Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(August 1995)
 

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Subject: Architext
From: Graham Spencer <graham @ atext . com>
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 1995 17:24:15 -0700
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
Cc: graham @ atext . com

Hi. My name is Graham Spencer, and I work at Architext software. I'd
like to respond to some of the negative sentiment we've generated
amongst list managers and others. This email is rather long, but I've
tried to summarize the important points at the end.

First: yes, we really screwed up with our mailing to list managers.
I've explained this to a few of you in personal emails, but the basic
problem is this: we accidentally sent out some mailings from the wrong
account -- an anonymous account on a machine inside our firewall
(list @
 cochese .
 atext .
 com) rather than the account of our engineer who's
managing the project.

This was an unfortunate mistake, but I want to stress that we weren't
trying to "spam" anyone -- we sent mail to list administrators because
we had a specific request for each of them. No doubt many of you will
disagree, asserting that any mass-mailing is equivalent to spamming.
However, the fact is that we were simply doing what we thought was
polite, namely checking with list administrators before we subscribed
to (and began archiving) mailing lists. Some of you explicitly state
in your "Welcome to the list" messages that archiving is not
permitted, and of course we won't archive those lists. It may not have
occurred to others of you that anyone would want to archive your list,
so we wanted to ask before we did it.

In any event, let me reiterate that we were trying to be polite, and
through user-error we really screwed things up and were perceived as
being rude. We'll be much more careful in the future.

Let me respond to a few specific comments:

"Dave Del Torto" <ddt @
 lsd .
 com> said, in an admittedly humorous satire:

  >  convince a few hundred thousand hapless suckers to fork over a
  >  few bucks apiece and send us their own list-content for free so
  >  we can sell it back to them.

I'm not sure why you think we're charging anyone (other than
advertisers). But just to be explicit, our search service will be free
to internet users, just like Yahoo and Lycos currently are. Like Yahoo
and Lycos, we hope to make money from advertising.

  >  thousands of editorial reviews that we think we can snatch and
  >  grab without anyone much noticing

The editorial that we're referring to is all original, written by our
editorial staff exclusively for Bullseye.

"Dave Del Torto" <ddt @
 lsd .
 com> said, in a much earlier message:

  >  [...] you can easily see the slippery effect that casually
  >  entering into a fiduciary relationship with a company like
  >  Architext represents: if they get enough "locks" on lists, they
  >  could end up making even just posting cost you too.

I don't understand why you believe that we're trying to get a "lock"
on these lists. We're just trying to obtain permission to (non-
exclusively) archive some of the content and make it available for
searching. At the risk of being redundant, we have no intention of
"locking" your list, owning your list, preventing other people from
reading your list, charging people to post to your list, or charging
people to search over your list.

  >  If they offer it for free, or offer to share profits based on
  >  individual compensation (something I fancy would cost them more
  >  than it's worth to them) then that's a different scenario
  >  entirely and I might participate.

We do plan to offer it for free, and we hope that you'll agree to
participate.

  >  There are mechanisms already extant that let you search a
  >  list-archive, beginning with keeping a list-archive on your own
  >  disk like I do. Mine only takes up about 12 MB on my disk. No big
  >  deal.

There are many lists on the internet. Even experienced users may not
know how to find a list that deals with a topic that interests them.
And if they do find the list, their interest may be for the duration
of a day rather than the weeks required to become acquainted with a
mailing list. We want to index mailing lists so that 1) people won't
have to know which list contains topics that interest them and 2)
people won't have to keep 12MB archives of every list lying around on
their hard drive.

  >  (not just by pimping others). [...] and when well-meaning people
  >  are sandbagged by silver-tongued carpetnetters and carelessly
  >  hand over basic principles of authorship and free association for
  >  a bottle of patent medicine - then something is very, very wrong
  >  in Mudville.

Frankly, I resent your accusation that we're "pimping others" and that
we're "sandbagging" well-meaning internet users. *We* are well-meaning
internet users. All we're trying to do is to create a navigation
system that leads users to other content on the internet. Asserting
that our navigation service will destroy "basic principles of
authorship and free association" is simply absurd.

"Gess Shankar" <gess @
 knex .
 mind .
 org> asked (almost a month ago):

  >  It also that the content will be "freely searchable by any user
  >  of the Internet". I am not sure what is meant by "freely". Is the
  >  access to the text archive database is "free" as in no-cost or
  >  does it mean something else?

"Free" as in no-cost. Searching over the index and retrieving (the
entire text of) any of the articles in the index will always be free.
Eventually we plan to allow users to store persistent profiles which
we will probably charge for, but we will never charge for searching or
retrieval.

"Kjetil Torgrim Homme" <kjetilho @
 ifi .
 uio .
 no> said:

  >  Anyhow, I can't see how it hurts to let them do the archiving.

Thanks! I agree completely. =)

I apologize for the length of this email, but obviously we had a lot
of explaining to do. Let me summarize:

* We made a mistake with our mailing. We apologize.

* Despite our obvious error, we are a responsible company. Also, we
  aren't "sharks" -- our intention is not to exploit the internet, but
  rather to add value to it.

* We plan to offer our navigation service for free -- users will never
  have to pay to search for articles, or to retrieve the entire
  content of articles. (We may charge for persistent profiles in the
  future.)

Please contact me if you have further questions. (In case anyone is
curious, I recently subscribed to the list-managers list.)

I hope that despite our recent mistake, you'll consider allowing us to
archive and index the contents of your mailing lists. Thanks for your
time,

--Graham

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Graham Spencer                   Phone: 415.934.3613
graham @
 atext .
 com                   Fax: 415.934.3610
Architext Software                Mail: 2700 Garcia, Mountain View 94043


Follow-Ups:
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From: Brent @ GreatCircle . COM (Brent Chapman)
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From: dattier @ wwa . com (David W. Tamkin)
Indexed By Thread Previous: Architext (OK, maybe they're okay after all...)
From: Brent @ GreatCircle . COM (Brent Chapman)
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