Last week saw a rather intense discussion take place on  Jake Howlett posted an entry entitled "Having a stab at Domino", which linked to Andrew Tetlaw's perspective on Domino.  Jake then prompted readers to have their say, writing:

Come on guys, don't be afraid to speak your mind.
A long discussion thread ensued, talking about how IBM has neglected Domino Designer.  Defensively, I jumped in a few times to point out from the inside why I didn't quite think IBM was in for the drubbing handed out.

You can read all that for yourself, of course.  But Jake's followup, "Why I am still a Domino developer",   has been on my mind during vacation the last few days.  He wrote:
It wasn't me having a go, but it's obvious that is what I'm best known for doing....  Sure, I might rubbish Domino every now and then, but remember all the good I've done too, before you decide to hate me. Remember, this site is not just a blog.

Never having wanted to come across as a whinging pom I've made a concerted effort recently to tone it down a little, which I think has been working. How many times have I had a stab at Domino over the past few months? This change is not only to alter your perception of me, but also because I've realised it's a complete waste of time picking out the myriad faults in Domino's web engine.
I'm not sure it's a waste of time.  As acknowledged in the comments on the first thread, it was Bernard Devlin's complaints that prompted Alan Lepofsky and me to go after the Lotus web team about how Domino Designer was described and categorized on the Lotus website.  Other bloggers and their postings have affected product code, bug fix priority, security questions, and more about core Lotus products.  The reason the 25+ IBMers listed on my blogroll engage in the blogosphere is to help make the marketplace a better place for these products, which means we have to listen as well as write.

But Jake is correct that my perception of has been fairly negative.  It seemed like every time I looked, the content was "having a stab"-- so I stopped reading.  As much as I want to know what others think about my product, I have limited bandwidth like everyone else.  I clearly don't always want to read "happy talk" -- discussions that have taken place on other sites clearly show that I'm willing to take the lumps, too.  But a constantly negative tone didn't suit me.

Carl Tyler caught one point in Jake's explanation and amplified it:
It's important to remember Jake is British and us Brits are a funny old lot, If you listen to us on the news, you could hear that World Peace was declared, but the British journalist can still come out with something like "Well world peace is all well and good, but it doesn't help the millions who died in the process", in other words, you can be riding high and we can still find something to bring you down in a split second, no idea why we do this, but we do.
As hard as I try to master international business, I had lost sight of a cultural difference that I have definitely experienced over the years.  In 1999, on my first visit to the Lotus office in Staines, I spent a couple of hours being absolutely pummeled by colleagues when explaining a new product plan.  It was the worst internal meeting I had ever presided over (other than the time that the chief executive fell asleep, but anyway).  At the conclusion of the bloodbath, I was asked, "Are you going down to the pub with us?"  As an American, this was a tough lesson.  The rough ride was professional, not personal, and we were all mates at the end of the day.  More importantly, my British colleagues didn't hate the message that day, they just didn't like some bits of it, and they weren't afraid to say so.

Thus to summarize, Jake, Carl, Andrew -- ultimately we are all on the same side of wanting the product to do/be its best -- these are not "malice" postings like the Notes sucks site or whatever.  A good reminder.

There's another important discussion out of the postings on Jake's site, about the future for Domino developers, but I'll save that for the next long-distance train ride of the week (tomorrow, THALYS from Köln to Paris).

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