Archive for June, 2010

Comment policy & asking questions

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

In my previous post, I promised to say a bit more about the policy regarding blog comments. In the past, we’ve seen a lot of blog comments that were either spam (no relevant content and links to other sites), off-topic (questions or statements related to the Fonera, but not relevant to the particular post) or simply inappropriate (containing swearing or insults).

As of now, the Fon policy regarding user feedback is the following:

  • Stay on-topic. The blog is not a place for general questions or remarks, so please only respond with comments relevant to the post in question. Off-topic comments might be deleted.
  • Stay polite. It is ok to criticize in a constructive way, it is not ok to use inappropriate language or make derogatory remarks. Inappropriate comments will be deleted without exception.

In short, don’t be a troll!

When you post a comment, it will be spamchecked using Akismet, spam is deleted right away. If it is your first post to the blog, it will be held for moderation. We’ll try to frequently approve posts, but it might take a few days. After your first comment is approved, any subsequent comment should be published right away.

Where do I post my off-topic questions, then?
A lot of users have been using the blog to ask a myriad of questions about the Fonera and its development. Since the blog isn’t quite the right place for this, here’s a few places you can ask your questions instead:

  • The forums are appropriate for most questions. Here you will get answers for other users, FON support staff and sometimes developers.
    The forums are good for questions like “Has someone tried installing jdownloader on his Fonera?”, or “What’s the difference between the Fonera firmware and OpenWRT?”
  • FON support has some FAQs, a knowledge base and you can contact them in case you’re having problems with your Fonera, your various Fon accounts or accessing the FON wifi networks (use the “Contact Us” link at the top right).
    FON support is good for questions like “How do I register my router?”, or “What ports do I need to open to use torrent downloads?”.
  • The IRC channel is appropriate for short development questions or to get help collecting information for a bug report. Here you will get answers from other users and developers. You can also try to ask more general questions, but remember that we’re busy with developing the firmware as well!
    If you use the IRC channel, don’t wait for someone to show up first, just ask the question you have and be patient (rule #1 on IRC: don’t ask to ask, just ask!). Don’t be surprised if it takes a few hours or even a day or two to get an answer: We’re not online 24/7, but do usually read back what we’ve missed.
    The IRC channel is good for questions like “What file handles the 3G connection setup” or “I think that DDNS is not working in bridge mode, what info do you need?”
  • The Fonosfera development mailing list is a good place for (longer) development questions. This list is read by the developers and the more advanced users, so there’s a good chance you get an answer to your complicated questions here. This is probably also the best place to ask about the development roadmap.
    The mailing list is good for questions like “I tried to create a plugin to do [something], but I’ve encountered three problems: [long description]”, or “Would anybody be interested in having a plugin for [some program]?”
  • The fonosfera Trac is the place to report bugs or request features. Do take care to search for existing reports first. Please read this wiki page before reporting a bug.

And finally, whenever you ask a question be sure to think about it and phrase it properly!

Update: Added a paragraph explaining how the moderation system works.

Cleaning up the fonosfera

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

This is my first post here, I’m Matthijs Kooijman and I’ve been doing some work for Fon in the last few weeks. Fon has a very cool community surrounding their Fonera firmware, but it hasn’t been investing nearly enough time in communicating with this community recently. There is a lot of useful feedback that hasn’t received the attention it deserves. My (part-time) work is now to get the fonosfera, the Fon community, back on track. Let’s look at a few things I’ve done or am still doing.

There were a lot of comments on this blog that needed to be moderated. Partly because everybody was busy and partly because there wasn’t a single person responsible for comment moderation, this list had accumulated to nearly 300 comments. In the last few days, I’ve gone through the list, deleting half of the comments since they were autogenerated spam and approving the other ones. Just for the record, every real comment has been approved, with the exception of a handful of comments that were plainly offensive and contained swearing. You might have gotten the impression recently that we didn’t publish criticizing comments, but we just haven’t been publishing any comments… We might become a bit more strict in our moderation, though, more about that soon. For now, please keep to on-topic comments, and use the proper channels (forums, IRC, trac) for other things you want to share.

There’s also the trac, which is full of tickets. Some of these address very real bugs, a lot more suggest very useful features, but there is also a lot of duplication and some (spam) polution in there. To turn the trac into a useful development tool again, I’ve started reviewing tickets. The first goal is to filter out duplicate issues, remove useless tickets (that need more information but have not contact information, or that are really configuration problems instead of real bugs), sort the issues into different components, firmware versions, etc. and sometimes even try to confirm the bug or even fix it. So far, I’ve looked at over 150 tickets and there’s still over 250 to go.

To improve the quality of (new) tickets, we’ve also cleaned up the ticket metadata a bit. There is now a hardware field to choose either 2.0n or 2.0g, the list of versions and components is more complete and some useless fields have been removed or hidden from anonymous users.

We have also enabled anonymous commenting for tickets. If you report a problem, you can now supply additional information, or answer our questions in a comment. To improve communication, we have also enabled email notifications of tickets: You will now get notified about all changes and comments to tickets you’ve reported (but only if you filled in your email address in the reporter field). So, if you’ve created a ticket in the past and didn’t fill in your email address, feel free to leave your address in a comment so we can contact you with questions and updates. Note that trac will not make your address public, even when it’s a comment.

This option for feedback on the trac has already payed off: A lot of bug reporters have been supplying extra information and we even managed to nail a few bugs because of that. Thanks for that, reporters!

Finally, I’ve also been doing some early testing with the most recent firmware on 2.0g hardware. There has been a focus on getting 2.0n stable in the last few firmware releases, but now it is really time to get 2.0g up to speed again. I hope to have the next release support 2.0g again (though there might be one more bugfix release for 2.0n first, to fix some import bugs, more about that soon). Note that the next 2.0g release will probably not have bridge mode yet, due to different hardware capabilities…).