What should “Should be” be?

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Some community members are already familiar with the “What should opensource.com be?” section on the site. The original idea was to create a section for constant feedback and a place where we could announce new additions and features to the community.

I think calling the section “Should be” is confusing and doesn't serve our original intention. It's meant to be

community-focused—a place where we are transparent and open about the current and future state of opensource.com.

So, maybe a name-change is in order. Something more appropriate and compelling.

Use the comments to make suggestions, and use the thumbs to vote for the ideas that you like and against the ones you don't.

Thanks for your feedback.

Jason Hibbets is a Community Director at Red Hat with the Digital Communities team. He works with the Enable Architect, Enable Sysadmin, Enterprisers Project, and Opensource.com community publications.


<em>"Que sera sera"</em> ;-)

Seriously, if you're feeling compelled to change it, might I suggest some half-baked ideas (some more baked than others):
<li>Nurturing opensource.com</li>
<li>It takes a village...</li>
<li>The "Incubator" (or "Brewery")</li>
<li>Beyond 20/20 Vision: Re-adjusting Our Focus</li>
<li>Re-Vision Control System</li>
<li>The past is prologue</li>
<li>Reaching potential</li>
<li>Escape velocity</li>

Are you talking about a change beyond the name? E.g. different/newer types of content in this space and more focus on user engagement, be it through new features or greater visibility. Or is it just a subtle change of label?

Looking at the content over the past few months, I would roughly separate it into "site improvements" and "polls". The former simply notifies visitors of a site change, the latter asks for an opinion, usually in the form of a vote. They're so different that I find it hard to come up with any suitable term to unify the two.

So I'll stretch the original topic a little and discuss the "should-be" contents. I think the site updates are great, while the polls usually don't hit their mark, as you can tell by the average amount of votes and comments. Please don't take offense, but it just doesn't seem like this is what the opensource.com visitors are here for. The engagement level of this website isn't powered by it's functionality (e.g. in contrast to some forum-centric sites), but rather by its contents. We tend to care about how we interact with this website's contents, and I think that is the type of engagement you should be investing the bulk of your efforts into.

I really like the ring of the "Incubator"; I think most people have positive connotations to that, much like the "labs" sections we see in many sites these days. However I think that label would demand a shift in content that isn't going to happen just yet.

How about the "Note Board"? I'm looking at <a href="http://www.istockphoto.com/file_thumbview_approve/1380760/2/istockphoto_1380760-note-board.jpg">this picture</a> and I'm thinking "yeah, that's pretty much what it's like right now. You check by here once in a while to see 'the latest' and you get a chance to stick your own little note on there if you so please". Right now I think that level of engagement at this site is fine. For something else (read: more) I think that would require a redraft of the website agenda. Actually I think I'll start a discussion about exactly that in the mailing list, which, ironically, will address the pitfall of mailing lists.

I think you should add "Be Open" to your site navigation and make it the channel for what is "Should be" today. That way you can have a channel that folks can find more easily than the link, at the top. I've been on the site quite a few times but today was the first time I noticed that link.

"Should Be" is also good. I think having it on the main navigation would give you more visibility, plus when folks go to that specific channel you can have the pannel on the right give more details about that channel like all the other channels do. More visibility, more articles, which hopefully lead to more ideas and more feedback.

I think "Be Open" fails to communicate the type of engagement sought for. Something should definitely be done about the navigation though.

Come to think of it, the entire top-most menu could do with a little restructuring. There's a lot of overlap. I would prefer something like:

- The open source way
- OpenSource.org

- Should Be (i.e. Note Board)
- Writing*
- Mailinglist

Contact Us (... because I think the contact us link should be more prominent)

The sub-elements could appear as drop-downs, but most importantly they should show up in the right sidebar as a collection of pages.

*Writing ought to be its own topic, instead of merged into the index of 'Participate'. This is because there's a process tied to it; it's not just "speak your mind".

There there's the matter of the "Participate" sidebar block currently in use on the site. First of all, the contents of these blocks are almost entirely specific to "Writing", so I think the block should be specific to that space. A simple "write for us!" in a prominent position on the site would be enough to draw attention to the key topic.

Furthermore, there's some confusing inconsistency going on. In this commenting view I seem to have a tabbed block of "Most popular", "The latest" and "Participate" available to me. Naturally, the "Participate" tab is superfluous because right above it there's another one much like it:

There's more to say but this comment already exceeds the unspoken tl;dr limit by two lengths.

I miss-understood the original intent of the article I think. I thought they were trying to get "Should be" as it's own channel down on the nav bar with Open*, Business, etc. I see your point about updating the navigation section at the very top and in that case Be Open (or Should be) don't seem to convey enough information to give readers enough of an idea to click the link. Unless they are just naturally curious like me, which is why I clicked on it. :)

I also wondered about the multiple participate blocks, links in the submission pages.

You may have noticed that in the top navigation, we've changed "What Should opensource.com be?" to simply, Community. We're going to try this out and see if this resonates with folks.

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