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From: Gary Thomas <>
To: Jonathan Larmour <>
Cc: Alex Schuilenburg <>,
Subject: Re: Commercial postings on ecos-discuss etc
Date: Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:06:00 -0000	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <>

On 03/02/2010 01:10 PM, Jonathan Larmour wrote:
> On 02/03/10 17:28, Alex Schuilenburg wrote:
>> On 2010-03-02 13:53, Jonathan Larmour wrote:
>>> On 27/02/10 14:43, Alex Schuilenburg wrote:
>>>> If this is not a commercial post, unfortunately his posting was not
>>>> clear as to the nature, reasoning and backing of this research.
>>> Does it need to be? If it was like some of those spam telephone calls
>>> one can get where they purport to be "doing a survey" (to get around
>>> telemarketing rules) but actually doing advertising/sales, that would be
>>> one thing. But this contains no insidious promotion, marketing or sales.
>>> It's just a request for people to do a straightforward survey.
>> To clarify, I understood the maintainers activities and use of
>> sourceware to be limited to community interest only.  If their use is
>> commercial, it should clearly be noted. IMHO the survey clearly will
>> benefit the commercial organisation behind it, and not necessarily the
>> community, which is my point. If it is not for the benefit of the
>> community and is commercial, and as I was previously told, all such
>> posts should be so highlighted. If, however, posts of this nature are
>> acceptable, then at least I know what the guidance is.
> Lots of posts by people on the ecos lists will benefit companies, rather
> than the community! :-)
>>>> I would
>>>> be most interested to see laid open what development plans the ecos
>>>> maintainers may have for host tool development, as has been strongly
>>>> advocated in the past.
>>> I think we both know that there aren't concrete plans here.
>> I am not in a position to comment on this
> That leaves me wondering a bit.
>>>>   I would also enquire as to why the results are
>>>> not being made public for the benefit of the community.
>>> Apparently the results are being made available to those who enter the
>>> survey, which is more than sufficient.
>> Nope, only those who provide their email addresses, which then gives the
>> commercial organisation behing the survey an idea of what type of
>> development is being done by that person and/or the organsiation they
>> work for, and who to approach for sales etc.  John does not have to use
>> the email address, just the domain is sufficient, to gain any sales
>> information.
>> IMHO the survey should have been anonymous, with the results made
>> public, to be legitimately of community interest.
> Hmm, I see your point in this bit. John, care to comment? Are the
> addresses (email or IP) used for _any_ purpose other than sending out
> survey results? If so, is this made clear to survey users?
>>>> However, if this is a commercial post, then I would like to ask how the
>>>> policy regarding commercial postings has changed. In addition, if John
>>>> is conducting this survey for the benefit of his company, I would like
>>>> to point out to him and you that I believe the survey does not comply
>>>> fully to either the Companies Act 2006 or the Data Protection Act 1998.
>>> That's not an issue for the maintainers.
>> Interesting position.
> We can't know the details of laws in all the potential countries that
> people may be posting from.
> I'm not condoning anything if the law is being broken, but it's not the
> maintainers' job to stop people submitting their own data. And clearly,
> marking something as [COMMERCIAL] would make no difference to legalities.
> That being said, I would hope/expect John _is_ complying with the law.
> Handling personal data such as email addresses is certainly regulated by
> the DPA. I don't know about the Companies Act.
>>>> I would also like further clarification regarding netiquette and
>>>> commercial postings on ecos-discuss in this regard.
>>> No mention was made of John's company. There was no advertising, no
>>> promotion, and results were available to those who filled in the survey.
>>> I fully expect John to use the outcome of the survey to guide his
>>> company's actions, but that doesn't make the post commercial IMO.
>> An interesting contradiction.  A posting does not have to contain
>> advertising, sales or anything visible to be commercial in nature.  The
>> survey is clearly of benefit to his company (as you say so yourself),
>> which makes it commercial in nature. Only those who choose to provide
>> their email addresses get "some" of the results, and commercial
>> organisations such as eCosCentric are explicitly excluded from the
>> survey (yet also have an obvious interest in the results of a legitimate
>> survey).
> I thought you were claiming it already wasn't legitimate ;-). Anyone
> _that_ bothered to find out would fill in the survey (albeit possibly
> with bogus data!).
> An obvious solution by John would be to post the results to the ecos
> (and other embedded) lists. It would probably be a wise move in any case
> to prevent someone putting in bogus data just to get the results! John?
>>   There is also a whole host of other information that can be
>> gathered from the survey, IP addresses, countries of those taking part
>> in the surveys, companies taking part in the survey and their main areas
>> of interest, etc etc which also will not be made available, even to
>> those people taking part in the survey.  This kind of information is
>> invaluable to those in the marketplace, and people pay good money to
>> professional survey organisations such as CMP Media to get this
>> information.  I think you have underestimated what kind of information
>> can be gathered from surveys...
> If the survey does not make crystal clear the purposes the data gathered
> may be used for, and who by, then I believe indeed it would fall foul of
> Data Protection law. But again, the maintainers as a body can't be the
> ones to make judgements about whether posts comply with data protection
> law. I have no reason not to give it the benefit of the doubt. If John
> can assure us that no identifiable information (primarily IP/email
> addresses) is retained or used, then that would seem acceptable to me
> (although I'm deliberately setting aside any legality issues here).
> I very much doubt the maintainers want to go down the route of
> moderating the mailing lists. Or anything which implies we are taking
> responsibility for the content of the lists (there be dragons!).
>> And going back to my original point.  As the survey is being conducted
>> by John for the benefit of his company, I would like to know why did he
>> just not say so.
> I assume because the results will be distributed, and therefore not
> proprietary to the company. Those who fill in the survey do "benefit"
> too, so it's not just something for John. Of course that's not carte
> blance to anything, as there are degrees. But from the information I've
> seen so far I have no reason to assume it falls on the wrong side of the
> line. IMHO anyway. But it would seem better to publicise the responses
> on the lists, not just the ones who filled in the survey.
> I am also now seeing your point, from a Data Protection Act POV about
> knowing who (including companies) is using data, if the data is not
> anonymised. But maybe it is anonymised by the time John sees it; maybe
> he has no visibility of the IP addresses, or email addresses. Again from
> a maintainer *policy* point of view, the default position has to be to
> assume things are legitimate.
>> Why did he using his personal (and maintainer) email
>> address to solicit responses? Could it be because more people would
>> probably respond to the survey than would if they knew there was a
>> commercial organisation behind it and that this survey was for that
>> company's commercial benefit?  This is what IMHO is an abuse of position
>> and contradicts the guidelines given regarding commercial postings.
> John's response here already says it was personal research.
> Where do we draw the line with "commercial benefit"? Adverts? Research?
> Surveys? Signatures? Email addresses? Indirect references? Mentioning
> the company name anywhere in a post? It is too far to say there must be
> /no/ commercial benefit.
>>> I'm afraid I really can't see a problem here.
>> If that is the case, IMHO this kind of sets a precedent as to what is
>> permissible by the other maintainers and commercial organisations, which
>> is contrary to what I previously was led to believe and commercially
>> adhered to.  I obviously am also disappointed that the commercial nature
>> and intent of the survey was not initially stated and not made obvious,
> What guidelines are you thinking of?
> It's true that, looking at there
> /aren't/ any guidelines at present, which is something I should fix.
> Then that may help remove uncertainties, although there will always be
> grey areas.
>> that it is in breach of various UK laws because of its commercial ties,
>> and that this behaviour is IMHO being condoned by the maintainers.
> We can't condone an allegation with insufficient information.

I have more problems with this whole discussion than I do at all to
the original posting.  John's survey request doesn't even come close
to being considered improper or illegal in the U.S.  Additionally,
I certainly don't know about the intricacies of UK law in these areas
and most certainly am not interested in being a policeman.

There have been many postings to eCos-discuss in the past that went
even further than this that weren't labeled COMMERCIAL and I didn't
hear the uproar then.  Maybe this is just a case of fallen-out colleagues?
I don't know, but I'm done thinking about it and will probably not
continue to read this thread anymore...

Gary Thomas                 |  Consulting for the
MLB Associates              |    Embedded world

  reply	other threads:[~2010-03-02 21:06 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 9+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2010-02-27 14:43 Alex Schuilenburg
2010-02-27 17:15 ` John Dallaway
2010-02-27 21:58   ` Alex Schuilenburg
2010-03-02 13:54 ` Jonathan Larmour
     [not found]   ` <>
2010-03-02 20:10     ` Jonathan Larmour
2010-03-02 21:06       ` Gary Thomas [this message]
     [not found]       ` <>
2010-03-02 23:29         ` Jonathan Larmour
2010-03-03  0:21 Alex Schuilenburg
2010-03-03  0:22 Alex Schuilenburg

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