The science of meetings
This post isn’t going to make an huge amount of sense to people who are not using IRC or involved in the Ubuntu project, feel free to let your eyes glaze over and wait for the next article.
The #ubuntu-meeting IRC channel is the place where most of the regular team meetings of the Ubuntu project take place. There was a bot called MootBot in the channel which was there to facilitate meetings, which it did for a number of years. I was never that impressed by what it did with the minutes, there was too much manual writing of meeting minutes which really the bot should have been doing for people. I started making a few tweaks to a copy of the bot so that it would generate formatted minutes in moin wiki syntax for pasting direct into wiki.ubuntu.com I had also been working on a complete rewrite of the code in Python rather than TCL that was started by the Debian project. This was a bit of a background task for me and was nowhere near finished, when a couple of weeks ago the original Mootbot broke and nobody had time to go fix it. As a result of this my next generation meeting bot was pressed into service somewhat ahead of schedule, bugs and all, and is now working hard in the #ubuntu-meeting channel under the name meetingology. The code is at https://code.launchpad.net/~ubuntu-bots/ubuntu-bots/meetingology and patches are very welcome. I am running a development version of the bot in the #meetingology channel, feel free to pop in and test it there.
Meetingology supports rather more commands than the old bot and you can use the old form with square brackets [TOPIC] or just #topic and it isn’t case sensitive about commands. The full list of commands is documented here https://wiki.ubuntu.com/meetingology. In particular note that you can now do “#startmeeting meetingname” to set the overall meeting title. There are a number of improvements and issues to fix with the output minutes, I will get round to that over the next few weeks (patches are welcome remember). Some teams have their own meeting syntax and scripts to parse it, if you want a particular output format for your meeting then do come and find me and we can make it happen. The goal is that the post-meeting effort for the chair is copy-paste-done. Writing up minutes is a task that is not worthy of a human.