ANN: Haskell Communities and Activities Report (2nd edition)

C.Reinke <>
Mon May 13 17:02:04 CEST 2002


>  >       http://www.haskell.org/communities/
> 
>  > I would very much like to see a similar effort in the Erlang
>  > Community (or does it exist already?). 
> 
> There are two places where this information is collected:
> 
>   http://dmoz.org/Computers/Programming/Languages/Erlang/
>   http://www.erlang.org/links.html
> 
> The former is pretty comprehensive (it lists most of the projects you
> wondered about), the latter is a little more selective.

Okay, so what's that Bluetail link on the second site? Where is the
new Erlang book? What/when was the last change to the Erlang type
system, and who is using it? Have you tried to follow the link to
the birthplace of Erlang on the first site? When/how did you hear
about the section "Media Articles on Products" in one of the
collections? How often do you check for updates? To how many of the
Erlang-related mailing lists, wikis, and web-forums are you subscribed?

As I said, the suggested report is a complement to existing
websites. In the Haskell case, it complements the Haskell home page
at <http://www.haskell.org>, which should have links to everything
Haskell. The report is *not* meant as yet another link collection -
it collects brief summaries of _recent activities_ with links to
further details (where sensible, those links lead to the relevant
parts of the link collections). No recent activities, no entry here.

Btw, the editors of those link collections offer a service to their
community, but the community all too often assumes that those sites
are self-maintaining..

If you wanted to derive the same benefit as you could expect from
the reports from the sites you mentioned, you would have to

  a) make a note in your diary to check all Erlang projects every n
     months
  b) when the item comes up, search the link collections, (add a
     google search, in case anything is missing), follow each of the
     links (if they still work), find the what's new page (if such a
     thing exists and is up to date)
  c) document your findings

This is a simplified list, but even so you can see that

1. it makes more sense to do this only once per survey date (instead
   of once per date and Erlang user) and share the results.  

2. it makes more sense to broadcast the survey, have small parts of
   the text be prepared in a distributed fashion, by those who know 
   most about the projects, and collect the results at the end, to
   provide a synchronisation point and to give everyone a consistent
   snapshot. Distributed computation of a distributed problem, with
   the report editor trying to act as supervisor.

   (in the Haskell case, I remind former contributors 3 weeks before
   the deadline, send a general call for contributions to the
   main mailing list 2 weeks before the deadline, and numerous
   reminders and personal invitations till the last minute; I
   immediately edit incoming contributions into the whole, make the
   draft report available to the contributors in the week between
   deadline and release, and release the whole to everyone when things
   have settled down; all the time, there is an open list of
   projects covered, so that everyone can see where additional 
   volunteers are still needed)
   
Think of it as Heartbeat Monitoring of the Erlang Communities;-)

A welcome side-effect is that contributors feel inclined to update
their webpages for the reports, and that everyone knows who felt
responsible for a given project at the time of the last report.

The maintainers of the two sites you mention will confirm that it is
otherwise really difficult to get people to keep their entries in
the link collections up to date. Somehow, everyone expects them to
do all the work.. (you'll probably find that they still won't get
updates directly, but at least the reports help them to keep their
collections up to date).

Great to hear that Joe has volunteered!

Joe's current concern as the new editor will be to get a first list
of projects, so the first edition might look a bit like a link
collection with added summaries. The difference will become more
apparent starting with the first update.

Of course, the Erlang community will have their own preferences on
what to include and how to organize things (e.g., quarterly reports
instead of half-yearly ones;-), but one thing doesn't change: if you
think these regular reports are a good idea, you should support your
editor! For every project, only one of the project members needs to
volunteer to write only a few sentences/paragraphs, and Joe will
have his hands full editing everything together and keeping his
mailbox organised!-)

Good luck with your reports. I'm looking forward to the first
edition!

Cheers,
Claus

PS. For comparison, here is an interesting alternative with
    even more frequent (necessarily shorter) reports:

    http://www.freebsd.org/news/status/status.html



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