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TOPIC: How can I encourage users to upload calculations?
#246
yogia (User)
Frog Prince (Platinum Boarder)
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Re:How can I encourage users to upload calculation 10 Years, 7 Months ago Karma: 9  
Infojunkie65 and DaveC have presented a great point_counterpoint discussion.

I have a few points to make -- neither to provide a rebuttal nor in order of any significance:

  • As far as the usage of EXCEL goes, I an reminded of the cliche america runs on EXCEL -- meaning use of EXCEL is very widespread.


  • I think the widespread use of the web provides for leveling the field a bit ... in that if one wants to learn about something, some noble soul has provided that information on the net somewhere


  • People put information on the web for various reasons ...
  • from the goodness of their heart

  • to return a favor for something that the individual had learnt from an internet resource

  • for self gratification

  • for some sort of recognition

  • for higher ranking by Search Engines

  • for reciprocal linking

  • for a genuine desire to share knowledge


  • Now whatever that reson might be, people have found a way of expressing themselves on the net. So, what a site like excelcalcs has to do is to make it easier for people to express themselves by providing an orderly setup, and some incentive ... such as recognition, be it through a name badge, or showing their number of posts, or Thank You note from a grateful enthusiast, and so on.

    So, in my humble opinion, the cat is out of the bag ... people are going to express themselves, and they are going to go for the biggest bang for their expression -- or for that matter site developers like John Doyle need to provide a great platform that provides for meaninful expression that creates value for everyone in the community and provides some sort of recognition for the contributor. These are just some personal thoughts about how internet is working now -- you may not necessarily agree with my opinions ... however this is my way of recognizing the contribution of developers of community sites, such as John Doyle.

    So I hope we all agree that based on human nature if you will provide a good platform for people to come and contribute, come they will and contribute they will.
     
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    Yogi Anand, D.Eng, P.E.
    Energy Efficient Building Network LLC
    http://www.energyefficientbuild.com
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    #247
    InfoJunkie65 (User)
    Industrial, Manufacturing, Mechanical, Structural
    Frog Prince (Platinum Boarder)
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    Re:How can I encourage users to upload calculations? 10 Years, 7 Months ago Karma: 7  
    A few months ago I read a short article about a survey, which compared the encyclopedia britannica with wikipedia. Errors were identified in both. Wikipedia had fixed theirs in weeks, Britannica apparently complained about the survey.

    The free software foundation and the gnu GPL permit users to change and modify software to better suit their needs. The Design Science License attempts to do similar for non-program software. The united nations has adopted various copyleft licensing to allow handbooks especially those concerned with development to become more readily available to those who most need them. I also recently discovered a creative commons and science commons, another attempt at copyleft.

    All this permits modification to better suit the users needs. So thus far ExelCalcs is asking for depositing calculations, and users to comment on their value. However, one persons preferences and improvements are another persons defects.

    So rather than creating an environment in which negative criticism is likely to develop. At present new users are in their few days pestered with todays mission requirements. Those missions require review of what is in the repository for many there is not much positive they can be say about what they find. Since at present there is not much there, and not much activity.

    To increase activity, encouraging downloading modifying and uploading maybe a better approach. Don't critise, just the make the changes you consider to be an improvement to the workbook. These can be simple.

    One person can place a basic spreadsheet there unformatted, just calcs. Another can format with XLC. Another may add a long list of useful reference books, or website links relevant to the workbook. Another may change it from a single solution to multiple solutions in a table, ripping out XLC formatting. Still another may integrate two workbooks into a single more specific problem solver. The GPL permits this and credit remains with all contributors.

    In this way the existing repository becomes the seed for growth of workbooks. Those that get favourable comments, and high download rates remain as most preferred solution, others become obsolete and drop from the repository. So the quality of the workbooks can be self-sustaining.

    But it needs to be understood that whilst national standards are created by volunteers, they are published and distributed by businesses who defend their copyright.

    An Excel workbook or computer source code or any other document placed in a public forum has the potential to develop into a defacto standard in its own right, developed by volunteers and more up to date, and with potentially fewer errors than published standards. Those involved developing such defacto standards whether intentionally or accidently need to be aware of the risks involved and liabilities for infringing anothers copyright.

    Applying the standard doesn't infringe copyright. Publishing and distributing it in another form does. Replicating tables from a standard so that do not need to reference that standard is publishing in another form. From what I perviously read on the Australian Standards website creating such for personal use is acceptable, distributing requires permission. I can no longer find this info on their website.

    Since I'm not a lawyer I have no wish to risk infringing such copyright. My workbooks cover some 80% to 90% of code contents. It would take a short time for others to build upto 100%.

    I believe therefore that the copyright issue needs to be taken seriously properly investigated and dealt with.

    I will hazard that MathCAD has a license to publish Roarks formulae. If this website accumulates too many workbooks covering Roarks, then it becomes an "accidental" publisher of the book.
     
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    #250
    InfoJunkie65 (User)
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    Frog Prince (Platinum Boarder)
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    Re:How can I encourage users to upload calculations? 10 Years, 7 Months ago Karma: 7  
    As I said at the beginning I use Excel/VBA to generate Acad scripts, and Microstran data files, also control Multiframe and various other programs with automation interfaces. I basically use Excel/VBA for everything.

    DaveC has also said he uses Excel to generate models for FEM software.

    Such applications can involve a considerable amount of calculation, as well as time and effort to develop. But none of the calculations may have anything to do with presentation of such calculations. The CAD drawing presents the results of calculation. The FEM model can also provide graphical presentation of inputs and outputs.

    Our benefactor (John Doyle) here, hasn't yet clarified what exactly he is looking for when he requests calculations.
     
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    #254
    DaveCwork (Visitor)
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    Re:How can I encourage users to upload calculations? 10 Years, 7 Months ago Karma: 10  
    Copyright is a thorny issue and it is not clear to me where the distinction between quoting excerpts and infringing copyright occurs.

    I will hazard that MathCAD has a license to publish Roarks formulae. If this website accumulates too many workbooks covering Roarks, then it becomes an "accidental" publisher of the book

    I'm not sure this is a big issue. Faithfull reproduction of sections of the book may be more problematic but I'm not sure that any copyright can be claimed for Formulae themselves since those contained in Roarke are most often based upon work published in research papers rather than the author or publisher of the book. The copyright owner in that case would be the original author of the work.
    The content of scientific papers is often quoted in books and other papers. It is usual in those instances to reference the source of the information. Also I'm not sure that anyone can claim ownership of a mathematical formula that can be derived from first principles by anyone with sufficient nous to do it.

    Something similar, I think, can be said for standards i.e. publishing design sheets to satisfy the requirements of a standard is not neccesarily the same as copying the standard itself. As you infer, problems could arise if the worksheet is such that the codes become redundant or sales are damaged I guess.

    Information on UK copyright law is published here http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyri...p01_uk_copyright_law
     
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    #259
    InfoJunkie65 (User)
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    Frog Prince (Platinum Boarder)
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    Re:How can I encourage users to upload calculations? 10 Years, 7 Months ago Karma: 7  
    DaveC I think that is somewhat my point copyright is a thorny issue, and the crossing line is difficult to define.

    Which is probably why Standards Australia permitted creation of software for personal use, but if released required permission. To a certain extent it is simply a matter of courtesy.

    But now that SAI Global is publisher/distributer for the standards their copyright information only talks about obtaining permission and payment of royalties. Therefore if choose to ask, highly likely to end up paying such royalties, and if don't seek permission could be even more costly. Such as court case defining where that crossing line is.

    Also whilst many countries are signatories to international treaties on copyright law, they do still have some local differencies. So what is permitted with a British standard maybe different than what is permitted with an Australian standard.

    Books discussing standards usually contain some comment thanking the standards bodies for permission to publish extracts from the standards. Hey I'm an information junkie, if its readable I read it: I read prefaces.

    Many standards have tables of data, maps and diagrams. As far as I am aware scanning the maps and diagrams would be an infringement of copyright. So would replicating the tables and providing drop down lists and lookup tables.

    Whilst some of the formula can be derived from first principles others are unique to the code. The Australian wind loading code deviates from the ISO generic guidelines. Whilst there is are almost unlimited ways in which to determine a wind speed for a site, the code defines what characteristics are important, and provides formula and suitable data to use. There is only one place to get such method: the appropriate Australian Standard. a British, Eurocode or ASCE code won't provide the appropriate formula and data.

    It is not just the windloading code that is like this. There are moves to make structural codes more international so that there are not local variations in methodology or formula. But such is through collaboration of the standards bodies: the holders of copyright.

    I only raised the issue of copyright because, it is a barrier to encouraging submission of useful calculations. People contributing freely don't want hassles. Some how Wikipeadia as got around this, or maybe it hasn't.

    Also note when an author hands their copyright over to a publisher they can be significantly hampered in writing anything else along the same lines. If an author retains copyright they can submit similar articles or the same article to different journals. But not if they hand copyright over to the journal.

    The copyleft movement exists because copyright and patents are being abused, and increasingly the originators don't own the copyright to their own work, someone large corporation does instead.

    I also disagree: some people may modify a workbook to their own style, many will simply use as is. Some will also attempt to claim as own develop into commercial application, and tie-up with copyright and patent law. Apparently it is happening already, algorithms which every computer scientist knows and use daily are being tied up in copyright and patent disputes.

    From my view it is not a matter of whether it is an infringement of copyright, I just have little interest in wasting time arguing the point in a court of law when challenged.

    So we really need some guidelines for what form and type of calculations can be submitted.

    And still no answer as to who would be looking for such workbooks in the first place. And what sort of calculations they would be looking for. Since most people that do calculations simply get on with doing them, either with pencil and paper or some computer replacement; like Excel.

    Figure out who would be looking, and what they would be looking for then can better determine how to encourage contributors.

    But if they are looking for increased productivity in the application of national standards, then we have the copyright risk to deal with, and restricting the content of workbooks. Or going commercial to cover the cost of royalties.

    So what are the: who, what, where, when, why and how of the calculations for ExelCalcs?
     
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    #267
    DaveC (User)
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    Re:How can I encourage users to upload calculations? 10 Years, 7 Months ago Karma: 4  
    Figure out who would be looking, and what they would be looking for then can better determine how to encourage contributors
    Good suggestion..........
    I can't speak for John but my take on it is that a large proportion of the people who are looking are engineers. However, anyone else who wants to use spreadsheets to produce presentable checkable calculations are also potential users. The same audience that uses MathCad but either don't have it or like it (not one of my favourite programs, I have to say)

    Engineers use reference books and codes on a regular basis. .....I'm a mechanical engineer and have loads of them. But here's just one example:-
    ....Just about every mechanical engineer I know has a copy of Rourke. Its not something I need to look at every day but every now and then I find myself scanning through for the particular case I need. Its a great book and quite often has just what I need (although we've all looked in desperation for the case that isn't quite covered but that's another story).
    Ok, let's say I found my case..Great, but frankly entering Rourke formulae takes ages and is a pain in the backside. So picking up a formula from a standard sheet would be useful to me. Checking of the sheet is fairly straightforward...regenerate the formulae and check against the book.
    Same is true of other reference materials...and as many books as I have..There are always others I don't have that may have stuff that's useful to me..Ever been in a situation where you need a formula or other information?...Say a property of a material or a geometric shape..and guess what, your reference books don't quite cover it?...Typical...
    Ok what to do now? Internet search? Maybe, could get it straight away if were lucky or maybe waste an hour looking for it and then come up blank.........
    I've been there and bought the tee-shirt on that one.

    So we get to the repository...currently doesn't hold a huge amount of stuff..but given time, a good community and a lot of contributions, it could grow into a substantial resource for calculations, materials properties, properties of sections, engineering tips and anything else......
     
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