Launchpad Answers at UDS-n

While attending UDS-n, I was invited to two separate and contradictory conversations about Launchpad Answers.

Jorge Castro is considering Ask Ubuntu as the official Ubuntu service for managing user questions. It is a nice service. The question refining and member reputation features are compelling. I think there are two changes that need to happen to make this happen:

  1. Launchpad should let project register an external support service. I already have plans do this this later this month. Projects will be able to specify the URL of a site or email address of a list where support can be found. The external service can be used with Launchpad Answers, or by itself. This will permit communities to register the service they are already using, or allow end-users to choose the service that meets their needs.
  2. The Get help online page accessed by Ubuntu desktop applications must be updated to point users to the service the Ubuntu community chooses.

David Planella lead a discussion about internationalising Launchpad Answers. This is a feature we have long wanted to do, but it has never been a priority. This certainly can be done with the community’s help. While examining how users discover Launchpad Answers, we saw that the Get help online page accessed from Ubuntu desktop applications is a complete failure for non-English speaking users. The general steps to fix the non-English-speaker’s experience are:

  1. Automate POT extraction for code and templates.
  2. Add support to localise pages based on your preferred language or browser languages.
  3. Mark the translatable messages in the page templates, and this may require restructuring the information.
  4. Replace the ugly plural hacks in the view code–Zope markup does not support plurals.
  5. Enable translations for the Launchpad project.

Both David’s and George’s intentions are contradictory. The Ubuntu community needs to make a final decision regarding the future of community support before we can proceed. Stack Exchange does not support localisation either, and they do not have plans to support it.  We often talk about replace karma, no one will argue a case to support it, but replacing it is not a priority. Launchpad has an incomplete feature called standing that is like reputation; I am consider removing it because I do not like to maintain unused code.