The recent couple of distro release posts on the Dot touch a nerve with me. One could say that publicity is all good - after all, don't we in KDE want the world to know how many quality distributions include KDE?

However, the main aim of these articles is to publicise single distros, and that has consequences. Within hours of one distribution posting its release announcement, another distribution had made sure they had got their recent release mentioned, which in all fairness was a 'me too' article without significant content beyond the release announcement. This news inflation devalues the Dot as a source of quality KDE news. Claims that these articles contain things specifically relevant to KDE and are not just regurgitated PR are disingenuous - neither article includes details of innovations that advance KDE as a whole. An article titled "KDE 3.5.5 in new FooDistro 2.3" might be acceptable, but "FooDistro 2.3 released" is definitely just about FooDistro.

The use of the community news site as a PR channel for distributions carries a greater risk than just to the Dot. Distributions are not identical to the KDE project, are significant communities in their own right, with their own interests. By advertising for distributions in the KDE community's news medium, lines are drawn dividing users into tribes of distro fans, who identify more with the distro's KDE than KDE as a whole. The outcomes don't benefit KDE. If users then apply their efforts to a distro's KDE flavour, that effort may duplicate or actively compete with similar developments elsewhere. Contributors talk in their distribution channels, and don't share ideas with or gain inspiration from other KDE contributors, and close/report bugs in the distro tracker rather than bugs.kde.org. In this hypothetical scenario, KDE as a whole benefits less than when we all pull together. Other potential adopters of KDE may get the impression that KDE is specific to one particular distribution, and if for whatever reason they are using another distribution, decide that KDE on their platform will not be as good.

My suggestion is that Dot editors should agree that individual distro announcements are not to be published as Dot articles. This goes beyond an article title guideline. Instead, balanced articles cover and compare the improvements that distros have made to KDE, or periodic wrapups of which KDE versions are being shipped with the various distributions (and used to update the Distributions Shipping KDE page). This fulfils the need to publish "legitimate KDE news" of interest to the community, without starting a news arms race with every distro striving to outdo the others. Distros are still free to promote themselves using their developers' blogs or 'Other Software' listings on kde-apps - you can get plenty of front-page dot coverage in this way.

By the way, I do work on KDE for a distribution. These are my personal opinions. We haven't put up a dot story about recent betas nor do I want to do one for the upcoming release. I could take my frustration and prepare a great dot article for our next release with screenshots, feature spotlights and quotes from my dog. But my opinion should be clear after reading this. I would rather post this blog and then fix bugs today, to make the whole thing better. We are KDE.


i think a distribution could have an dot announcement if they did special things concerning KDE, in a sense KDE centric distributions like kubuntu, mepis, linspire and xandros might deserve some attention. esp if they can tell us some KDE specific, new things, like suse 10.1 has made a new menu for KDE and integrated beagle.

By superstoned at Fri, 10/27/2006 - 09:56

is in 10.2

By Stephan Kulow at Fri, 10/27/2006 - 12:16

KDE's DOT was recently picked up as a "news source" by Google, so all the articles show up in news.google.com.

This has lead to an huge surge in KDE-related news articles according to Google Trends, which is great for publicity. So if you want more KDE related articles (especially about the projects you're working on) to show up on Google News, just post them on the DOT!

By vladc at Fri, 10/27/2006 - 15:55