Actually, I didn't think the observations about the Aquabrowser mailing
list were snarky, and I think the comments were interesting and
list-appropriate. It's great that Aquabrowser will have a community
list--that will only help its users/implementors/customers. But once a
mailing list is closed to licensed users, you have then defined one of
the limitations of proprietary software and a strategic advantage of
open source. (Though a limitation that a proprietary-software vendor can
easily finesse, as described below.)
Some of the reasons for limiting the list do not hold water. In an NDA
environment, few people will get granular and frank on an "internal"
list, for the same reason that if they have privacy concerns they won't
post to a closed list: there's no such thing as private email. If you're
in the witness protection program, do not, I repeat do NOT post to the
Aquabrowser internal list. I don't even believe that this list could
offer enough discretion to warrant posts that the posters want to keep
moderately private. If I were contemplating a move from Vendor X, or had
serious issues I didn't want Vendor X to know about, I would do what
lawyers recommend, and which I have put into practice, which is not
write what I can share by phone, not share by phone what I can share
face-to-face, and not say what I can convey with a gesture. (With some
vendors that gesture might be NSFW, but I digress...) Is there anyone
among us who has never seen an email message go where it was not
intended to wander?
As for winnowing the cruft, yes, that is the value of lists, but Edward,
despite other sound observations, has it a wee backwards. Lists for Koha
and Evergreen, and for that matter all open source projects I know of,
big and small, are open to anyone and are self-policing with respect to
topic discipline. It is the subscriber, not a list manager, who decides
if he or she wishes to participate (passively or actively) in list
communications. The lists may have very active participation from
vendors, but the Koha and Evergreen lists are not vendor-driven (and the
communities wouldn't let them get away with that anyway).
The *advantages* to having an open list are worth considering for their
strategic value not only to a software community but also to the
vendors. First, you remove any confusion about the list's "privacy."
Things that should not be shared by email, will not be shared by email.
Second, you open the list to potential users/customers. I think some
vendors fear their underwear showing, but if you've got a good product
people understand it will have issues, and happy users, even when they
are discussing a product's issues, are the software's best salespeople.
The community itself can also be as broad as it needs to be.
These days, a growing number of companies have very intentional
strategies for transparency and openness. The Aquabrowser mailing list
is a very welcome addition to the world of library communications, and
it will help make a good product better. I am not losing any sleep over
the decision to keep this list closed... I don't use the product, and in
the end, I don't care that much. That said, it's my professional
assessment that closing this list to licensed subscribers is a strategic
Karen G. Schneider
On Tue, 27 Oct 2009 09:03 +0000, "Chris Keene" <[log in to unmask]>
> I just want to backup Edward's comments.
> I'm happy to discuss just about anything openly, though it is useful to
> have product specific lists, and yes at times useful to know that
> certain vendors or third party salesmen are not going to contact you as
> a result of posting.
> Aquabrowser has many good points, but has lacked any sort of community,
> add to this the very limited documentation - which could lead to
> confusion as to what is a feature and what is a bespoke addition that
> another site has commissioned/developed. I even tried asking on the
> Aquabrowser Facebook fan page discussion board - its only post!
> This mailing list is a very welcome addition.
> On 22/10/2009 15:45, Edward M. Corrado wrote:
> > I don't see this as an interesting difference at all. Almost all
> > [larger] vendor-supplied products in the library world have their own
> > discussion lists that are limited to people that use/license their
> > products. We even see this with Open Source products such as Koha.
> > Although I do not use AquaBrowser, unlike almost all other library
> > specific-software of this magnitude I understand that AquaBrowser does
> > not have a user group (formal or informal). There currently is very few
> > ways (no way?) for users of this product to converse with each other and
> > share ideas.
> > There are numerous reasons for wanting to share information on a closed
> > list that can range from not wanting to spam a larger community with a
> > "how do activate a widget in product A" to asking questions/sharing
> > information that for whatever reason you don't want to or can't share
> > with the whole world (e.g. non-disclosure agreements, public relations
> > concerns, privacy concerns, not wanting your name in open archives
> > attached to something, etc.). In fact, in some cases you may not even
> > want the vendor on the list the way some Voyager systems administrators
> > created a list that excluded Endeavor (and now Ex Libris) and
> > non-systems people at Voyager sites. This made people feel much more
> > comfortable asking questions that maybe they would otherwise be
> > embarrassed or reluctant to ask.
> Chris Keene [log in to unmask]
> Technical Development Manager Tel (01273) 877950
> University of Sussex Library