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Thread Subject:
FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: us

Date: 3 Apr, 2009 23:14:01

Message: 1 of 16

just for ML-users/FEX-contributors/CSSMers information...

after several of my sincere and well-meant reviews regarding FEX contributions about the sprint 2009 ML-contest were silently remove from TMW's operated file exchange(FEX) w3-site, i received this email...

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMAIL CONTENTS

dear shari (and all those others hiding cowardly behind his/her name)

firstly, i do NOT direct my very angry replay to you - i do angrily reply to whomever now feels has to come up with this crap - now that TMW’s own are under scrutiny - and does abuse you as the scapegoat to convey the ridiculous message…

--- START ORIGINAL EMAIL ---
Hello Urs,
Thank you for being part of our MATLAB Central Community. We received your multiple comments on MATLAB Central submissions that you felt were not appropriate for File Exchange. We are taking your comments under advisement. In future, please comment directly on the code or other relevant topics as described in the File Exchange guidelines displayed on each file's detail page. This guideline was established following requests from our community members. It is intended to keep the discussions focused and professional.
I appreciate your cooperation in not re-posting these same comments. Please feel free to contact me should you have any further issues or concerns.
Regards,
Shari Freedman
MATLAB Central Administrator
E-Marketing and Creative Services
The MathWorks, Inc.
P: (508) 647-8133
shari.freedman@mathworks.com
--- END ORIGINAL EMAIL ---

your (TMW’s) audacity to trying to coerce me into changing my views and opinions on FEX contributions is EXTREMELY bothersome and outright egregious…

and yes, i did realized that you have removed all my - AND OTHERS’ (eg, jos v/john d/duane h/ - reviews WITHOUT asking my/others’ permission to do so! this is simply impolite…

preliminaries

1) amongst many others, i (together with all of the above mentioned) was one of the so called -community members- who - years ago - tried(!) to establish FEX guidelines for a) submitting and b) reviewing submissions…
2) as you mention: the guidelines shall serve to keep the discussion FOCUSED and PROFESSIONAL…

regarding the matter at hand

as many others i got VERY angry with the layout to the latest ML contest - and unmistakably have voiced my opinion in a recent CSSM post

http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/newsreader/view_thread/248096

as mentioned in this OP, my review for each of these - considered likewise by many other well-known and seasoned FEX/CSSM contributors - spams (yes!), shall be the following:

this submission is a) NOT suitable for and b) clearly does NOT live up to the goals and expectations of the FEX by which other authors are relentlessly judged by fellow MLers...
frankly, submitting stuff related to a (rather insignificant) ML-beauty contest to the FEX is an abuse of this (already heavily) taxed site and should be moved to another place...
please remove it...
urs


now…

a) FOCUSED: the wording unambiguously deals with the particular submission - meant to be a revelation/novelty/cannot-live-without for a variety of ML users - by clearly stating --- it is NOT… YOU (the TMW) still have to tell my why each and every one of these contest-related submissions is being worthwhile to be downloaded for many a ML user’s daily use (when gauged with john’s or jos’s or other’s great contributions)…

b) PROFESSIONAL: as far as i can see, there is NO unprofessional wording, let alone profane slander, in the review! it simply and clearly states (identifiably [including valid email-address!]) WHO has voiced the opinion, WHY this submission is NOT a worthy FEX contribution, and simply and politely asks it to be removed…

c) if you seriously(!) call these particular FEX reviews an ABUSE, i shall immediately remove my few (pedestrian) contributions from the FEX and shall not be seen on CSSM any longer…

living for 23 years now with ML - and having contributed from time to time to the FEX as well as CSSM, i had NEVER - in my wildest dreams - thought that TMW would proceed in such an unprofessional and - frankly - clandestine and hostile way to pursue its (monetary?) goals…

i am utmost and seriously disappointed… and start to realize that TMW starts to (secretly) manage the FEX according to some company rules

urs (us) schwarz

ps: i also do sincerely ask cleve moler, whom i met in the late 1970s(!), to provide some input into this most unpleasant and unexpected development of our ML and its professional, admirable goals…

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: Matthew Simoneau

Date: 3 Apr, 2009 23:35:03

Message: 2 of 16

urs, Shari is our new MATLAB Central administrator, replacing Cristina. Please welcome her!

We have discussed the feedback that you and others have given regarding the structure of this contest. After a lot of discussion and serious soul-searching, we have decided to let this contest continue through Wednesday as planned.

You clearly have a different vision for the correct use of File Exchange, which we built and operate for our community’s benefit. Ned described our thinking here:
http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/newsreader/view_thread/248182
We encourage you to share your feedback on this thread. Commenting on individual submissions isn’t the right place for this discussion. We don’t want participants to feel intimidated from participating.

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: us

Date: 4 Apr, 2009 00:31:01

Message: 3 of 16

"Matthew Simoneau"
> We have discussed the feedback that you and others have given regarding the structure of this contest. After a lot of discussion and serious soul-searching, we have decided to let this contest continue through Wednesday as planned.
> You clearly have a different vision for the correct use of File Exchange, which we built and operate for our community’s benefit. Ned described our thinking here:
> http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/newsreader/view_thread/248182
> We encourage you to share your feedback on this thread. Commenting on individual submissions isn’t the right place for this discussion. We don’t want participants to feel intimidated from participating...

dear matthew
 
i ABSOLUTELY do NOT agree with your beauty-parlor reply!
 
as a matter of fact: you just - and very sadly so - have confirmed my opinion on the latest development regarding the FEX, which states in a nutshell:
criticism is good - as long as it does not affect members/goals of TMW... (just look at the copious useless video submissions and pdfs by TMW members, all of which have not gotten a (deserved) one-star rating simply because people were anxious to not loose their license upgrade...)
 
as a somewhat longtime FEX/CSSM observer, i do ask you (ie, better your superior TMW officials) sincerely: why (then) did TMW accordingly deal with contributions/reviews of those submissions of a particular person called M....
 
do we deal with double-standards here - we (certainly) know we do not...
 
i most sincerely DO hope that TMW does NOT start to tweak the FEX, which - after all - is (intended to be) a public marketplace, to its (the money-monger company's lawyers) likings; albeit this unnecessary exercise does not to seem to bode well for the future...
 
as ever, best from zurich
urs

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: Yair Altman

Date: 4 Apr, 2009 21:03:01

Message: 4 of 16

My personal 2 cents is that Urs's (and John's etc.) FEX feedbacks have as much a right to appear on FEX as any of the contest submissions. I know them well enough to trust their integrity in giving a better feedback than a single star for those contest submissions that actually merit it.

I understand MatCentral's wish not to have participants become intimidated, but unilaterally removing feedback is not the correct manner to handle this. We all know it's a TMW property and legally they may do this, but doing so seriously undermines the trust which is at the basis of good community forums, as MatCentral intends to be.

This is especially bothersome since Urs, John and others who have commented are such well-respected members of the community. They are worth lots of $$$ to TMW, simply by their contributions to FEX and CSSM that save TMW money by reducing the need for paid forum managers (Steve Lord could never handle everything himself). Ill-treating such assets is really not in TMW's interests.

I personally *do* see a point in the recent contest: It may not highlight Matlab's algorithmic abilities as prior contests did, but visualization is (IMHO) an important aspect of modern applications and Matlab has much to offer in this respect. The contest highlights and encourages this. I also understand TMW's wish to publicize FEX using the contest platform, although I (like Urs et al) believe TMW should have found another repository for the contest submissions - FEX is not the place for them.

A personal note to Urs: I implore you *NOT* to remove your FEX submissions. This contest will pass in a week and its submissions will shortly be forgotten. Your excellent submissions will continue to be a beacon of light in the otherwise murky FEX long after this tempest is over. Forget TMW - think of the main reason you contribute to CSSM and FEX, which is the user community. Don't let us suffer for TMW's failings.

Yair Altman
altmany at gmail dot com

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: John D'Errico

Date: 5 Apr, 2009 04:10:20

Message: 5 of 16

"Yair Altman" <altmanyDEL@gmailDEL.comDEL> wrote in message <gr8hu5$4sb$1@fred.mathworks.com>...
> My personal 2 cents is that Urs's (and John's etc.) FEX feedbacks have as much a right to appear on FEX as any of the contest submissions. I know them well enough to trust their integrity in giving a better feedback than a single star for those contest submissions that actually merit it.
>
> I understand MatCentral's wish not to have participants become intimidated, but unilaterally removing feedback is not the correct manner to handle this. We all know it's a TMW property and legally they may do this, but doing so seriously undermines the trust which is at the basis of good community forums, as MatCentral intends to be.
>
> This is especially bothersome since Urs, John and others who have commented are such well-respected members of the community. They are worth lots of $$$ to TMW, simply by their contributions to FEX and CSSM that save TMW money by reducing the need for paid forum managers (Steve Lord could never handle everything himself). Ill-treating such assets is really not in TMW's interests.
>
> I personally *do* see a point in the recent contest: It may not highlight Matlab's algorithmic abilities as prior contests did, but visualization is (IMHO) an important aspect of modern applications and Matlab has much to offer in this respect. The contest highlights and encourages this. I also understand TMW's wish to publicize FEX using the contest platform, although I (like Urs et al) believe TMW should have found another repository for the contest submissions - FEX is not the place for them.
>
> A personal note to Urs: I implore you *NOT* to remove your FEX submissions. This contest will pass in a week and its submissions will shortly be forgotten. Your excellent submissions will continue to be a beacon of light in the otherwise murky FEX long after this tempest is over. Forget TMW - think of the main reason you contribute to CSSM and FEX, which is the user community. Don't let us suffer for TMW's failings.
>
> Yair Altman
> altmany at gmail dot com

Hmm. I've been out of town for a day or so. I see
this pot is still boiling. Potentially boiling over. I
am unhappy about this entire mess. The problem is
we as users do not own the FEX, and there are
various views about the FEX and how it can and
should be used.

What is the purpose of the FEX? Why does it exist?
Can it serve multiple purposes?

This all gets to Ned's question the other day (I'll
need to revisit that thread too.) I think the FEX can
serve multiple purposes, IF (a very big if here) IF
the implementation is done properly. TMW needs
to provide a viable set of filters. TMW must limit
the amount of censoring that is applied. Moderation
is best done in a constructive way.

Oh well. Much reading to do in the morning.

John

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: Peter Boettcher

Date: 6 Apr, 2009 14:19:38

Message: 6 of 16

"us " <us@neurol.unizh.ch> writes:

> "Matthew Simoneau"
>> We have discussed the feedback that you and others have given
>> regarding the structure of this contest. After a lot of discussion
>> and serious soul-searching, we have decided to let this contest
>> continue through Wednesday as planned. You clearly have a different
>> vision for the correct use of File Exchange, which we built and
>> operate for our community’s benefit. Ned described our
>> thinking here:
>> http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/newsreader/view_thread/248182
>> We encourage you to share your feedback on this thread. Commenting
>> on individual submissions isn’t the right place for this
>> discussion. We don’t want participants to feel intimidated
>> from participating...
>
> dear matthew
>
> i ABSOLUTELY do NOT agree with your beauty-parlor reply!
>
> as a matter of fact: you just - and very sadly so - have confirmed my
> opinion on the latest development regarding the FEX, which states in a
> nutshell: criticism is good - as long as it does not affect
> members/goals of TMW... (just look at the copious useless video
> submissions and pdfs by TMW members, all of which have not gotten a
> (deserved) one-star rating simply because people were anxious to not
> loose their license upgrade...)
>
> as a somewhat longtime FEX/CSSM observer, i do ask you (ie, better
> your superior TMW officials) sincerely: why (then) did TMW accordingly
> deal with contributions/reviews of those submissions of a particular
> person called M....
>
> do we deal with double-standards here - we (certainly) know we do
> not...
>
> i most sincerely DO hope that TMW does NOT start to tweak the FEX,
> which - after all - is (intended to be) a public marketplace, to its
> (the money-monger company's lawyers) likings; albeit this unnecessary
> exercise does not to seem to bode well for the future...

Matt et. al.-

The problem is that you (TMW) are trying to have it both ways. You
benefit greatly from the community investment and participation in
comp.soft-sys.matlab and in the FEX, and have invested a great deal in
leveraging that community. However, the more you leverage the
community, the less it feels like a community and more like an outgrowth
of TMW, which will destroy it in the process. Your comments suggest
"You're welcome to help us out, but we run the show". Fine. I have too
much other stuff to spend time on anyway.

-Peter

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: Lars Barring

Date: 6 Apr, 2009 17:17:01

Message: 7 of 16

Dear all,

Some random (not quite) citations and thoughts

Matthew wrote:
>Shari is our new MATLAB Central administrator, replacing Cristina.
>Please welcome her!

Shari please feel welcome here! But you certainly got a jump start, more than you ever wished for I imagine. I guess that by now you have realized that this is an open-hearted forum (CSSM, that is) that is not -- and cannot -- be managed by TMW (but many thanks for providing the nice web interface!).

Shari wrote (as quoted in Urs posting):
> appropriate for File Exchange. We are taking your comments under
> advisement. In future, please comment directly on the code or other
> relevant topics as described in the File Exchange guidelines ...

and Urs continue:
> ... i did realized that you have removed all my - AND OTHERS’ (eg,
> jos v/john d/duane h/ - reviews WITHOUT asking my/others’ permission
> to do so! this is simply impolite…

I, for one, is very much against censorship (something that I have commented on before, see threads "The FEX MUST be moderated..." (January 2009) and " Doubt on usefulness of the FEX" (December 2008). There are many harsh comments on submissions, some clearly given after careful scrutiny of the submission, others quite the opposite. And in the latter case, I freely admit, my disgust for censorship is sometimes pu to a hard test. Anyway, there are a (not so large) number of people highly respected that consistently provide useful and thoughtful reviews, which IS VERY USEFUL for me personally/professionally, and for a great deal of other people I reckon. [I am not going to get forked off into a legalese discussion on whether TWM as owner of the FEX resource actually censored some comments or only did some minor housekeeping...]

Now, what has happened with this "VIS2009 contest" is that TMW has managed to alienate/infuriate many of the most valued contributors to CSSM and FEX. And not only that, when trying to uphold their usual high standard when reviewing FEX submissions they got censored. I am totally speachless (which fortunately Urs is not ...;-) And even after this OP, as well as several comments from different contributors in the thread "ML spring 09 contest is bothersome and offensive" TMW seems not to realise the breath of their "mistake". Instead Matthew and Ned seem to have gotten the task to gloss it over:

Matthew wrote:
> We have discussed the feedback that you and others ...
> After a lot of discussion and serious soul-searching, we have decided
> to let this contest continue through Wednesday as planned.
>
> You clearly have a different vision for the correct use of File Exchange,
> which we built and operate for our community’s benefit. Ned described
> our thinking here:
> http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/newsreader/view_thread/248182
> We encourage you to share your feedback on this thread. Commenting on
> individual submissions isn’t the right place for this discussion. We don’t
> want participants to feel intimidated from participating.

Well, given that FEX "we built and operate for our community’s benefit"
then the contest has managed to create a blazing backfire as far as I can judge.

A plea for TMW: get back to the bench and have some further discussions as
well as do some deeper soul-searching! BTW, where do you have your soul TMW?
I always thought -- up to recently -- that it was not too far away from the kind of contribution that Urs, John, Urs, Peter, Duane, Tim, Peter, and may more, provide to the community trough MLC.

Peter wrote:
> The problem is that you (TMW) are trying to have it both ways. You
> benefit greatly from the community investment and participation in
> comp.soft-sys.matlab and in the FEX, and have invested a great deal in
> leveraging that community. However, the more you leverage the
> community, the less it feels like a community and more like an outgrowth
> of TMW, which will destroy it in the process. Your comments suggest
> "You're welcome to help us out, but we run the show". Fine. I have too
> much other stuff to spend time on anyway.

Well said.

And I have a feeling that instead of being a community of Matlab users that just hang together just because it is mutually beneficial, we (personally I would say they)
are heading towards a managed community where always some kind of promo or pseudo-happening is on. One minor indication, that might be more than insignificant, of this is that the MATLAB Central Administrator now belongs to "E-Marketing and Creative Services, The MathWorks, Inc." rather than the Customer Support. TMW obviously sees MLC as an e-market rather than a customer (self-)support tool. This does not bode well. I fear the next creative solution.

Without the very (VERY!!) high competence level of the 'support staff' you TMW get for free -- which largely are the guys that you have managed to infuriate, where would MLC be?

Thus, again, the plea for TMW: get back to the bench and have some further discussions as well as do some deeper soul-searching.


Lars

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: Matthew Simoneau

Date: 6 Apr, 2009 19:17:01

Message: 8 of 16

We've been paying close attention to all the feedback. We were surprised that the contest triggered this reaction, but welcome the chance to discuss these deeper issues.

I’d like to clarify a couple of things. We try really hard not to censor contributions to the File Exchange. Openness is one of our guiding principles on MATLAB Central. There are two types of contributions to consider, submissions and comments.

Generally, any file submission related to the use of MathWorks products is allowed. There are occasional exceptions to this for business or legal reasons, but these are rare and we think hard about each one. We’ve taken some heat for this policy of inclusiveness, but we don’t want to make ourselves the judge of what is and is not allowed. See Ned’s post for more detail:
http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/newsreader/view_thread/248182

However, we pull comments and ratings fairly regularly. We don’t allow comments that are attacks on the contributors, for example. We’ve developed these policies after receiving feedback from many hurt, confused, or annoyed contributors. If we think we’re making a judgment call, we now contact the commenter to let him know that we’re pulling the comment and why. From the feedback we’ve been getting, it sounds like we need a more explicit and consistent set of guidelines for comments. We’d like to hear more from those who participate in the File Exchange about what sort of comments should and should not be allowed so we can craft a better policy. What would you use as criteria for deleting a comment?

We want the File Exchange to grow in usefulness for everyone by increasing participation. One of my biggest influences is Wikipedia’s “Please do not bite the newcomers”. I encourage everyone to give it a read:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Please_do_not_bite_the_newcomers

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers

From: Walter Roberson

Date: 6 Apr, 2009 21:11:59

Message: 9 of 16

Matthew Simoneau wrote:
> We want the File Exchange to grow in usefulness for everyone by increasing participation.
> One of my biggest influences is Wikipedia’s “Please do not bite the newcomers”.

Well, that's rather an odd choice of models, since Wikipedia is heavily controlled and
is becoming increasingly more so. The open contribution model was deemed not to be
successful by those who control Wikipedia, and they have been locking it down and are
currently discussing strict controls.

My spouse recently (a few weeks ago) took a post-grad course on "Web 2.0" and related
technologies. One of the sessions spend pretty much the entire hour discussing Wikipedia.
The instructor said flat out that these days it is nearly impossible for a "newcomer"
to make a meaningful change to Wikipedia, even if the newcomer is an acknowledged
subject matter expert on the topic -- these days you have to prove yourself to the
Wikipedia clique before nearly *any* change is allowed to stand.

The instructor reported upon an experiment that had been done at one of the Digital Media Labs,
in which the class was given the assignment of making a change to Wikipedia: only 10% of the
changes made by the students were allowed to stand. In another class experiment, the
students were divided into groups which were responsible for making a more substantial
Wikipedia edit -- and to keep at it, taking the feedback and re-writing to improve the
quality and chance that the edit would be accepted. Of the several teams working on
the assignment for over 3 months, only *one* of the team had the Wikipedia controllers
judge the entry as fully acceptable; two others were judged as being good enough to
accept but only with mark-ups indicating that the articles needed improvements,
and the rest of the teams (5 I think it wa), despite months of university-level work,
were unable to satisfy The Powers That Be to get their articles accepted even with
"needs improvement" commentary.

If your model is Wikipedia, then better study the history of Wikipedia more carefully,
because the contradictions between your current acceptance criteria and your model
make it all too apparent (to me) that your experiment is doomed to failure.

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: Ivan E. Cao-Berg

Date: 6 Apr, 2009 22:22:01

Message: 10 of 16

FYI my comment got deleted. I didnt abuse any contributor nor I was disrespectful to anyone at FEX.

Nevertheless I got deleted.

Ivan

"us " <us@neurol.unizh.ch> wrote in message <gr657p$pdl$1@fred.mathworks.com>...
> just for ML-users/FEX-contributors/CSSMers information...
>
> after several of my sincere and well-meant reviews regarding FEX contributions about the sprint 2009 ML-contest were silently remove from TMW's operated file exchange(FEX) w3-site, i received this email...
>
> THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMAIL CONTENTS
>
> dear shari (and all those others hiding cowardly behind his/her name)
>
> firstly, i do NOT direct my very angry replay to you - i do angrily reply to whomever now feels has to come up with this crap - now that TMW’s own are under scrutiny - and does abuse you as the scapegoat to convey the ridiculous message…
>
> --- START ORIGINAL EMAIL ---
> Hello Urs,
> Thank you for being part of our MATLAB Central Community. We received your multiple comments on MATLAB Central submissions that you felt were not appropriate for File Exchange. We are taking your comments under advisement. In future, please comment directly on the code or other relevant topics as described in the File Exchange guidelines displayed on each file's detail page. This guideline was established following requests from our community members. It is intended to keep the discussions focused and professional.
> I appreciate your cooperation in not re-posting these same comments. Please feel free to contact me should you have any further issues or concerns.
> Regards,
> Shari Freedman
> MATLAB Central Administrator
> E-Marketing and Creative Services
> The MathWorks, Inc.
> P: (508) 647-8133
> shari.freedman@mathworks.com
> --- END ORIGINAL EMAIL ---
>
> your (TMW’s) audacity to trying to coerce me into changing my views and opinions on FEX contributions is EXTREMELY bothersome and outright egregious…
>
> and yes, i did realized that you have removed all my - AND OTHERS’ (eg, jos v/john d/duane h/ - reviews WITHOUT asking my/others’ permission to do so! this is simply impolite…
>
> preliminaries
>
> 1) amongst many others, i (together with all of the above mentioned) was one of the so called -community members- who - years ago - tried(!) to establish FEX guidelines for a) submitting and b) reviewing submissions…
> 2) as you mention: the guidelines shall serve to keep the discussion FOCUSED and PROFESSIONAL…
>
> regarding the matter at hand
>
> as many others i got VERY angry with the layout to the latest ML contest - and unmistakably have voiced my opinion in a recent CSSM post
>
> http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/newsreader/view_thread/248096
>
> as mentioned in this OP, my review for each of these - considered likewise by many other well-known and seasoned FEX/CSSM contributors - spams (yes!), shall be the following:
>
> this submission is a) NOT suitable for and b) clearly does NOT live up to the goals and expectations of the FEX by which other authors are relentlessly judged by fellow MLers...
> frankly, submitting stuff related to a (rather insignificant) ML-beauty contest to the FEX is an abuse of this (already heavily) taxed site and should be moved to another place...
> please remove it...
> urs
>
>
> now…
>
> a) FOCUSED: the wording unambiguously deals with the particular submission - meant to be a revelation/novelty/cannot-live-without for a variety of ML users - by clearly stating --- it is NOT… YOU (the TMW) still have to tell my why each and every one of these contest-related submissions is being worthwhile to be downloaded for many a ML user’s daily use (when gauged with john’s or jos’s or other’s great contributions)…
>
> b) PROFESSIONAL: as far as i can see, there is NO unprofessional wording, let alone profane slander, in the review! it simply and clearly states (identifiably [including valid email-address!]) WHO has voiced the opinion, WHY this submission is NOT a worthy FEX contribution, and simply and politely asks it to be removed…
>
> c) if you seriously(!) call these particular FEX reviews an ABUSE, i shall immediately remove my few (pedestrian) contributions from the FEX and shall not be seen on CSSM any longer…
>
> living for 23 years now with ML - and having contributed from time to time to the FEX as well as CSSM, i had NEVER - in my wildest dreams - thought that TMW would proceed in such an unprofessional and - frankly - clandestine and hostile way to pursue its (monetary?) goals…
>
> i am utmost and seriously disappointed… and start to realize that TMW starts to (secretly) manage the FEX according to some company rules
>
> urs (us) schwarz
>
> ps: i also do sincerely ask cleve moler, whom i met in the late 1970s(!), to provide some input into this most unpleasant and unexpected development of our ML and its professional, admirable goals…

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: John D'Errico

Date: 7 Apr, 2009 09:41:01

Message: 11 of 16

"Matthew Simoneau" <matthew@mathworks.com> wrote in message <grdkfd$aqe$1@fred.mathworks.com>...
> We've been paying close attention to all the feedback. We were surprised that the contest triggered this reaction, but welcome the chance to discuss these deeper issues.
>

I believe the FEX has some major flaws as it is now.
Surely it can be improved. What should be done
though?

Here are some ideas that have come out recently.
(Not all are my own ideas.) I'd love to hear any
feedback around them. These ideas may be
considered separately, or in combination with
others I've listed.)

1. Remove the author's page, where all authors are
compared. This turns the FEX into a race for some
people, a competition for them. It becomes a point
a vanity for some, that they are the author with the
most downloads. (Still allow an individual author to
know the number of downloads for ONLY their own
files, as the number of downloads for a file may be
an interesting piece of information.) But NEVER
compare authors or even report the total number of
downloads. This only invites vanity issues.

2. Never count multiple downloads for ANY file from
a single IP address in any download count. I really
like this idea in some form, as the small children who
choose to fluff up one persons downloads (either
their own counts or another person they know) now
are wasting their time by trying to fluff the counts
and the vanities of their target.

3. Implement a good citizenship measure. This is
something that appears on various websites in a
variety of forms. A slashdot style of "karma", or
perhaps something modeled on Stack Overflow's
"reputation" measure might work. I'd suggest any
measure that encourages behavior as a good citizen
on the file exchange (and newsgroup too) by
offering tools for others to use, by working
constructively to improve the quality of tools that
others have provided. Any of these measures are
ways to help makes the site more user moderated.
Individuals who show themselves to be consistently
responsible are then rewarded in a variety of ways.

4. Remove the multiple stars as feedback. Make it
a simple yeah or nay signal, a thumbs up or thumbs
down signal. Make that signal an invisible one, in
the sense that I don't know who just gave my file
a poor rating. This way an author (or some stalker/
follower/rabid fan of the author) cannot take revenge
on the files of that person because of a rating.

5. Do not allow ANY individual to make large numbers
of negative ratings.

6. Remove the ability to make any negative rating
signals. If you can't say something good, then don't
say it at all. Just have a single "I LIKE IT!" flag that
anyone EXCEPT the author can click on, and any
individual IP address cannot do so more than once
for any single file. (You can still add constructive
reviews that say what you wish, as long as it is
constructive and on topic. The good citizenship
measures described above should figure in here.)
Disallow the author from giving their own code a
thumbs up.

7. Any constructive reviews made should be editable
by the author of that review, and ONLY by that
person. It should not be necessary for the website
administrator to be involved to make an edit or
remove an ill-considered statement.

There are surely many other ideas.

I do think that repairs along some of these lines
should be made as soon as possible. Please add
your feedback here. They are listening to what we
say.

John

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: Lars Barring

Date: 7 Apr, 2009 13:05:03

Message: 12 of 16

Dear all,

Matthew wrote:
> We've been paying close attention to all the feedback. We were surprised
> that the contest triggered this reaction, but welcome the chance to discuss
> these deeper issues.

Well, I must say that I am rather surprised that you are surprised.

No non-technical subject has more consistently recurred here at CSSM
(except for those complaining about homework questions) than
complaints about the sharply increasing number of poor/incomprehedible/
irrelevant/substandard (by any reasonable measure) submissions to FEX,
and the related abuse of the rating system.

So, really, what did TMW expect when setting up this competition in the
way it was done??

Note that I have no views or commets on the contest as such, but on how
FEX is abused in the eyes of the very community that TMW claims it was
set up to serve.

Lars















>
> I’d like to clarify a couple of things. We try really hard not to censor contributions to the File Exchange. Openness is one of our guiding principles on MATLAB Central. There are two types of contributions to consider, submissions and comments.
>
> Generally, any file submission related to the use of MathWorks products is allowed. There are occasional exceptions to this for business or legal reasons, but these are rare and we think hard about each one. We’ve taken some heat for this policy of inclusiveness, but we don’t want to make ourselves the judge of what is and is not allowed. See Ned’s post for more detail:
> http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/newsreader/view_thread/248182
>
> However, we pull comments and ratings fairly regularly. We don’t allow comments that are attacks on the contributors, for example. We’ve developed these policies after receiving feedback from many hurt, confused, or annoyed contributors. If we think we’re making a judgment call, we now contact the commenter to let him know that we’re pulling the comment and why. From the feedback we’ve been getting, it sounds like we need a more explicit and consistent set of guidelines for comments. We’d like to hear more from those who participate in the File Exchange about what sort of comments should and should not be allowed so we can craft a better policy. What would you use as criteria for deleting a comment?
>
> We want the File Exchange to grow in usefulness for everyone by increasing participation. One of my biggest influences is Wikipedia’s “Please do not bite the newcomers”. I encourage everyone to give it a read:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Please_do_not_bite_the_newcomers

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: John D'Errico

Date: 7 Apr, 2009 14:51:01

Message: 13 of 16

"Lars Barring" <lars.barring@myworkplace.se> wrote in message <grfj1v$ln1$1@fred.mathworks.com>...
> Dear all,
>
> Matthew wrote:
> > We've been paying close attention to all the feedback. We were surprised
> > that the contest triggered this reaction, but welcome the chance to discuss
> > these deeper issues.
>
> Well, I must say that I am rather surprised that you are surprised.
>
> No non-technical subject has more consistently recurred here at CSSM
> (except for those complaining about homework questions) than
> complaints about the sharply increasing number of poor/incomprehedible/
> irrelevant/substandard (by any reasonable measure) submissions to FEX,
> and the related abuse of the rating system.
>
> So, really, what did TMW expect when setting up this competition in the
> way it was done??
>
> Note that I have no views or commets on the contest as such, but on how
> FEX is abused in the eyes of the very community that TMW claims it was
> set up to serve.

There are several views of the FEX, and what purposes
it can and should serve.

I think if TMW wishes to make the FEX serve a broader
purpose, then they must first provide better tools to
filter out the trash that is accumulating. At the very least,
they must make it easy to identify an author or subject
tag as one that a user never wishes to see.

I do think that the contest was not truly an egregious
thing to do, but that it simply was the last straw in the
eyes of many people. Many are fed up with the crap
that Marco has dumped on us, of the infinitely many
(and miserably written) gaussian elimination scripts
dumped on the FEX as homework assignments.

The problem with the contest that I've seen is by
using the FEX in a broader sense, TMW is now
setting a precedent, that it is acceptable to use the
FEX as a general repository for files. Is it ok if a
user wishes to place pictures of their family vacation
on the FEX? Are my holiday pictures out of place on
the FEX? Suppose I wore a MATLAB t-shirt in all of
those pictures? Suppose the pictures were of a
MATLAB conference?

I'll argue that this broad view of the FEX is ONLY
acceptable if they first give us the proper tools to
deal with the resulting rapid accumulation of dreck
that will appear.

John

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: Bjorn Gustavsson

Date: 7 Apr, 2009 14:58:01

Message: 14 of 16

"John D'Errico" <woodchips@rochester.rr.com> wrote in message <grf73d$bn6$1@fred.mathworks.com>...
>
[snip]
>
> There are surely many other ideas.
>
> I do think that repairs along some of these lines
> should be made as soon as possible. Please add
> your feedback here. They are listening to what we
> say.
>
Just to repeat what I wrote in another thread:

Since TMW obviously take the time to inform the feedback authors that and why their comment will be removed, it cannot be too much to ask that they do the same when the get a contribution with "yet another function" for something that already exists in one or several versions. Then they should require the author to explain the difference between his/her and the others. This explanation should then go into the file description.

This would be a most helpful way to guide a newcomer (or really anyone) to the good habit of searching for tools at the FEX, learning from code available, and contributing with useful new tools. The main impact of this would be to prod contributors to not submit just about any Q-D code just to be seen. This would also help every user in that the descriptions would become more informative, and the quality higher.

My 5p,
Bj?rn

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: John D'Errico

Date: 7 Apr, 2009 15:05:02

Message: 15 of 16

"John D'Errico" <woodchips@rochester.rr.com> wrote in message <grf73d$bn6$1@fred.mathworks.com>...
> "Matthew Simoneau" <matthew@mathworks.com> wrote in message <grdkfd$aqe$1@fred.mathworks.com>...
> > We've been paying close attention to all the feedback. We were surprised that the contest triggered this reaction, but welcome the chance to discuss these deeper issues.
> >
>
> I believe the FEX has some major flaws as it is now.
> Surely it can be improved. What should be done
> though?

Another idea:

Tagging can be useful, if TMW offers us the ability
to actively work with tags.

Provide me the ability to weight any tag, any author,
even any specific file, with a weight in the interval
[0,100] in a watchlist.

John

Subject: FEX: the ML file exchange censored and stifled by the makers of MATLAB (TMW)

From: Steven Lord

Date: 7 Apr, 2009 15:48:56

Message: 16 of 16


"us " <us@neurol.unizh.ch> wrote in message
news:gr69o5$a7u$1@fred.mathworks.com...
> "Matthew Simoneau"
>> We have discussed the feedback that you and others have given regarding
>> the structure of this contest. After a lot of discussion and serious
>> soul-searching, we have decided to let this contest continue through
>> Wednesday as planned.

To do otherwise would have been unfair to those people who have already
submitted entries for the contest -- sort of like stopping a game of chess
once the first knight was captured.

>> You clearly have a different vision for the correct use of File Exchange,
>> which we built and operate for our community’s benefit. Ned
>> described our thinking here:
>> http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/newsreader/view_thread/248182
>> We encourage you to share your feedback on this thread. Commenting on
>> individual submissions isn’t the right place for this discussion.
>> We don’t want participants to feel intimidated from
>> participating...
>
> dear matthew
>
> i ABSOLUTELY do NOT agree with your beauty-parlor reply!
>
> as a matter of fact: you just - and very sadly so - have confirmed my
> opinion on the latest development regarding the FEX, which states in a
> nutshell:
> criticism is good - as long as it does not affect members/goals of TMW...
> (just look at the copious useless video submissions and pdfs by TMW
> members, all of which have not gotten a (deserved) one-star rating simply
> because people were anxious to not loose their license upgrade...)

When you mention "copious useless video submissions and pdfs by TMW
members", do you mean things like MATLAB News and Notes articles that are
designed to introduce people to new features, like this:

http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/fileexchange/20967

or videos that explain how MATLAB works and how to use it more efficiently,
like this:

http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/fileexchange/9060

If someone not from The MathWorks were to have posted those documents, would
they still deserve a one-star rating?

Let me put things another way, us: if someone replied to every posting I
made with a post saying "MATLAB sucks", would that be appropriate? Or
should they start a new thread called "MATLAB sucks", to share their opinion
in one location rather than all across the group?

> as a somewhat longtime FEX/CSSM observer, i do ask you (ie, better your
> superior TMW officials) sincerely: why (then) did TMW accordingly deal
> with contributions/reviews of those submissions of a particular person
> called M....

Yes, that situation could have (in my personal opinion, as someone who's
dealt with his share of Usenet trolls) been dealt with better. That was, if
I remember correctly, the first major trolling of the File Exchange. I
haven't spoken to the MATLAB Central team recently, but I imagine they've
learned from this experience and adjusted their processes to handle such a
situation differently next time.

> do we deal with double-standards here - we (certainly) know we do not...
>
> i most sincerely DO hope that TMW does NOT start to tweak the FEX, which -
> after all - is (intended to be) a public marketplace, to its (the
> money-monger company's lawyers) likings; albeit this unnecessary exercise
> does not to seem to bode well for the future...

Wait, I'm confused. Where do lawyers come into the picture?

> as ever, best from zurich
> urs

As always, this is just my opinion, but I wanted to make that explicitly
clear this time.

--
Steve Lord

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