Open or Closed Discussions? Mail alias usage @ Sun – focus is the key

Chris recently blogged on Open or Closed Discussions? – his comments on how Sun people use mail aliases (massively) and in particular whether these discussions should be open (eg on OpenSolaris forums) or closed (internal aliases). Essentially I believe there are good reasons to use both – which was Chris’s conclusion unless I’m very much mistaken.

I see mail aliases being effective communication devices when the participants:

  • Share a common interest
  • Share common goal(s)

As most mail aliases represent specific topics the former is usually satisfied but it’s the latter that is often overlooked.

For example, if I’m trying to resolve a customer issue on a specific topic then I’m more likely to get a better technical discussion on an internal support alias than an external one. Why? Because, as we all work for Sun, we share common goals. In particular satisfying the customer and thus growing our service revenue.

Don’t be mistaken – the OpenSolaris forums are an excellent technical resource and you might get a better answer there from both Sun and non-Sun contributors. I’m deeply impressed by the Sun/Solaris technical know-how of the OpenSolaris community that lies outside Sun. However, in the long run it’s in Sun’s interest to develop strong, internal, focussed technical communities as that’s an important part of how we stay in business.

The key word is focus. When I work through my TODO list my priorities are more focussed on satisfying paying customers. I spend a greater portion of my mail alias time responding to internal requests than on OpenSolaris aliases. It’s not to say I don’t contribute to OpenSolaris aliases – it’s just I don’t spend as much time there.

Shared interest and common goals = focus.

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