[darcs-users] marketing, darcs-2 bugs and a tiny bit about darcs 3

Max Battcher me at worldmaker.net
Tue Mar 17 02:18:14 UTC 2009

Eric Kow wrote:
> Hi Max,
> I'm very pleased that you're thinking about this stuff, and I'm
> wondering if you would be interested in working with Guillaume in
> forming some sort of darcs communications and marketing team.
>   http://wiki.darcs.net/index.html/DarcsTeam
> In case I've asked you this before, I'm not trying to twist your
> arm; I just thought maybe now you would be in a better position to
> do this :-D

The last time you asked me to take on a role it was for Doc Manager just 
before Trent stepped up to do it.

It certainly is easier to commit to being a designated opinionated 
blowhard a few times a month. :P  I might be up for some variation of 
that role...  Is it too early to ask about some sort of Marketing Budget 
stipend? :)

> For what it's worth, one idea I've been kicking around is to publish a
> "tip of the month" on http://blog.darcs.net, the idea being that we need
> to increase the general level of darcs expertise in the world and
> working awareness of what makes darcs especially useful.  This is kind
> of thing we need somebody to declare themselves responsible for, i.e.
> worrier-in-chief-about-X.

I could see that being an interesting series.  I was just now thinking 
perhaps something along the lines of a "Darcs Myths" series to touch 
upon common complaints against darcs (and patch theory and Haskell, to a 
lesser degree, and what have you).

> Quoting Karl Fogel's /Producing Open Source Software/:
>   As for users, one of the worst things a project can do is attract
>   users before the software is ready for them. A reputation for
>   instability or bugginess is very hard to shake, once acquired.
>   Conservativism pays off in the long run; it's always better for the
>   software to be more stable than the user expected than less, and
>   pleasant surprises produce the best kind of word-of-mouth.

Of course, some have said that darcs already blew its chance with darcs 
1 conflict fights... That actually segues into the "demographics" that 
need to be considered by marketing efforts:

1. Retaining existing darcs 1 users; pushing them through kindness to 
move to darcs 2 (issue 1040 may be a critical need here)

2. Re-attracting disheartened darcs 1 users that have moved on to hg/git 
due to issues that may be/are fixed/mitigated in darcs 2.

3. Attracting new users (and subsequently insuring ease of on-ramping 
and working to keep them long-ish term).

The order here is actually somewhat important. To some extent you can't 
hope to get back group 2 without good words from group 1. Good stories 
of "I was there, dude, I had those same problems you had, but Darcs 2 
format fixed all of my issues and just about made me breakfast in bed" 
go a long way to showing that progress is made and it isn't a case of 
"same as it ever was".

And you can't expect to go hard after group 3 if the web is full of 
group 2 members complaining about problems that no longer exist or bad 
experiences that are much rarer, if not gone.  It may be an angle of 
attack, as you suggest Eric, to try to convince groups 2 and 3 to play 
the "sometimes darcs is the best tool for the job" game.  That's a tough 
game to play; how many people wish to learn more than one tool for the 
job?  Making sure that some darcs-related tool has good support for 
fast-import and fast-export would help with that sort of thing by 
helping to ease minds that history shan't be lost if a tool switch is 

I think that plan might be one in a small set of plans, but I'm 
unconvinced it has much room to convince users. Particularly because you 
are trying to get people to use (and learn) more than one similar tool 
and that's somewhat against human nature.

--Max Battcher--

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