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RFC 545 - Of what quality be the UCSB resources evaluators?


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Network Working Group                                         J. Pickens
Request for Comments: 545               UCSB Computer Systems Laboratory
NIC:  17791                                                 23 July 1973
References: RFC 531,369. 519

            OF WHAT QUALITY BE THE UCSB RESOURCE EVALUATORS?
                    A Response to "Feast of Famine"

   In RFC 531, M.A. Padlipsky complains that the UCSB resource
   evaluators were derelict in not consulting the Resource Notebook for
   available documentation.  In addition, Padlipsky equates the goals of
   the resource evaluators to the goals of the software repository
   advocaters.  A misunderstanding exists and perhaps, with this note,
   may be cleared.

   To respond to Padlipsky's example of UCSB botching login attempts let
   me make two comments.  First, more people than the resource
   evaluators were accessing the ARPANET.  The group of evaluators, at
   least, knew the login procedure from the Resource Notebook. (By the
   way, we do have a Multics Programmers Manual.) Second, the OLS TELNET
   echoes no lower case, which can generate confusion.  Even UCSB's
   technical liaison, after consulting the Resource Notebook, managed to
   botch his login.

   The first law of resource evaluation, at least for UCSB evaluators,
   is "read the Resource Notebook!" (RFC 369, incidentally, was based on
   a Resource Notebook that was barren compared to the notebook of
   today.)  Questions left unanswered by the Notebook are resolved by
   accessing online documentation first at the NIC and second at the
   site being evaluated.  If, after all this effort, questions still
   exist, then a consultant is contacted.  Consultation may be either
   online or by telephone and may entail purchasing appropriate user
   manuals (for some of the resources we evaluated, no manuals existed).
   Our approach has been to consult the most publicly available
   documentation first.  Only if the advertised paths fail do we resort
   to personal contact with a (busy) technical liaison.  If technical
   liaisons wish to be consultants for uninitiated users and feel that
   this is their role we will gladly modify our behavior.

   There certainly is a meal, to use Padlipsky's analogy, of
   documentation already available on the Network.  However, a meal is
   no good without silverware.  Site specific and function specific
   MINIMANS (see RFC 369 and RFC 519) are attempts to provide this
   tableware.  Our first-pass MINIMANS are available on request for
   those who would like to see what we are trying to do.

   Resource evaluators are concerned with much more than documentation.
   A closer reading of prior RFC's would have shown that we investigate
   dynamic phenomenon such as help facilities, online consultation,
   response time, reliability, and human engineering.  We make
   suggestions for improvement.  Indeed we see ourselves, at least for
   UCSB users, in the role of plain clothes inspector.  We don't claim
   absolute efficiency but we do claim good intent and good results.  We
   have spurred improvements at local as well as foreign network sites.
   We apologize to any we may have offended in the past with poor
   reviews.  We are learning, continually, how best to say things in a
   constructive rather than destructive way.

         [ This RFC was put into machine readable form for entry ]
        [ into the online RFC archives by Javier Echeverria 2/98 ]

 

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