May the HOF be with you” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

A few months back I met in London with Daniel Holbach, Graham Binns and James Westby for a short sprint. I had flown Daniel over for the purposes of a face-to-face catch-up and to record some MOTU videos for the Ubuntu Developer Channel. It was a productive few days, and in our many meetings we sowed the seeds for an idea which I am proud to announce today.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, one of the most important aspects of community management is in breaking down workflow and understanding how to improve it. We have done this in a number of areas in the Ubuntu world with bugs, patches, LoCo Teams, events and key parts of the wider community picture. When we launch any initiative we pay close attention to the growth and impact of that initiative on the community and this often gives us an insight into the rock stars in our community – the contributors who do lots of good, measurable, referencable work.

When I meet with the horsemen, we regularly talk about these rockstars in our community. On every call we get jazzed about their contributions to Ubuntu. Although we knew about many areas of contribution – people who are rocking on 5-A-Day, new MOTU and core-dev developers, people who are doing great work in the forums etc, our approach was somewhat incomplete. Although we horsemen focus on these rockstars and none of this information is private, the figures and statistics that show off this good work is spread across different places. In addition to this, we were concious that we are always only seeing part of the picture – what about rockstars in translations, upstream bug triage, the sponsorship queue, Launchpad contributors etc? Every time someone rocks a part of our community, they should be recognised.

This raised another issue – some people can be measured as rockstars – we can count their contributions in the community, but some people span a range of different kinds of contribution, many of which can’t be measured statistically. We wanted these people to be recognised as well and write a more personal showcase of their efforts. With these driving considerations, it was now time to be inspired by Guitar Hero. I know, I know, that may seem a little odd, but stay with me…

There are many fascinating communities out there outside of Free Software, and gaming comunities offer many insights. One such example is Guitar Hero – the online collaborative play aspect of Guitar Hero an interesting part of how they have built a faithful following of players. Where this really piqued my interest was in how high scores play such an encouraging role to members of that community. Players really put in the time to practise and get their scores up and enjoy the sense of peer respect that results from this in the Guitar Hero fishbowl. Interestingly, when we launched 5-A-Day, complete with the contributor and team rankings, we also picked up on a strong sense of pride by participants in their scores. We have also seen similar results from pride over karma in Launchpad. Our community is built on pride and respect, and I was keen to explore how we could centralise this.

While in the meeting room, I grabbed a pen and started fleshing out a design. Daniel, James and I then set to refining the functional and visual design and I took a snap of my penmanship:

After a number of follow-up calls, a functional specification and some testing we are now proud to announce the Ubuntu Hall Of Fame:

Many thanks to Stuart Langridge for producing the design, Daniel Holbach for plumbing in the data from Launchpad and Kenneth Wimer for producing the snazzy Rockstar button.

Let me explain a few elements of the Hall Of Fame. Firstly, as you can see, the Hall Of Fame includes a number of boxes that look like this:

Each box contains the statistical data about the topic for the box, but it also contains a simple single-line description detailing what the data shows. To find more data that is related, there is a More… link – click that to drill into more stats. The final point to note is the (i) symbol in the top-right of each box – this links to a page that outlines how to get involved in that part of our community.

Another key feature of the Hall Of Fame is the Featured Contributor. Here we will be showcasing contributors across the community that are doing excellent work. Here we will write a little blurb about what they have done, their achievements and their personality. Importantly, we have added a feature in which you can click the Thank button and the Hall Of Fame will look up your Launchpad account and add your profile picture to the article to show that you would like to thank that contributor. This was an important feature – we wanted to make it as easy as possible to show featured contributors that you appreciate their work. Now it is just one click away! Oh, and for you RSS lovers, there is a feed for Featured Contributors available with the big orange RSS icon. When thinking about who we would showcase for the first Featured Contributor, one of the first names that sprung to mind was Nick Ali, an excellent contributor and friend to everyone. Go and check out the Featured Contributor article about him. 🙂

My hope is that the Hall Of Fame will quickly become a showcase in which the wider community is proud to be featured on, either as a Featured Contributor or inside one of the many boxes. We have many ideas about how we can expand and improve on the site to foster this sense of pride, but we are keen to hear from you all with your ideas about additional features that you would love to see, and importantly, what additional HOFBoxes (those boxes with stats) that you would like to see. Which areas of the community should we be showcasing, and how would you measure them?

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