Better free software development

Is there a team of volunteers doing research on improving the ways we work to develop free software?

I mean there have been this far on-going debates over using mailing lists and archives versus web forums, but little is known of what situations one of the choices is better than the other.

Example1: Personally I vote for webforums for user support (see the traffic at ubuntuforums.org – I belive no mailing list supports that amount of traffic) and mailing lists for developers. I also think forums are better for noobs. But is there any volunteer project that tries to find which is actually better and in which situations?

Example2: So far much of the development talk has been done via mailing lists and the few time contributors meet at Dev-cons. What about achieving consensus over an IRC channel conference? Sure there are a lot of problems that go along with it, but it could be a nice complement to mailing lists. What about adding archives, voice-chat to such conference talks. Could screen-cast fasten development?

Archives and repository submission logs are just perfect for a statistical study measuring a project’s success or downfall. Could a statistical study discover lots of questions in a certain area of the project, faster than humans? Could this lead to a request to improve documentation in that certain area?

These are just crazy questions now, but, with a dedicated team of volunteers testing them out, goodness and craziness will separate.

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