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Re: Wolfram | Alpha: Acres per square mile? (oddities)

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  • Subject: [mg101295] Re: Wolfram | Alpha: Acres per square mile? (oddities)
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnews at>
  • Date: Tue, 30 Jun 2009 06:34:47 -0400 (EDT)

On 6/28/09 at 11:27 PM, siegman at (AES) wrote:

>In article <h27fg7$coc$1 at>,
>Bill Rowe <readnews at> wrote:

>>What do you see as going "out of your way"? There is an input box
>>and send button right on the page that returns results. Surely, it
>>is no more effort to type comments in that box which ensures they
>>will be looked at by those interested in fixing bugs than to make a
>>post here.

>Take your points, stick by mine.  I'm spending my time participating
>in c.s-s.m.m, not serving as a bug reporter for WIA; and am quite
>often not sure whether what I'm commenting on is a bug or inadequate
>understanding on my part.

I am sure the set of intended users for W|A includes
considerably more than then the set of Mathematica users. A
direct consequence of this is I would expect those in charge of
W|A are not only interested in classic bugs (things not working
as intended) but are also interested in problems with the user
interface (things working as designed but causing confusion to
users). So, I very much suspect they are interested in feed back
regardless of whether the problem is a true bug or not.

>If WIA were to assign some knowledgeable staff member to do a quick
>scan of c.s-s.m.m every morning, looking not only for bugs but other
>feedback on glitches, misunderstandings, confusions on
>documentation, and the like -- well, I think that would be useful
>feedback to WIA; would show whether a problem of any type was
>widespread; and would show whether there were multiple or threaded
>reports on a problem.

The problem is this group is intended primarily for discussion
of Mathematica, not W|A. My guess is only some fraction of the
people who post here also use W|A. So, there won't be many posts
here useful to the W|A team. And since there is no standard
clearly identifying posts commenting on W|A distinctly from many
more posts dealing with Mathematica, there is no simple way to
just scan the posts and extract the few that deal with W|A. The
only sure way would be brute force, i.e. read all of the posts.
That is from the perspective of the W|A team, scanning posts
here is a very inefficient way to get useful feed back on W|A.

>Some companies spend big bucks on surveys, focus groups, product
>testing exercises to get precisely that kind of feedback.  If WIA
>wants to ignore this free source of such info (and from a generally
>knowledgeable group of users)

If the set of intended users were identical to the set of
Mathematica users, it would be a good idea for the W|A team to
seek comments from posters in this group. But I cannot believe
the set of intended users for W|A is the same as the set of
Mathematica users. I believe the set of users is intended to be
far more general. Consequently, I think the W|A team would want
more feed back from more general users than the set of
knowledgeable users who post here.

The bottom line is, if you want to increase your chance of
changing W|A for the better from your perspective, posting in
this group is very unlikely to be the best place to make
comments. You are far more likely to have an impact by posting
comments in the place intended for feedback on W|A.

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