[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next]
[Date Index] [Thread Index] [New search]

Re: "New Framers" <framers@omsys.com>

At 5:09 AM -0700 25/9/98, Dan Emory wrote:

I'd have to agree with most of that.  I read very little of the traffic
these days (granted, there are other reasons, like the arrival of twins
last year that killed a lot of "spare time").  I find the PDF questions
tiring, I resent people not reading the manual and wasting others time
because they're lazy, and there is a low level of challenging problems.
And people who post are, as you indicate, not good about providing clear
complete explanations of their problem, attempted solutions, etc.  Often
they don't even give the platform and version, which may be critical.  All
in all it has not been an inspiring list to be on of late.

I don't have any objection to people posting questions that an expert
wouldn't need to ask - after all, the list is to help them (and us), and
there are corporate users, like me, who don't have access to a manual
unless we buy it ourselves (Nortel has 23,000 such users without manuals!).
Some of the things about getting TOCs, indicies and autonumbering to work
right is difficult for the newcomer, and I don't want to belittle them for
that.  But I'll only answer those posts if I have time, which these days
mostly I don't.  What I miss on the list are the really clever solutions to
difficult problems of the kind that Wim van Gijsel at Philips used to post.
And like you, I read Conrad's posts no matter what the subject line - he's
always worth reading.  I don't know if maybe we're dreaming thinking that
we can raise the quality level to that lofty height, and get rid of all of
the dross, but we can improve it for sure.

The content of the list is certainly not Brad's fault (although he could
nudge people in the right direction if he had any skills as a diplomat),
but it does bolster our case for making a new list.  And I think you're
right that he'll go to war over it, which strikes me as odd because my
impression is that a lot of the problems with the technical aspects of the
list are because he doesn't have the time or interest to maintain it.  I
think we could expect almost anything from him, but he'll have to tread
carefully in order not to look like a twit - we've been on this list longer
than he has and are certainly battle hardened framers.

However, in order to maintain the upper hand in this venture, we have to
not only keep the *appearance* of integrity, but we have to act that way
too.  For this reason I'd want to stay away from the "If Brad Goes to War"
recommendation number 4.  It would not look good on us if it was ever
suspected or revealed that we were filling his list with dross (and because
we'd have to recruit people to do it, people will know, and we don't know
who would talk).  I think that's way too risky - sort of like unzipping
your pants the first day in the oval office ;-)  Not to mention that it's
the kind of thing I'd expect Microsoft to do, and I'd like to keep my hands
clean.  There's plenty of natural dross on that list and I'd say that we
need to focus on the quality of our submissions and let his list continue
to generate its own.  We can be successful without resorting to sabotage.
I think the scenario that you describe in which the heavy hitters leave and
the list sinks into oblivion is quite likely to happen.  It would be best
if we achieve that by operating totally above board.

So how long do you think we should wait before a public announcement on
that list about this one?  Does it depend on the success of our recruiting
efforts?  At some point we have to make it known, otherwise someone may
announce it for us, but with a negative spin (say if Brad trashed us
publicly himself).  I'm going to try to have my campaign letter out by the
first of the week.  What time-frame are you two working toward?


>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
>** To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@omsys.com **
>** with "unsubscribe framers" (no quotes) in the body.   **

** To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@omsys.com **
** with "unsubscribe framers" (no quotes) in the body.   **