Re: what's best for citeline support?

From: Richard Rodgers <rrodgers_at_MIT.EDU>
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2008 17:36:16 -0400

Hey Stefano:

I certainly agree that the link to citeline-lib was predicated on a
'closed' or in-house service model that doesn't now apply. The only
other way to go would be to have 2 servers, each with it's own help link
so MIT users would have a 'preferred' help line, and the public citeline
would be configured as you suggest in order to build a support
community. But administering 2 is twice the pain....


On Mon, 2008-08-25 at 10:40 -0700, Stefano Mazzocchi wrote:
> NOTE: this is address to all the people subscribed to this list.... if
> you have comments/opinions/suggestions, please, let yourself be heard.
> Thanks.
> - o -
> By now, a lot of you are probably nervous about the flow of help
> requests about Citeline coming to this mailing lists from people that
> are not affiliated with MIT.
> Even more, you are probably nervous about the fact that the problems
> they seem to be having are due to bugs and/or system imperfections,
> other than user misunderstandings or difficulty in use of the tool,
> which leaves you mostly helpless and just waiting for somebody (well,
> me, since I'm the only one left working on citeline).
> I've already observed several reactions about this and proposals on how
> to fix this situation, here is a list:
> 1) shut the system down entirely until we fix all the bugs
> 2) shut the system down for non-MIT users
> 3) have two different instances one for MIT users (with a link to this
> list) and one for non-MIT uses with no support
> I think all of these options might reduce the nervousness perceived
> around Citeline but only at the expense of reducing its impact and
> usefulness.
> I have strongly advised for the system to be made available to the
> general public and to remain open as long as we can afford to keep it up
> (and it is safe/ for the libraries to do so).
> The reason for this are multiple:
> a) during beta testing, we need the most users as possible as to
> differentiate their behavior, data, skills, requirements and
> expectation... this will help us get more feedback and more feedback
> equals more polishness. This will make the system more solid and more
> appealing to internal users once/if they get to adopt it.
> b) internal usage will only be positively influenced by external usage:
> MIT faculty and students are ego-driven beings... envy will play a major
> role if they see some other professor in another institution using an
> MIT tool to make their web pages cooler and they are still in the ugly
> and static HTML table stone-age with their own.
> Unfortunately, the idea of having a one-way mailing list where people
> broadcast their questions and get answered by a pool of helpers is *NOT*
> the best model for this kind of situation.
> First, because people send their answers but don't subscribe to the mail
> list traffic, meaning that they have no idea (and no way to know) if
> their question has been answered before.
> Second, and most important, because of the point above, there is no
> 'community of users' forming, there is no mutual help, there is way for
> such support system to grow along with the size of the community of users.
> Which brings me to the following suggestion:
> a) the link from citeline's page to should be removed
> b) that link should be replaced with a link to a citeline support
> Google group
> c) people will be forced to subscribe in order to be able to receive help.
> This might reduce usage (people with problems will not bother to
> subscribe and just walk away), but it is the first step in the creation
> of a community of users that can help each other out.
> Moreover, all the email messages are archived, meaning that search for
> their questions before sending them and watch existing threads. Such
> threads will also be available in google directly.
> In the future, would this support group not be sufficient for MIT
> people, the mail list might be resurrected and
> linked back from citeline, maybe reacting on MIT certificates to
> distinguish between insiders from outsiders, but I would strongly
> advocate that this should be used as a measure of last resort and not as
> a way to avoid spending the effort to build a truly diverse support
> group for Citeline.
> thoughts?
Received on Mon Aug 25 2008 - 17:36:16 EDT

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