RE: Surreptitious reporting...

Subject: RE: Surreptitious reporting...
From: "Sharon Burton" <sharon -at- anthrobytes -dot- com>
To: "'John Garison'" <john -at- garisons -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2009 19:00:14 -0700

John, you just went on the "I'm giving you a kiss the next time I see you"
list. Or a beer, your choice. I believe we've drunk together before and I'd
be honored to do it again. In heels and a short skirt, again.

Yes, at its basic, this is exactly what Feedback is doing. Every web server
in the world collects this information. It's not personal info - no one can
see what you, Joe from Tulsa did, but the web server people can see an
aggregate of what people did today/whatever time frame.

If that violates EU law, I leave that to the lawyers. Perhaps people in the
EU should just put the 'Net down now because *all* servers track this info.

There are other things that Feedback can do, if you decide to let it do
them. Should you tell your users you're doing them? Perhaps. If you wish.
It's sort of up to you and what you think you should do and what you think
you want to tell your users.

If you wish to implement the Web 2.0 features, then leaving comments for
other people to see, for example, requires you to identify yourself as an
action. If you wish to just let people rate the info, I don?t think they are
identified but I could be wrong. If you wish to allow people to comment but
those comments are never seen by anyone but those you specify, then I
*think* your user has to identify him/her selves.

No one is making you purchase and implement all the features of Feedback. If
you wish to use it, then you should decide what and how to implement the
features you wish to use.

But I repeat for the 100th time today, MadCap is not tracking what your
users are doing and then laughing at how silly they are. The only people who
have access to Feedback server and the information is you and those you
authorize. There is no "phone home" feature, in that Feedback is reporting
back to MadCap what your users are doing. MadCap seriously doesn't care what
your users are doing with your products.

Dear god. 11 hours after I discovered my inbox exploded... I have a terrible


Sharon Burton
MadCap Software Product Consultant
Managing your content, one topic at a time
IM: sharonvburton -at- yahoo -dot- com
Twitter: sharonburton

-----Original Message-----
From: John Garison [mailto:john -at- garisons -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 6:07 PM
To: sharon -at- anthrobytes -dot- com
Cc: 'David Neeley'; 'TECHWR-L'
Subject: Re: Surreptitious reporting...

I used to be the web master for a major hospital website. If there is
anything that is protected more than health care data these days, it
must be under the auspices of a three letter acronym government agency.

We used Google Analytics to track and analyze data on our web servers.
We could see how many users had Firefox, IE 6, Opera, etc. and what OS
they used. We could tell, for each page on our server, where users came
from, where they went afterwards. what search terms they typed in to get
to a page, how many pages they visited, and how long they stayed on each
page. And more.

Is this invasion of privacy or website usage? It's website usage. I
could in no way tell who visited the prostate cancer page, but I could
tell how many people did and how long they stayed there and, with some
study and analysis, determine which of the two dozen prostate
cancer-related web pages they visited - and didn't visit.

Does this invade anyone's privacy? no. Does it provide a valuable
analytical tool to someone developing web sites,? You bet. Is any data
transmitted to anyplace other that the server that serves up the
specific pages? No.

From what Sharon is saying - and full disclosure here, I know Sharon
and have known her for many years, and have a great deal of respect for
her personal integrity, but I haven't used her products - what they
capture is NO different from what anyone running a web server captures
about the traffic on their web site.

The information is - I trust, SB please correct me if I'm wrong - only
available to the people who administer the server. It's not available to
Madcap, only to the people who administer the server that runs the help
system. The information doesn't actually go anywhere - it stays on the
server where it is captured. And it doesn't tell anyone anything about
what a specific person did. It only tracks and remembers that someone
came into the site on page x, went to page y, searched for term "foo",
etc. And none of this information ever leaves the server that they
accessed. It just sits around in case someone in the web site admin team
decides to run a report to look and see what pages got looked at and
what ones didn't.

My 2¢,

John G

Sharon Burton said the following on 9/25/2009 1:25 PM:
> See below.


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.

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!

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Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:

Surreptitious reporting...: From: David Neeley
RE: Surreptitious reporting...: From: Sharon Burton
Re: Surreptitious reporting...: From: David Neeley
RE: Surreptitious reporting...: From: Sharon Burton
Re: Surreptitious reporting...: From: John Garison

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