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To: "New Framers" <framers@omsys.com>
From: Dan Emory <danemory@primenet.com>
Subject: Re: Rebellion Brewing
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I want to strategize a bit. At this point, my guess is that, when Brad is
confronted, or discovers the existence of the competing list, he'll go to
war. In that case, as the word gets out about the new venture, many will
react by subscribing to the new list while retaining their subscription to
Brad's. That will give them time to evaluate the quality and volume of
traffic on each list until they decide which one is the more valuable, at
which point they'll probably begin thinking about unsubscribing from the
other, just to cut down the sheer volume of email.

We need to do a market analysis.


The Dross:
The traffic in the first four categories below, accounting for about 80% of
the total, is the dross that most of us wish wasn't there:

1. Alot of it is redundant (e.g., "Why are my graphics blurry in PDF?", or
"What software do you recommend for capturing screenshots?"). This category
accounts for about 20% of the total. I don't hesitate to say that most
recipients instantly delete all posts in this category.

2. Alot of it wouldn't have been posted if the sender had first RFM (read
the f...ing manual). I'd say this type accounts for perhaps another 20% of
the traffic. Again, this type of traffic is irritating to most, and it also
gets deleted with little or no inclination to help out.

3. Much of it is extremely specific to a particular (relatively minor)
problem. The poster fails to pull up to a higher level, look down at the
problem, and state declaratively and concisely what the nature of the
problem is. Instead, he/she provides a specific example, describes what they
want to happen in that particular instance, and concludes with "What am I
doing wrong?"  One type in this category that occurs frequently is the where
the example shows a list of headings, and something isn't getting numbered
right, or doesn't show up in the TOC, etc. I estimate this type of post
accounts for another 20% of the traffic. We usually delete these as soon as
we sense, without trying to fully understand the problem, that it's probably
trivial, could be caused by any one of several obvious mistakes, and isn't
worth the time it would take to analyze the example.

4. All Sorts of Marginal Stuff. This accounts for another 20% of the
traffic. If we have time to burn, we may read them at least partially,
looking for the rare nugget, otherwise we delete them. After awhile, we
recognize the names of subscribers whose posts are almost always in this
category. We delete posts from those people without reading them, unless the
subject whets our interest.
The Quality Stuff
The categories below, accounting for the remaining 20% of the traffic, are
at least worth reading. One or two a day might be worth saving, at least
temporarily, and perhaps another 3 or 4 a week might be worth responding to.

5. Interesting Problems. The sender gives a good description of the problem,
identifies the platform/software versions used, and describes the things
they've tried (unsuccessfully) to solve it. A quick read indicates that it
may be challenging, and, if we don't know the solution, look forward to
someone offering a solution or workaround. If we know the solution, we're
likely to post a response. 

6. A solution or workaround for an interesting problem.

7. A report of something that is, or smells like, a bug. If we've
experienced the same bug, we'll post a response. If we haven't, we'll watch
carefully to see if others confirm the same problem.

8. News/rumors about Adobe and FrameMaker.

9. Descriptions of resources or products that might be useful, particularly
when the poster indicates how to obtain what is being described.

10. Job postings.

11. Discussions about needed enhancements to FrameMaker.

12. Discourses on worthwhile subjects (Conrad Taylor is my favorite
contributor in this category).

13. Anything else that's unusual and well-written.


We enforce Gresham's Law (modified to state that bad posts drive out the
good ones) on Brad's list. Here's how we do it:

1. Since many people who subscribe to the new list will retain their
subscription to Brad"s list, we need to discourage all new subscribers from
posting to both lists. Nothing will irritate people more than receipt of
multiple identical messages, and multiple identical responses to those
original messages. If that happens, they'll get mad and unsubscribe to the
new list even before they give it a chance.

2. Notice that the receipient of this message is specified to be "New
Framers". Since many will, initially at least, subscribe to both lists, we
need to distinctively mark each distributed message so that even a casual
glance will indicate that the message did not come from Brad's list. If they
can't easily distinguish between the two lists, they won't be eable to
perceive differences in the quality of the postings. 

3. Get as many heavy hitters (the source of most of the quality posts) as
possible to subscribe to our new list.. Whenever they post something good
exclusively to our list, we make sure they get at least a couple of
responses (posted to the entire list) praising their good work. I've noted
that this rarely occurs on Brad's list, yet nothing works better than ego
massage. Even if the heavy hitters continue to post to Brad's list also, the
percentage of quality traffic on our list will be much higher, because,
initially, heavy hitters will be a much higher percentage of our subscribers.

4. We create a cabal of 10-15 people who are willing (for a few months at
least) to produce and post, only to Brad's list, one or two innocuous
responses per day to dross posts on Brad's list. Dross responses to dross
posts = 2 x dross. 

5. Encourage the heavy hitters to increase the volume (on our list only) of
posts in the quality categories. We could even suggest subjects or themes
for these individuals to work on.

The effect of these steps (I'm sure you guys can think of more) will be to
substantially increase the percentage of low-quality traffic on Brad's list,
while our list, from the outset, will have a much higher percentage of
quality traffic. As Brad's subscribers see the quality drop, they'll
unsubscribe. It will be the heavy hitters who drop off first, further
increasing the dross percentage on Brad's list. Without the heavy hitters,
Brad will have nothing left but people asking for help, and no one to give
it to them. When those needy ones don't get any help, they'll unsubscribe too.


Dan Emory
Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design
and Database Publishing Specialists

Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971
E-Mail: danemory@primenet.com
10044 Adams Ave. #208
Huntington Beach, CA 92646

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