Nixers Self-Assessment [2020] - Community & Forums Related Discussions

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Hello fellow nixers,
Let's discuss the self-assessment of 2020.

First of all, I'd like every member to fill out this survey so that we can get an idea of our current state.

A lot has happened since our last one in 2017. We've definitely matured a lot since then and the community has even more amazing individuals in it.

Let's refresh our memory, nixers as a community has existed since 2011, it passed through many bottlenecks that some like to call "schism" but that in retrospect were more like quality (and BS) filters.
Initially, it was a regrouping of persons that were interested in customizing their Unix-like systems, to find all the hidden knobs and bolts they could tweak and what they do. It started with a mindset of discovery and learning. At the time, we were all mostly young and new to this scene but were very interested in the topic, and were sharing our discoveries with one another from our own point of view, disconnecting from what was already repeated over and over in other places on the internet. We were making our own fresh ideas, from scratch.
Today I think any old or new member indirectly knows what they are looking for on nixers and the kind of people that fit well in our community. We've all agree about what we stand we stand for (If you haven't answered the questions in this thread, then go for it!) And each of us has a unique experience interacting with other members.

I'll reiterate how I personally would describe our community:
Quote:We are a small, respectful community where everyone can have a place.
We are not overwhelmed by the size of our own community, unlike forums like
We strive for friendship, wonderful and interesting contents on the forums,
and casual technological or friendly, sometimes offtopic, conversations on irc.
Most of us are young enthusiasts that like to discover new things.
But most of all we have a deep bound.

We are looking through this forums to create content that is novel
and interesting, that takes on new approaches, new perspectives, that questions current
understanding, inspires, and removes confusion around topics.
We do all this as a community, through friendly discussions, active
brainstorming, and lots of engaged play.

Since our last self-assessment, we've had a newsletter running, a couple of podcast episodes, multiple activities initiated by members like a gopher hole, a screenshot page, game-like threads, hundreds of mind-blowing discussions on the forums, fun time on IRC, our very own mini-conference, and much more.

This year I personally went through a bad period, especially after we distanced ourselves from the previous IRC channel, a lot happened were I lived and I felt burdened. I thought of closing the forums at that point and created a thread about it. However, I was amazingly surprised by the determinism, the passion for learning, and enthusiasm other members had about not letting them disappear, their love for it, and how much they enjoy them. That hyped me to keep going and to initiate more activities on it.
None of this would be possible without you. Thank you!
I know we all have our ups and downs in our personal lives, and that this community is about our hobby and joy we get from it, so let's focus on this and the unique perspectives we have.

Here's a list of some things I've added since then. I've added a FAQ, made it easier to sign up to the forums, initiated a "thread of the week", fixed some of the mobile layout (yes I know there's still a long way for this to look fancy), and members such as z3bra and mcol have launched projects like the gopher space and the screenshots gallery.

Thank you for your participation.
Enough sentimentalities, let's review the results of the survey. You can find them here.

What year did you join the forums?

It's impressive that many of the users a relatively new. Even with that, they are very involved!

How did you get into *nix and what motivates you to keep using it?

The answers to this question are reflective of our different background but also our similar interest. Some people are into automation, others got into it based on need, others because of security, and others because of freedom.

What is your general overview of the nixers community?

Friendly, close knit, enthusiastic, sharing knowledge, encouraging, resourceful, interesting — These are the words you chose to describe us.

How would you describe nixers in one sentence?

The answers were quite similar to the previous question.
Here's a couple of memorable ones:
Quote:"I know this. It's Unix."
Quote:cosmopolitan *nix interested people
Quote:A great place to learn, have fun, and be inspired.

Do you participate in the IRC discussion?

Most people do.

How often do you post on IRC?

The answers are very divergent, around half the people join and post frequently.

Are you satisfied with the quality of the IRC discussion?

Unanimously, yes.

What would you like to see more on IRC?

The common idea is that people want others to feel less intimidated to post about their daily discoveries so that they can discuss them together, and maybe learn something on the way. Otherwise, everyone seems satisfied with the current state of the IRC.

Do you participate on the forums activities? If no is it because you are intimidated by frequent posters or are you simply a lurker?

Most people do participate on the forums.

How often do you post on the forums?

Similar to the IRC question, around 50% of people post frequently.

Are you satisfied with the quality of posts on the forums?
Are you satisfied with the quantity of posts on the forums?

On these two questions, people are unanimous, they are satisfied with both the quantity and quality. That's very good and reflective of what we stand for.

I sometimes worry that the forums has not enough actions but it seems to not bothers others so much because the quality of the content is good.

Are you satisfied with the forums theme?

Mostly yes, but someone wants more contrast on the night theme.
Well, it's open source, so here you go:
Have fun editing it as you see fit, ask other members if it looks good and I'll apply it globally! Let's do it.

Are you satisfied with the forums software?

Mostly yes, people are satisfied.
However, there are some features that some would like to be added such as:
  • RSS subscription to specific posts, not just threads
  • Being able to reply to posts by replying to emails

As far as the first one goes, you can subscribe to a thread and get email updates. I'm not sure about the second point, if anyone has an idea let me know.

What would you like to see more on the forums?

Some people want more posts about programming and scripting, which has been missing on the forums.
Others would like to see more casual topics for discussion, basically being able to post less polished ideas and have a conversation about it without worries.

I have to say, go for it! Everyone wants to see these, so don't be shy. I know sometimes there's an aura of intimidation but everyone is interested in participating in discussions and bringing their own point of views. Even on topics that are considered "old" in other places, I see that members have novel ideas about them (take the recent "File extensions" thread as the perfect example).

Did you participate in any of the community events over the past years (conference, podcast, newsletter, gopher space, screenshot page, week in the TTY, scavenger hunt)? Which of those did you prefer the most?

The conference was the most popular event so far, no wonder!
Apart from this members enjoy the gopher space, the screenshot page, and are looking forward to the book club.
And yes, we should organize again some scavenger hunts, I know we got some members that are in the security field and play a lot of CTFs so we can get inspired by those. Hop on IRC and ask if you have an idea.

Were you following the podcast? Would you like it to restart?

Not many actually followed it, some preferred the written format, some would like it to restart. Overall, there's a lot of different stances.

I'll share my own opinion on this.

The podcast was my initial idea, I asked on the forums and on IRC if people wanted to create it, similarly to the newsletter. I wanted it to be a group endeavor, I even created a sort of gantt chart schedule interface so that people could sync to join the conversation.
However, it didn't turn out like that, we only got 15%, or 6/40, episodes that had other members involved. This is not a good number in my opinion, so I agree that as a community this was more or less a failure because it turned into my personal project instead.

Here's the list of episodes where we've had other members:
  • Minimalism & Unix
  • Backing up and Restore
  • Newcomers
  • Chocolate Milk
  • input devices on Unix
  • Unix Ricing

It's true that it took a lot of effort to prepare and edit the podcast. I would only consider rebooting it if it's a community effort, something that represents us all, like the conference did.

Were you following the newsletter? Would you like it to restart?

Again, many different point of views, so I'll share mine.

The same scenario as the podcast happened, I originally had in mind to do something in between a "nixers journal" and a bunch of interesting links to share. I had in mind that every week a member would take the lead and prepare the links that interested them and share them with the rest of the members.
But, again this didn't work, so I partnered with vermaden from and we merged our newsletter together.

So if we are to reboot it, I will be asking for your help! Or someone from the community can take the lead, I'll do what I can to push it forward.

What activities and services you currently enjoy the most and why?

Mainly the forums — I'm glad they are still there!

In what direction do you see the community going?

A couple of very different answers here, many are noticing how new users are slowly joining in and making the place more lively.

There's a particular answer that got my attention.

Quote:I feel like the community is moving more towards a place to learn. The conference and the book club are great examples. While the newsletter and podcast were also informative, activities such as the book club are more inclusive.

I definitely agree, I think we should focus on activities like this, they are more approachable and interactive.

How do you propose the community management should be? Should it change?

Mostly people don't have any issue with the way things currently are.
On the forums I've appointed some members to help with the spam, but it's still rare.

How do you propose community issues should be handled?

What I could deduce from the answers is that any decision should be open, clear, and discussed with the community. I agree!

List the Unix-like operating systems you are currently running

It's a jungle out there.

(Arch is still the most installed OS)

Which personal project are you most proud of ( Optional: Provide a link )

Have a go, share them with us on the forums too.

Anything else that you'd like to say?

Best advice:
Quote:Check your backups. Now.

Quote:I think Nixers is a part of the "old internet", before everything got slick and monetised and social, and I treasure it for that. Just some graybeards hanging out discussing *nix.
Quote:Thank you for running the forum and this community! In a time, where 99% happens on reddit, facebook, whatever, I really appreciate a "true" community. People that know each other and run their own services. That's great!

So now what? What direction should this community take.

I think we should continue on this path, we can have more activities that show how much nixers members have novel and diverse views, more interactive activities like the "web tag", we can have discussions about topics that aren't often talked about, we can create and showcase projects like we are so good at, brainstorm about any topic, maybe even more basic tutorials but taken from new angles.
We recently started the book club, so check it out. I'm already eager to start the conversation, the first book has a timely aspect to it that is super interesting when put into today's world.

Here are some points you can consider:
  • Any idea can be a thread, especially if anyone shows interest, on IRC for example
  • We should have more recurrent activities and things we look up to
  • If the barrier of entry to your topic is high, try to make it a bit lower by explaining stuff, otherwise it's ok, someone else can try to do it
  • If you think your idea is too exotic or "stupid" it's probably not, and we want to hear it!
  • It's ok to have an idea but not execute it yourself, delegating is fine, ask on IRC and maybe someone will like it and push it forward
  • Small threads with open-ended questions are excellent conversation starters
  • If you have any doubt about anything, let me know

Let me also mention that whoever has a community project idea should share it, especially projects that let other experience things and learn at the same time. We'll try our best to help make it a reality!

Now it's your turn, you're the ones that make this community, you push it in the direction you like and attract similar minded people. However, not everything is organic, you can share it with your peers so that they get to know it.
We're the face of the community to the outside world, so let's create content and discussions we can be proud of, let's have fun.
I'm always impressed by the phenomenal people that join us. Maybe linking our blogs together to form a WebRing, which is still in progress, would make nixers the anchor between our personal spaces and our community space. A place of Unix enthusiasts that fosters creativity, knowledge sharing, novel thinking, and inspiration.

All and all, I hope you're enjoying this journey and that this thread gave a fresh look a nixers.

Bump this thread with opinions about the survey and about the direction you see nixers is going to take (proximate future, in 2 years)? What's our role today in the internet ecosystem? Which activities do you want to invest more time in? Do you have an idea to start and that we could help bring forward as a community?

Results are in!
Please share your ideas and thoughts.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to fill the survey, I highly appreciate it. It gave a good idea on what the community stands for and is looking forward to.