Community: The Heart & Soul of PCLinuxOS
by Paul Arnote (parnote)
Community. We hear that word a lot. So what, exactly, does that word mean? We can turn to the dictionary to get one definition. From dictionary.com, community is defined as the following:
- a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
- a locality inhabited by such a group.
- a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually prec. by the): the business community; the community of scholars.
- a group of associated nations sharing common interests or a common heritage: the community of Western Europe.
- Ecclesiastical. a group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.
- Ecology. an assemblage of interacting populations occupying a given area.
- joint possession, enjoyment, liability, etc.: community of property.
- similar character; agreement; identity: community of interests.
- the community, the public; society: the needs of the community.
But for those of us who frequent the PCLinuxOS Forum, community isn't just something that is defined in the dictionary. It's much more than that. In fact, and in a large way, it's that sense of community that sets the PCLinuxOS Forum apart from all other support forums. I've taken the liberty to put the dictionary definitions that best fit the PCLinuxOS Forum in bold type.
PCLinuxOS has a reputation, and deservedly so, of being having the friendliest community around. I know that I, along with many other forum members, have been members of support forums where new users aren't treated with respect and dignity. Rather, new users in other support forums are often treated rudely, disrespectfully, and with disdain. Some veteran members of those forums feel that the new users haven't "paid their dues," or haven't "earned" the right to ask for assistance. Sadly, these same veteran members often forget that they, too, were once new users. Terms like "RTFM" (or Read The Freaking Manual) are often used.
But in the PCLinuxOS Forum, new users are welcomed by members of the PCLinuxOS community. They are treated with respect and dignity. Terms like "RTFM" are not used. Rather, new users are pointed to where to find the information, or their question is answered directly, regardless of how many times it may have been asked before. In doing so, veteran forum members may instruct or inform new users the proper etiquette of searching the forum first. It makes a difference, and gives new users a better chance of learning PCLinuxOS, and may even encourage them enough to stick with PCLinuxOS.
In fact, PCLinuxOS gains some new users just because of the widespread reputation of the friendliness of the PCLinuxOS community. They come to PCLinuxOS because they know they won't get "RTFM" as an answer. They know they will be made to feel welcomed, and that they can ask questions without fear.
Does this relieve new users of any responsibility? Absolutely not. New users need to "learn the lay of the land" when they arrive. They need to read through the "stickied" posts, and get a feel for not only what's expected of them as new users, but also the rules that everyone is expected to follow. And, by reading through the "stickied" posts, they can learn not only the right way of asking questions, but also get to know who's who in the forum.
But, the sense of community in the PCLinuxOS Forum goes even deeper than just making new users feel welcome, and treated with respect. Regular and veteran members of the PCLinuxOS Forum have a deep sense of community, that many would argue has become a sense of family. Many of us shared in the joy when Old Polack welcomed his newest grandchild into the world. Many of us shared in GuyNotGuy's joy when he recently became a father for the fourth time. And many of us shared in the grief and profound loss of one of our own, when N1PTT passed away.
Just as with any community or family, there are times when community members or family members get on one anothers' nerves. The PCLinuxOS community is no different. But when it is all said and done, and as most communities and families do, bygones are bygones and the sense of community is restored.
We all have common interests that bind us: our interest in PCLinuxOS, Linux, and FOSS (free open source software). We also have a reputation to uphold, and that is the reputation that PCLinuxOS has as being a warm, welcoming community.
I began thinking of this article topic as I was putting together this month's magazine cover. And, just like many of you, I am proud to be a member of the PCLinuxOS community.