I have some comments about the website and presentation.
The primary reason I’m interested in MOD is because it’s free/libre/open technology. I will be quite upset if I were to find out that core stuff or much of the ecosystem turns out to be proprietary in the end. Why is there no reference to Free/Libre/Open values on the website?
There are tons of guitar and related effects units out there. There is no free/libre/open one yet or even close. This is the distinguishing factor here. Why not emphasize it‽ Put stuff on the website and elsewhere talking about how this is such a revolution liberating the effects chain. You’ll get tons more interest and widespread communities who care about this will suddenly take more notice.
Ideally, publish the core stuff about the hardware itself and get it certified as Open Hardware by the OSHWA http://www.oshwa.org/ but even short of that, just emphasizing that the software is free/libre/open is a big deal and a big marketing feature. And not mentioning it makes it almost seem suspicious, like you’re trying to hide that it’s GNU/Linux and FLO software for some reason, and that leads to less trust from audiences…
On a side note, your videos would be better if they had music that sounded like it would be played with the MOD rather than being just some programmed stuff that doesn’t use much of the value of the MOD.
There is though a confusion regarding the project being entirely open source. The hardware files of the Duo - both electric as mechanic - are not open source and we never marketed the MOD Duo as open hardware.
Our ControlChain controllers - Expression Pedal, Footswitch and Arduino Shield - are open hardware and the files are also available at the same Github page.
We have high concerns about not violating any GPL and other related licenses, thus the code is all published. We need of course to display it better thought the product documentation - e.g. having a direct link at each plugin description and so forth - and all of this is coming. It is just that we have so few available resources and everyone is overloaded with work.
Hope you understand
Thanks a lot for your feedback anyway. It is highly appreciated.
@gianfranco I certainly had that very impression, that the software was all open and maybe some but likely not all of the hardware was. Now, I would certainly encourage open hardware, but my main concern was the lack of clarity about openness on the main public website.
I didn’t see a link to the GitHub page on the Mod website, didn’t see any text anywhere advertising that this uses all FLO software… I think that stuff is superb and it’s a shame (and may be viewed with suspicioun even) to avoid mentioning that. I urge you to proclaim loudly to the world how great it is that Mod uses all FLO software and how this is why everyone should use Mod over any competitors.
The links in the software itself sound great. The easiest first step is just to mention this topic at all on the main website.
@wolftune Soon we will be reorganizing our website (more like rebooting it) and I will definitely take your thoughts into consideration. I also agree there are lots of things we don’t properly communicate about us and MOD Duo in particular. A lot of people probably just look at it as “yet another multi-effect device”. But it’s so much more than that… it turns out to be a lot harder than we imagined how to communicate this to the public.
Many months later, I would like to reiterate that this issue is still outstanding.
I find it really awkward the way the communication around MOD seems to carefully avoid ever revealing that it is free/libre/open software and using free/libre/open plugins.
It’s enough to make me suspect that there’s some misguided desire to give potential customers the false impression that all the software is completely proprietary and exclusive to the MOD in order to make them buy it. That’s the only reason I can think of why you wouldn’t be celebrating the FLO status of things.
If that suspicion is true, I think it really is a gross mistake. The primary distinction between MOD and using just an iPad with some iOS software and an audio interface is the free-software nature of the platform. I happen to be especially interested in the stereo operations, but that’s not the primary notable feature.
I am sure that everything that gets more people engaged will pay off. That people could install the software on GNU/Linux and hear the effects without buying the hardware is not a thing to try to keep secret. That information will be a huge factor in getting people over the hesitation to buy the hardware.
There are two huge reasons to buy the MOD: (A) to get the quality hardware that is excellent in itself and (B) to support the MOD team as a core contributor to the free/libre/open music software world (and thus feeling optimistic about this really being the future worth investing in, an ecosystem that won’t stagnate and die away or just get obsolete as new things come out later).
All your messaging seems to swap point B for instead a deceptive implication that the software is all exclusive to the MOD. It really comes across as attempting to make the MOD’s advertising sound just like the advertising from all the traditional music product companies. And it ends up losing the primary message that would make MOD completely stand apart from everything else. Why in the heck does it seem like you want to blend in and get lost in the mix of all the other products instead of standing out??
Sorry for the rant, but this trend is actually a significant factor in me having a hesitation about MOD and its potential and future and leadership to the point that I haven’t purchased yet. The MOD would be near perfect for some of my needs, and I’m an interested customer. But this poor marketing avoiding-free/libre/open emphasis makes me worry about the future of the company and community.
P.S. Using music that doesn’t use mod sound effects (like plain ragtime piano) in videos also looks very bad. There’s no excuse for any music product to use any music other than music relevant to the product in its own marketing.
Thanks for reaching out and giving us some much needed feedback! We really appreciate the time you’ve taken as it will help us improve our communication channels.
We definitely acknowledge that there is a lot we can do regarding the publicizing of our FLO nature. However, you don’t have to suspect anything other than the huge amount of things we all have on our plates here at the HQ. We’re a small team trying to achieve great things and we’re doing our utmost to keep every member of the community satisfied and involved in the evolution of the MOD ecosystem.
We strive to communicate in the most honest and transparent manner with everyone, in all our channels and we always put forward our open-source roots and core (even though they’re not especially put forward on the website, but that’s about to change…). We’re very outspoken about it on every interview we’ve given and we’re regular contributors to different forums and events of the Linux Audio Community, for example.
We’re in the process of improving our communications channels and the website is going to go through a major enhancement, so you can rest assured that we’ll have all the info that’s lacking on it!
We’ve got a bright future ahead of us and a long way to go, and we’re glad to have you on our side.
Thanks! I figured that even if my suspicions were wrong, it would be useful to you to hear that such an impression could arise.
I still suspect that you folks know for sure about the insular particular view of free software activists and so you recognize that you need to focus on appealing to the wider audience rather than focusing on that niche. But the way you’ve written stuff so far comes across as “oh, the general folks out there don’t understand FLO, we can’t get into talking about that, we need to just talk about how it’s neat for flexible sound production” which is then swinging so far the other way that it loses a lot. I want MOD to stand out as totally unique in the whole product space, and the FLO nature of it is the most unique aspect. If you emphasize it and musicians go, “huh? why would that matter to me?” then you have achieved a sense in the reader that this is different and notable. It’s better that they have questions about trying to understand why this is better but that it is in a class of its own rather than have them think “oh yeah, it’s another effects pedal with some particular quirks about how it works”. You want to be a paradigm shift where people can’t even compare the limitations of other stuff to this new FLO empowerment.
I’m in no rush, but I’m certainly wanting you to continue and succeed because I do plan sometime to become a customer (and FLO contributor to the community, of course)…
I’m already impressed by the teams productivity in general. If you are struggling to deal with “smaller” things like this, I totally understand, but then why not allow the community to help you out? If you put the website code on github, anyone could submit pull requests fixing this kind of issue. Then all you’d have to do is review the PR and merge it.
You have to realize that the Mod crew is just a few guys doing what they can to sell some devices. Their perceived open source transparency is a back burner item. They barely have time to update the website.
*I’m not affiliated with Mod. I have met some of the crew at NAMM. I bought the product as a result of their demonstration and was very impressed, which pretty much never happens at trade shows. My booth was around the corner…that is it.
These guys live, breath sleep with getting this product out there and are doing the best they can.
Although I appreciate the “idea” of having a community improve the public-facing side of a company, I (as OpenAV) would NOT do it. Honestly, providing good updates and consistent wording, keeping “brand perception” high is really really hard. I’m not even claiming to be good at it - but I know I’ve tried.
You could argue “but just refuse PRs” -> this doesn’t work well. Doing this once, maybe that user will contribute something else again. Second time? They’re out. If they event attempted a 2nd time. So by opening up the website to PRs, you’re really putting the “brand” at risk of becoming diluted and less “direct”, or you upset community members by refusing PRs. Publicity work is hard, and a small team of tightly knit people can do it right given enough time. Unfortunatly crowd-sourcing it a bit of a lose-lose situation IMO.
Well, that raises an interesting point. There’s a difference between a F/OSS project and a commercial product. A lot of companies who base a commercial product on top of a F/OSS project have separate websites on different domains, to keep the distinction clear, e.g. http://wordpress.com vs. http://wordpress.org (actually I’m not sure if that’s the best example, but you get the point). I think that’s a pretty nice idea, because then you can keep community work on documentation (including the community website) separate from concerns around the commercial product, such as brand perception.
No, I’d suggest reviewing PRs, not refusing them. If the PR has the potential to improve the site, work with the contributor to refine it until it’s good enough to merge. If it doesn’t then thank them for their contribution and politely explain why it will never get merged in this form. If the contributor is not willing to collaborate constructively then you’ve only lost a small amount of time reviewing the PR. But in my experience it’s more frequent that they are willing and able, and the net result is that the site gets better and the contributor gets a positive experience which encourages them to contribute again, this time with increased knowledge and expertise about how to get it right. Bit by bit the community grows and the work gets distributed amongst more people.
OTOH if the website is closed to PRs then you lose out because nobody else can contribute help, even if they are experienced and good at wordsmithing / design etc. This is a loss even with small “drive-by” contributions, let alone with bigger contributions.
In this awesome F/OSS community we all know and appreciate the value of keeping the code open, so I think all the same principles apply to the docs (including the website) too.
That’s my 2 pence anyway, but I appreciate there is no single truth or golden rule which works in every single scenario
I get your point @aspiers and others already commented on our own limitations regarding the team size which pretty much requires a keen focus. What you’re proposing is beyond our current capacity. Unfortunately.
That being said, I think in the future there might have enough community velocity to accomplish something similar to what you mentioned. It’s a symbiosis we want to flourish but we need to make sure the business can stay afloat at the same time.
Thanks for the reply @acunha! What I’m proposing is not urgent, and I trust you guys to make the right decision about the best time to switch to a more open community-oriented approach to maintenance! In case there’s any doubt, I just want to reiterate that I think you guys are doing an awesome job already