BA as just 'noise', perhaps the cause of mediocrity in user/dev. interaction?

Seeing as how an honest attempt at a constructive interaction between developers and users just went down the drain (again). I have to posit this question, do you think that it could be our problem that we have what seems to be such a mediocre interaction between the dev. team and the user base? When developers get their heads bashed in for asking questions on what the use of certain features and functions would be and the administration of this forum getting the same for at least trying to change the rules to foster improvement in such relationships?

For a while, people may have been thinking why there doesn’t seem to be a good connection and a good system of feedback and ideas that circulate between users and devs. That such a society that would foster development and tremendous improvement to Blender seems out of reach (to the point where it seems like Autodesk is able to do a better job).

Now answer this, do you think that the negativity in this community and the extreme level of pushback and threats of populist uprisings to ‘save’ Blender from ‘totalitarian’ developers may have actually had a net negative effect in how Blender is being developed, the speed of development, the quality of the tools, and the level at which said tools is exactly what the users requested? If there is a yes to any of these, than such a thing may very well stem from all of the venom that’s been thrown around at any feedback session for things ranging from the interface to compositing. In other words, the mediocre exchange of dialogue and feedback between users and developers is not the problem of Ton and co., this is our problem that we ourselves need to solve.

Now I wouldn’t be surprised that if we do our part to foster a better environment for devs. to speak their opinions and ideas for the purpose of discussion without suffering intense repercussion and wrath from the userbase, the core developers will come back to this community and allow Blender to be seen as a top-level example on how community involvement is possible and how such discussion on functionality should be done.

More likely than not, the devs. are not the problem when it comes to getting Blender to where it needs to be, we’re the problem, and we need to fix that.


Personally, of course, there’s always going to be a handful of noisebuckets in any sufficiently large community, so let’s ignore them.

However, the people who are feeling powerless… I am sure they could make themselves feel a lot less so.
For example, often I heard people complain about bugs, only to be responded at by a confused developer who hadn’t seen that bug on the bugtracker, which means that people are not reporting bugs.
Could we perhaps make a custom to note the bugtracker link when complaining about a bug? It would help so much for the developers to understand what is talked about, and for users to help creating a good bug report through community effort.

Another is the lack on initiative in helping each design a feature. We see this being succesful with the GSoC paint branch, the game dev needs spreadsheet, and even the retopology needs gdoc which contained info for a GSoC student was accepted gracefully by the mentor, even though he had to admit these needs were too complex for his student to work for.
If you can come together and help each other design a feature, or make a manifest to improve a workflow it be of great interest to the developers.

And most importantly, you can just contact Ton or any other of the developers on irc(which is just a type of chatroom) or through the mailinglist. Speaking of which, have you already subscribed to the mailing list of your subject of interest?

So speaking as a bystander, all of the Blender dev threads where an idea is proposed, all have the same problem. Someone will come along with an idea or a legitimate complaint, and post it. This thread which was intended to cultivate some valuable discussion, ends up turning into a 20 page argument, that by the end is just some idiots bickering about something off topic.

If I were a dev I wouldn’t touch these threads with a 10’ pole. They never result in actionable ideas, just a morass of arguments.

I hate to say it but I think BA is most of the problem.

Yeah, sadly enough if I am being realistic instead of trying to get positive action out of people… This thread will likely go the same way, will have done so by sunday.

Double post

I think a large part of the problem here is selfishness, I personally think the world is in a selfishness pandemic and its the root of most problems. Selfishness in that people want blender to be what they want it to be.

Blender is a tool that everyone has to use and so focusing on a specific area is never going to happen.

I have heard calls for Blender to concentrate on game development or BGE, and all manner of reasons given. The act of requesting this is selfish, I would never ask the developers to focus on animation at the expense of something else. But there seems to be plenty of users who feel fine pushing there own agendas at the expense of others.

There are also thous who use blender because they want to and thous who use Blender because they have to. Someone who “Has” to use blender is not necessarily a problem, but someone who has to use blender but wants it to be something else, is.

I have spoken to plenty of people who have tried blender not because they wanted to, but because they needed to save money and switching to Blender would do that. These people often don’t want to leave the comfort of program X, they just want to save $$$. I found it common that when someone is being shown Blender as a cost saving measure rather than a choice they fish for faults to justify themselves paying for program X.

I also think there is a “cult” issue with some users, I often see requests for tools or features that only a studio could leverage. Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I sometimes feel that these users are calling for these features just so that they can say “Actually… Blender has that !?” with a smug look on there face.

This is actually damaging to Blender, not only does it mean that features that are actually needed but are less “cool” get less attention than the big “cool” ones, it also means that when these features are developed there is no feedback or bug testing so they end up buggy and underdeveloped.

There are also a lot of young users, and by that I mean <18. This is not a problem in its self but it is the cause of some of the feature request spam. I have been doing CG related stuff for a long time, and I know 1000’s of workarounds to 1000’s of problems. I can also solve problems without being connected to the internet. Younger users seems to try and solve issues “as the crow flies” and if that does not work they jump on the forum and “request” a feature be added to blender to solve there issue.

Younger users are more opinionated and less knowledgeable, quick to complain and slow to compliment, perceive criticism as insults and tend to be more selfish than they will be when they get older. I’m not saying that they are all like that, just some.

Finally, we are a heavy male dominated community, so its full of…

So my conclusion is this:
The Blender community has elements that are selfish and simply want the tools they want, regardless of other users needs. There are members who request features simply so that they can spam other forums with “Actually… Blender has that !?”. There are also members of this community that don’t actually want to be here, if program X was free tomorrow they would jump ship instantly. And some members are too young to know any better.

But… we do have a strong community here regardless of these problems, just look at the rest of the forum.

I wonder if a peer review process could be a solution. The reason I say this, is that its still nice to get comments and ideas from the software’s users.

Just throwing ideas out, perhaps all proposals must be in the form of a minimum 5 page document containing pictures, a needs analysis, a detailed implementation strategy, and support from a minimum number of admins.

Every year the admins would review applications to join this group and would accept a maximum of Y new additions per year. All applicants would be required to demonstrate years of professional work. This is a group that would be personally invested in Blender’s viability as an art tool for the public.

Perhaps if the bar were set high enough, it would help to weed out the people described above.

I can see that, too much focus on the won’t haves or what’s missing and not enough on what it will have. It’s simply a fact that Blender releases won’t all come with vast improvements on every single nook of functionality simply because there’s not enough resources (a generally accepted fact with large FOSS programs).

The above is by no means an advocation to ban any discussion on the concern that it doesn’t take things all the way as the community expects, but we need to at least try to have constructive discussion on the tools that we know are likely to come into Blender so they come in the best shape possible for the initial implementation.

I cant tell if this is sarcasm or not !?
I don’t think any user should be prevented from contributing. I just think that some users have opinions that are not worth listening to:P Maybe I was a bit hard on the <18!? It might be misplaced, its totally possible I am getting annoyed at older users behaving like children :stuck_out_tongue:

But, I think Ace is right to raise the issue. The forum is getting “toxic” and very hostile/negative towards the devs for no good reason.

I remember being hugely excited when I logged on to see Ton started a thread and communicating with users. But this turned to disappointment and anger as I read through the thread before posting to see Ton harassed, insulted and eventually leave before I even got a chance to ask questions.

If I were a Dev I would not bother posting here atm, it would end in an off topic argument.

this wasnt intended as sarcasm.

In my idea anyone would be allowed to submit serious proposals. However these are reviewed by a group before any public comment. Hoping to alleviate the bickering and replace it with serious discussion.

Ah. so you are proposing a “focus group” or “council of users”. as a communication medium between the users and the devs?

I thought you were talking about the whole community, ie some Authoritarian vetting that would allow only the “right” people join.

I think a group of nominated users acting as the user base representatives could work well. The issue is that “feature request” is not a big part of the problem. All the devs know what needs adding or know what they want to add. The real issue is with feedback, this is why “workflow” discussions are so heated. Everyone knows that having feature X is better than not having it, but how is it best implemented and what problems are thous using it facing?

You cant use a bug-tracker to suggest workflow enhancements or high lite situations that a given feature does not scale up to. In the same way you cant use the bug tracker to report slowdowns when working with larger amounts of data than the feature was designed to use.

But it may be that the developer needs to hear that information, and I think that this forum is the best place for the users to share that information.

Maybe your user base representatives could also be tasked with collecting this information too?

I must sadly I say I have very good connection to the Autodesk developers and the conversations is very productive.

I hate to say it but I think the reason is that there is a selective approach who can participate in direct development conversation and everybody else can provide input via forms and questionnaires.

Most of the discussions here I often unproductive because input and discussions are not filtered.

To a certain degree an open discussion is great but in reality I think you need focus groups to get stuff done.

Thats just reality

Agreement and disagreement on this. I think there are problems on both sides, but that the start to fixing them is sadly out of our hands.

Firstly, I’ll openly acknowledge that there are some people on the forums who join the discussions we’re talking about for the sole reason to throw a bomb into the thread and see how people react. However, the issue is that anyone expressing disagreement with the Blender Foundation is now lumped in with them. What this leads to is a nasty circle in which people are labelled as angry, good-for-nothing trouble-makers, as such they aren’t listened to, and from that they either leave or become the angry, good-for-nothing trouble-makers they have been accused of. There are large gaps in my attendance to this forum based on my anger level rising too high from such accusations and needing to take a break or risk validating the accusations levelled at me. I’ve watched others leave for good.

With that in mind, there are messages that some developers refuse to listen to &/or their supporters take it on themselves to preemptively label as trolling. Take for example the thread from which you’re branching this one off of. The users here were able to tamp down the usual aggression & defuse most the bombs thrown because we knew that if didn’t, it would give ample reason to stop the feature’s development. The thread “exploded” when we were told (once again) that Ton wouldn’t approve the feature in preference for something that’s been talked about for nine years and which Campbell doesn’t believe solves the same problem. The problem there wasn’t from the user side, because it had been managed and Campbell was still talking to us. The thread exploded AFTER the patch was abandoned due to Ton’s disapproval.

The case of Andrew Price’s UI Debate is another good example of the immediate reaction to saying something that the developers & their supporters don’t want to hear gets labelled as troublemaking. It’s not hard to find many posts littered throughout the threads on that subject where he is dismissed, denounced, and derided. Were it not for the large following of newer users standing up for him (and the fact he was visible outside the Blender community politely & methodically discussing & gathering information about the issue) - we would possibly have lost another great resource. He has already taken a large step back having confronted the fanboy contingent of BA and bearing it’s scars.

And this is where I get to the part of the thread that gets me labelled a bomb-thrower. See, I think that there are some developers that are able to see the real troublemakers for what they are and ignore them. Then there are other developers that hear things they don’t want to hear, label those people troublemakers, and then wonder why the forum is (to them) just filled with “noise”. Campbell listened to us, found that there was a legitimate gripe, implemented a patch based on that communication. Ton, on the other hand, didn’t want to listen to the (proven correct) commentary about Gooseberry and instead tried to get the moderators to clamp down on it because he (in his own words) wasn’t going to accept it. Which do you think was more productive?

Thing is, we actually DID have a productive thread quite recently (the one you reference AD). It resulted in users being slapped down anyway. It’s not the first time that’s happened either. Notice also how the “explosion” is not directed at the developer that communicated with the users, but with the one that refuses to. Perhaps now you see why I think that the fix isn’t going to come from the BA users… because it can’t.

Every time the polite, productive, and rational users get slapped down by a developer that won’t deign to talk to them - it’s only going to reinforce the wall. By sheer dint of statistics, there are going to be more people on the user side who are vocal and disapproving. There is only a fixed number of Blender developers and they’re being led by one that dismisses the largest community presence as “noise”. We’ve tried (& still try) to keep conversation productive and focused, yet even when that works well, no reciprocation is coming from the BF leadership. Only they can change that level of reciprocation.

I understand that some users are upset, but you also need to consider the fact that there have been good artists here, those who are fully capable of giving professional quality feedback, that have left the forum altogether because of the rampant negativity.

When the new rules were made, many interpreted them as a requirement for everyone to become blind cheerleaders for Ton and the developers, even though the mods. tried to clarify things by saying that there’s still going to be discussion on functionality shortfalls and what can be done to make it useful for everyone. I don’t think Ton is expecting the entire userbase to be comprised of cheerleaders that aren’t allowed to question him, that is unless you can find definitive proof that he himself says such a thing or says something else so egregious that it would give reason for everyone to fork Blender and throw Ton and his foundation into the dustbin. It’s almost like it’s a requirement to interpret nearly everything to read as something negative and read it as a reinforcement of the idea that all FOSS will ever do is establish the bottom of the barrel in quality and ethics).

You might not want to hear it, but I do think posts that claim to tell Ton and co. what they don’t know about themselves can really hurt the chances of them ever coming back to BA for development discussions, and unfortunately most of those are made by those who proclaim expertise in the industry who are among the most capable to stand up for what Blender needs and engage in respectful dialogue that does not seek to destroy the dignity and character of those who know the code.

In many ways Blender is not a democracy its a meritocracy, I think this rubs some users up the wrong way.

I think the developers do a good job of listening to concerns, I also think Ton does too. I know some will claim that Ton is only doing X because of the concerns raised during the Gooseberry campaign, thus justifying the complaints. But I think most of the stuff was already on the table or being worked on, Its just being advertised better now to try and calm things down.

The .FBX exporter was being worked on while people were complaining that we lacked a good .FBX export/import option for example.

Just because Ton veto’s a patch does not mean he has not listened or understood the concerns raised. I think we need someone to say what is in or out, the alternative is worse IMHO

That negativity goes both ways. There are good artists that have left because feedback that wasn’t 100% positive had them labelled as troublemakers and/or attacked by BF supporters.

Perhaps there is something in that dichotomy that you are missing. It is an element of character being able to listen to things you may not want to hear. When people from within the industry point out issues with Blender that haven’t gone away in over a decade and the developers ignore them, dismiss them, or state that they are “absolutely powerless” to make the changes (despite that patently not being the case) - then what exactly do you expect?

I’m not stating that there aren’t users on the forums that could back off from the hardline posturing when presenting their case, but they are not the only ones being passive-aggressive in these situations. Calling the forum “noise” & ignoring the largest Blender community presence online is not productive. Campbell came forward openly, without airs and without submission. He has been well received as a result and productive discussions have been had. Thing is, he is clearly not the head honcho on the majority of issues being raised. One doesn’t solve communication issues by refusing to engage with people outside an environment in which you can control the message.

The thread remains posotive though, with most of the “off topic” posts just adding useful information or clarifying. Good thread, full of new info to me :slight_smile:

I’m not sure I understand the claim of negativity. I’ve found the forums quite interesting and informative. People seem to be confusing negativity/critisism with critique. Don’t lump a critique in with a criticism! Although I find it odd that Ton made it through 2 AMA’s, but not the BA thread…

The way things are presented are a problem also. For example don’t just tell the community what is going to be worked on during gooseberry, tell them why, and how that will clear the way so that other things can be worked on later. Sure some of the gooseberry stuff isn’t “sexy”, but it is much needed, and once accomplished will allow for other “sexier” projects.

That way people don’t need to ask about their favorite pet feature.

But that has to be communicated from the top down. A lot of the critiques during the gooseberry campain were fron lack of information and unsubstantiated assumptions of what feature was or wasn’t or could be worked on during gooseberry. Giving a much clearer picture will avoid all the “what about…?” Questions that tend to derail threads.

Technically, it was a patch veto for an area of the code that he’s the owner of.

He doesn’t have near as much control over other areas such as Cycles, but the interface module is the thing that allows Blender to even be used in the first place, which makes it understandable that the community would like to have a lot more influence on that area while Ton sees a reduction in his.

However though, I’ve gotten the impression from some posts that some think Ton is this disgusting individual who throws tantrums in response to user inquiries and leaves me scratching my head on why they even choose to still use Blender in the first place (other than staying in the community to incite a revolution against Ton’s leadership).

To note, I’m not saying to be cheerleaders for Ton, but simply treat him with fairness, understanding, and respect. I believe in many cases there are possible alternative ideas to a vetoed feature in any module, but the unfortunate thing here is that people would rather gnash their teeth at the developers in response instead, negativity and pessimism wins again over constructivism and pragmatic thinking. The latter in this case then is by no means requiring blind agreement with everything Ton and co. says and does, just don’t try to symbolically burn them at the stake if such a time of disagreement does happen.

That’s the theory, but that doesn’t actually work out once money enters the equation. The Blender Foundation is receiving a lot of donations which can be spent as per the directions of the organisation’s board and chairman. This includes the hiring & non-renewal decisions of developers. This means that it is a combination of merit and getting the approval of the people paying the bills.

Does anyone honestly think that a single developer, with skills far & above say Ton & Campbell, but who didn’t get along with either of them would rise to replace them? That’s not how the real world works.

With all due respect, and I am not trying to insult you here, you aren’t going to convince anyone based on what you think. Just like I can’t. It’s what you can show that counts and, let’s face it, the timing of several announcements is going to trump the opinion of someone that spends a lot of their time defending the Blender Foundation on a forum.

Indeed. However the Blender Foundation only funded someone to work on it a reasonable timeframe AFTER the issues with Steam donations & Gooseberry “sponsorship” were made public (& the resulting reaction settled down). That someone else was working for free on the .FBX export/import issues is not an indication that it was already part of the BF plans.

However, refusing to allow the change for over ten years in preference for a hypothetical feature that has been nine years in the waiting is a good indication that he isn’t concerned about the same things we are. There is a big difference between hearing/understanding someone’s concerns and actually being motivated to address them.

If you mean in the community in general, then I (and probably more than a few others) would disagree - especially over the last 6 months to a year. Tempers seem shorter and fuses burn faster. Some have left, others have taken leaves and I believe at least one other valuable contributor was luckily talked into staying.

MCHammond mentioned a selfishness pandemic. Personally I believe this to be a large part of the problem, and I couldn't begin to suggest how to combat it. Look at any reality show - the home owner demands something outrageous and gets it; the bride demands her day at any cost; it's easy to find a treasure for $10 in somebodies old barn. I invite folks to stroll the aisles of a Home Depot and listen to the petty whining about why she can't get her siding in her favourite colour for the weekend. Or why can't I get all 16 ft boards - don't you make trees that big anymore? - Yes that is a real question I was asked where I work (not Home Depot).

So this same over-pampered mind set leaks it's way into more of society and we see the same kind of complaining and bickering about how my $800 phone sucks and now I need a new one, or how your wireless internet drops out every now and again - afternoon ruined, and even into what we demand of the people providing us these really neat programs - for FREE. Remember having to go the store to buy them? Or logging onto a bulletin board and spending 4 hours downloading one? How much input did you get to make in how they were developed or even what they charged?

Maybe I'm just to grateful for what the developers do. Maybe it's because I don't rely on Blender for my lively-hood that I'm more patient in what is developed. Maybe it's because I was raised to believe that conversation always accomplishes more than confrontation. But I think the biggest changes in how the discussions run need to be made by the users first. Eliminate that side of the negativity first, the rest will follow.