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mercredi 08 octobre 2003
par Denis Boudreau

Lettre ouverte à SitePoint, la suite

Vous vous rappelez ma lettre ouverte au réseau SitePoint il y a quelque jours ? Et bien, la réponse tant attendue est arrivée ce matin de la part de Georgina Laidlaw. Je vous la présente donc, de pair avec ma réponse envoyée quelques minutes plus tard. Les échanges courtois et diplomatiques me fascineront toujours ! :)

Réponse de Georgina

Hey Denis,

Thanks for your email. I'm sorry I've taken so long to reply -- I wanted to have time to reply properly, though, and haven't had a chance until now.

Firstly, I'm sorry you feel disappointed by SitePoint's publication of this article. I appreciate your taking the time to write in and let us know how you feel, and why. Your feedback is extremely valuable to us, and is a reminder to us that the maintenance of strict editorial standards is critical to SitePoint's success.

SitePoint's (more vocal) userbase appears to be polarized on the topic of Flash. Even to me, the least technical member of the SitePoint team, the way a large portion of our users typically responds to mention of Flash through the forums (and often, in article feedback) seems fairly uninformed (or perhaps just ill-considered) and for many, seems to constitute a knee-jerk reaction. Often their biased arguments only serve to damage the validity of an otherwise worthwhile contention.

Fortunately, though, there are within the core of the community numerous extremely experienced and well informed users who do help to temper the more extreme reactions and keep the discussion in perspective.

When Mark wrote the article, he did so with, I believe, the objective of being contentious. His article certainly succeeded there -- it generated considerable feedback and discussion among users. However, as you point out, SitePoint is and should aim to be a respected source of information. Publishing biased articles does see us run the risk of errantly informing SitePoint users, and is not ideal.

So, why did we decide to publish this article? Because, despite the continuing arguments in the forums, few have been willing to get up on their soapbox and try to inform readers in simple terms about the realities of Flash on the Web. Users are more than happy to make comment in the forums, but not to go "on the record", as it were, by publishing an article on SitePoint.com. Certainly, we've published some excellent Flash articles of late, but the fervently one-eyed Flash critic typically doesn't even bother reading them, as their preconceptions about Flash would dictate a preference for other topics. The fervently one-eyed Flash lover potentially isn't comfortable enough with the technology to be able to gain real value from these more advanced articles. It was primarily these people we were keen to reach.

Mark's article did provide some new, valuable information that we'd not covered on the site before, and at the same time, I knew it would generate strong feelings among readers. From this passion, I hoped that one of our experienced users or authors would be willing to write a strong response article, with which we could provide a balanced "debate" or discussion around Flash. Whether the follow-up article continued to consider the "Flash Vs. HTML/CSS" argument (however irrelevant that may be), indeed argued the irrelevance of the topic itself (and explained why it was irrelevant), or moved on to consider some element of the discussion that was inferred but not addressed by Mark's article (eg. Looking at the ways Flash works with and can complement an HTML/CSS site, and the importance of this development in future) would not matter. Our hope was that we could attract the attention of the lesser-informed Flash advocate or critic, generate a debate that would involve the wider community, and though this, better educate the readers who are fervently opposed to or support Flash for all the wrong reasons.

The forum discussion attached to the article has gone some way to achieve this, but I'd really like to publish a follow-up that counters, clarifies, or builds upon Mark's piece to create a more objective perspective for the reader. As such, if you would be interested in writing an article that explains why the question of CSS/HTML Vs. Flash is redundant, and explores the issues surrounding a designer's or developer's decision to use Flash, or perhaps discusses the question of the standards-compliant alternatives to Flash, I'd love to review it for publication on the site. I am very keen to continue the debate that this article has kicked off, and to engender other informed (and informative) discussions around Flash among the SitePoint audience.

I hope this explanation has allayed some of your fears, Denis. I don't see the editorial standards of SitePoint slipping, though I certainly acknowledge and understand your concerns. Please do let me know if you have any further thoughts on this issue, Denis. I hope that in future, SitePoint continues to uphold the level of content quality you've come to expect.

Kind regards,

Et ma réponse à Georgina

Good day Georgina, thank you very much for getting back to me, I appreciate it. I expected no less of you! :)

I now fully understand the circumstances under which this article came to be. As long as SitePoint is aware that its credibility in the long run revolves around the quality of the articles it publishes for its community (and you obviously do), then all is well and the choices that are made are made with everybody's best interests in mind. Since there is a growing interest for Flash amongst fellow SitePointers, it is only normal that articles on the subject will eventually come into existence -- and as I said, however "good" or "bad" these articles may be, the important thing is that people get involved in the writing process. this is when everyone truly benefits.

The quality of the material published on SitePoint however, will always only be SitePoint's responsability, not the authors (well it would also be theirs as well, but I'm sure you understand what I mean). You guys call the shots and you probably have a master plan when you do. I've always been a loyal fan of your website for as long as I can remember (I think our history together goes back to the end of 1999 or something) and I truly hope to remain for a long, long time. This is why this whole thing is so important to me as you represent an important heritage to the web community. I'd really hate to watch it slip away. Your words are reassuring and I will hold onto them.

As for writing this article you mentionned, I would, but unfortunately, I am no expert in this field. I know just enough to notice it was ackwardly presented, but not enough to produce an intelligent and thourough counter-article that wiould help put everything in perspective. I'll have to pass, but I'm sure if you approach one of the fine people who've made similar comments to mine, you'll find one interested in developing on the subject, much more efficiently than I could ever do myself. However, what I could do would be to contribute to it with someone who would eventually lead it, if that's possible.

Thanks for offering anyway. Your open-mindness makes me feel like writing something again for SitePoint -- I admit, a second artcile is long overdue. I'll see what I can do and how I could contribute to your knowledge base with something more in line with my own fields of expertise. I have a few things in line, I could probably slip one your way.

In the meantime, thank you again for this information. I'm sure everyone who felt as strongly as I did on this issue in the french community will also be happy to see how open-minded you guys are.

Have a great day.

Denis Boudreau,

Non, mais c'est pas mignon ça, des grandes personnes qui discutent poliment, sans s'engueuler ? ;)

Denis Boudreau | 2003.10.08 @ 11:09

Alors, qu'en pensez-vous ?

Voici ce que vous aviez à en dire... vos impressions, recueillies à vif.

2003.10.08 @ 17:25 par Anubis

C'est tellement beau :_).

Si le monde pouvait tourner comme ça partout...

Haut retour au début de la page

2003.10.08 @ 17:50 par sylozof

Honnêtement, moi non plus je n'en attendais pas moins de leur part. Etant donné la qualité des articles qu'ils publient, j'étais sûr qu'ils allaient examiner ta remarque de manière consciencieuse.

Si j'ai bien compris, cet article a été publié pour essayer de rapprocher les gens qui ne jurent que par Flash de ceux qui ne l'aime pas du tout, et cela afin de générer un débat.
Il est vrai qu'avec un titre comme 'Flash vs. CSS/HTML' on attire l'attention à la fois des adorateurs du dieu Flash (ça fait un peu secte ^^) et de ceux qui s'intéressent plus au HTML.
Dans ce sens effectivement leur démarche est louable.

Enfin comme tu dis c'est génial de pouvoir débattre franchement mais poliment. C'est à ça qu'on reconnait des personnes responsables.

Haut retour au début de la page

2003.10.08 @ 19:49 par CYBERcodeur

Je connais assez bien Georgina, pour avoir échangé avec elle pas mal il y a un peu plus d'un an, à la suite de mon article sur SitePoint. Je gardais un excellent souvenir d'elle, pour avoir toujours été très à son affaire lorsqu'il y avait du suivi à effectuer avec le feedback de mon article. Je savais qu'elle porterais une attention particulière à mon message, pas parce que c'est moi, mais simplement parce qu'elle a toujours fait un suivi rigoureux pour le réseau SitePoint. Comme je lui ai répondu en début de message, je n'en attendais pas moins d'elle. :)

Mis à part les farces que l'on peut faire à propos des délicatesses de notre échange, il n'en demeure pas moins qu'il est effectivement agréable de pouvoir communiquer de la sorte avec quelqu'un que l'on critique fondamentalement (mais de manière constructive) -- un signe certain de maturité et d'ouverture d'esprit.

Ce n'est pas tout le monde qui aurait réagit de la sorte, et c'est tout à son honneur. D'une part, on a les gens qui pètent des plombs et qui vomissent sur tout ce qui bouge sans le moindre discernement et d'autre part, on a des gens ouverts qui prennent à coeur les préoccupations de leurs visiteurs.

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