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Don't rely on Drobe, says R-Comp

Published: 6th Jun 2006, 00:41:35 | Permalink | Printable

It's lies, damn lies and editorial policy

Flame of the weak | Over the years, your humble drobe.co.uk contributors have been called all manner of things, from 'sinister' to 'childish' to 'gutter snipe trash'. It's all water off a duck's back of course, but every so often we come across something that still causes a few eyebrows to raise. In response to someone asking about missing software update announcements from R-Comp on the unofficial Messenger Pro support mailing list, Andrew Rawnsley of R-Comp posted the following email. The emphasis is our own.

It turns out a few Messenger Pro 2 users were left wondering why they hadn't heard about Messenger Pro 4 - a new version of the popular email and usenet client that was meekly introduced earlier this year.

Apparantly though we can't be relied upon for news, whereas other outlets that republish positive publicity announcements verbatim are a-ok. Whatever happened to 'no news like bad news'? Sheesh.

Date: Sun, 28 May 2006 19:08:48 +0100
From: Chris Hughes
To: Messenger mailing list
Subject: Missing announements re- new versions etc. Message from R-Comp

I have been asked to pass the following message from R-Comp on as an official 'announcement'. Since they don't read the mailing list (which is an unoffical list anyway.) Regarding the issues raised by some people about being notified or not of upgrades etc.


To avoid being accused of spamming users of old versions, who for whatever reason have chosen not to upgrade, we only send "new chargable upgrade" announcements to users of the previous version. The reasoning behind this is that some users leave the platform, and regard our emails as spam. The rest tend to have a reason for notupgrading, and hassling them is usually not appreciated.

All upgrades are announced on comp.sys.acorn.announce and anyone interested in RISC OS should treat that as their definitive source of information. You should not rely on drobe or iconbar, as they are rather selective of which press releases they post.

Finally, Archive's Products Available is also included in our press-release distribution, and they are very good at publishing press releases.

If you don't receive upgrade notifications, it means one of two things

- you have changed your email address, and not notified us (the mostcommon reason), or that your ISP/spam filter is blocking our emails. Note that all our upgrade notifications are sent BCC so your own email address will not be visible.

Customers purchasing old versions of software (eg. v2 when v3 is out) will not receive any automatic upgrades because upgrades are only ever issued for the latest version. Additionally, do not expect upgrades if you buy a product late in its lifetime. Purchasing a product more than 6-12 months after release is unlikely to yield many free updates (but they do sometimes happen - GV2 received two upgrades recently some 2 years after release!).

With specific reference to the chap on 2.62 of Mpro, having checked the customer database, most of his products are several versions out of date (eg. DialUp1, Mpro 2 etc, no NetFetch). However, he should have received an email about HTMLEdit Studio 6 recently (just before Wakefield) which would have been sent to his poppy-land.co.uk address.

If that didn't arrive, it might also explain why other notificationshaven't arrived.

We are aware the website is currently out of date regarding Mpro 4 (initially intentional, because we wanted to ensure Mpro 3 customers were given priority access to v4. This was done because we were conscious that it had "only" been 15 months since v3.00). Subsequently our workload before/after Wakefield has taken its toll, and updating the website is on the to-do list.

I trust this clarifies the situation regarding upgrade announcements.

If anyone has specific questions, they should always write to us direct (which will result in an answer) rather than posting to newsgroups/mailing lists, as we will not see those.

Best wishes,


End Quote:

Chris Hughes

"It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. 'Reality control', they called it" -- George Orwell, 1984


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 is a RISC OS Usertommy on 6/6/06 8:57AM
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Isn't csa.announce also 'selective' in terms of what is posted there.

Perhaps as an extra option, R-Comp should consider using RSS feeds, for users to subscribe to? Depending on your software, you can't miss it when an upgrade is announced.

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 6/6/06 9:17AM
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I think we all respect Drobe for its positive contribution to the RISC OS scene, and it is the only RISC OS board I post on. However, if a company sends a press release to a media source, and the press release isn't published, or is reduced to a paragraph somewhere without all the info, then customers cannot treat that site as their only source of news.

Conversely, provided press releases meet the basic explanatory standards, c.s.a.a will accept and post the press releases, usually within 24 hours.

As such, I don't think it is unreasonable to suggest that for people wanting maximum information on products/services, direct from the source, c.s.a.a is preferable.

Where Drobe scores is in its ability to offer feedback and comment on things. A blend of news and views. Many interesting articles appear on Drobe that couldn't appear on c.s.a.a.... such as this one!

As such, surely people should treat each source of info according to what service it provides?

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 6/6/06 9:30AM
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Slow news day, is it?

I honestly can't see any point behind this story at all; at least, not with the slant that seems to be being put on it. Drobe seems to be making out that the underlined sections of Andrew's email are outrageous and deliberately designed to denigrate the news portals (and Drobe in particular), but the comments don't read that way to me at all. It was perhaps unnecessary for Andrew to make that comment (he could just have said that announcements were put on c.s.a.announce), but I don't suppose it occurred to him that an innocent remark might provoke an entire news story on Drobe.

What Andrew is saying here appears to me to be nothing other than factual. Developers announce their products primarily on c.s.a.announce, which is where you should normally look for such announcements. You can't rely on the portals like Drobe and the Icon Bar to cover every last single announcement that appears there, because they'll make stories out of the announcements that they consider to be the most interesting, and can't possibly be expected to cover every last item. Exactly the same comment could be aimed at the magazines, and I see nothing in the least bit wrong with it. Another, perhaps better, way of putting Andrew's point across would be to say:

1. The primary source of information is c.s.a.announce, because that's where all the press releases appear initially.

2. If you don't have convenient Internet access, and/or prefer getting news from magazines, then Archive is the magazine most likely to quote R-Comp press releases.

And beyond that, other magazines and online portals may or may not choose to cover the release of any new piece of software, depending on how interesting they consider it to be.

What's the problem with that? Andrew clearly isn't singling out Drobe as a target to attack (he mentions the Icon Bar too), and what he says is perfectly accurate and reasonable.

By the way, if one searches Drobe's pages for references to Messenger Pro 4, it's actually not that easy to find any announcement of the launch of this version, which rather backs up the point that Andrew was making.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 6/6/06 9:33AM
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What a fuss about nothing. So a couple of people didn't find out about MPro4 for a few weeks, until there was a post about it on the mailing list - no one died.

If you absolutely must have the latest version of everything straught away, read csa.announce and the other groups, news sites like drobe, iconbar, etc, subscribe to the ANS news letter, the ARM Cubs Eureka magazine, and press the web button on your apps about box regulary. On the other hand, if something is any good you'll hear about it via word of mouth before sooner or later, so relax.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 6/6/06 9:36AM
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Maybe this story was just Drobe's cunning plan to make sure everyone hears about MPro4, by putting it under a big controversial sounding headline :-)

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 6/6/06 10:03AM
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Thank you, Chris Hughes! A perfect summary of the real situation. Drobe, like all publishers, is all the better for deciding for itself what items to include and what to leave out. And, also like other publishers, cannot therefore be relied upon for every single snippet of information. Chris' statement is absolutely right. I do think Drobe are a bit paranoid in this case, but we're all intelligent enough to see that for ourselves. As druck says - what a fuss about nothing! Thanks to both Chris, for reminding us of the facts, and Drobe, for giving us their own view of the world.

 is a RISC OS UserJeremy on 6/6/06 10:04AM
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The trouble is that some companies treat 'press releases' as chances to get advertising for free. Drobe is a news site, not an advert site. If you want to give us an advert to drum up your sales, then go buy a google ad - that's what they're there for.

For things that matter and of are greater interest to the majority, it'll get on the front page. For things that don't matter (X has 10% off, etc), then it's simply a case of how much other more relevant news there is floating about at that particular time (as well as editors workloads). If it's a quiet day (as someone suggested above) then the chances of mildly interesting/boring articles appearing (flame of the week style, and others very close to being advert-like articles) will probably be greater than normal.

It may be an idea to have some sort of sub column purely for adverts / upgrade announcements, but that is Chris W's decision.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 6/6/06 10:28AM
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The portals are there for news, not a version tracker. Press releases about something more interesting than "X application has fewer bugs now, and has another number on its version string" isn't really news, unless it's a major release. Both drobe and iconbar do "roundup" articles every now and then that are used for software updates. If every software update that came along had its own news article, it would make for a very interesting news portal. As a matter of fact, iconbar has a section on its front page (right hand column, about half way down) for software updates.

What you should also remember is that drobe and iconbar are run in people's spare time, not as a full time occupation. The editors have limited time to do stuff for the site. They also have no obligation to post every press release thrown under their noses...

 is a RISC OS Userandypoole on 6/6/06 3:08PM
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Actually drobe *do* list software updates (their Software Summary type articles) that appear from time to time. If drobe simply reprinted *every* software vendors releases verbatim drobe would make for rather dull reading. I'd expect to see *some* comment on Andrew's release (R-Comp aren't exactly a "nobody" on the RISC OS scene) - that having been said whether it warrants a full page (like this one) is an editorial decission.

Still it makes you wonder why an alledgely "snooty" remark on one site gets a whole page on Drobe - just because it contains an arguably negative reference to drobe. A little less navel gazing is called for guys, ye do a good job - but responding to every remark like that creates a "hostage to fortune" - now any vendor intent on getting publicity on drobe will just rub Drobe's corporate noses in it on some other site first and be guaranteed a full page here.....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/6/06 7:00PM
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As the original person who posted that email to the messenger pro mailing list on R-Comp's behalf, I notice that a Tag line has been added by Drobe, that was never on the original.

This whole 'news item' just seems a pointless exercise. to me it makes Drobe look silly.

Drobe will no doubt get various press releases and its up to them if they publish it or part thereof, but as Andrew Rawnsley has said the best place to keep up to date other the if you are on the mailing list si currently CSA.announce or in Archive. I can see nothing wrong with that statement.

Its simple, its clear.

Drobe are just making a mountain out of nothing!

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 6/6/06 7:48PM
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I am a great supporter of freedom of speech in general and Drobe in particular but...

In this case, I think we have a case of over-sensitivity. Just like the tabloid press really: It's fine to pry into other peoples' affairs but, should they do it to you, it's straight onto the high-horse and time to deplore the fall in moral standards.

Keep up the good work Chris ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 6/6/06 11:01PM
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There is one thing I dearly miss in all these comments ... not long ago a website named risc-os.net was set up as the try to offer a central resource where applications with their version infos etc. can be published and risc-os.net does a few things much better than the other like portals: 1. it checks if the links are valid (reachable and containing the odd data) and 2. allows to be updated by updating the info on your own site (html comments or xml files) so that updating is close to no work. Pity that risc-os.net is not reachable all the time though.

Adding a software version list on drobe is thus something I think is not needed at all - risc-os.net is there and does offer that feature.

Another source for infos about new versions is the German RISC OS magazine GAG-News and I do read c.s.a.announce as one of my sources (since I publish GAG-News) but obviously look on drobe (otherwise I'd not be posting this) as well as the odd other news portal. GAG-News is a bit different from the other magazines since it is in German so that one of the tasks I try is to mention the new software versions which are announced on the afoermentioned places - sometimes just with a few words and sometimes with full reviews since for quite a few users it is not easy to read the English information.

Thus my dear thanks to all involved, be it like R-Comp by supplying things to write about and by Chris by supplying information in addition to c.s.a.anounce etc.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 7/6/06 5:54AM
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hzn: There are other websites that do software and version tracking much better than risc-os.net did. www.frax.co.uk and www.filebase.org.uk spring to mind as two of the finest. Risc-os.net never did seem that user-friendly to me, and always seemed to be seven years out of date.

 is a RISC OS Userandypoole on 7/6/06 10:29AM
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In reply to andypoole: One main question is how such a site is being updated when a new version is published. With risc-os.net you can include comments in your website, or an xml file on your website and when you update your site with the new app version and in that run update the html comments or xml file risc-os.net is updated automatically so that there is no need to update the app catalog by going there too which is the most worthwhile feature I think. Furthermore risc-os.net checks the websites and if they are not reachable for some time drops them to avoid dead links.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 8/6/06 4:53AM
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hzn: Shame it isn't monitoring itself, then, since at the moment, it is a dead link.

 is a RISC OS Userandypoole on 8/6/06 12:40PM
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andypoole: Yes, I agree. Of the myriad of "links" sites, I've settled on the ANS filebase ([link]). It does lots of good stuff, is easy to use and pleasant to look at :)

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 8/6/06 4:50PM
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Now that risc-os.net is offline, ROL have put their old Products' Directory back up, last updated August 12th, 2001. Oh dear...

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 9/6/06 3:16AM
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As the chap who writes the "Products Available" column for Archive, I can't help feeling extremely annoyed at the "verbotim a-ok" comment in the article. I DONT repeat press-releases word-for-word, and try to put my own comments and slant on it whenever I can. Besides, this article contradicts an e-mail that Chris Williams sent to me personally a month or so ago, where he admits that "I don't subscribe to Archive - I only read it when Paul B sends me the odd free copy" and "It was good to see that the Products Available column has some geniune editorial in it".

 is a RISC OS Userkrisa on 10/6/06 9:20AM
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Archive's Products Available is very well written and always my first item to read.

The only criticism is that is sometimes quite short (as not much to talk about).

If even half the engergy what went into some of these long 'discussions' could go into product development....

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 10/6/06 11:33AM
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markee174: "If even half the energy what went into some of these long 'discussions' could go into product development...."

Well it is free market research ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 11/6/06 3:13AM
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And worth every penny paid for it ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 11/6/06 7:40PM
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