When I was contemplating the topics for my "Key Quests for 2010" list in December 2009, even before I had decided whether I'd share the list with others, the issue of KDE's web footprint came up pretty quickly in the process. It is very often our first impression for people who would like to get involved or who would like to find out more about us. It is where people go before they know how to (or if they want to) communicate with us directly. It also has been something we've really struggled with improving.
Nobody really "owns" the web sites, which makes it a bit trickier (as it can devolve into a free-for-all), and we haven't historically been very good at integrating web designers and developers into the workflow without a bunch of C++ geeks piling on. ;) So, it's been a struggle.
It would be great if we were able to give the web sites completely over to a web development team and rely on them to consult the people who have been around KDE the longest and with the greatest sense of the "pulse" of the project from a communications and marketing point of view. That, to date, hasn't happened.
There are brights points in our web presence, however: we have TechBase, Userbase and the Community Wiki now. We have the KDE Forums, which also hosts KDE Brainstorm. These are all vibrant, functional and relevant, proving that it can be done.
So when I put this item on my list, I was at once pensive due to our track record on the topic and optimistic given that the newer sites mentioned above do have a lot of positive things going for them. Since I crafted the list, however, something very interesting and relevant happened: at the KDE Promo sprint the topic of the web sites was addressed. Since then, people have been putting together plans and starting to follow through on them. Lydia announced this effort on her blog just this week, in fact! You can get involved and help out as well: you can find the web team on #kde-www on irc.freenode.net and consult the WWW Rework Scratchpad on the Community Wiki for additional information.
It will not happen overnight, of course, and will be an ongoing effort. I am so excited to see this happening, however, and it's something we all need to get behind and support. Getting the right messaging out will require the cooperation of the promo team, the revitalized web team and the rest of us creating KDE's set of products. Hopefully, with enough people lending a hand over this next year, this item will not reappear on my list for 2011. :)
For my own part, I need to finally get to completely re-doing plasma.kde.org. Now that we actually know what the name will be referring to (which is why the branding discussions were a blocker), this is on my "4.5 dev cycle" list. It's not kde.org, but it will be the Plasma team's contribution to the larger effort.
(This article is part of the "Key Quests for KDE in 2010" series)