Like any project, people get involved to help improve it, advocate it's use, help users etc when they feel an attachment to the project. We choose to invest our time and in some cases money to help the cause. We do it because we care about the project; in this case the project is Linux Mint.
I haven't ran a Linux Mint system for a little while now, my desktop has a temporary AntiX install, the new PC will likely have Crunchbang and my netbook is Crunchbang so why do I care? While I distro hop for my own tastes, Mint has been my go-to distro for users new to Linux regardless of what I currently use myself.
When people are new to something, they need encouragement, they need to know they're not being left to dangle in the wind when they have an issue. While I offer myself as a one-to-one support up to a point, I always take the time to explain about the forums, show them IRC, explain that solutions for other distros are also applicable to them (if it's the Ubuntu base, I show them the Ubuntu forums etc). I empower them to explore on their own as they get more comfy with Linux.
What impression do they get if the one time they need help, the forums and the IRC are in the middle of their all too regular time out parties? They fall back to me, which isn't an issue, unless they can't get hold of me.
When you're in a totally alien environment, something goes wrong and your anxiety levels multiply. Experienced Linux users don't have that same issue, we know there are other places to look for help, or to just leave it for a while and try later. The inexperienced could easily come to the conclusion that it was some amateur project that's now dead. They could easily get the impression that if the website can't cope with what it's designed for, how good is the OS? They could easily get the impression that Linux really is an amateurs game, and that switching back to Windows is the only proper OS option, even with the security and stability issues.
If you take the time to write a tutorial that addresses an issue, you want people to benefit from that tutorial right? I do screencasts with the motivation that some people who are searching for that knowledge find it, watch it and find it helps them. If the forum is down every day for hours at a time on a regular basis why would you post a tutorial here? The extension of that is would you spend your time writing it at all or do something else?
The biggest problem I see here is the deafening silence. When you have a passionate community of people, many of whom REALLY care about the project, and know the downtime is a running joke, they try to get it addressed. This used to be a long running issue which was eventually addressed by switching hosts I think. It has returned to the point where every day for a while now, for several hours at a time the forums either time out or give a MySQL4 error of too many connections. We have tried raising this in the forums and are met with a deafening silence from those in a position to address it. Nobody who can fix it has joined that thread to say "we hear you, we feel your frustration, let's figure out a way to fix this".http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=78744
I don't see any point in continuing as we are, I see a new approach is called for to get the point over. Any community project is dependent on the participation of it's community. Linux Mint is dependent on users helping each other, we are it's oxygen. It's time we used that to force the issue. I suggest we start to withdraw our individual oxygen supplies until these issues are addressed, or at the very least they've been acknowledged. I suggest the only topic we contribute to is the fixing of these issues. All other topics will be left unanswered, all threads or posts we'd usually help the moderators by reporting go unreported. The IRC help channel is left to fester etc.
We need to answer silence with silence.