RE: in search for better tools

Subject: RE: in search for better tools
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: <sharon -at- anthrobytes -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 Dec 2009 12:00:25 -0700

Sharon Burton wrote:

> Then you as the help author should make sure you don't violate any
local
> laws when you install and configure Feedback. Perhaps you should even
think
> about letting your users know that you are doing this. I would imagine
that
> you should be aware of any contractual obligations you may be under.
>
> Many companies use Feedback and find it useful. I suppose they are
> compliant
> with whatever local laws may be in effect and perhaps they let their
users
> know about Feedback and what it's doing. Really, it's up to the people
who
> purchase it and install it and configure it to use it in compliance
with
> whatever laws or contracts they may be under.
>
> If you don't like the product, then don't use it. If it doesn't meet
your
> needs or upsets you in some way, then don't purchase it. It may not be
the
> right tool for everyone, just as all tools may not meet everyone's
needs.
>
> Without Feedback and the Feedback extensions enabled in Flare, Flare
help
> systems do no reporting to anyone. I wanted to clarify that
distinction.
>
> For an example of the sort of data that all web servers collect and
report,
> go to http://www.anthrobytes.com/webstat/usage_200911.html. Yes, we
can see
> IP addresses but it helps us not at all to find out who or what
computer
> went to my website. I can see that 3 people searched for "rabbit
scribe" to
> get to my website but I have no idea who did that. My web hosting
company
> uses Webalizer for this reporting.

I'll try to say this as politely as I can. The comparison you repeatedly
make between what Feedback does and what a web server does is simply not
valid.

A web server collects information about _visitors to it_. When I point
my browser to www.example.com, I am (or should be) aware that I'm
necessarily communicating with -- sending information to -- the server
hosting that web page, and that server will retain some of that
information.

When I open the help file for an application installed _on my PC_, I
_don't_ expect that help file to send information to a server chosen by
the help file's creator without my knowledge and consent. It's unethical
and in some cases illegal for the help file's creator to configure it to
do that.

The difference is analogous to this: If I visit your home or office,
you're free to make notes about when I arrived, what rooms I entered,
etc. -- even take my picture -- without asking my permission. (If it's a
business, there may well be a sign-in book and a "video surveillance"
notice at the entrance so I know to stay out if I object.)

You're not free to come to my house, peek through the windows, and
gather similar information without my permission.

Claiming that what Feedback does is no different from web server
behavior will likely mislead some help file creators and the software
companies for whom they work into believing there's no ethical problem
when there most certainly is. So Madcap is not only facilitating this
unethical behavior, it's encouraging it.


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
303-223-5111
------
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom
303-777-0436
------






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Follow-Ups:

References:
in search for better tools: From: GILLIOTTE Valérie
RE: in search for better tools: From: Combs, Richard
RE: in search for better tools: From: GILLIOTTE Valérie
Re: in search for better tools: From: Robert Lauriston
RE: in search for better tools: From: GILLIOTTE Valérie
RE: in search for better tools: From: Combs, Richard
Re: in search for better tools: From: Robert Lauriston
Re: in search for better tools: From: beelia
Re: in search for better tools: From: Robert Lauriston
RE: in search for better tools: From: Sharon Burton
Re: in search for better tools: From: Robert Lauriston
RE: in search for better tools: From: Sharon Burton

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