RubyForge has been growing fast. As the primary resource for project hosting in Ruby, it’s been expanding with the language. One thing that is interesting about it as a service is that it is more-or-less maintained by just one person (Tom Copeland) with the help of a few other folks and some RubyCentral funding.
A few months ago I joined the RubyForge team to try to lighten Tom’s load a bit, and have been monitoring the support forum since then. I think a whole lot of folks don’t even realize we have one while some others have mistakenly assumed it was a general Ruby forum. This post is meant to explain a little bit about what the forum is for and how you can use it to get the help you need.
RubyForge offers a lot of services.
We offer mailing lists, wikis, CVS/SVN hosting, project web space, file downloads, gem hosting, forums, tracking systems, and other things. Odds are if you’re involved in an open source project in Ruby, you’re using some sort of resource we host, and odds are equally good that you’ve run into to trouble with one or more of them.
So the forum is a good starting place if you’ve got questions. It’s also a good place to make informal suggestions for ways to improve RubyForge to get some feedback.
How the forum works.
I am the only one actively monitoring the RubyForge forum. A lot of times, I’ll be the first and last person you’ll talk to on the forum. We’ve got a test project set up, and I also keep track of the latest known issues with our services, so I can usually replicate problems you are having if necessary, or point you in the right direction otherwise.
Usually if your request requires administrative help, I’ll send you over to the appropriate tracker for your request. I don’t mind at all if you stop by to ask questions on the forum first, because the ultimate goal is to make it as easy as possible for Tom to deal with whatever support requests come his way. Clarifying questions or discussion often help make this easier.
If your request is straightforward, you of course do not need to post to the forum. Heading straight to the bug / feature / support trackers is fine. Sometimes, you’ll be able to find a quick answer in our FAQ as well.
What are good questions to ask on the forum?
Pretty much anything about RubyForge or the services we offer makes a good topic for the forum. It is more of a support forum than a discussion forum, but if you have a good idea and want to hear what we think about it, it’s a fine place to discuss those.
If you think you may be running into a RubyForge bug, please check the bug trackers before posting on the forum. That’d be a good place to add a comment with whatever additional info you can provide.
Also, it’s fine to post on the forum if you think something should work and doesn’t. I usually can validate these things pretty quickly, and give you the necessary feedback to get you on your way. Sometimes when things are more complicated, I forward questions along to Tom.
What should I avoid posting to the forum?
Pretty much anything not directly related to RubyForge. It’s very hard for us to free up cycles to help folks with specific projects or administrative tasks such as learning ssh or svn. We almost always will just link you to the appropriate mailing list or webpage, so it’s likely that google will be faster than us for that type of thing. In case any folks on this blog have not yet found the RubyTalk mailing list or the Ruby on Rails mailing list, these are two excellent resources for asking general questions.
Your posts make a difference!
One benefit of a small team is that usually we can directly address any issue that arises, which often results in bug fixes, feature additions, the creation of new documentation, and other things. Of course, it especially helps when people provide these things to us, but we try to accommodate as much as possible.
Since I’ve been monitoring the forum, I’ve seen a few cool contributions that range from minor doc patches and bug reports to better localization support for Esperanto. Since most of our services are open source, we’ll usually accept patches which fix or improve things.
So, if you have a problem with RubyForge, come and tell us. But if you’ve also got the ambition to fix some of those problems, we’ll happily accept your contributions as well!