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Open Letter Draft Guidelines

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General Guidelines for contributing to the Open Letter

(Please refactor mercilessly)

This isn't going to work if people treat this topic as a place to brain-dump. I can guarantee that a succinct 1-page letter will get read and widely circulated within Microsoft. A 2-page letter has less chance. Anything over 1000 words and it becomes another DOC attachment to be scanned, little noted, and immediately forgotten. I suggest we follow the outline in green above, and state in one sentence what is otherwise said in 10. Our target audience is a quick study, believe me... -- Steven Black
Clearly we need to establish some conventions and protocols for working on this page in an orderly and mutually agreeable fashion. Let's agree, for the time being, that the draft of the letter which you have initiated is now primarily in your hands, and other people shouldn't presume to disrupt this organization willy-nilly. That isn't to say that people shouldn't inject their comments and alternative ideas, just that these should be confined to brief, visibly distinguishable remarks above, or more lengthy side-discussions moved into the thread mode section below. This will allow us to preserve at least a semi-clean tentative draft above, while keeping the more chaotic stuff down below. - ?mda
Agreed. A suggestion, then. Let's agressively refactor this page, creating new pages, one or more for each main point of argument and discourse. Thus this "draft" would become, in the short term, a structured set of links to individual focused discussions. Thereafter, once the points mature, they can be succinctly brought back into this open letter topic for final review and commentary. How does that sound?-- Steven Black
Great, I think the way was found. -- Fernando Alvares
good - mda
Related Discussion Below

May I sugest that the upper part of this document be dedicated to the compilation of ideas (wich could be done by the ones that have the gift" of dealing with words (wich, obviously is not my case! but I would like to contribute anyway), and this lower part to the threaded discussion of ideas and comments ? -- Fernando Alvares
Steve, what you stated on the top of this page, in my point of view, is the exact representation of the truth. All the people that are writing their opinions, I am sure, are willing to express theirselves to give their best contribution to the accomplishment of the goal (that is the letter). Good will is essential to our communityís objectives, but not sufficient, we also need organization, and therefore we need the guidance from those that have experience. Letís all think, and suggest, ways of organizing this task, letís make a call (here is the call) to all that contributed to the topics that originated this one, and to all others that haven't made their contribution yet but, I am sure, can give relevant advice. Letís organize and then work. -Ė Fernando Alvares
When I posted the first few paragraphs in this page (which were excised), it wasn't my intention to present a draft of the letter to Microsoft. I was defining the problem whose objective is to produce such a letter, i.e. my audience was the people who are collaborating in this letter, not Microsoft. I think we had a bit of a misunderstanding as to which "problem" we were dealing with. Since Steven has taken the initiative to dive straight into drafting the letter, this moves us rapidly into phase 3, but I think we need to step back for a moment and look at what I had in mind for phases 1 and 2.

Um, the page title says: "A place for drafting an open letter to Microsoft about VFP marketing".... Yes, but by whom, and just how do we make this work as a collaborative effort. That's what I'm referring to as Phase 2. Where we plan out the points to be made and agree on the structure of the argument, not at the general level of problem ... implementation, but as a flow of specific points to be made in a very small amount of space. Again, I think we're getting a little ahead of ourselves on the drafting of the letter before getting the mandate from the 100K alleged users of VFP. If we can really muster the kind of support I think this community is capable of, the letter itself will be a piece of cake. - ?mda

Phase 1 is to elicit some show of interest within the broader VFP community, culminating in people's participation in a poll on the general question: would you consider signing such a letter to Microsoft, Yes or No. (This is a general question, not yet alluding to any specific draft, such as the very preliminary one under way on this page.) Phase 2 is to plan how we are going to produce this letter, i.e. to outline the arguments to be made and work out the mechanics of doing this collaboratively. Phase 3 is to produce the final draft, which would then be circulated to those who have indicated a willingness to consider signing. Phase 4 is to assemble the letter with the signatures of those who have accepted it and send it to Microsoft.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves here by neglecting phase 1, because the weight of this letter will be determined above all by the number of signatures that accompany it. I would propose that some notices be posted in the major newsgroups and UT (a la their WikiWatch) not only calling attention to the idea of an open letter to Microsoft, but making it easy for anyone to indicate their support or opposition to the general idea by responding to the thread, instead of requiring each of them to personally edit a wiki page. People should be able to simply respond, please put my name in the Yes or No list, and one of us could make sure their name gets added.

The point of phase 2 is to take the general mandate from phase 1 and iron out the details, review and resolve our differences, and come to some agreement about the shape of the argument that we are going to present to Microsoft. If we've really made inroads on phase 1, we should have more than enough willing and able participants to get this job done to our collective satisfaction. If we jump too quickly to phase 3 we risk turning people off with the impression that someone is trying to run the show without giving people a fair chance to participate.

By the way, anyone who is working on this page should certainly take the time to add their name to the Yes list on the Will Microsoft Market VFP page. Perhaps Will Microsoft Market VFP was a bit of a misnomer, since the thrust of my comments was to suggest that we write an open letter to Microsoft encouraging them to market, promote, and generally show a more wholehearted support of VFP. The function of page Will Microsoft Market VFP, whatever name we give it, should be to serve as a place where people can indicate their support or opposition to a general idea. That is not the same as asking for their endorsement of this particular draft of the letter, which would clearly be premature. - ?mda

Re the letter: the recommendation *has* to be supported by structured reasoning on why it is good for MS, not for us. MS's only job is to improve returns for shareholders. If marginalising and dumping VFP would make another million bucks, it is their job to do it. In business terms they don't owe us anything. So, our job is to *prove* why it is better for MS to do what we want them to, in terms of their bottom line.
According to CB, Bill Gates already knows of our concerns. so it's no good just telling him again. We need to tell him how to improve his position by doing as we say.
Any "recommendation" not supported by such logic, will generate hand wringing and earnest responses from MS participants in UT and the like, but not what we are asking for.
Perhaps we need to decide what it is we actually want?
I know what I want. I want MS to deal with Gartner Group and the like who for the last 5 years have issued warnings about VFP that I have had to rebut myself when clients saw it. I want MS to visibly challenge such assertions- not in VFPAdvisor or UT but in the same forums where clients might actually find it, also to provide a formatted document on their website where we can direct potential clients- a page that does not say "VB is great and VFP is quite good too" but describes MS's positioning of the product and gives examples. This document would be for Mr Manager, not for me and should be structured accordingly. - John Ryan
Right on the bull's eye, John Ryan! ("I know what I want ...") -- Fernando Alvares
excellent, John, and I hope you didn't miss my killer idea in Open Letter Recommendations Section. - ?mda

In addition to the final letter, a direct url link to a 'tidy', structured discussion on the subject may be of interest to the members of MS who would like further information.

This would give them a more in depth coverage of the comments, arguments and general hoo-haa generated by this topic. It would also present a more ordered list of participants instead of a single page letter and 400 sheets of printed signatures (BIG envelope)


See Also:

Open Letter Bogus Counter Arguments
Open Letter This Could Be AWaste Of Time
Open Letter Stuff Thats Probably Too Far Out There To Pursue

Open Letter Problem Statement Section
Open Letter Factors To Consider Section
Open Letter Options Section
Open Letter Recommendations Section
Open Letter Implementation Section
Category Open Letter To Microsoft
( Topic last updated: 2007.05.02 06:53:21 AM )