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Writing Guide

Write about KDE

The purpose of this page is to help anyone who wants to write or talk about the KDE community and it's products, be it for a blog or a magazine or anything else. We will give you some general tips and ideas, show you how to find information and help you contact the community with questions.

General tips


Free Software has different ideas and principles guiding it's development compared to the usual proprietary software. Being aware of these differences can make the difference between an uninformed and an informed article. The following tips can help you write a better and more complete article by pointing out the differences in culture between proprietary and free software communities.

  • First of all, the site of the Free Software Foundation can give you more information on our roots and the principles of Free Software. Don't skip the philosophy section!
  • Search out the defining features, rather than comparing to commercial products. Many people in the commercial world view open source projects exclusively as replacements for their Windows equivalents. While some projects exist that do precisely this, the vast majority have unique features that help to identify the program. Focusing on what makes the program unique will produce a better response.
  • Don't hesitate to contact the program developers directly. Direct contact often produces the best answers. Usually programs will have an "About" screen (in KDE applications it's under the help menu) that lists the contact information for the programmers that were actually involved in the creation of that software. Most programmers are very happy to answer press inquiries, or will redirect your questions to someone who can better deal with any specific topic.
  • Informal language works best when communicating. Most open source programmers do not have a degree in business, journalism, etc. and will respond faster and with more details if they are approached as though the interview was taking place in a coffee house. If you ask formal questions, do not be put off by the informal response you may get in return. Ask for definitions of any jargon that you do not understand as some words, especially the word "Hacker", have a very different meaning in the open source context.
  • Don't expect immediate responses. Many open source programmers are coding in their spare time and work elsewhere to pay the bills. They will usually respond, but you need to give them time.
  • Discover people's motivations. While some people work on free software for altruistic reasons, you will find that many do not. Many people are paid by a company to implement features that this company would find useful. Others simply find it an enjoyable hobby, and like being a part of the community. A person's motivation will often dictate what sort of programming they will do. If you discover what motivates a person or project, you will better understand their goals, which isn't always to compete with commercial software offerings...
  • Play up collaboration, not division. While arguments between Linus Torvalds and Sun's CEO may make the rounds in popular press, cooperation is the prevalent mode of operation within the open source world. Free software projects cover a wide range of applications, from web servers to games, and quite often there is more than one product being developed under so called 'co-opetition'. Since the source code is available, projects readily and freely borrow ideas from one another, and even though the implementation details may be different, standards are developed for communications, data formats, and so forth. Open source projects are often stricter adherents to interoperability standards than their commercial counterparts.

Finding information.

As most work in KDE is done over the Internet, 95% of the information can be found there as well. But much of this information is hidden away in mailing-lists, chat channels and blogs. It is hard to extract information out of those in an efficient way, so we will give you a few pointers on how to find information about a topic efficiently.

The KDE website

The first source of information about the KDE community can be found on the KDE website. What is KDE and general information about KDE are of most interest.

Release announcements

Often, the release announcements come with a nice, graphical overview of what's new. Based on this, one can quickly write an interesting piece showcasing the newest and greatest features in the latest KDE products.

Websites

Most individual KDE sub-projects have their own website under the kde.org umbrella. For example, the educational project can be found on edu.kde.org and the KDE office team has their webpage on koffice.kde.org. These sites are aggregated on the Projects page. It is a good place to start and find the basic information, but be aware that it can be seriously outdated!

Techbase

Much more technical information can be found on the techbase site. KDE gathers all relevant developer information here. Interesting pages can be:

Userbase

Less technical but more user oriented information can be found on the userbase site. KDE gathers all relevant end user information here. Interesting pages can be:

The KDE news site

A premier source off information about KDE is the KDE news site, the Dot. It offers search functionality, and we can give a recommendation: The 'Road to KDE 4' series by Troy Unrau are an excellent starting point on the many new technologies available in KDE SC 4. Further, just searching for the technology you are looking for, like 'Akonadi' will help you find what you are looking for.

People

For information about the KDE developers, we recommend People behind KDE. It offers interviews with many KDE developers. Further, you can find their blogs mostly on the Planet. Look under subscriptions for individual feeds.

Commit Digest

The Commit Digest is a very valuable source of more detailed information, but it can be hard to extract due to the sheer amount of information. A good tip is to quickly read the 'This Week' section at the top to get a quick overview of "what's hot". Further, you can use the search functionality in your web-browser... The Commit Digest is not being updated anymore but will be picked up in the future again.

Mailing-list Archives

The most detailed information generally available online is to be found in the mailing-list archives of the several KDE projects. Links to these mailing-lists can be found on their respective websites (see the Projects site).

An example of the edu mailing-list archives can be found here. Using the search functionality is often required to find anything useful in a decent amount of time!

Contacting the community

If you want to have the latest information, or verify what you're writing, the best place to ask is on the mailing-list or the IRC channels. You can subscribe to the mailing-list (but don't have to, just be sure to mention it if you're not so they include you personally in the replies), information about this can be found on the individual projects' websites. The same goes for IRC, the channel-names and server information.

If you want to get in contact with individual developers, you can send them an email. Names can often be found on the Project website or on People behind KDE, and google-ing often brings up their email address (tip: Google the name + "KDE").


Conclusion

If you want to write about the KDE community or KDE software, it is often advisable to find a specific source of interest, as the whole of KDE is a lot to write about. Picking one of the technologies developed by KDE and writing an article about them is made easy by the huge amount of information available online. The above guide can help you quickly gather the basic information, and it tells you where you can find or ask about the current status.

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