[kwlug-disc] On lowering new member hurdles & comment cards.
ldpaniak at fourpisolutions.com
Sat May 8 00:54:35 EDT 2010
On Fri, 2010-05-07 at 23:00 -0400, Paul Nijjar wrote:
> On Thu, May 06, 2010 at 09:49:15PM -0400, Lori Paniak wrote:
> > I've been enjoying the refreshing vacuum of KWLUG for almost five years
> > now.
> > In that time, the direction-less and poorly documented membership of
> > KWLUG has been instrumental in several remarkable FLOSS achievements in
> > SWO and beyond: Ontario Linux Fest, Open Street Map, numerous FLOSS
> > projects, FLOSS fund... and stimulated other groups with similar
> > free/libre perspectives. I would go as far as to say that KWLUG is the
> > flagship Linux User Group in the country on the basis of vitality,
> > (anarchic) organization and tangible impact.
> > So what is it, exactly, that we are trying to fix?
> At the risk of igniting another 100 posts on the topic, I'll take an
> honest stab at answering this.
> There's no question that the LUG has done some pretty neat things. I
> agree with Khalid that we don't want to mess with that.
> For a certain kind of person KWLUG is a fantastic resource. It
> provides a technically-inclined group of people to turn to for
> socialization, information, and technical help.
> But just because the LUG works for a certain kind of person does not
> mean it is perfect. Here are some anecdotes to illustrate some
> - Some people attend meetings a couple of times, get frustrated and
> never come back. We know from attendance lists that there is quite a
> bit of turnover. Some of this is just fine -- people try the LUG
> out, find that Linux is not that interesting to them, and leave. Other
> people are interested in Linux but put off by other things. Can we
> solve this without wrecking what is good about the LUG? I don't know.
> - At Computer Recycling we sell two kinds of computers: ones with
> Ubuntu installed and so-called MAR machines, which come with legal
> versions of Windows and MS Office. Our Linux sales are not terrible
> but one big deficiency is that we have no good place to point people
> to learn more about Linux. Their friends use Windows, so they want
> Windows. Maybe that is inevitable, but I wish we could grow an
> ecosystem where regular people without a lot of computer experience
> could learn about running Linux. (In fact we may have fewer
> resources, since the Conestoga College courses that used to
> be offered are sporadic at best.)
> - Similarly, I know that some people come to meetings and find that
> the topics are way over their head. I know that people will talk
> pretty freely one-on-one, but are intimidated when speaking in front
> of a large group.
> - For a couple of years I "mentored" a couple of would-be Linux users
> via e-mail. Both of these fellows were highly motivated to use
> free software, so this was not a burden. But short of offering to
> mentor more people myself, I do not see a good way for these people
> to get over that learning hump.
> So what I am trying to fix is promoting adoption of Linux among those
> who are not inclined to be highly-technical enthusiasts. The LUG may
> have no role to play in this (I have started a 100-post thread at work
> to see whether we have the capacity to maybe do some more formalized
> training there.) But it might. I wonder whether the LUG could be doing
> a better job of being welcome to newbies and helping newbies climb
> that learning curve.
I agree with all your points Paul - and your objectives.
It may be that the LUG can be more effective at reaching and helping new
users by going outside the monthly meeting model.
I have noticed that the City of Kitchener offers computer workshops on
various topics (including Open Office!):
Maybe the membership of the LUG can be leveraged to give a "Linux 101"
or "Free Computing with Ubuntu" seminar once a week for four weeks? At
least to counter the several "Vista" seminars.
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