals get together and express their opinions, and the committee chair is simply a moderator who keeps the discussion on track and throws out any ideas that break the rules. There are a bunch of enthusiastic people who want to get together and start discussing ideas and creating projects in committee, but it's not a PR Committee, it's a PR Team.

In sharp contrast, a team consists of a coach and players. The coach assigns work, and the players do as they're told. You and vicmarcal are the coaches, and you want to "gauge the current skillset of an applicant so we know what training is necessary before trying to distribute tasks". To be a member of the team you have to show up for practices and train hard so that you can be assigned work.

I think the confusion comes from phrases like "there's no I in TEAM". Anyone who has never been on a team misinterprets this expression as meaning that all members of a team are equal, which isn't what it means at all. A team has a two-tier hierarchy: those who assign the work and those who perform it. Those who perform the work mustn't think of themselves as individuals who have a right to question the leadership; the leader's vision can only succeed if all of the players do what they're told to do.

For the expression to mean what people think it means, it should be "there's no I in COMMITTEE" (except that there is). While I can't speak for everyone, I'm fairly confident in saying that we all have jobs/classes and family obligations, so we're selective in how we surrender our free time. Since this isn't the sort of team that competes with other teams, our willingness to be trained and take orders won't lead us to win a championship or be rewarded through some sort of victory, so I really have no interest in being a player on this sort of team.

If you're willing, I would be quite interested in participating in a PR Committee. You and vicmarcal can co-chair. The committee members will brainstorm and propose projects, and the co-chairs will seek approval for those projects. In other words, the committee would pitch PR ideas to the higher ups to get the ReactOS team's approval to officially represent ReactOS through those PR initiatives. You keep reminding us that we can all promote ReactOS as much as we want, as long as we don't claim to speak for the project. We want to speak for the project. We're unpaid volunteers, so we want to pick initiatives that appeal to us so that we can, you know, have fun! We'll still have to commit to deadlines and work hard, but it will be less about taking orders and more about collaborating. There's no danger in this approach because the ReactOS Team can simply reject all of our proposals and deny us the right to speak on behalf of ReactOS. Letting the "team" members have autonomy and pitch their own PR initiatives may sound scary, and even inefficient, but I've served on finance committees, bylaw committees, communication committees, election committees, and we've had real deadlines and worked with real money (over $120,000), and every year we present an overview of our activities to our members, and every year they re-elect us. My union Local represents 3200 people, served by two dozen volunteers and a dozen standing and ad hoc committees. All a committee needs to succeed is a strong chair and competent members. We can do this. We have the desire, we have useful skills, and we're ready to work. We just want a say in that work, not a series of tests so that someone else can tell us what to do.
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Z98
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by Z98 » Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:27 am

Lack of a committee has not stopped people from proposing ideas on the forum. What there has been a lack of is action to actually implement any of the ideas, or even prep work to make it easy to execute an idea quickly, even by the originators of some of these ideas. As such, forming this committee as you propose is does not, in the view of the devs and myself, create any significant change to the status quo, which is lack of action, not lack of ideas.

andreas84
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by andreas84 » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:27 pm

Well if you want someone to execute ideas you appoint two people who have the authority to write in the name of the project.

Those two people would then ask in the community for input how to write and where to write.
They community will hopefully pass ideas and work to those two (like the community write a blog entry here in the forum and those two will filter it and post it into a blog)

There is no need for a real team.

Also i think you cannot expect someone to execute something without giving the authority to execute - even while it would be possible that person might get some negative critics for it.

Also as i said before pr needs preparation and organization. So if you appoint someone write in the name of ros he would likely also start to organize the community to work together if he is skillful in organization.

milon
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by milon » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:38 pm

I think DOSGuy is really spot on here.

Z98, you have a number of PR projects in mind and that's why you're looking for a Team to get it done. That's an awesome thing for ReactOS! Since you don't have a team right now, progress is minimal on that front. Here's what I propose:

A ReactOS Community PR (Sub)forum
Create a PR Forum and use it like a job board. Create a thread for each specific PR thing you want done (ie. a news item to be written or a presentation to be put together), and list the requirements & relevant details. Members can discuss the item in its thread (feel free to make it visible only to registered members or whatever). Each member who decides to attempt the PR project you've listed will PM or email both you & vicmarcal their results. You two choose the best one to use. Put a deadline on each item to keep things from getting stale, and lock it once it expires.

The benefits are obvious. The ROS community gets what it wants: an open committee-like approach that lets people contribute what/when they want and can. The official ROS members get what they want: PR projects are getting done. The only downside I can think of is that a given project might get no results or only poor quality results. But isn't that better than the current system of snail-pace PR work?

I expect the poor results to be few and far between. There's an active forum here full of people who love ROS, and they'll be discussing their PR work to make it the highest quality possible. I don't think you have anything to lose by trying this. Are you willing to try this approach if the community feels it's a good fit?

EDIT:
"Lack of a committee has not stopped people from proposing ideas on the forum" (Z98). This is true. There are quite a few prospectus PR threads. It might be better to create a Prospectus PR Forum and an Official PR Forum (and maybe make one a subforum of the other to avoid confusion).

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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by DOSGuy » Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:10 am

I love milon's idea. Yes, there's a good chance that no one will bite if you let people volunteer for projects instead of assigning them, but there was already a significant risk that people wouldn't make time for assigned projects that they weren't interested in performing. This seems like a reasonable compromise to let people have a say in what they do for the PR Team and be happy with their participation.
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milon
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by milon » Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:37 am

I'm not sure how I left it out, but I also meant to say that the mod(s) of the PR Forum would likely just have to keep the discussions on track and practical, and maybe serve to co-ordinate the efforts of any group collaboration. If new mods are needed, I nominate DOSGuy (if my nomination counts for anything).

Z98
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by Z98 » Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:08 am

PR projects that can be offered to the community to pick and choose must fulfill the following criteria.

1) Be simple enough that we can expect results or be something we internally do not have the expertise to do.
2) Be something that does not need to be kept private.
3) Be something that we can leave not done because it is not a high priority. If it was high priority, we'd hand it to someone internally that we knew would get it done.

We've done this before. The results have been spotty/inconsistent. Hence why we've been less and less inclined to bother, and why any proposal centered around organizing "discussion" of PR ideas as a means to get more work done faces such skepticism from me. Discussion already happens. It happens via the forums, email, IRC, etc. We have no trouble generating discussion. If you want more moderation/intervention from us, that's one thing, and we can do so, but expect any feedback to be very blunt. If we don't think a PR idea is feasible or worthwhile, we will shoot it down very quickly. But it still does not solve the actual problem with PR right now, which is lack of execution, not lack of ideas. But moderation does not require a special, dedicated places. It is perfectly possible to do moderation in the existing mediums.

With respect to the PR team, there were basically two assumptions people could have made about membership in it. The first was that its members would only be handed work to do. The second was that it was composed of people who did work but also dealt with planning and brainstorming. I suppose it was easier to make the first assumption than the second, but the short of it is, if you want to be trusted enough to make decisions, you must also show the willingness to do the work needed to carry out the decision.

andreas84
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by andreas84 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:29 pm

Well i have some questions

One will you have different jobs in the pr team or only one?
Will you have coordinators?
Will most things be discussed open in the forum or closed in a hidden subforum?
Will not members be able to take part when the discussion is not hidden?
Will the project demand regular time investment from the members or is irregular time investment enough?

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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by DOSGuy » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:36 pm

It really seems like there's a pattern here. Someone (usually me) posts an assumption, then everyone discusses solutions, and then a few days later Z98 tells us that the assumption was false. It's my fault for making an assumption, but I don't understand why there are intermediate posts that don't debunk the rumour.

I don't know. I can't fault anyone for being too busy to thoroughly read and respond to every post, but this whole initiative just seems like a train with a narcoleptic engineer: it picks up steam as everyone excitedly discusses proposals, but then the engineer wakes up and informs us that we've been on the wrong track.

Okay, so lesson learned. No one us is going to tell us what the team is going to be doing. If you want to be on the PR Team, just complete the test assignment and you'll find out. Projects and proposals will not be discussed in public, and discussing ideas in public is pointless because you'll be permitted to be wrong for a few days, and then told that you made a mistaken assumption, rendering the entire discussion moot. Just shut your mouth, shut your mind, and do the work.

I have an election to win tomorrow, but I'll try to find some time to work on this later in the week.
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by Witch » Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:33 am

I too is uncomfortable with the stated working conditions described for the current PR team environment.
If I can only dedicate 5 whole days every month to volunteer work on PR team. Will I still qualify for this volunteer work?

Because I don't have room for a 2nd job on top of my daily job with all that strict demands and obligations.
I like to come and go as I want when I volunteer work.

DeadDude
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by DeadDude » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:46 pm

Why do you think volunteers want to be given work without respect to their hobbies/passions/desires?

Why is it that there is this 'disconnect'?

PR stands for PUBLIC RELATIONS, does it not?

Doesn't that mean "people that are good at making the PUBLIC happy and willing to open their wallets"?

Isn't this whole push for PR directed at generating income for the project?


What do you honestly think is your target audience?

I have been dis-enfranchised by this discussion.

The 'powers that be' refuse to take suggestions. The 'powers that be' refuse to allow VOLUNTEERS to VOLUNTEER for what they WANT.

Not to mention, one particular 'power that is' happens to be attempting producing CDs. Don't you think it is still too damn early to think about charging for a copy of ROS? C'mon, be honest. It isn't stable enough to release on CDs like you release WORKING software. When was the last time you BOUGHT a CD of an ALPHA program? And if you think BETA is right around the corner, where is the NEWS RELEASE stating as such? I'm not calling issue with the concept, I've got a problem with focusing too much on it entirely too early. How many MONTHS have you people spent talking about this???? And why do the PROGRAMMERS get to be bothered by this, but not bothered with the PR conundrum- THAT IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT?

Why does it seem like this project is diseased? Well, take a nearly ignored forum, throw in a couple members that are vocal, and add to the mix ONE mod that likes to start shit by saying 'NO ACTION' despite numerous threads PROVING ACTION WAS ATTEMPTED AND IGNORED.

We got developers churning out code non-stop. GOOD!
We got a website on the internet. GOOD!
We got a forum. GOOD!

now let's get CONTENT.
Oh, but wait! There's a new website due to come out in the future, so you don't want us to put content up. So why even have a PR team????????????????

Where is the forum area to ask for volunteers for tasks? What forum to use to collaborate our ideas? Hmmmmm????? Who's lack of action are you referring to?????

Why can't we get the website together FIRST? Why not pay the web developer? It is already an established trade with pay scales. Pay the web developer first, so we can get the site revamped. THEN you start filling the site with content. THEN you start advertising the website WHILE you continue to work on ROS.

Why are you having so many problems with this, when I could just as easily create a new site with a forum in less than an hour? And if you need this specific setup for your programmers' needs, split it off from the public site. You people think a normal guy understands what SVN is? Or any other acronyms for that matter???? NO, WE DON'T. Hire a techenese translator- you guys are waaaay too technical for normal people.

From what I can tell, some people got $$$ in their eyes, others just want to code. That leaves the rest of us out in the cold- and you people won't ever get support this way.

Pardon my language, but it seems the 'powers that be' got their heads shoved up their asses. Does anyone on the team THAT ISN'T A PROGRAMMER have experience in a large organization that REQUIRES PR for generating income?

What is the point of using social media, when the product is not-ready? Can you provide me an example of such a product? This is a serious (as in, answer it) question. Who gave you people these wrong ideas about the order of operating? And if you are too busy to answer the question, what the heck are you doing in PR? I'm the public, you relate to me, right? Isn't that what it means? relate your product to me. give examples.

ENGAGE THE PUBLIC ALREADY! RELATE TO THE PUBLIC!!!!!

DOSGuy, Witch, Milon and others:

You seem to feel very similar to how I do about this project now. Why can't they just give us a subforum like we asked for and let us show them? There's at least 4 people that have voiced the desire to help, and that's definately enough for a 'team'. Since no one gets paid anyways, we ought to be able to do what we want. If they are scared we'll screw it up somehow, then make the forum hidden for non-members. If we make a bad enough mistake, they can ALWAYS remove the subforum.

I have spoken to enough 'official' team members to realize there is a disconnect. I understand it, and to a certain degree, I support it. Programmers are a different breed. Let them do what they are best at. Every team member agrees with that statement. So why can't they agree with the statement "People that want to write about ROS in an official capacity should be allowed to do it however they do it best."?

I would love to re-write some of the wiki, but from what I can tell, even that is going to be lost in the website upgrade that may or may not actually happen within our lifetimes. So all of our ideas are made MOOT since they will all be lost in the eventual upgrade. As a result, they want us to focus on social media?! Can't advertise anything with nothing to advertise! Sheesh!


I have not shared this information before, but I have experience in Non-profit companies and organizations. I have experience in nearly all areas of non-profit corporations. I have been a paid worker as well as a volunteer at various non-profits. But my opinion isn't important enough to READ my post? On that topic, what is the point of even POSTING a response if you won't read what you are responding to? Is you attention span so short you cannot read anymore? Then you need to take a BREAK and let someone else help! TAKE THE HELP. You've already managed to post things that PROVE you don't read anymore. The only person that isn't allowed to not read before responding IS THE PR TEAM.


I am so pissed off that I might not even return. Good job team. Good job.

And if I got you mad, too... well, then post it here. And this time, try to PRETEND you read the posts this time, okay?

Haos
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by Haos » Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:16 am

I am certainly not the only person completely lost by this thread. I usually follow every discussion here (until it gets too disconnected from the original topic) but here its extremely hard.

First of all (and most important thing), any form of activity for this project, in order to be considered official, has to be controlled by the ReactOS Team. You are free to take any activity you want to volunteer for, but it is for the Team to decide of any official activities. Team has selected Ziliang to organize PR activities, so any official PR actions must be endorsed by him. There is no room for negotiation here, NONE. The decision if you enlist for official activities is up to you, but you need to aware that you will be not allowed to do whatever you please, want or like doing.

Second (and last one for now), alas brainstorming and throwing in ideas is important, we are facing a large surplus of those, while having a great demand for actual work to be done. Ideas are fine, but if you expect to be just throwing them in, then yelling on forum about being ignored, then believe me, this is not for you.
Example:
Several days ago, an idea was posted, about creating a certain ReactOS ISO, with several useful applications bundled in - one of those bein SAMBA, for network share support. Idea itself being quite interesting, so I asked a very basic quesiton, regarding the actual methode of bundling those apps. This is quite important as it would determine many aspects of creating such ISO, as well as potential problems. What i got in reply? The author simply stated that he has no clue and he is leaving this decision to "technical people".
Who are those technical people? Excuse me, but if this is the model of cooperation that you are expecting to see, then you should not be wondering why are you feeling ignored. Alas I still hope i`m wrong about this.

andreas84
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by andreas84 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 7:21 am

Why one get lost in the thread i do not see anything very special here before deaddudes post. This is for me one of the very easy to follow threads.

Oh deaddude i guess you are very engaged with pr and want to help but you get frustrated because it is so frozen?

I guess the major problem is that vicmarcal is not here and there is no one who effectively replace him in the time he is not here.

Z98
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Re: PR Test Respin

Post by Z98 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:37 pm

This is going to sound harsh, but I'm quite frankly tired of trying to phrase it politely since people keep interpreting it the wrong way.

When people first asked for a PR team, it was fairly evident at the time, to us in the project at least, people did not quite know what they were asking for. They had some ephemeral idea of what the PR team's goals might be, but not on what the team itself would do. One thing they did claim was that they wanted it to be an official component of the project. From the project's perspective, any official component would be a component that did actual work, and this was how we proceeded with organization. The assumption within the project was that tasks could be generated based both on community suggestion and project need that would interest those who claimed they wanted to be on the PR team. From there, we could see who was actually willing to do work and could thus be trusted to eventually take on additional responsibilities and even decision making roles. As such, we set up what we thought was a simple test that would ensure that people joining the PR team had the bare minimum of interaction with the ReactOS operating system itself to be able to credibly talk about it. If people did not at least attempt to pass this minimum threshold, then we felt there would be grave reservations with asking them to do anything else. Volunteers these people may be, but unreliable volunteers do not really help the project. People that at least tried, we could reasonably assume it would be worthwhile to expend the effort and time to train as needed.

The community on the other hand was nowhere as unified in what they thought the PR team would be. Some thought it would be a venue in which to brainstorm ideas, which to the project seemed redundant considering people were already brainstorming on the forums without any prompting or organization. To suggest that there "needs" to be some kind of separation of this brainstorming in order for it to show results is, in my opinion, an excuse. If the people who want to brainstorm want to demonstrate that they can get results at all, then stop stalling and show us what you can achieve. Note that planning is not brainstorming, and I haven't seen many examples of planning either.

Others thought they would be able to pick and choose what they wanted to work on. The latter group was actually mostly correct, except for two fatal assumptions. The first was that the work they wanted to do existed. This is not always the case, and the project is not going to generate busywork that is just going to be discarded. That's insulting to both us and the volunteers. Thus these people would need to make a choice of whether they would be willing to do other projects that may not directly interest them. If they did not want to, then so be it. The option to decline always existed, but from our perspective would count as a strike against such person's reliability due to the second fatal assumption many people made.

The second fatal assumption, and probably the more serious one, is that the work someone volunteers for fits within what that person imagines the work to be. This will be easier to explain by way of example. The following did happen, but names are redacted for privacy reasons.

A person claimed he/she wished to help with the newsletter and other development related news items. This volunteer was not technically proficient to the degree that we could simply let the person write the newsletter. Thus a training program was proposed, in which the person would each week provide a list of items that person felt was newsworthy, either as short snippets on facebook/twitter or for expansion into a newsletter section. From this list, I would help correct what was appropriate for which venue. From there, this person would attempt to draft twitter or facebook posts, short ones, to get a feel for how to convey the information quickly and compactly. These would again be edited by me for posting where appropriate, and the intent was eventually this person would be able to do this without supervision. At the same time, this person would start learning how to write the newsletters, how to harass developers for information, what types of questions to ask, how to do background research, etc. I would then review/edit drafts and either accept them or ask for rewrites. Again, the hope was eventually said person could write newsletter sections or entire newsletters with only minor oversight from myself and the developers.

The above demonstrates how wanting to do one task ultimately spawns off a whole series of other tasks. Did the volunteer expect this? Based on the lack of responses so far, probably not. Are the additional tasks necessary? From a quality perspective, yes. When someone volunteers for a task, they volunteer not just for that task, but also all the associated tasks that get dragged along. This can be problematic if people are only interested in exclusively working on what they're interested in, because that's just not going to happen by virtue of the complexity of some tasks. As such people who are not inclined to participate due to issue one are, from our perspective, more liable to also not participate due to issue two.

A lot of the complaints I keep getting are also, from my perspective, rooted in those two assumptions, though slightly in reverse. People assume that there is work that they want to volunteer for, and that the work they volunteered for is exactly what they imagined it to be. If there's nothing that the person wants to do, we can't give them any work that they want to do. If we let people do what they think they want to do, what happens when it turns out what needs to be done is above and beyond what the person "wants" to do?

I have now, once again, laid out the rationale behind how the project set up the PR team as well as what we, the project, feel is the cause of the current issues people have with the setup. If the above is still somehow deemed too restricting, and please don't try to pull some excuse about not including community input in PR, we've been dealing with community input on PR for as long as the community has been offering it, then we can go back to the status quo before any of this was attempted, which basically involved us cherry picking ideas with merit and executing them as manpower permitted. The only way we can be more "responsive" to community suggestions is if that manpower grows, and the only way that manpower is going to grow is if people can be reliably counted on to help do work.

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