Elgg

My post on the Elgg developers closing components of their community site certainly drew plenty of attention. The flurry of comments has become somewhat overwhelming. While my original intent was to report some facts and perhaps spur a little discussion on the state of Elgg. It evolved into what I considered a largely measured, temperate deliberation before somewhat of a descent into something less. I have a number of thoughts on various matters brought up in the comments.

Groups and Comments

I understand that the developers were tired of some of the attacks and accusations from members of the Elgg Community. I feel that totally shutting down these resources was somewhat draconian. A lot of people spent many hours creating information about various aspects of running and customizing Elgg. This information is valuable and is no longer available to those who wish to use Elgg. This hurts everyone’s ability to work with the software. It also makes individuals question the reliability and safety of using the developers’ venues as a repository of what they have done–be it code, documentation, or any other knowledge. The same goes for deleting plugins from the Elgg Google groups.

I respectfully petition the Curverider team to restore this knowledgebase so that such a body is not lost. I believe it would be of benefit to all including the developers. It would restore needed information, and hopefully faith in the community. Perhaps it could be done in a manner that disables further comments, but allows access to what has been done.

Documentation and Support

I have been running this blog for just over a year now. After a short period of time, I noticed that most of my hits were related to Elgg, even though I had not written much about it. At the time, I realized that Elgg was on the cusp of a major revision and my work with Elgg remained on the backburner. Looking at the searches revealed a thirst for information about Elgg. Surely this was not being quenched if they were delivered to my blog so often.

With the pending release of Elgg 1.0, I began to write about Elgg enthusiastically and the search engine referrals jumped. Again, looking through the terms revealed a real need for information.

While there are aspects of the documentation that are well laid out, there are clearly needs that are not being met as evidenced by a number of phenomena. First, there were the aforementioned search engine referrals. Additionally, as stated in many of the comments, the repeated requests for the same information inform us that either the information does not exist, or is too difficult to find. Granted, there will always be those that will plop their questions before the community without a reasonable effort to find it themselves. It also points to the possibility that this software is currently beyond the abilities of some potential users.

I believe that Elgg would be well served by a more comprehensive knowledgebase that meets the needs of a wider audience including users, administrators, and developers. I acknowledge that the Curverider team has been diligent, but the task is herculean. They need to trust a somewhat broader group of people to help with this. If even a limited number of people were allowed to contribute to the wiki, it would ease their burden in terms of documentation and support.

Beyond that, I think that a discussion forum set up with appropriate categories has proven to be an effective means of support with many software products over many years. It would be a quick and easy way to augment support, and communication.

I understand the desire for the Elgg developers to use Elgg as a means of support. That being said, I think Elgg could be structured to do so. Defragmenting discussions by detaching them from groups and giving immediate access to a set of universally relevant discussions would be a great step. Work a central page in Pages as a starting point as a variant of a wiki.

Intended Audience

I stated and Kevin Jardine concurred that Elgg was not intended for “every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a $5 shared server account.” Kevin asserted that Elgg, for the time being, should be left to php developers.

I am not a real coder. Some may think I should step aside. I believe it is more about attitude than expertise. I am perfectly willing to grapple with my problems myself. I might post questions. Sometimes they are answered, sometimes not. That’s my problem, not anybody else’s. Nobody owes me anything. Eventually the fog lifts and I am able to work through solutions when a key piece to the puzzle falls into place. This is just how I learn. I have been able to make themes and a few simple plugins using this approach. I am not going to wait for someone else to take care of my needs.

While we can parse words and quotations from the Elgg sites regarding the intended audience, the perceptions are what they are. People have the impression that they can easily create their own social network using Elgg. This will only get worse as GoDaddy and perhaps other have prematurely implemented push button installation. While a sign of success by some measures (and was lauded by some), we will now face an onslaught of support request by people that may not even be able to use ftp.

Team Elgg’s presence

The developers or others with credentials need to maintain a presence in their support communities. I have participated in and have run many online communities over the years. I have been a participant in online communities for nearly 15 years, I have moderated for five years and have administered for three. If you walk away from a community, it will drift.  Do this in the early formation of a community and it can be a disaster.

I have had periods of time in which I could not give hands on attention to a given community. I kept the communities functional by have a trusted group of people that felt empowered to guide the community in limited ways and contact me when they felt it was necessary. I understand the ambivalence toward yielding control to others, but I believe it is necessary to avoid the problems recently face the Elgg community now.

Alternative resources

I am ambivalent about setting up alternative resources. I am disturbed by the disappearance of information in the sanctioned sites. I know individuals that are grappling with projects in progress that are having difficulties because needed content has disappeared. I realize the developers have concerns about fragmenting the community, but needs are not being met, nor will they be met on Google groups. There will be continual attempts to set up alternatives until the needs are met. Many posts in this blog have served as such because I believe in Elgg—not because I want to fragment the community.

I have more to add in the future, but I thought I’d like to get this out today. To the Curverider team, I want to extend my thanks for what you have done. I apologize for anything I may have done that may have offended, but please hear me as I want the project to succeed (and for you to make a living). To my readers, I appreciate your comments, but let’s keep it thoughtful and civil.

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58 comments

  1. Jumanji’s avatar

    This is the same scenario where the Ning team decided to removed the forum of their Network Creators. theres an advantage and disadvantage in both side. Like elgg did, and I believed that the action of elgg team now have there own reason.

    Thanks steve to your valuable information to your blog….

  2. David Moon’s avatar

    I’ve been on the sidelines these last few weeks, and an not completely privy to all of the hoopla, history or discussion about what’s going on with elgg. I did read on the elgg.org their response to pulling down many of the comments and other response mechanisms over the past week.

    From my outside perspective, elgg’s developers reaction was completely too emotional and poorly written for an organization heading towards commercial services and support on a free product. And I don’t mean that to sound negative, as we sometimes let our emotions get the better of us. I like the elgg platform, and they’ve done a fine job with the core product — but I believe that they need to begin to address their weaknesses if they want to advance the product beyond the code and waning acclaim. My suggestion is to turn to their advisers, and begin a strategy to rebuild loyalty to match the current brand hype and a great product. Whether they like it or not, the elgg community will either make or break any aspiration in a return of their investment, regardless of the product and it’s usefulness … burning bridges with the user base is not helping, and sometimes you have to allow yourself to be criticized; right or wrong.

    It’s competitive out there, and I guarantee that a new open source solution is just a few lines of code shy of completion and ready to steal elgg’s thunder if they don’t reorganize their communication methods and better their community response.

  3. Tom’s avatar

    Thank you Steve – clear and logical.

    @David – spot on; my guess is that before the year-end we will know if Elgg has lost it’s momentum or can pick up again…

  4. SteveLee’s avatar

    Steve, thanks for a great summary and I you hit the points I picked up on from reading around the last day or so and previous contact. I blogged my thoughts http://eduspaces.net/stevelee/weblog/527233.html but not as well as your thoughts.

    We want Elgg to succeed, not least as a blog with it and I’m just trying to create a community with it. I for one will watch events with interest.

    One question – can you recommend any good resources on creating and running a community from a less technical angle? We’re about to embark on setting one up for accessibility developers at projectpossibility.org

  5. Matt Leifer’s avatar

    Great post Steve – I agree with pretty much everything you said.

    @Jumanji – I don’t think this is the same as the Ning situation because Elgg is open source whereas Ning is proprietary and hosted. Owners of proprietary hosted services can be expected to behave badly (from the user’s point of view) from time to time in order to protect their business model, which is probably based on exploiting the data that has been entrusted to them. This is why many of us prefer open source, self-hosted webapps in the first place. Developers of open source webapps have a greater need to keep the community happy because the main benefit that they gain from open sourcing the code is the crowdsourcing of future development (in the form of plugins, patches, etc.) This won’t happen if people don’t trust that their contributions to the community will continue to be made available.

  6. Cash’s avatar

    It looks like the Elgg wiki site has been deprecated in favor of Elgg pages. There is a link to the pages documentation, but nothing to the wiki from the community site. That’s too bad since the wiki is easier to maintain (easier to link pages together), currently has more information, and is searchable.

    Steve, are there particular Elgg groups that you want content from? Now is the time to pull this content out of the google cache. Also, it does look like the group pages are still there, just not the forums. An example: http://community.elgg.org/pg/pages/owned/group:1179

  7. Hisham’s avatar

    Should we create our own community trying not to solve this problem? I don’t feel comfort with the Elgg community like this way.

  8. Cash’s avatar

    A comment on the petition to restore groups: If I were them, there is no way I would take an action in response to a public call out on a blog. It would just encourage future requests like this and it’s likely that any attempt to satisfy would start another round of complaints.

  9. Steve’s avatar

    I do not really feel that this is so much a call out as a summary of my sentiments. I believe it was polite and well reasoned.

    If you perceived it as a complaint-fest, then I think you misunderstand me.

  10. Cash’s avatar

    “Call out” was a poor choice of words on my part. Sorry about that. Let’s call it a polite request. Either way, I would not respond to *public* polite requests if I were them.

  11. Jumanji’s avatar

    @Matt oh yeah your right., thanks.

  12. Nathan Garrett’s avatar

    Nice summary of the issues.

  13. Drew’s avatar

    Looks like we have a tried and true method in place now – a forum. You guys seen this yet? Someone just posted it on an Elgg page.

    http://elggforum.com/simplemachinesforum/

    Steve you have done a great job managing all this from your site. I will not pass judgement on the Elgg team as none of us are in their shoes and know what they have gone through and what completely has happened. I am however grateful for two things.

    1. That they realized that the way the Elgg community was set up (with newbies and developers colliding) was not workikng out at all. It will lead to both sides being frustrated at one another and it did. I am glad they pulled it down because I got a headache looking at how many questions there were with no answers and people not understanding that the message board was not a forum etc. It also looked bad for Elgg when Elgg is not that complex if you limit the amount of ways to commnicate so that it is easier to follow. Clearly the demand could not fit the amount of experts on Elgg and even if it could no expert wants to spend their day responding to newbie questions for free. I believe someone said the information is up somewhere still so not all of the previous conversations are lost and new ones will begin on the new forum. We’ll all get through this and Elgg will be better for it IMHO.

    2. That they are continuing their code because with the number of people that overwhelmed the Elgg community it is obvious that it is a product that people want to use. It has too much potential to just drop.

    1. Steve’s avatar

      The problem here is that Ben Werdmuller objected to the use of this name. He has told the owner of the site so, but the owner has not complied with his request.

    2. Drew’s avatar

      Oh, so Steve, are you saying that the link I posted is not an approved forum or site by the Elgg team? If so, you can feel free to remove it. I thought it was a great tool that you guys (the developers) may want to know about. I am hardly a developer but have one working with me on my Elgg site.

    3. Tom’s avatar

      I just had a look at this new forum. I do not know this guy, but welcome good initiatives. SMF is a good platform, we use it for MODx and it proofed productive.

      Curverider may protest of course, but there is no legal objection to using a name in regards to the product. Only using the name in regards to a *competitive* product is not allowed (well, in fact only morally. Legally only if Trademarked…which is not the case with Elgg, and looking at activities on the web, is too late to trademark, but that is for purists).

      Not convinced? Look around; all the big brands have their unaffiliated user forums, …niketalk to discuss sneakers, fordforum, well you guess: thousands. An none of the big brands have a say in these…

      So, I do support Ben a.o., if they suggest a good alternative in true spirit of open source; with no political or commercial moderation! But recent actions on elgg.org leave room for improvement, I assume the Curveriders will agree.

      So let us all grow up. If there are good initiatives contributing the Elgg users, let’s support them. If not good, let’s look for others or set up new ones. Be supportive, productive, live and let live and recognize those who did good :)

    4. Cash’s avatar

      Is anyone interested in collecting the content from any of the groups? There were 52 groups as of Dec 3. Currently, all pages are there but not linked to. The message board and forums information can only be pulled out of the google cache. I’m willing to help in this.

    5. Steve’s avatar

      @Cash Sounds like a good idea. I’ll help as I am able in terms of time. Many hands make light work. Anyone else?

      @Drew I’ll delete it if that is your wish.

    6. Cash’s avatar

      @All, post the name of any Elgg groups that had content that you think would help the community. It would be helpful to know whether you remember the content being in the forums, message board, or pages.

      We also need to figure out where to put this content. Any suggestions?

      1. Steve’s avatar

        @Cash I could throw a wiki together on a moments notice. Not sure what to name it as to not offend devs. Some subdomain of openedweb for now.

        I know I’d like all the info about front page modifications associated with the front page plugin.

      2. David Moon’s avatar

        I’ll all in for the new elgg forum — name and all. Long term, I think it helps elgg.

        1. Steve’s avatar

          My fear is that it would further fragment the community. There are well established developers that will not take part as Ben has requested him not to use that name.

          For now, I will yield to Ben’s wishes.

        2. David Moon’s avatar

          Maybe it’s not a developer’s resource — more for the newbies and social entrepreneurs. Elgg is closing off a huge audience by limiting their own social mechanisms on their community. If the forum can get past the recent hoopla, and serve as a popular, responsive and positive resource, it will help strengthen the community.

          “Create your own social network, quickly and easily. Elgg allows you to take full advantage of the power of social technology with elegant, flexible solutions for organisations, groups and individuals.”

          Nowhere do they say, “just programmers.” If elgg plans to take flight soon, they need to better “strategize” their position in the marketplace. If they want to control the community and content, they have to figure out a way to make their community better — and so far they’ve done nothing but close it off to everyone because of an emotional response to criticism.

        3. Drew’s avatar

          Steve, feel free to do what you want with the link. I just thought that your next post was suggesting that you didn’t want it here since it was not endorsed by the Elgg team. I just posted it because I thought it would be helpful but didn’t know the details behind who set it up and the Elgg team etc. It doesn’t matter to me what you do with it, its your show, and again you seem to be doing a nice job giving an unbiased opinon on all these issues. Your passion for opensource and education is evident. Kudos.

          I just want to help keep Elgg going and I think that seems to be the common thread that ties all of us (developers, administrators, Curverider, Elgg users), whether we all agree on details or not. If we keep that focus, we’ll get there and everyone will win. Who can complain about that? :)

          1. Steve’s avatar

            Drew–

            I’m going to leave it up. I am not going to participate on it myself, but there are those that disagree. I certainly want to allow opposing ideas here.

            I do believe you will find an alternative soon, while not sanctioned, will make every effort to respect the core developers.

            We all want to keep it going. Many have made large investments of time.

            Thanks for the kind words about my coverage. It has been a difficult rope to walk. I have every good intention.

          2. William’s avatar

            Steven, Kevin, et all,

            Would you participate in the forum if the name were changed?

            1. Steve’s avatar

              Probably not. This person comes out of nowhere and admittedly has just discovered Elgg and installs it using GoDaddy one-click, then defies the courteous request by Ben Werdmuller to not use their name.

              Who is this guy anyway? Is this a flash-in-the-pan? How long will a GoDaddy shared server account accommodate this?

            2. Kevin Jardine’s avatar

              I would prefer to use a discussion forum rather than Google Groups. I hate not being able to edit my comments, for example, and I prefer a more structured organisation of the posts.

              Having said that, Bruce Wagner has already shown that he doesn’t respect reasonable Curverider requests and seems to know little about Elgg. So even if he is pressured into changing the URL, I’d much prefer to participate in a Curverider forum, or failing that, one run by people who have more knowledge of Elgg and a willingness to work with the core developers.

              1. Nathan Garrett’s avatar

                I really enjoyed the vanilla forum that Curverider had in place before switching to Elgg v1. Somewhat to my surprise, I found that the organization made it a lot easier to keep track of happenings in the community.

                The current disorganization and odd behavior by Curverider in shutting down the forum is gutting the ability of people to form a cohesive community. At this point, I’d rather we find an independent provider to support the Elgg community to avoid losing forum history and moving to a new system every 8-12 months.

                I say this as a great fan of Elgg (been coding in it for years now, though I haven’t been active last term), and someone who has met with Ben / Dave and the rest and really do like them on a personal and professional level. My point is simply that if they don’t want to deal with the community, that we should put it somewhere else.

                1. Kevin Jardine’s avatar

                  I very much appreciate the work Curverider put into community.elgg.org, but it wasn’t working out for me. This is not only because of all the comments from trolls and flamers,
                  who showed up with guns blazing specifically *because* it was an official Curverider community, but for two other reasons:

                  - there was no appointed community manager and community members had created more than 50 groups, making it quite difficult to follow the discussions and find relevant information, and

                  - there were a number of technical limitations (eg. you could not edit comments, which might be fine for quick blog responses, but not appropriate for a technical forum, where it is very important to be able to edit *all* your content to make it as clear and accurate as possible)

                  So I would say that if someone set up a more feature rich forum, and appointed a knowledgeable community manager who did as much as possible to build bridges with Curverider, then that could work well to supplement (not replace) the current Google Groups setup.

                  It would also be easier on an independent community site to tell the flamers to stuff it, because the site was not being run by the people they wanted to attack.

                  1. David’s avatar

                    I think I’ve raised similar technical limitations on the official community site but didn’t get any replies. Out of time I couldn’t dive into the codebase enough so that I could write those plugins myself. But the need is absolutely there.

                    There is a handful of very good people that contributed to the community with coding. Elgg needs them to extend the codebase and how Elgg can be used.

                    I just don’t know how I am gonna fit in now that the community site is semi closed down, given the fact I don’t have time to code.

                  2. David Moon’s avatar

                    There’s an interesting article on BuddyPress regarding elgg vs. BuddyPress that I’d like to share. http://buddypressvselgg.testbp.org/2008/12/10/buddypress-vs-elgg-which-one-to-choose-now/

                    I am in agreement with the author’s conclusion.

                    1. Steve’s avatar

                      I have been a WordPressMU administrator of about a year. BuddyPress is interesting. It certainly would be easy for me to use. In some ways I feel that WordPressMU in and of itself is somewhat convoluted (but it is getting better). I wonder how far you can twist WordPress.

                      I disagree with some of the writer’s analysis. I am not a php coder and I have been able to modify elgg in a manner that allows upgrades. Installing mods is not any more onerous that WPMU.

                      Granted, BuddyPress’s compatibility with WordPress gives it a much larger set of themes and plugins and probably a wider community.

                      The WPMU support forum can be amply snarky–take a look. Also take a look at the post “Is MU Right for Me?”

                      http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/topic.php?id=4624

                      This directly contradicts several assertions by the author of the post.

                      I may well use BuddyPress for some applications in the future and look forward to giving it once over when released. I just feel the author did not present an accurate balanced view.

                    2. Michael J. Pratt’s avatar

                      David – Thanks fir the ref link re BuddyPress vs Elgg. I installed BP last night and had no problems, but found a few things missing which I wanted to try out so I went searching again. Though about Drupal but am still not sure, then I came across Elgg (not sure how I missed it) and this thread seriously has me wondering who’s platform to use. I am trying to build an alumni community site that encourages and facilitates engagement. Your thoughts on the idea are welcome/

                      1. Tradenet’s avatar

                        Michael,

                        I have setup several Drupal sites. It’s solid. Has a strong community and an excellent organization. Elgg looks promising to say the least if it can get through the growing pains and the developers remain focused. It lacks polish especially in the user management and permissions area. However, I do agree with Steve’s statement that WMu is somewhat “convoluted”.
                        So, in looking at the three:
                        1.) Drupal is more CMS than community
                        2.) WMu is more “Blogger” than community
                        3.) Elgg is about community at the user base.

                      2. David’s avatar

                        Your blog post is very well written and has sensitive and good reasoning. I don’t doubt for one second the coding qualities of the crew in Curverider or the potential of Elgg. But given the facts I do doubt their skills at managing a (exploding) diversed community with everything from those not even knowing what PHP is to developers that has written similar projects as Elgg themselves.

                        They need to devise a communication plan that adheres to a information plan that will ease their burden and reduce the amount of nay-sayers. With some decent plans in place, they will have a good foundation of building up and maintaining a proper and diverse Elgg community. A community manager and a small team of community assistants is something they should really think about hard and long at this stage in Elgg’s life cycle. There isn’t much left todo before the code is at a level that it’s ready for production use just out of the available released files.

                        Discussing whether or not someone can use the Elgg name is kind of moot unless Curverider is thinking about going to court with it. Which I highly doubt. Personally I won’t visit the forum that was posted here.

                        1. Nathan Garrett’s avatar

                          David (Moon?), it may be a good idea to post your last name as well, as there is a David Tosh in Curverider. It took me a minute to realize that it wasn’t him that wrote this.

                          1. David’s avatar

                            No I’m none of those. I’m David. I can sign with “Not Noon/Tosh”?

                          2. Mark Pearson’s avatar

                            Steve, Nathan, Kevin,

                            This whole episode has me concerned about the future of Elgg for a number of reasons:

                            1. Precipitate action by the Curverider management team. There is an Executive and Advisory board. Did management consult with these bodies before pulling all the Groups? Surely part of their raison d’etre is to offer sage advice in cases such as these. If this had been done perhaps cooler heads would have prevailed. BTW, at exactly this time last year Curverider announced that they were closing down eduspaces.net which provoked a storm of protest and effectively killed off interest from techie teachers who wanted a reliable platform to experiment with. In the event, eduspaces was not taken down but it’s now in a backwater having been supplanted by Edublogs.

                            2. Opaqueness of management decisions. I have seen no explanation of why management decided to delete all the Groups and not just content from the trolls. In the past (ie classic.elgg.org), they have removed and banned certain users from the discussion forums for justifiable reasons. I think we can assume that the motivation for doing this was not out of spite or revenge. Thus, if this is the case, then the only reason for removing *all* the groups must be technical. That is, they are unable to go into the database and delete a single user and his postings. Now — extrapolate that situation to your site. Human nature dictates that you are always going to have trolls on a Social Networking site. What this shows is that with Elgg 1.x you as system manager cannot manage individual users or their postings without affecting the functionality of the whole site — a massive architectural problem.

                            I may be wrong in my analysis. Please tell me that I’m totally barking mad and that I’ve missed an obvious way of managing individuals.

                            1. Nathan Garrett’s avatar

                              Mark;

                              Excellent comments. I hope people from Curverider are reading, as these are quite fair and accurate. It’s somewhat remarkable to have non-troll constructive comments on an open forum, and a testament to the quality of people who want to contribute to Elgg.

                              The major one I want to comment on is the lack of ability in Elgg 1.2 to control trolls. This is one reason why I’m hesitant to migrate yet, as it really is difficult to keep track of content in the system. My folio plug-in for Elgg v.9 had an activity feed for just this reason. While mine still isn’t quite right for a large community, I thought that the vanilla forum we had was a great model for keeping track of contributions while ignoring trolls.

                              I really think it’s a bad decision to not use Elgg to support the community developing it. If Elgg can’t even support its own development community, then we really need to take a hard look at its ability to support other communities.

                              Again, I’m huge fan of Elgg, but wish that there’d be some openness on resolving these issues.

                              Nathan

                            2. David’s avatar

                              2) I thought it was obvious for those of us reading this nice website and participating in this discussion.

                              You can’t ban one user and keep all other objects in the same nest as that users own objects (I hope you understand). Banning one user that has posted several times across a Elgg installation you’ll really mess up your site. I’ve managed to try it out on my own installations and it always led me to make a clean install since the damage was too big.

                              Which is one of the grandest flaws of Elgg. Which is quite surprising due to the nature of the software in itself.

                              1. Nathan Garrett’s avatar

                                re: 2 — I guess I keep hoping that David Tosh will contribute to this discussion :-/

                                re: Ban; Good point.

                              2. Mark Pearson’s avatar

                                “I really think it’s a bad decision to not use Elgg to support the community developing it. If Elgg can’t even support its own development community, then we really need to take a hard look at its ability to support other communities.”

                                Exactly Nathan. I couldn’t have expressed it better.

                                “You can’t ban one user and keep all other objects in the same nest as that users own objects (I hope you understand). Banning one user that has posted several times across a Elgg installation you’ll really mess up your site.”

                                My point exactly. But you *could* do this in Elgg 0.9. In fact I had to restore my own blog postings which had got deleted due to a bug from a database dump.

                                I think that Elgg 1.x is suffering from the Second-system effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-system_effect. And also a very thoughtful article on rewriting s/w :
                                http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000069.html

                              3. Mark Pearson’s avatar

                                @Steve,
                                Apologies for using your blog to discuss these issues, but the folks I know to be thoughtful Elgg enthusiasts are evidently hanging out here, and other avenues are closed off …. SNM :-)

                                1. Steve’s avatar

                                  No need to apologize. Indeed, you have my thanks!

                                2. Kevin Jardine’s avatar

                                  Hi all,

                                  There are many differences between classic Elgg and Elgg 1.x, but so far as I know, banning and deleting users is one thing that Elgg 1.x actually does better.

                                  Entities can be deactivated in Elgg 1.x, so basically you can close down an account and hide all its content without actually deleting it.

                                  This means that people can write plugins to better manage this sort of thing and transfer content to other owners, etc.

                                  I think that the decision to shut down the user content areas at elgg.org was not really technically driven. It may seem draconian to many outside of Curverider, but the key point is that the community had become chaotic and the Curverider staff had no time to manage it. Ben is on holidays in California, Marcus is quite properly focused on maintaining and enhancing the existing code base, and Dave and Pete are busy drumming up some paid business so that the four of them can eat next year.

                                  Google groups is definitely not as convenient in many ways, but it fills the gap for now.

                                  In terms of Elgg’s functionality, keep in mind that Curverider views it as an engine rather than an application. There are very few plugins available yet. It was actually pretty impressive that the Community site was able to function as well as it did on software that had only been released a month and a half before the Community was launched.

                                  I do think that if Curverider does re-open an official community, then they are going to have to appoint an official community manager as well. In my view that is an argument for *not* having an official community for a while as the current staff already have a lot of important things to do.

                                3. Mark Pearson’s avatar

                                  Thanks Kevin for your explanations. But I still think that this information could have or should have come from the Curverider team themselves.
                                  “the key point is that the community had become chaotic and the Curverider staff had no time to manage it.” Fair enough, but it’s not like this is a new experience for them; classic.elgg was just as chaotic with high traffic and as you pointed out above finding information and lack of editing meant that there was a lot of duplication. A lot of community members have put a lot of time into their Groups and whatever they assert to the contrary Curverider really had no moral right to erase this content without consultation. How can we trust them with hosting meaningful content if they are willing to pull the plug on it without any notice?

                                4. Kevin Jardine’s avatar

                                  Hi Mark,

                                  So far as I know, Curverider did not “erase” any important content and there have been discussions on this blog about where to move it, in fact.

                                  Your tone suggests a reason why Curverider staff might not want to participate in this kind of discussion right now. They’ve worked flat out for the better part of a year and delivered a fantastic piece of software, only to find that an awful lot of people (and not just the trolls) wanted to whine and complain.

                                  To be honest, I agree with the decision that they made. There are only four of them and they have a piece of software to develop. I’d rather that they spent their very limited time focusing on that and not dealing with a “community” that threatened to suck every second and bit of energy they had remaining.

                                  Speaking of, I’m running out of energy as well.

                                  Good night.

                                5. Nathan Garrett’s avatar

                                  Kevin;

                                  Elgg *was* a ready to go social network before the transition to v1; while not perfect, it allowed people with little programming knowledge to setup a fast social network. Why can’t it be that again? As a community, (or as Curverider) why can’t we serve people who not are already programmers? v.1 has been out since August – if Elgg can’t support its own development community, we should call it a beta and not v1.2.

                                  Seriously, isn’t anyone rankled at the thought that our software can’t even support *our* community? Is that a little embarrassing to anyone but me? We’re managing quite fine on Steve’s blog – yet we can’t do it on a site dedicated to supporting a community???? I’m not trying to say that’s anyone’s fault, but it should be a wakeup call that leads us to figure out how to improve the software.

                                  RE: the Curverider staff being on vacation or busy

                                  I know they take a lot of crap from trolls, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t listen to those of us who have made significant investments in Elgg.

                                  Sorry if this is a bit harsh Kevin, I’m not trying to criticize you. I’m just frustrated at Curverider’s lack of engagement with people here who are thoughtfully talking thru the issues. Just because we’re not happy doesn’t mean that we may not have some good suggestions or comments.

                                  I know that they give a lot of stuff away, but so have the people here. *Just because we don’t work for Curverider doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have a say.*They are *not* the only ones who have put a lot of time and effort into Elgg.

                                  frustrated;
                                  Nathan

                                  1. Cash’s avatar

                                    Elgg 1.* is not a suppose to be a turnkey solution. I see the plugins provided by Curverider as just demonstration plugins. They just serve to show what the framework is capable of. The group forum is a good example of that. It is really barebones. It is not meant to satisfy the needs of a developer/user community. I don’t think the failure of the Elgg Community site says much about the core Elgg software.

                                  2. David Moon’s avatar

                                    Agreed – disorganization can be expected from time to time. It’s the lack of engagement from elgg that puzzles me. A positive, unemotional and coherent statement or blog post would help ease the uneasiness for those on the fence like myself.

                                  3. Mark Pearson’s avatar

                                    Chaps,
                                    I want to make it clear that I want Elgg to succeed. I delivered three presentations this summer to various audiences in US Higher Education singing the praises of Elgg and it’s pedagogical benefits. I’ve been following the software since version 0.1, messing with installs since 0.6 and in production with 0.8 and then 0.9. But when it was announced at ElggJam 07 in Brighton that Curverider was planning to start again from scratch with a new architecture for version 1 I was dismayed. I did feel that it was a hasty decision made with little or no consultation. But here we are and we need to make the best of it.

                                    Henri Nouwen once said in my hearing that community was “living with the person you least liked” or words to that effect. I’m sure that Nathan’s had unfair flak and unreasonable demands over his Folio plugin and has felt like chucking it in at times. But without a workable community structure there’s no means by which amateurs like myself can contribute. For the Elgg classic I think that I was able to provide assistance to some folks with installation problems and I did contribute to the Wiki. I was looking forward to working with the new Elgg version in the New Year and preparing to transition my site from 0.9 to 1.x if that ever became possible. While I do this I’d like to be able to contribute to the community in a meaningful. way. I was excited by the prospect of generating some discussion and interest about integrating Elgg with Moodle and so I formed a Group around this topic. Now I find that it has disappeared together with every other community group and that it’s my fault for complaining.

                                    I’m afraid that Google Groups and a developer’s mailing list doesn’t really constitute community. I concur with Nathan that if Curverider cannot manage the Elgg community with their own system it does not bode well for the future.

                                    1. Cash’s avatar

                                      I’ll don’t think the failure of the community site says much about the technology. The community failure had more to do with the way it was setup and managed (or not managed). Any one could create a group so there were groups called things like “please, please help me fix my install”. Because the wire and new pages appeared on the front page (dashboard), it encouraged any one who was having trouble to broadcast out their problems. These type of requests drowned everything else out. The groups had a lot of overlap. Documentation ended up spread out with no way to find it. It was chaos more than any kind of organized community.

                                      There were technical issues, too – core elgg search is only over tags, group forums were very limited, pages require a little more work than wikis. I believe all of those could be fixed through plugins. But I think the main problems were more related to the setup of the site and the lack of management.

                                      1. David Moon’s avatar

                                        It’s not a failure, so much as a weakness. Elgg lacks the core pruning tools for moderators to keep a community well-groomed, civil and organized. The removal of content was more an emotional response from the elgg team than a bunch of newbies asking elementary questions for everyone to see.

                                        1. Phil’s avatar

                                          You’ve got a very good point there David.

                                        2. Tradenet’s avatar

                                          Indeed. All I can say is it’s growing pains.

                                        3. John Bowne’s avatar

                                          And groups are back on community.elgg.org.

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