community software lab computer icon
Community Software Lab on Facebook

Sites running our code

MVHub.com NorthShorePort.org

 

Blog

Small Funding A/B tests
domestic violence
packaged divorce
more happy users
small success
It has been a year
management by objective not for me
not open jobs/ 10 year pre
2 page accademic paper
usability
mission
micro pair programming parking
other people's poverty
marathon dental work
matching funds
Life Support Tech Tip
party (good) downtime (bad)
<insert something clever here>
finished
rant: stupid children
Parker 2007
Services for Paul Hansen
FYI CSL audit
MVHub.com ZIP code sort
status: quo
finance fiduciary responsibility
goofy pile
on time for once
prodigal update
embrace failure and anxiety
new yearhelpW
better late than never.t
boomer grant funded for $20,000
VOTE
simple and laughing at failure
$20,000
Fransico franco still dead
drunken master
PARTY !!! planning utec monks festival IRS
coffee lunch irs spam utec
control panel | bonuses | spam | virtual
money|virtual|downtime|database
We're People People Too

Valid XHTML 1.0!


This morning, a man asked me for help not beating his wife.  His call 
pointed to weaknesses in our software and data.  (As an aside, We get 
very, very few telephone calls)

At first, I didn't understand the question. I searched our database 
MVHub for services for victims of domestic violence. 
(I know of bruised, embarrassed men seeking alternatives to violent 
self defense). Several times, the caller quietly repeated:
  
  "for the batterer" 

Finally, I realized that the relevant search term was "anger 
management". We don't have any anger management listings.

Cheating, I referred the caller to Micheal Hayden / Bay State Anger 
Management. I always have mixed feelings about this referral. Mr Hayden 
has a Lowell Sun newspaper column on anger management that appears well 
reasoned. (start edit) Other reviews of Mr Hayden are mixed, but hersay. 
(end edit)


After the call, I did a Google:

  site:mvhub.com 'anger management' 

..and came up with more information than our internal search did. We 
know our internal search is lame. Fortunately, most of our users don't 
bother to use our internal search. They use Google to find a page on our 
site, go directly to the page and then leave.  We know this from Sean's 
good work this summer. ( 
http://thecsl.org/go/fake-blog/more-happy-users.shtml )

The Google results for 'anger management' illuminated another flaw. We 
allow for profit listings but we don't flag them as potentially less 
useful than non-profit listings.  There is a bug open on this see:

  https://bugs.launchpad.net/mvhub/+bug/538118

I am happy. (Love of a good women, food, shelter, etc). I know nothing 
more than 'for the batterer' about this morning's call. However, I 
suspect 'happy' probably isn't a big part of life for the caller and the 
people around him right now.  Flashes of unhappy worlds are especially 
disturbing when you've assumed some responsibility for helping to fix 
them.

I'm tempted to re-visit some decisions.  For example, we ( 
http://thecsl.org/go/board/ ) decided that in the long run, training 
community software developers is as important as developing community 
software.  However, decisions based on a single emotional data point 
(this morning's call) are often dumb decisions. For the foreseeable 
future, the split priority decision stands.

You notice, I'm **not** tempted to get all sparkly about our work. 
Sparkle is a weakness of our biggest competitors.  Incompetence 
inversely correlates with self-awareness. Incompetent people can't see 
that they are incompetent and can't fix themselves. see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect
  
Our big competitor ( Mass211 ) is as lame as we are. For example, they 
didn't spend $10 to register the .com version of their domain or (worse) 
let it lapse despite 90 days and many, many warnings. See the squatter 
at: http://mass211.com.  Their internal search is also bad, but they 
don't let Google index their pages.

Yes, of course 'competition' is often a bad way to think about fixing 
information availability problems. As lame as 211 is on the web, they do 
run a 'real' telephone based referral system. In Massachusetts , you can 
dial '211' instead of '411 for referrals to social services.  This 
morning, I gave the caller 211 to call. Maybe they will be more helpful 
than I was.

Hopefully, a future note will have a better discussion of competence and 
competition.