We Want Collaborative Criticism

I recently read an excellent dialogue on WSJ.com between the founder of Wikipedia and the editor-in-chief of Encyclopedia Britannica. It was a good exchange and one in which both sides made valid points. Jimmy Wales, the founder of  Wikipedia, made a point that resonated particularly deeply for me: “We are open and transparent and eager to help people find criticisms of us. Disconcerting and unusual, I know. But, well, welcome to the Internet.” 

This is the heart of the new paradigm, not just on the Internet, but in technology, business, politics and more. No product, movement or idea of any consequence has ever been beyond criticism and, as a result, improvement.  There is no such thing as perfection, especially when it comes to software and technology.  

That is why my ethos and the culture I am thrilled to be a part of at Orange Leap is one that mimicks Mr. Wales. We are open and transparent and eager to listen to criticisms of us and our products. Disconcerting and unusual, I know. But, well, welcome to…open source.

Open source is founded on the belief that criticism, transparency and collaboration is not only constructive but essential to produce the best possible technology. The user eOrange Leapment and freedom that comes through community and open access to products and their underlying source code makes the products better and organizations more effective. Most companies I have worked with under closed, proprietary models invested huge amounts of energy in deflecting, distilling and drowning criticisms of the company or the product. Our goal is to invest that same energy into listening and jointly improving weaknesses and meeting needs. 

I learned the term ‘constructive criticism’ in grade school. I have attempted to live by it in my adult life. Personal improvements come from listening, responding to and working on those things others point out. For some reason, most software companies have never understood that. From talking to their marketing people or sales reps, you’d think their software was saving the world and flooding organizations with money, constituents and results simply by using it. If an individual talked that way, I think the appropriate designation is pathological narcissism.

So, please, criticize away. We need it. It makes the software better. But remember, we are open source. So, if you find a problem and have a good way to fix it, we are eOrange Leaping you to do just that. Think you can do it better? We’re counting on it!

Explore posts in the same categories: Innovations for Nonprofit Organizations, Musings on Software and Life

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5 Comments on “We Want Collaborative Criticism”

  1. Max Griffin Says:

    Your comments reflect exactly what has happened in the automobile, financial and housing sectors over the past years and months: an arrogant policy approach of “we know how to do what we do better than anyone else and you don’t know anything about this, so don’t bother me,” without listening to folks who offered oversight and constructive criticism. Continued focus on profit alone (the pursant of pure greed in many cases-the mortgage and automotive industries in particular) often lead to eventual problems. We all can benefit from transparency and oversight, a periodic look outside of ourselves to determine if we really are doing what’s best for our constituents. Thanks for helping to open those doors and affecting needed change, no matter how difficult it may be to read about or hear vital criticism and then to do something about it.

  2. Jenny R. Says:

    Great website, I love reading through blogs and will be sure to look for updates on your site. Keep up the good work.

  3. Dan Siemens Says:

    It would be great if the forums were easier for users to access and use. Community based forms are a great way to get users interacting and the easier this is the more likely people will download and use.

  4. Matt McCabe Says:

    Hey Dan,

    Thanks for the feedback and you are exactly right. This is a high priority for us and we are actually in the process of reworking our forums and other community functionality on an open source platform. It will be March before this is complete, but there will be integration with a new Wiki knowledge base, our bug/feature tracking system, as well as new easy to use forums that includes tagging and cross links to the knowledge base and bug tracker for easy search and more.

    If you have any other thoughts or feedback, you can always reach me directly on matt dot mccabe at Orange Leapopen dot com.



  5. Gregory Kohs Says:

    I found it interesting that not once, but twice, you repeated the error that Jimmy Wales is “the founder” of Wikipedia. But, then again, you bought hook, line, and sinker that Wikipedia is “open” and “transparent”.

    Now, where is that Wikipedia article about Carolyn Doran, again? Maybe it was misplaced with the article about David Boothroyd that existed for years, right up until the point where he embarrassed the Wikimedia Foundation. That’s when his article disappeared.




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