[DRAFT] Guidelines for submitting new Ideas

  4 years ago

[This is a DRAFT, posted here for review and feedback. It's not final! Additions, corrections, other feedback and questions are welcomed.]

Welcome! When you're reading this you've likely just come up with an idea about how to make Linux Mint better, you're ready to spend a little time writing down your idea and discuss it with others, but you're wondering if there are any guidelines for submitting new ideas. That's a good question!

The below is all that the Get Involved page has to say about it, which is rather terse and doesn't really help you as you'll hopefully also see after reading this tutorial.

The vast majority of improvements included in each release come from the community. If there's something that you think is missing or that could be done better, please tell us. Whether it's the inclusion of a missing hardware driver, or a software application that should be part of a stock installation, or if you have any other ideas on how to make Linux Mint better, we're always interested in hearing them.

As a new contributor this is probably not clear to you, but this community site isn't the right place for all ideas (nor is the Suggestions & New Ideas forum). Some ideas are right at home here and help the Linux Mint developers move Linux Mint forward, while other ideas strand here and never move forward. How confusing! But don't distress, I'll try to make clear in this tutorial where best to submit which kind of ideas. I'll also give a few tips on how best to write your ideas here.

Let's get to it!

What is "Linux Mint"?

Let's consider for a moment what actually Linux Mint is. Linux Mint is a Linux distribution (distro for short): a collection of many independently developed software components that together make the operating system that you are using. Highly abstracted, but in essence these are the layers of software components:

  1. At the very top are the applications that you use from day to day, like your web browser, document editor, music player, and so on;
  2. Just below that, partially overlapping, is your desktop environment (e.g., Cinnamon, MATE, KDE, and Xfce) which is basically the graphical user interface to your operating system though it also has many applications that you use from day to day, like your file manager, terminal, calculator, and so on;
  3. Below that we could place the system libraries and other low-level system components;
  4. Finally there is the Linux kernel and the device drivers.

Other distros use many of these same software components. Hence most software components are developed independently, and can be used on any distro. Even the software developed at Linux Mint is suitable for use on other distros and many users and developers from other distros contribute. So before submitting a new idea, it's important to consider that.

Linux Mint actually uses Ubuntu as a "package base" (or Debian for LMDE), which means that most of the software components available on Linux Mint come from Ubuntu. (BTW; that doesn't mean those software components are developed at Ubuntu—most are developed independently, just "packaged" by Ubuntu maintainers.) Linux Mint offers a superset of what is available on Ubuntu. Linux Mint maintainers add the software components developed at Linux Mint, and other software components not found on Ubuntu that are deemed to be key to Linux Mint users. You can browse what Linux Mint adds here.

Which kind of ideas go where?

"Nice backstory" I hear you think, so let's step ahead with which kind of ideas go where. This may look discouraging, but it's not meant to be. It's meant to help you submit your idea where it has the best chance of being picked up by developers and moved forward!

  • When you have an idea about how to make an application better, you should generally submit that idea to the developers of that application directly (but see the next section about applications developed by Linux Mint). That way the users of that application from all distros can engage you in discussion to sharpen your idea, the developers of the application have to visit only one community to gather feedback and ideas for their application, and there is a single place for you too look if similar ideas have been posted before.
  • When you have an idea about how to make a desktop environment better, you should generally submit that idea to the developers of that desktop environment directly. Same reasons as above. Note that in this context I mean the general user interface, the menu, the configuration, and such components and not applications like your file manager, terminal, and calculator.
  • When you have an idea about system libraries, other low-level system compontents, the Linux kernel or the device drivers, again you should generally submit that idea to the developers directly. The Linux Mint developers don't develop any of these components.
  • When you have an idea about appearance, like creation of new themes or backgrounds, the Artwork forum is generally a better place as artists visit there.
  • When you have an idea about promotion of Linux Mint, the Promotion forum is generally a better place as there are more Linux Mint users visiting there than here;
  • Lastly, when you have an idea like any of the following this community site is generally the place to submit it:
    • software components developed elsewhere that you think would be a good fit for Linux Mint to include (like for Xfce the Whisker Menu was added);
    • new software components to be developed by Linux Mint that would improve/simplify maintenance of Linux Mint (like we have Software Manager, Update Manager, Software Sources, Driver Manager, and so on), or ways to improve existing maintenance applications developed by Linux Mint;
    • ways to improve the Linux Mint websites or documentation;
    • ways to improve the installation process;
    • anything else that isn't covered by the above categories. (And while I'd hope it goes without saying—if you need support with a problem or a suspected bug, or want to socialize with other Linux Mint users, use the forums or IRC instead!)

From that I think you will have a few more questions:

  1. How do I find where to submit an idea for an application?
    • It's probably easiest to first find the website for the application, where likely you can find information about how to contribute ideas. If you know how to access it, you can sometimes find the website for the application in the package description. Else just use your web browser and a search engine to try and find the website. If the application name is rather common, try adding the keyword "Linux" or "homepage" or "open source" and you should be able to find it.
    • Once you've found the website, browse it. They may have an "ideas" or "brainstorm" section on their forum. They may have a mailinglist to which you can post ideas. They may have a collaborative development website to which you can post ideas, like GitHub. Yes, it will take a bit of effort and unfortunately not all projects make it clear how to contribute.
  2. How do I find where to submit an idea for a desktop environment?
    • For Cinnamon that's here (note that Nemo is here).
    • For MATE that's here.
    • For KDE that's here.
    • For Xfce it's unclear from their Get Involved page. (Note that Linux Mint Xfce uses the Whisker Menu, which is an independently developed application.)
  3. Which applications are part of a desktop environment and which aren't?
    • That's not trivially answered, and it differs from one desktop environment to another whether the applications are developed by the same developers or "under the same umbrella" but by another group of developers. I'd say follow the advice on above first question for applications like file managers, terminals, and calculators, and skip over to the second question for things like general user interfaces, menus, configurations, and such components.

What about applications developed by Linux Mint?

For Cinnamon and Nemo you should use GitHub, and for MATE you should use their Brainstorm forum, as pointed out above. For other applications developed by Linux Mint, like Software Manager, Update Manager, and Software Sources, you can use this community site to share and discuss ideas.

You can find all the software developed by Linux Mint here.

How do I best write ideas?

Once you've figured out where to submit your idea, it's time to write it. But wait! First have a good look around, do a few searches, and try to find any similar ideas. Regardless of whether your idea is for here on the community site, or some other place, that's always the courteous thing to do. You don't want to spend your precious leisure time detailing your idea, and then be told "it's been submitted before."

Next consider you have only one chance at a first impression. Those reviewing ideas, and other users interested in sharing their thoughts and questions on your idea, will just move on to a next idea if you couldn't be bothered to make your idea a little presentable and understandable. While you may hold that this shouldn't matter and what your idea is about is what matters, consider that if you put up a wall of text without punctuation or paragraphs your idea becomes hard to grasp, similarly one sentence ideas full of typos don't get an idea across either...

You have an idea in your head, but you still have to get it across to others. So, try to touch upon a few things in your idea:

  • Try to make the title a clear summary of your idea;
  • Give an introduction to your idea, making clear the context for your idea (like is it specific to something, like it applies only to LMDE);
  • Try to detail your idea with what it would achieve for the users, who would use it, and why it would be better than what they use now;
  • If useful, add screenshots, illustrations, and links to other websites.
    • You can use HTML tags in ideas, so you can use <a href="link">title</a> for links to other website and <img href="link"> to embed images from another website.
    • If you're not comfortable with HTML tags, please still include such references but put links to screenshots, illustrations and other websites on a line of their own so they are easily copied from your idea.

I've submitted my idea, now what?

Whether within this community or another, you taking the time to write down your idea and contribute it to the community is greatly appreciated! Even if your idea doesn't get picked up by the developers, new ideas inspire others and spark more ideas!

Be open to feedback and adjust the title or description of your idea to update it from feedback received. It will take time for your idea to crystallize, gain support from other users, and be considered. Have patience.

Not all feedback will be positive or acknowledging of the time you spent to write down your idea. That's a fact of sharing your thoughts with the world. Don't take it personally and appreciate that like with art, not everybody will agree about what makes a good idea. Be inspired by the positive feedback, take to heart the constructive criticism about how to make your idea better, and ignore the purely negative feedback like "I don't like this idea".

Side note: People are free to share their opinions, as long as they don't make personal attacks or call people names. Swearing, hate speech, and other abuse isn't tolerated. If you think a comment is abusive please contact one of the moderators with a link to the idea and username of the abuser—oscar799 and myself are here most frequently but you can also use the admin mailbox.

vincav91 4 years ago

Must-read tutorial before submitting an idea.

Rebel450 4 years ago

you should overthink your rules for ideas
since you put a direct link of this forum into the welcome screen for new
Mint users.

and for what in the hell is that stupid
demote crab , mhm !!??

jahid_0903014 4 years ago

I think a link to this tutorial should be included in the idea section even if it's incomplete. In that way new users will be able to provide their response about this tutorial in the comments. Feedback from new users in this community might be helpful too.

Hammer459 4 years ago

Very good, this has been missing! Make sure you have to read this when posting.

Mathew-Moore 4 years ago

I think this is a great start, and i agree with @remoulder about new users should be linked to this when signing up. Keep it up!

xenopeek 4 years ago

Thanks for the feedback remoulder. This is the first draft, it surely needs to be edited down to a less imposing length or needs a abbreviated summary.

There were some issues after I had posted it, somehow some weird markup got into the final draft. I've had to edit it a few times to remove the unneeded markup. Should be fine now.

This isn't a change, though it is and expression of my personal view--which I hope to extend with feedback from others.

It's absolutely pointless to submit ideas to this Community about applications developed elsewhere. Like ideas about how to make Firefox better, or ideas for KDE, or ideas for better drivers for certain devices or peripherals. Those don't get beyond first review, as those ideas aren't in the domain of the Linux Mint developers. Perhaps I didn't get that across clearly enough?

remoulder 4 years ago

Excellent and well thought through xenopeek. A little lengthy perhaps, which be off putting, but I guess it needs to to be comprehensive. I think you have covered all of the bases quite well, though you may like to consider adding something about the reasons for suggesting a change, i.e. is this just a personal preference, would everyone else want\be affected by this, and what would be the benefits?

It may also be useful once this is complete to link to it when posting new ideas, along the lines of "Before posting please read ..."?
Note: there are some spelling typos and the first time I viewed this your css stylesheets didn't work, just displaying the code, but this didn't appear on subsequent viewings.