[python-advocacy] _The Python Papers_ Online Magazine

Tennessee Leeuwenburg tennessee at tennessee.id.au
Fri Jan 12 00:48:19 CET 2007

Hi Jeff and others,

Thanks for your comments. It is wonderful to recieve feedback on the effort
so far. While I have my own ideas about how to do things, I'm doing this
with common goals in mind and I want to make sure everyone who has an
interest is involved to whatever extent they would like.

  - I'd like to see a de-emphasis on the peer-reviewed aspect; while for
>     some it denotes quality content, it puts off others who believe that
>     your focus is academic research or perhaps carefully researched case
>     history articles.  When I first found your site, I thought, "hey, I
>     should write an article... hmm, looks like I'd need to carefully
>     polish anything I write, complete with references to support my
>     arguments.  Too much work for now, maybe later."  While the Python
>     community certainly has academic researchers, such as in the SciPy
>     sub-community, many of us are far more casual about writing.

I can see your point. I had initially thought that having peer-reviewed
articles would be a strong drawcard -- that developers would be excited by
the resume-enhancing prospects of a peer-reviewed paper being accepted, and
by the the 'stamp of quality' the process gives to those articles. However,
I think that is intimidating and that while I still feel it is a valuable,
it could be as you say de-emphasised.

Ideally I would like each edition to contain 2-3 casual articles, 1 academic
article, and about 3-4 pages of editorial, letters, feedback etc.

  - The _MontyLingua_ seemed a rather dry article, especially with the
>     very long bibliography at the end.  I say drop most of the
> bibliography
>     and provide links to web content.  In my world, albeit not the only
>     one ;-), if it isn't on the web, it doesn't exist.  While that may
> seem
>     rather narrow-minded, the reality is that many of us don't have time
>     to dig up the printed journals and prefer to click and explore a
>     topic when your articles have motivated us.

Yes, I kind of realised that but didn't have a strategy. Perhaps if we put
the bibliographies in as appendixes after the magazine content...

  - You need more diagrams, especially to explain difficult concepts.
>     Perhaps you don't have a volunteer graphics designer to help out
>     -- if not, we'll need to help you find one.  Regarding your staff,
>     while I saw a long list of names, much of the content, of both the
>     site and the magazine, appear to be by you.  Hopefully in the next
>     issue that will be broadened, since you're just getting started.

It's hard to say. In terms of concrete submissions, it's still mostly our
work, although we now have some content from various user groups and a few
expressions of interest which might yet make it into the next issue. I'd
ideally like to reach a point where we are not including any content from
the editorial board solely for the purpose of making the issue.

No we don't have a graphic designer, although I can really see the need.
Diagrams for each issue would be wonderful, ditto cartoons, but without
resources to pay anyone or the contacts to find a volunteer, we have just
pressed on without for the time being.

  - Since you're not constrained by number of pages, adding photos of
>     authors would be good.  I saw in your call for papers that you mention
>     this, so perhaps it was just the first issue that was lacking in them.

I'm intending to include photographs in this edition, but I have no personal
photographs as yet. Each submitting PUG will be accompanied by a photograph
of their area if I can find one which is redistributable under our license.

  - Continue a strong focus on showing Python source code.  We all love
>     the readability of Python and its very-high-level nature.

Agreed, but it's great to know what is resonating with the readers and what
is not. We'll make sure this remains a priority.

  - Being an electronic journal, I will read your issues online.  The PDF
>     format is a problem for that

We really need to get into multiformat publishing, but it's not easy to know
what the best path is. It's a problem that's not going to go away anytime
soon, but let's look at your suggestion below:

    I would like to toss out the idea of adopting reStructuredText as
>     the underlying format, and mechanically provide issues in various
>     formats.

This is a possibility. Another possibility would be Google Docs and
Spreadsheets which will export to HTML and PDF. The most important thing is
the workload -- rST would involve a manual reformatting of virtually every
submmission, while using OpenOffice allows me to preserve the Author's
original formatting. I have been a little scared of taking that particular
plunge, but perhaps it is time.

With regard to the website:
>    - IMHO, The entry page lacks sizzle.


     along with a link to writer guidelines your policy of article
>      acceptance I can peruse.

 Yeah, this is my fault.

  Add  a large "Write for Us!" graphic icon at the top.

Great idea!

   - I confess I'm unfamiliar with cgpublisher but if issues are
>      free, what is the shopping cart for?  A leftover artifact?

cgpublisher is a vehicle for managing submissions and the peer review
process, but it's not a must-have. It can also be used behind the scenes
rather than as our website. As you say, the shopping cart is just part of
the software which isn't easy to turn off.

   - The site badly needs a calendar -- to draw in both authors and
>      readers, I need to know deadlines, when to check back for new
>      content.  I realize this depends significantly on your supply of
>      content, but perhaps a regular publishing schedule regardless, so
>      that good articles don't get held back waiting for additional
> content.

Another great idea.

     And I'll be radical here, and wonder why there are issues at all.

I think we need issues in order to fulfil the requirements of an academic
journal. However, it's also a workload issue for me... Not too radical, but
I think at the moment not as high a priority as many of your other excellent

   - Are you tracking web traffic?  How do you measure the success of
>      your endeavor, the popularity of an issue?  And if you keep articles
>      together in a single PDF, you'll be unable to track the popularity
>      of individual articles.

I'm tracking site visits, but that's it so far.

Other suggestions:

   - Could you explain a bit more about your use of cgpublisher and your
>      hosting arrangements?  If you're looking to change hosting, some
>      idea of your infrastructure requirements would help -- I run a
>      colocated server and provide hosting to others, sometimes for money
>      and sometimes for free.  Is cgpublisher something that can be
>      installed elsewhere or a service portal?

cgpublisher is not a necessary part of the website, so much as a tool for
assisting in the editorial process, so we can (and I believe, should)
separate it out. It's more of a workload problem than a technical one at
this stage.

   - For discussion here, could you list the titles of the articles you
>      have selected so far for inclusion into the second issue?  I'm
>      curious how rich your submission queue is and what we can do to help.

We have an article I wrote extending the Idioms series I began in edition
one, another article by Maurice on a tool for the firebird database, three
PUG submissions briefly covering their user groups and one expression of
interest to write an article on the "task coach" project. We need more
articles to make the journal sizzle.

     I would also suggest adding a link from your entry page and/or writer
>      guidelines to the advocacy page of article ideas, as a suggestion
>      for those who want to write for you but can't think of anything.
>      You can find it at:
>        http://wiki.python.org/moin/ArticleIdeas

Great idea, I'll do that promptly. I think I need a new web page, and I will
put it on there, starting work more or less immediately. If anyone could
assist in the work of doing this, it would be much appreciated as it's just
me at the moment really. The rest of our board are currently either busy or
have different skills.

Thanks for your message. I'll keep you updated as work progresses.

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