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Thread: Important Forum Announcement

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  1. #1
    Administrator Advisor peter's Avatar
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    Important Forum Announcement

    I have some important news for the membership. I have decided to expand OpenFree.org by merging a much smaller forum (msforums.org) into it.

    The site focuses on Microsoft products and is not very active. To this point, in recent months some forums were hijacked by spammers but I think these should be easily cleaned up.

    As Linux adoption expands, users will find themselves increasingly supporting Windows. Surprisingly, there are few sites out there for Linux users who also need some Windows help.

    I wondered about the possibility of incompatibilities between the two memberships. I specifically chose msforums.org because the members seemed to be conscientious, and ego free. If we maintain the fair but firm moderation stance of OpenFree.org, it should succeed well.

    With the LJR merger, I remember saying "There are forum sites consisting of plantations of featureless users, and Las Vegas style sites that are a little bit of everything. OpenFree needs to be the place where Linux users can chill out and talk about Linux, or whatever else."

    This remains true, but recent developments between Microsoft and Novell, even if the motives are questionable, have changed the landscape slightly. Linux users and administrators will need to talk about the challenges of Linux, its integration with Windows and the support of Windows users who don't want to or cannot convert.

    The site is growing steadily, and with this move, it should remain so for the foreseeable future. I want OpenFree.org to be vibrant and relevant so that it reflects the dynamic world of operating systems.

    Comments welcome.

  2. #2
    Advisor Outlaw's Avatar
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    MS is neither open nor free. Pushing these forums in the proposed direction definitely changes the focus in a negative way IMO.

  3. #3
    Advisor Lovechild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outlaw View Post
    MS is neither open nor free. Pushing these forums in the proposed direction definitely changes the focus in a negative way IMO.
    I agree, this is OpenFree.org not ClosedProprietary.com. I have no special desire to spend my time supporting proprietary software for free, that is something I do for free software out of love. That might be elitist but I get quite enough supporting Windows in the offline world.

    I think it does not serve our best interests and infinitely worse, their best interests - there are many fine forums for Windows support, a merger with one of them or a migration of users would get them better support because let's face it 99% of us here are Linux users in our day to day life. Personally I have no had Windows installed for any length of time in over 8 years, unless I can sit in front of the broken Windows box it's very likely I cannot provide more help than the results of a google search. I would wager that is true for quite a number of us and those who work in support get enough "AOL" questions to contemplate suicide.
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  4. #4
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    I'm neutral on this issue and tend to be a little more optimist.

    I mean, what's the worst can happen? More users (even Windows guys) always are a good thing. No one asked you to give answers to what you do not know (and do not want) even Linux ones.

    Personally, I rarely answer questions about Windows since I do not have Windows box of my own (except one for my wife which I rarely touch except when problems arise) to consult to. I'm afraid that I'm falling behind on Windows knowledge after Win2K. I'm in no mode to pay M$ for license which I have to support their users for free. So if there are any questions about Windows on this forum, I simply just skip it since I'm not familar with it. Simple as that.

    Best case, we will have a chance to show those in dark side how good Open source and its users can be. They will have the experience they have never had before in Windows world. What can go wrong?

    Just my personal view though .
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  5. #5
    Advisor Lovechild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter
    As Linux adoption expands, users will find themselves increasingly supporting Windows. Surprisingly, there are few sites out there for Linux users...
    That makes no logical sense, as Linux becomes more popular there will be more Linux users to support and given that it admitted takes a bit of time to master any new system it is likely that in the transistion period there will be the same amount of trouble solvers for an increasing amount of trouble.

    It also means less people using Windows, the people who are switching to Linux on their own largely already master Windows to a certain degree and will therefore not need as much support as those who are less skillful with their system (and thus also less likely to be in the switcher demographic).

    The part of switchers who do not master Windows nor Linux already are very likely to have had a friend to help them already and as such are less of a support issue since they have competent support already. Given that that person convinced them to embark on this adventure, I would wager that it is a person they trust.. trust more than random forum goers at least and they are likely to turn there first.

    So should we spend our time keeping people on the Windows platform or should we spend our time helping those who switched, this is an investment in time. I would rather help people who have moved or are thinking about moving.

    It is not in my best interest to solve peoples Windows problems as that would keep them on a non-free platform that ultimately cannot be truly fixed by anyone but the vendor since they do no give anyone the means to do so.

    So here is my fit all answer to Windows support: I feel your pain, I hate it when stuff doesn't work as well but I can't help you as your vendor allows nobody but themselves to know how. I would encourage a move to Linux and at least we have a chance to help you. Thank you.
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  6. #6
    For what it's worth, here are my 2 cents:

    I personally have no problems helping to deal with windows problems. I deal with it at work every day, and I feel fairly confident I can tackle most issues. I enjoy the opportunity to help others, as it helps my self image and all of that psychological mumbo jumbo.

    That being said, I am not sure what would differentiate us from a gazillion other forums if we were to go into a "let's support everything" mode. Just like any other business, you specialize to carve a niche in the market.
    My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive.

  7. #7
    Administrator Advisor peter's Avatar
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    Whenever possible I have asked for the opinion of the members on future steps to take, and I have listened and taken your advice. This case is different. Residing in our comfort zone won't alter the level of involvement of the membership. That will only come with change, and a clear understanding as to why it could be good for everyone.

    Linux continues to grow, and as it does, users, developers and systems administrators will find themselves increasingly having to integrate and interact with other operating systems and their users.

    There is recognition of the fact that the adoption rates of open source software will be higher if it runs on all platforms. This is clearly evident from the success of Apache, Firefox, and though not completely open source, Java.

    I feel that for the forums to be both different and relevant, they will have to recognize these trends. An open source forum that welcomes curious proprietary users could provide a healthy environment for discussion.

    It is not a question of "open source" versus "proprietary". It is a question of a different type of openness, one that tolerates, one that that welcomes proprietary users and exposes them to an ever improving and growing open source movement. It is a question of openness in recognizing the worthy features in proprietary solutions, and incorporating equal or better ones in open source. With this in mind, OpenFree's focus can remain on Linux.

    There are many forums out there that have started with enthusiasm, and slowly faded as they failed to adapt. In the early days the LJR membership was relatively new to Linux. There was lots of curiosity and the members had the time to investigate their passions. The forum was vibrant. The curiosity still thrives, but as we get older, the time that can be dedicated to our favorite pastimes becomes reduced due to the distractions of work, family and the development of other interests. The more senior members pass by daily to see how they can help the newbies and also each other. This provides a sense of fulfillment which I am sure you all cherish. The problem is that if the membership stays static, then the number of new challenges for the members diminishes and overall activity trails off.

    A growing membership provides rejuvenation. Answers to posts from newer members like omidkamangar have been instructive, challenging and rewarding. We need more like that.

    You mentioned the revenue. I'll be frank. The forums earn about $2.00 a day from advertising and I spend an equal amount on Google Adwords to help attract more visitors and expand the membership. Server hosting costs are additional. It is not, and probably will never be, a revenue stream of any worth.

    So why do I bother? The reason is simple, I like conversing with the membership, and I like playing with Linux. It's a labor of love and that helps to keep me aware of what's going on in the community.
    Last edited by peter; 12-17-2006 at 07:21 AM.

  8. #8
    Though I admire your effort and I can see where you are going with the forums, I can't say I am too pleased.

    As I mentioned earlierI don't mind providing the ocasional Windows support. However, Just this morning I saw more Windows support requests than linux. Thoguh I don't mind helping there, I would have joined a Windows forum if I wanted to deal with Windows support.

    I understand the need to integrate linux with mainstream systems in order for it to grow. However, I don't think that providing Windows support here will accomplish that. We will just become another generic computer support forum.

    It frustrates me that we (senior LJR members) did not had any say when the LinuxJunior-OpenFree merger happened. I sucked it up and decided to give it a chance. Now it is apparent we also have no say on this forum either. Though I was not around, I believe that was the reason LJR opened as an alternative to LinuxNewbie.

    I am not saying I am leaving the forum. However, I am thinking of spending more of the time I used to spend here on other Linux-specific forums.
    My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive.

  9. #9
    Senior Member RickDev's Avatar
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    I may or may not be stepping in on something good but I would like to say something. I can see the hesitants about merging the forum that is a linux based forum with, of all software, a Microsoft product. I am from the evil side and was a member of the forum that is being merged and have agreed to come over and do my best with modding that side of the forum. I don't know everything on Windows but am damn good at researching and helping those that I can. so I will do my best to handle the Windows support. At the same time, I hope to learn a thing or two about the linux stuff from reading posts here and aasking my own questions. I would like to say that maybe the merge will not be as bad as it appears, or it may be, who knows until it is tried. If windows users that come to the forum start causing more trouble than good I will be the first to come back to this topic and apologize. JUst because I happen to use and provide support to M$ products does not make me the bad guy. Just the guy who happened to make a living supporting the product
    RickDev
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  10. #10
    Hi Rick,

    It is not a matter of Microsoft being evil or not. I work with Microsoft products every day. Currently, I don't even have a computer running linux at home (just some vm's).
    To me, it is amatter of not having a say on what happens to the community I have invested a lot of time on.
    My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive.

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