RE: Surreptitious reporting...

Subject: RE: Surreptitious reporting...
From: "Gilbert, Brian" <BGILBER -at- transunion -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2009 10:38:33 -0500

I normally don't get involved in these discussions, mainly because I
don't have enough time to edit what I'm writing to the groups (and
therefore invariably get something wrong and anger many people)...

Qualifier:
We do not use this feature from MadCap (or RoboHelp which also has a
similar feature, so let's not just pick on MadCap). 99% of our help is
for internal employees. So I don't think that there's the same
right-to-privacy issue that some have mentioned. That said, I do wish we
had this feature. I would love to improve the usability, keywords,
searches, etc.

What is the information that is collected? Are they collecting your
browsing history? No, but others do that on the Web all the time. Are
they collecting personal information (bank accounts, IP addresses,
number of children, what you had for breakfast)? No. What characters did
you type into the search or index? Yes. What topics are being accessed?
Yes. Do I know who misspelled something in the search? No. Can I prove
what is actually collected? Yes.

A quick question to those complaining about data collection...did you
read the software agreement before you installed the software? (It's
amazing what some people agree to without reading, myself included). I'm
not sure that this specifically is mentioned in the EULA (my eyes start
to glaze after the first 4 of 5,000 paragraphs), but I wouldn't be
surprised that there is a sentence that allows this.

I think that it would be nice to have a check box to opt-in or out of
providing feedback for commercial software, but if Intuit or Microsoft
or Adobe or ... can improve the content of their documentation
(especially now that there isn't a manual being shipped), I have no
problem assisting as long as I don't have to actively do something.



-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+bgilber=transunion -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+bgilber=transunion -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
Behalf Of David Neeley
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 8:33 AM
To: TECHWR-L
Subject: Surreptitious reporting...

I'm afraid I must side with the majority on this one. With all the
security problems out there, if ANY application was trying to collect
any data without my express knowledge and permission, I would wonder
what else it might be collecting despite the protestations of the
vendor.

While my firewall would catch it, the vendor would also catch my demand
for a refund and, quite possibly, a lawsuit and more probably an FTC
complaint.

Personally, I want to know and agree any time an application wants to
send data anywhere. Companies like Microsoft love this sort of thing,
yet their track record for security is abysmal--to take just one
example. Their "security center" complains about a "possible security
issue" every time I boot into Windows simply because I will not enable
automatic updates--yet they themselves are a major source of problems
with gaping security holes like Active X, to give just one example.

If you work with a large organization, ask your IT security folks what
they think about a piece of software that is set to send data about use
to the vendor without the knowledge or assent of the company. I suspect
you have better than even chances they will be adverse to the idea.

Even if the intent of the software was benign, it is so outrageous on
its face (from the customer's perspective) that I would seriously
question the judgment of the company and its product managers who has
pushed this.

I cannot see any reason at all why it should not be totally voluntary on
an opt-in basis after being fully disclosed to the customer.

MadCap's part of all this lies in enabling it in any way that may not
require such advance disclosure and permission.

However, remember it isn't MadCap's liability so much as it is any
company's who produces online help using this tool and sells it into the
marketplace.

David
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.
http://www.doctohelp.com/SuperPages/Webcasts/

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual authors
and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write once, publish
to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!
http://www.helpandmanual.com/

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.
http://www.doctohelp.com/SuperPages/Webcasts/

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control! http://www.helpandmanual.com/

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Surreptitious reporting...: From: David Neeley

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