Ask Ubuntu moderator election is now underway!

We are in the midst of our 5th moderator election to add more firepower to our existing mod crew.

In the 6 years that Ask Ubuntu has been around, nearly 230,000 questions and 300,000 answers have been posted on the site, with the daily traffic clocking a whopping 487k visits as of now.

These numbers will only go up from here and to support this growing community, we are expanding our moderator team to accommodate two more. As is the policy with Stack Exchange network of sites, the new moderators will be added to the existing team and not replace them.

If you have a minimum of 300 reputation on Ask Ubuntu and think you can do a good job, consider nominating yourself for the role. The nomination phase itself runs for 7 days, followed by a week of primaries and then the actual election. People with 150 reputation are eligible for voting and I encourage them to vote for candidates that they think are most suitable for the role.

If you have any questions about the election process, you can ask them on meta. Discussions about the election can be had in the chat room too.

If mod work is not your cup of tea but you’re still looking for a way to help, you can always help us answer the incoming new questions. Featured questions would be a good place to start.


UPDATE:

Ask Ubuntu moderator election 2016 is now over and the following community members have been elected as moderators:

My little contribution to Doctors without Borders

It’s always an honour and a privilege to be a moderator in a Stack Exchange site. Every December, the company offers to make a $100 donation to a charity of our choice on the behalf of us moderators. It’s a touching gesture and one that I am proud to be a part of.

Some of you may remember my donation to Wikimedia foundation back in 2013 and I regret to admit that I missed the donation offer email in 2014 amid my inbox flooding. But no such thing shall happen again and I remembered to stay on top of my inbox this time around.

I made up my mind to choose Doctors Without Borders because of their selfless act of service, who don’t mind putting themselves in risky zones just to do what they love doing the most — helping people, regardless of their political stance.

Such compassionate people have to be encouraged and I will use this opportunity to do exactly that. So, thank you selfless doctors of Médecins Sans Frontières for your contributions to the humanity and thank you Stack Exchange for making me feel good about myself.

Read more about Stack Exchange giving back this year.

Ask Ubuntu – In the year 2013

Before I get anywhere, let me convey my thanks to slhck for his help with the data visualization and his awesome R skills.

Having got that out of the way, let’s look at some stats involving Ask Ubuntu in the year 2013. There is no real purpose in this exercise other than whetting my appetite for numbers.

Let’s start with the big picture. At this point, I should state the data points are not cumulative and represent the state of the site during that period of time.

d_m_deleted_closed

The total number of questions asked has almost tripled since 2011. Number of questions not being deleted has quite a linear growth as well. Remember, “questions” are deleted on Ask Ubuntu for a variety of reasons, including spam, offensive content and rants among others.

percentage

The percentage of questions closed to total questions asked has decreased over the years but the questions closed as duplicates has increased.

d_m_deleted_closed_2013

Breaking 2013 into months, we can see there are two peaks around 13.04 (2013-05) and 13.10 (2013-10) releases.

And what about the answers?

d_m_answers

There is a steep increase in the absolute numbers of questions with zero answers. Questions with accepted answers has taken a hit and so does questions with multiple answers.

d_m_answers_2013

In the various months of 2013, yeah.. we have work to do on that. Yet to fully recover from 13.10 release.

How goes voting?

One of the selling points of Ask Ubuntu (being a part of Stack Exchange network of sites) is that it is community regulated (via votes among other means). 2013, however, is not a year of voting on Ask Ubuntu.

d_m_score

Despite having more questions asked compared to 2012, the number of questions with at least a positive score has decreased. Questions with 3 or more votes have decreased sharply as well.

Questions with no positive score have skyrocketed. Guess it’s time to pull our socks and vote more. Want to help? 🙂

d_m_score_2013

The monthly breakdown of 2013 seems to suggest a general decrease in votes as well.

Questions and traffic

For a site that is currently getting about 260k views per day, the following might be surprising.

d_m_views

50% of the questions asked in 2013 don’t have more than a 100 views, which is not particularly appeasing. It seems not a lot of questions are getting enough eye balls and are adding to the growing tally of tumbleweeds on the site.

d_m_views_2013

Making the truth more obvious since the 90s.

Scores, views and answers combined

d_m_views_score

More page views clearly increase the possibility of a question getting either a vote or (hopefully) an answer.

d_m_views_score_2013

The last couple months of 2013 have a higher number of lowly viewed questions. Guess they need a little time to garner more views.

If any data wiz out there wants to play with the data, here’s the spreadsheet. And that would be all from the numbers department this year.

[HOWTO] Reset Unity configuration using unity-tweak-tool

Not so recently, the command unity --reset was deprecated when Unity migrated its settings from gconf to gsettings. This happened in the 12.10 development cycle and as a result, there was no easy way to quickly reset the Unity configuration in 12.10 and later.

In order to fix that, we bundled a script with unity-tweak-tool which resets Unity configuration for you. The script utilizes gsettings API and is considered more secure than using dconf reset.

To use it, run the command

unity-tweak-tool --reset-unity

in a terminal. After doing so, log out and log back in again. You should hopefully have a Unity profile that was reset.

If in the unfortunate case you run into a bug or other anomaly, please consider filing a bug report against unity-tweak-tool on Launchpad. We will try our best to fix it for you.


For the attentive ones, it is in fact the same script that was posted on Ask Ubuntu. It should have made it into the Unity source code but we got lazy and Mir was announced; everything got thrown into the backburner and we took the easy way out and just rolled it into unity-tweak-tool.

When Open Source software get nothing in return

There have been a lot of success stories of big governmental organizations switching to Open Source solutions to cut down costs. The latest one doing the rounds: French Gendarmerie switching to Ubuntu and cutting down IT costs by an impressive 40%.

Using an open source desktop lowers the total cost of ownership by 40%, in savings on proprietary software licences and by reducing costs on IT management. Using Ubuntu Linux massively reduces the number of local technical interventions, says Major Stéphane Dumond. “The direct benefits of saving on licences are the tip of the iceberg. An industrialised open source desktop is a powerful lever for IT governance.”

All’s well and good when you put it in the perspective of such organizations. But, what does the Open Source software community get in return? Some good name and a gentle pat in the back. Is that enough? Not much really.

There was a slight compensation when the German city of Munich reportedly were planning to distribute free CDs of Ubuntu 12.04 to its residents. That’s a step forward but certainly not good enough. Why I say it’s not good enough is because they can do more – a lot more than what they are currently doing.

Since these organizations will more than likely have their own support team and not rely on purchasing support contracts, the only reasonable source of revenue via clients buying support contracts for Open Source software gets blocked.

Now, if we can get them to exercise some Corporate Social Responsibility, all of us can have a happy ending. For a start, they can maybe donate a part of their savings to a FOSS organization or a company. I believe that’s reasonable and fair for all sides.

If that sounds too much, hiring a developer or two and getting them to work on their upstream software is a good bargain at the least.

It’s possible I don’t have a full picture of what the organizations do with their savings. And I would be very glad if they do share my thoughts on how they can benefit Open Source that benefit them. After all, that’s the underlying philosophy behind Open Source.

Unity Tweak Tool is now in the Raring repository!

It’s been wholly four months since we started development on unity-tweak-tool and two months since it was available for wider testing. And now, finally, it is in the Ubuntu repository for 13.04 release!

Many thanks to the MOTU reviewers Daniel Holbach, Michael Terry and Bhavani Shankar, who also sponsored the package. Also extending the cordiality to Adam Conrad (~infinity) for a final review on the distributability of the package as an archive admin. And, last but not the least, thanks to the Ubuntu community for their feedback during the development, which was really helpful in shaping this product for the better.


Now that I have gotten that out of the way, we are going to start work for the s-cycle (or is it rolling?). That includes finishing the rewrite of the backend for better maintainability and making it easier for us to extend the current set of features.

We also have some exciting plans in our mind for the s-cycle (or rolling, depending on how that discussion ends up), that includes:

  • Ability to preset settings (switching settings based on context)
  • Sync the settings — potentially across various computers — using Ubuntu One
  • Back up and restore settings, for those feeling adventurous yet unwilling to compromise their current setup.

Also in the to-do list for the upcoming cycle includes some relatively boring items:

  • Search bar
  • Installing and removing themes from tarballs
  • Unit tests to prevent any new bugs from creeping in and to increase the quality of the code
  • Autopkgtests — Automatic testing for packages
  • Extensive debug logs for better bug-hunting.

Please do keep in mind that these plans are tentative in nature and it very much depends on how Unity development pans out over the next year or so. We’ll try our best to create a tweak tool for the Qt/QML based Unity as and when it becomes available for users.

Ask Ubuntu community moderator election is now underway!

We are having community moderator elections for the year 2013 in order to accommodate the growing community at Ask Ubuntu. The elected moderators from this year’s election will complement the current moderators, as is the policy with Stack Exchange network of sites.

Ask Ubuntu had some tremendous growth in the year 2012 and the stats only prove that:

  • Over 50,000 questions,
  • 60,000 more users and
  • more than tripling the daily traffic to 217k visits/day.

If you are one of those nice blokes (like the current set of moderators ;)) and is willing to help make Ask Ubuntu an even better place, please do consider nominating yourself for the upcoming moderator elections. The nomination phase runs for the next 7 days followed by the voting on the nominees. Do note that the nominees are required to have at least 300 reputation. Anyone with over 150 reputation will be part of the electorate and can vote on the nominees during the election phase.

People interested in discussing the election or any of the nominations, please consider joining the chat room for Ask Ubuntu elections.

Or, we can always use some help with answering the questions. Here’s a good place to start.


UPDATE:

Ask Ubuntu moderator election 2013 is now over and the following community members have been elected as moderators: