Improvement proposals

Bystroushaak bystrousak at
Sat Jun 18 19:49:15 UTC 2016

[Repost of the]

I would like to spur discussion about structure of the project and also 
about the community, its organization and knowledge bases. I believe 
that this discussion is really important for the future of Self development.

Self is open source, which is important, but not sufficient condition to 
thrive. Open source success is only partially given by the license, but 
more importantly by the community of people around projects. In the end, 
it is the people what makes all the difference.

Self has somehow sleeping community, which I think is partially because 
we don’t have good tools for communication and self-organization.

Here is what I think that would be useful:

    Official Github organization

Github allows to create „organizations“, which is used to group multiple 
projects under one „official“ entity.

Current state of Self on Github is confusing, especially for newcomers. 
 From what I understand, „official“ repository is the one in Russel 
Allen’s personal account, but there is no „THIS IS OFFICIAL REPOSITORY, 
CONTRIBUTE HERE“ sign. People have to figure this on their own and hope 
that they didn’t figure it wrong.

I would also recommend to split the Self repository into several 
smaller, single-purpose-oriented repositories. For example: separate the 
handbook, and maybe application directory (git can do this 
without the loss of history).

It would be probably good idea to decide if we want to allow anyone to 
access this „organization“ and to let anyone add their own application 
repositories. This would simplify the discovery of available Self 
software. Other possibility is to use it only for „official“ stuff and 
„syndicate“ Self packages somewhere else (wiki or package repository).

      Talking to the people

We need to start to talk to the people. This is a problem that all 
smaller projects have; there is too much context in your head (this is 
relevant to the /bus factor/ from previous blog 

example of the context that everyone from the mail-list have. It was 
posted few times into Self conference, but for anyone coming outside the 
Self community, this is really hard to figure. You have to talk to 
people, or they won’t know.

The Self wiki <> is another 
example of this problem. There is no sign that there actually is a wiki. 
I suggest to put a BIG animation with dancing whores ladies with „HELLO 
their hands to the README and to the homepage.

If you want something from the people (eg. contribution), you have to 
tell them. They are not mindreaders and they won’t engage without 
knowing that it is ok to engage.

For example, I pushed a lot of typo and RST formatting fixes to the Self 
Handbook / Russel Allen’s git repository and I felt really uneasy doing 
this. Is it okay to contribute? Is it okay to make changes in someone 
else’s work?

    Community WIKI

15.12.2010, 09:55 Thorsten Dittmar written:
hello folks,

for me self is still one of the most beautiful languages I know, but the lib's are not so shapelily. So we have a kind of an Ugly Duckling here... a lady with amazing intrinsic values and horrible "lips"...

Of course, we can start with some cosmetics.. We can change the UI and other stuff, but for me that doesn't look like the right way... Self has so many unfinished stuff, that I guess we will not make it better to open another bottle.

What is /„unfinished stuff“/? What is the state of Self? Where is the 
FAQ? Where is the screenshot section? Where is community knowledge base? 
Where is documentation? Where is the detailed description of VM? Where 
do you collect information?

Currently, only way to get a clear idea about Self and its state is to 
read the mail archive 
and the 115 thousands lines of C++ sources. Mail archive is the worst 
possible database for this kind of stuff. Not only that history is not 
easily accessible for newcomers, it also cannot be edited and improved. 
Also attachments don’t work much.

We need good community Wiki, where we can:

  * collect information about Self
  * document the VM
  * document aspects of programming in Self
      o It is really hard to find any source code to study. There are
        applications in Self’s git repository, but it took me 6 months
        to notice. Again, there is no signs pointing to this.
  * discuss various stuff about Self, ideas, improvements, highlights
    and so on
  * document what is in bad shape, what needs to be done and plan future
  * provide user’s sections
      o Something like a blog, but for all kinds of data, files,
        snippets and information related to Self, that user’s may save
        for benefit of themselves and others.
      o This need to be under user’s control.
  * have user profiles – some small section, where you may shortly
    introduce yourself and maybe tell others what you do
      o It is hard to tell who is working on the Self and what are they
        doing. Again – this is context information which are not available.
  * collect list of links to all relevant Self information sources
      o I am willing to do this and maintain this section.
  * collect list of links to Self alternative interpreters and inspired
      o I partially did this in previous blog.
  * tell people how to contribute, where to contribute and other
    community information
      o Viz „Talking to the people“.

Wiki is important part of the plan to increase the Self’s bus factor 
(see previous blog). It also helps people (newcomers especially) to put 
themselves into perspective of what Self is, how to interact with 
community and how to contribute.

I am willing to be maintainer of this Wiki. I don’t really want to, but 
I have strong feeling, that if I am not going to do it, nobody will.

      Github wiki

I don’t think it is a good idea to use this specific wiki software, 
because to me, it looks like it is seriously limited in capabilities.

I like, that it uses the Git for synchronization, but I feel, that we 
will need something more advanced. Something that will be able to host 
large variety of content, categories and discussions. When I think about 
it, I see it like the hybrid between the c2 wiki 
<> and Wikipedia.

I don’t expect anyone to come with clear solutions, but I think that we 
need to talk about this and look at alternatives. What do you think?

    Package repository

One of the services, which I think is critical for success of any 
language is the package repository and package manager.

I am not that sure how easily this may be done for Self, but I am 100% 
sure, that this is necessary for larger adoption;

We need to give people the tool, which will allow them to build 
applications on top of other people libraries. Not just that – also the 
place where we can discover new libraries and projects, instead of 
having them scattered all over the Internet.

I have a lot of experiences with Python and believe me when I say, that 
this is big win for the language and big reason to use it.

    Community decision

I know, that Self was a research language, and partially probably still 
is. I will impersonate the Generic Beginner* and speak using his voice, 
when I say:

    I think that after 26 years, it is time to make up your mind. How do
    you perceive Self? What is it to you? Do you take Self seriously, or
    is this just a game?

    I can’t build a product on Self in its current state. I can’t afford
    to wait decades for improvements. I need to know, whether I can
    count on you (the community).

    I may put my time and/or resources into Self, but I need to know
    that I won’t be wasting my time, and that I am not alone.

I want to know your opinion. It may be clear in your head, but again – 
if you don’t talk to the people, they won’t know.

For me, this is NOT a game.

What about you?

*Not necessarily my opinion, but I think it comes to mind of all 
newcomers looking at Self and thinking „hey, this looks nice, should I 
use it?“

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