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OS/2 Warp Advocacy- by Barry Brindisi

In reading comments from the many various posters in the newsgroups dealing with OS/2 and some of the folks that dwell in the #OS/2 channel, you might think that all OS/2 users walk around foaming at the mouth and are ready to shoot down anyone that gives an opinion that differs from their own. I've already met quite a few who have this impression. An impression that really is not the case for most OS/2 users.

Unfortunately, many of these non-foaming OS/2ers tend to stay quiet and lurk behind the scenes. When they see posts made by someone unfairly attacking someone else, not many of them seem willing to speak up. For those who are reading this and may be thinking of using the newsgroups or the #OS/2 channel on IRC for help and info (or general chatting), be assured that not all OS/2 users go around torpedoing new visitors to these places. Very few people are actually responsible for this kind of pathetic behavior. On the other hand, many people that visit these places tend to be rather silent on the subject. As a result, they seem to give tacit approval to these few, more vocal, individuals. This should really not be the case. Don't be afraid to speak up if you don't agree with someone!

This should always be done in an intelligent and polite fashion though! Engaging in attacks on someone's character is definitely a good way to drive people away. This is something that has been done to a number of individuals (both advocates and developers). Keep in mind that the barbs you post to the various newsgroups and elsewhere are potentially read by millions of people, many of whom may be interested in learning about OS/2 Warp and what is available. Just ask yourself, "Would I want to deal with a platform where everyone seems to do nothing but complain and attack?"

Does this mean, that we can't criticize a company for a poor product or because it lacks some feature? Actually, this depends on how it is done. Stardock's Galactic Civilizations 2 is an excellent example of a product that has grown steadily better because of constructive criticism made in the comp.os.os2.games newsgroup.

In the original 2.0 version of Galactic Civilizations, there were no "enhanced Governors" to help manage the various social projects for various planets. In Galactic Civilizations 2.5, enhanced governors were added to automate the process of handling these various social projects. This was done because of the constructive commentaries made about this game.

Because Brad Wardell is still getting a lot of positive and negative reactions to the 2.5 version, Stardock has come out with a new Galactic Civilizations Expansion Pack that has many of the features that were asked for. Keep in mind that this was all done because users took the time to talk to Brad in a polite fashion; as opposed to trying to "beat" their opinions into his head. Incidentally, because of this type of treatment, Stardock has done, and is looking to potentially do, more game related products like "Trials of Battle", "Stellar Frontier", "Links for OS/2", "Entrepreneur", "Avarice: The Final Saga", "Galactic Federation" (a sequel to Galactic Civilizations 2) and others.

Stardock is not the only company that has had these kind of results; SofTouch Systems has had similar success. According to Felix Cruz at SofTouch, they have been able to implement a lot of user-requested features into their products because of constructive criticism from customers. GammaTech IRC 2.0, UniMaint 5.0 and GammaTech Utilities 4.0. -- each of these products has implemented or will be implementing many features "asked for" by end users who took the time to write to SofTouch, telling them what they wanted. As Felix pointed out in a telephone conversation recently, "You can catch more flies with honey!". How true. (Please note that Gamma Tech Utilities 4.0 is currently under development and is not currently available.)

The point of the two examples above is that we can get a great deal accomplished by taking the time to communicate in a polite and friendly manner. The same tactic can be applied to many of the other developers that already develop for OS/2 and those that are considering the possibility of doing so. It should also be mentioned that same strategy applies to OS/2's many supporters.

On the other hand, to engage in what is commonly known on the Internet as "flaming" is to achieve the exact opposite. There are really too many examples of just how counterproductive this kind of strategy can be. Some time ago, Gary Hammer set up a web site for OS/2 users to quickly find popular utilities and other shareware (or demoware) products. I am referring his "Must Have Utilities" web site. Because this web site proved to be extremely popular, Gary required some support to help maintain the archive. The folks at SofTouch were the first to offer to assist Gary in maintaining "The Must Have" site. However, because Gary placed a couple links to SofTouch's web site, some people complained quite loudly. This kind of tactic very nearly resulted in the loss of one of the most popular web sites in the OS/2 community. Also, it did not help when many others chose to remain silent on the issue.

Remember, many OS/2 advocates like Gary are volunteers and they don't have to take this kind of abuse! After all, they (like the developers) can easily spend their time on other projects instead of dealing with flamers who launch attacks on their personal characters.

I'd like to encourage each of you to become more vocal in the OS/2 newsgroups and elsewhere on the Internet! When doing so, take the time to write in a polite and constructive fashion. Being silent and letting a small minority of people ruin it for everyone is not an option. Fortunately, there are already a few people who are doing just this, but more of them would be welcomed.

There are quite a few ways to advocate the use of OS/2 and seek changes in some of our favorite software. One way to do this is to write in a constructive fashion about a particular subject that relates to OS/2 or about a particular software product and its vendor. In other words, simply saying, "This product sucks!" in the subject line of an e-mail or in a post to a newsgroup simply serves to waste a lot of people's energy. It would be much more effective to write in the subject line, "Help with product x" and write the nature of your problem in the body of the text. This is assuming that you're looking for help with software or hardware. Simply screaming that a product "sucks" will only serve to start an unneeded flame war and result in little or no help.

If you are not looking for help but simply want to post your experience and perhaps make some constructive criticism, by all means, do that too. Just remember to be polite about it. The software developers that read the newsgroups do indeed listen to what their users are saying. However, they are more likely to listen to you if you write in a constructive fashion as opposed to simply engaging in senseless attacks on them.

Advocacy also refers to helping other people with their problems. These folks are looking for help, not personal attacks on their character or their choice of software. Such tactics usually serve to drive individuals away and may even leave a negative impression about the entire OS/2 community. (Heck, this can be applied to any community that you may encounter on the Internet.) This can also include the sharing of an idea; even if it came from that other platform. One example: a person on #OS/2 has said that he wished that "Cut" and "Paste" would appear in the pop-up menu when right clicking on the OS/2 Desktop a-la Windows 95. This was actually a nice idea; however, the person was attacked by some of the individuals there. Luckily, someone stepped in and told the others to behave and assure the individual that not all OS/2 users foam at the mouth. Otherwise, the person would have left with a rather negative impression of OS/2 users and may have even dropped OS/2 from his computer.

But not all denizens of #OS/2 are this bad! Generally, most of the folks that inhabit this channel are pretty decent and are given to some joking. Unfortunately, it only takes a few to leave a bad impression; on the other hand, one or more person(s) can definitely make a positive impression.

Barry Brindisi has been dealing with computers since 1982 and has used a wide variety of computers and software. He is just starting on a freelance writing career.

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