Re: what's best for citeline support?

From: Stefano Mazzocchi <stefanom_at_MIT.EDU>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 10:08:34 -0400

Richard Rodgers wrote:
> 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....

yeah, 2 systems is twice the pain and half the reliability focus. It's
certainly doable (and also automate the upgrade of the two systems at
the same time), but like I said before, I would continue to focus on
enlarging a self-sustaining community of users before moving on to
differentiation strategies.

> Richard
> 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?

Stefano Mazzocchi
Digital Libraries Research Group                 Research Scientist
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
E25-131, 77 Massachusetts Ave               skype: stefanomazzocchi
Cambridge, MA  02139-4307, USA         email: stefanom at mit . edu
Received on Wed Aug 27 2008 - 10:08:34 EDT

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