Reference entry clearance procedure
A cookbook, subject to discussion and improvements
In order to enforce our policy regarding entries at the TracUsers page, here are some recipes to follow as a general rule. Having an clearly outlined process is certainly good for forming common principles, standards for the collaborative clearance work and keep the process explicitly open for review and discussion of improvements as needed.
Not much to say here. We just follow a link, if provided, or try to find the corresponding site by other means and look for a public Trac there or at least an explicit reference to one.
If the previous step fails, but we've found an inquiry web form or at least an appropriate email address, we'll send out a formal inquiry. We want to send just one inquiry to keep the overall process time per entry low, so we better try hard to make sure it reaches the recipient at least, right? That's why I personally prefer web forms to avoid possible email loss by false SPAM filtering at recipients site.
Here are some samples, that I use extensively, with slight modification as I see the need for it.
subject: Inquiry regarding Trac usage update Dear Sir or Madam, According to http://trac.edgewall.org/wiki/TracUsers you've declared, that you used Trac software in the past, or that someone else did so on your behalf. Since there is no public Trac according to my research and I can't find other evidence for Trac usage at the current website, I kindly request that you let me know your current Trac usage, at least whether you use it internally. Further information/short usage summary would be greatly appreciated. Please note, this is purely for reference, no commercial interests from my/our side. You don't need to declare anything, but I'll consider deleting the entry in question after 10 days without feedback from you. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, <sender signature>
Localized versions: German
Betreff: Anfrage zur (internen) Verwendung von Trac Werte Damen und Herren, auf http://trac.edgewall.org/wiki/TracUsers wurde durch Sie oder andere ein Referenzeintrag für Ihre Firma angelegt. Es wäre sehr hilfreich für meine Überprüfung, wenn Sie mir kurz rückmelden, ob Sie Trac (noch) intern einsetzen, weil dies aus Ihrer Internet-Präsenz nicht hervorgeht. Sie haben keinerlei Verpflichtungen, so wie ich keine wirtschaftlichen Interessen verfolge. Ich erlaube mir allerdings die Freigabe zur Löschung des fraglichen Eintrags, wenn sich binnen 10 Tagen niemand dazu äußert. Vielen Dank im voraus für jede mögliche Aufklärung in dieser Sache. Mit freundlichem Gruß <Signatur des Absenders>
Common inquiry additions
- if contact is questionable (i.e. there are several possible contacts, and we send on inquiry to each one or at least to the most likely one)
In your case a clearer reference would be appreciated too, since your company's name is not unique at a worldwide scale.
German versionIn Ihrem Fall wäre ggf. noch eine Präzisierung des Eintrags sinnvoll, so er wirklich Ihr Unternehmen betrifft.
After sending at least one inquiry, we move the entry to the section 'Undecided, inquiry pending' and append a note regarding the end of the minimal response time to it:
(without feedback to be deleted after <date = today + 10d>)
Act on feedback, final cleanup
Wait for the feedback and act accordingly. Forwarding replies to a dedicated thread at the MailingList is good for even more transparency and later reference. Finally after a reasonable time without response let a second person remove pending-overdue entries, again reducing the chance that someone could act too fast, less careful or what ever…
Discussion - Ideas about future policy
Originally, TracUsers had been free for all, like any other normal wiki page. Over the time, this has lead to abuses and we reacted by turning on the read-only mode for that page.
As we recently switched to writable again, I can only witness that a good part of the new edits (other than from the caretakers) are blatantly ignoring our guidelines, and put a link to their (commercial) website. By doing so, we have no idea if they're really using Trac or just using this page as a way to generate some traffic on their site…
Well right, I tend to initially assume the best, but sometimes it's just a bit too straight facing the current disclaimer. Maybe we'll experiment a little with it's position (more up-front), but this might not be enough.
At this point, I'm not sure if they just willingly ignore the guidelines or they simply copy/paste from other examples, those we have left unreviewed and which contain links. So the first move is to "sanitize" those links, removing them if they're stale, moving the Trac instances in a group so that we can later categorize them in the table at the top, and finally unwikify links targeting non-Trac sites (not removing them so that we can still try to get in touch like explained in the first part of this page).
Good idea. Still personally I'll focus on sending out inquires, since this is really time-consuming and it doesn't leave me with much room for other tasks aside. But maybe I'll change from straight-up-to-down mode to picking up entries with URL first, to help guaranteeing and removing the 'bad examples' faster.
I know, that the review process outlined above is slow, but I feel the need to treat each entry respectful, so that I'll have no doubt for any removal and aim at zero false deletions. According to my own research many entries on TracUsers appear as result in prominent internet search engines right at their first page, even if there are lots of other matches. So careful maintenance here will turn into even raised respect and value for the validated entries. Did I mention that I value each and every Trac application manager and user? I really do and I'd like to see it as a general behavior. I believe, that being polite will pay-off later.
If after that the situation don't improve, I would suggest that we turn the read-only flag on again, and suggest people to send us an entry via MailingList.
Leave this as a last resort, please. This would sort of contradict our statements about the power of wikis, right? We could i.e. just execute our policy less politely and delete instead of burdening ourself with corrective edits and more inquires later. The warning is already there, so let's just do it, and only put the write mode down in (unlikely) case of edit wars.