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So if ‘we are maemo’ who are we?
There’s been Yet Another Thread™ on the problems in the community this week. It started well as a discussion on the nature of ‘constructive criticism’, and went downhill fast. (Including some lovely practical demonstrations of destructive criticism.)

For myself, I had to face up to my own Pollyanna-ism. Someone complained the Nokia had produced an advert mentioning the Ovistore and BBC iPlayer. And far from wanting to complain that neither is here (the Ovi store still shows ‘coming soon’) I promptly took that to mean that iPlayer is coming too. Which got me very excited indeed.

Any attempt to draw ‘types’ of a community always falls into characatures. But I’m still going to do it. I’m hoping that a bit of reflecting on who we’ve got will help us find ways of making community run more smoothly – or perhaps t be accurate making t.m.o run more smoothly. So who are ‘Maemo’?

The saints
These are the people who’ve been with Maemo for a long time. They’ve worked hard. They understand how Community is supposed to function with genuine mutual support. They have patience with newcomers, and get quietly on with their projects regardless of the noise levels. They want Maemo to be successful for itself, not just because it provides what they want. They are the real heart of Maemo. Nothing I can say can begin to express how overwhelmingly decent these people are Note: I have found levels of generosity and support there to shame some corners of the religious community!

The Longstanding disgruntled
Close to saints, these are the people who have had to watch as their beloved community has changed out of all recognition, and something which they have cherished and nurtured for years has suddenly become ‘kewl’ with a whole new bunch of people who don’t seem to appreciate it at all. Many are struggling to feel that they belong at all especially those who have stuck with the older tablets and not gone down the n900 route – often because the hardware changes means the new device doesn’t meet their needs. There are hopes and plans for structural changes that will make more navigable if you only want to see threads about older devices: they can’t come too soon.

The New Coders
There are people who have come into the Maemo fold now because for the first time n900’s hardware meets their need – clever people who can do great things with the code once they get their heads around it. They have simply settled down and dug in. Along with them are the slightly less experienced who are cheerfully navigating their way around the complexities without fear. Good, contributing new members.

The stupid but enthusiastic
I include myself in this group! People who have a range of skills they are willing to throw into the mix but sadly code isn’t one of them. But there are designers, community workers, and people like me who can’t do much except cheer from the sidelines. Even my small input has been enthusiastically received and accepted. Maemo is one of the most ‘catholic’ communities I have ever met (in the original sense – not the religious one!)

The Reservationists
These are the people who are generally pleased with their device, but they have reservations. They are happy to be positive when appropriate, but can easily be dragged into the negative and destructive threads. Their concerns are generally valid – they highlight weaknesses in the firmware, design and process – the delayed opening of Ovistore being a case in point. They make excellent bug-reporters.

The Disappointed
Most of the Disappointed are people who expected n900 to be something it’s not, and wasn’t meant to be. At least, not at first release. For those who read inaccurate specs, I feel sorry (there were some – GSMArena were wrong for a few weeks, and they’re usually one of the most reliable). But many simply didn’t do their homework and now blame the device. I guess I’ve always been flexible about the feature set – there are a few things I’d like to have but none are such a big deal they’re worth bitching about.

The shiny shiny kids
Like any new expensive device, n900 has landed in the hands of a number of people who sadly have more money than maturity. These are the people who are constantly demanding the next thing, the shiny apps, the latest game. They bought this device because it was new, shiny, super-duper. They happily declare their willingness to pay for whatever they want money no object. The idea that what they want isn’t there, and no amount of shouting, bawling or stamping their feet will bring it doesn’t seem to sink in. Think of the posting equivalent of a kid throwing a tantrum in a supermarket: “I want more apps now!” “I want Ovi store now!” “I want the firmware update now!” Or maybe Verrucca Salt

The Over-Enthusiasts
Running close to The Enthusiasts, these people are in constant danger of being branded ‘fan-bois’ (unless they’re fan-gurlz). With a tendency to overlook things like slipped dates, slow bug-fixing and poor customer service, they focus on the positive just a tad too much. Nothing is that perfect.

And finally, there are the trolls
Every community gets a few – the people who just love t wind folks up. They don’t care what sort of garbage they spout – indeed, the more ludicrous and inaccurate the better. It raises people’s blood-pressure more effectively. In a community which prides itself on openness and freedom of speech, these people are perhaps the most difficult to deal with. Not least as the disgruntled, the disappointed and the shiny shiny kids are only too glad to have any arena to look at the negatives.

So that’s us. We are maemo.
Who have I missed out?
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The Saints


Interesting analysis; however I disagree that the Saints do it for the sake of Maemo. I've used this point in a few speeches about Maemo: I/we do it *entirely* because we're selfish. We like our Maemo device, but we want it to be better. By working in the community, we get more people to write apps which make our devices better. Benefiting us.

Maemo is a commercial operation by Nokia; at various points in time it's been the best fit for the use-cases of a number of people. So we're doing it for the ourselves; it's just that having a vibrant community full of excellent people is the best way of achieving that :-)



Anthropologists argue that all altruism is ultimately enlightened self-interest: humans have eveolved an approach of doing things for others so that others will do things for them, so you may well be right.

My analysis is based on having spend 30 years involved in and sometimes working for institutions which make a great deal of noise about altruism in community (Love one another as I have loved you) yet I have been blown away by acts of simple practical generosity in the meamo community. There seems to be a concept of community which is unusual, to say the least: wider communities could learn much from it.

Re: The Saints

I have come to believe that the opposite is also true; evil is a form of selfishness.


Or is selfishness the root form of all evil?

You left out lurkers

There are always lurkers, and they should neither be discounted nor excluded from the definition of community. There are many reasons why they do not or have not yet posted. On some levels the desire is the encourage or seduce the lurker into a more active role, but in some cases this may never happen.

The lurkers play an important role not just because they are users and consumers of the device/technology/software but also because they represent future potential. They are the people who are already in the community but not yet welcome or identified. What they read and see amongst all the others you describe above directly impacts how they will engage and join the community in the future.

So for example if your desire is to have less of one of these groups and more of another, then the way to achieve that is via the lurkers. They are the ones who can be one of these roles or another, or something new. And it is how you relate to the lurkers that helps determine this, and therefore determine the future of the community.

Re: You left out lurkers

You are absolutely right. My apologies to the lurkers (If any are reading this).

Re: You left out lurkers

The Lurkers are always reading this. I'm always amazed at how many people know about the community because they've been visiting for years and years, but they have never bothered to get an account.

The lurker is the exact opposite of me, the Non-Stop Poster, who posts comments everywhere, all the time, even when there's very little to say.


Re: You left out lurkers

That's an approach to community that fels very familiar. ;)

A shiny shiny kid.

OMG! What're you talking about?
We don't want a better world.
We don't want a nice hippie island of happy coders with happy users.
We want a tech gadget working as it's supposed to be. Yes, N900 is only a spensive gadget, no a new way to make a better world.
Ok, "oh, how destructive for the comunity I'm... bad boy... bad, bad kid", you meant... It's only money, darling... how to sell mobile-devices... "but it isn't still ready for market"..."no matter, launch it, they are sooooo cooperative..."
YES, we want all now, because are BASIC for a expensive mobile that locks, left your filesystem read-only, don't allow me send a photo to my mommy because she don't have email, only a poor MMS ready old mobile, etc etc...
But you are right, it's better to be pleasant with Nokia.

Re: A shiny shiny kid.

Im sorry? Could you try that again in English?

Re: A shiny shiny kid.

Oh, sorry, I can't do it better, I'm not British neither American... but I'm sure you can understand it if you try it a little more.

Re: A shiny shiny kid.

I'm sorry to insult you, then. I've no doubt I don't speak a word of your native language.

Unfortunately, I can't understand it: you have run a whole load of concepts and comments into one long string. I was doing fine till the quotes - after that I can't actually make out what you're trying to say. When you're working in a language you're unfamiliar with, go for clarity over rhetorical style - it's more important that people understand your content than your linguistic nuances.

Re: A shiny shiny kid.

Thanks a lot!
Something more about my style? I want to learn.
Something about my content? I'm waiting for...

Re: A shiny shiny kid.

I believe he was reinforcing the role of the 'shiny shiny new kid' as one of the elements in the market which assists a project such as the n900 to be OK'd by investors and directors, who then ultimately feel shafted when their impatient cries are actually answered prematurely.

Just a guess though, I can't really read it either :)

Lurker signing off.

The stupid but enthusiastic

Oh my god! he's exactly how you described! How did you know?

maemo4 and maemo5

let all be fine and well,

truth be said the comment to shiny shiny kid was lame. i understood shiny kid, and im 40!

maemo4 is cool. my nokia n800 works better than my n900 for certain things. i was going to sell it but now wont. BECAUSE N900 is soooo limited.
can someone port video camera software to maemo4?

maemo5: to the majers of skype, you should really kiss and make up with nokia, im tired of caring around two computers to do the job of one.

nokia and skype the longer we wait the more you look bad.

and a version of audacity on n8xx or n9xx would be a digital orgasm!

Well done.....

... for writing an excellent description of the personalities and behaviours.... spot on. The fact you are getting some of the reactions you are... well it just proves how right you were.

Keep up the good work

Thank you. The idea was to provoke a bit of thought about how we can help all the different groups to live together peacefully and constructively. (Maybe that's the 'part two'.)

I'm a shiny but enthusiastic lurker....

I did buy it because it was shiny and new and just what I wanted (not an iPhone, not Windows Mobile, full QWERTY keyboard with some touch screen). And I want to try all the new apps and play with MMS (I'm not a coder by any means but normally I'll try the beta). But cause it's so shiny I don't want to try any beta stuff and risk turning my phone in to a brick!
Plus I'm a bit of a lurker since I can't really offer much help and I don't want to be one who always "I have a problem with..."

I love the twitter #N900 community and there is surprisingly a bit of a twitter community of #N900 users which is nice to ask questions and share answers on.

Hey, I got my n900 because it's new and shiny and just what I want. The people complaining are mostly those who assumed that new and shiny was in itself what they wanted without checking out the details before they ordered. I have every sympathy for those with problems where Nokia were disingenious - like MfE.

You make a good point about the twitter community. I didn't include it as this was focussed on the people. But twitter provides a slightly different way of interacting - I suspect there are more t.m.o lurkers on twitter. Trying to provide tech help in 140 characters can be challenging! For those who don't already, follow #n900

I knew when I got my N900 that it didn't do MMS... I also put my faith in the maemo community that someone would make an app to do it soon (and it looks like its nearly there!)
I was surprised at the MfE cause I though that would be working and I'm like disappointed but I'm sure The New Coders will get someone working for it sooner than later.
Twitter if good for keep uptodate on the important maemo news - like the progress of the fMMS app!

See that's what distinguishes you from the people I was trying to highlight. There are odd bits you could find more useful - there are one or two I'd change. But you did your research, and are able to live with the rest till it's fixed. You're probably a 'reservationist'.

I believe Nokia themselves are working of the MfE issues, and fMMS is improvong every day. I have the latest version and can both send and receive. It's not yet integrated into the rest of the system - I believe the next step is connecting to the addresss book, which Frals is working on. but it does work and can be done. :)

It's stuff like that which makes the community great - where-ever you link into it. :)

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