Over on the oft-entertaining Deelip.com, there was an interesting comment made by Autodesk’s Scott Sheppard. After going back and forth a few times over Autodesk’s then-failure to allow Indian customers legal access to certain free Autodesk software downloads, Scott said this:
I defer to Autodesk Legal on these matters which is where I get my guidance. This is not a topic to be debated publicly. As one of our most active Labs participants, I was just sharing some information with you and your readers.
On the face of it, Scott’s “not a topic to be debated publicly” comment seems pretty silly. Ralph Grabowski certainly saw it that way. In these blog-happy days, a lot of things that Autodesk may not like to see discussed are going to be discussed publicly. Autodesk needs to get used to that fact. Attempting to suppress public discussion of Autodesk policies is not just ineffectual, it’s counterproductive and harmful to Autodesk’s image. The very fact that this problem was fixed as a direct result of being discussed publicly shows that such discussion was not only appropriate, it was positively useful to everyone concerned.
That’s on the face of it. Actually, I don’t think the comment is anywhere near as sinister as it seems. I think it was more of a throwaway comment along the lines of, “I can’t continue discussing this because it really isn’t my area”.
Recently, I have noticed Autodesk opening up somewhat and demonstrating increased responsiveness to publicly aired concerns. I know that Scott is quite open to constructively discussing points of disagreement in public comments on his own blog. So I think we should cut him a bit of slack and just put this down as one of those “it may be what I said but it’s not what I meant” moments that we all have from time to time.
Scott Sheppard is a great guy. I took his comment like you did in your second interpretation “I can’t continue discussing this because it really isn’t my area”. That’s why I closed the conversation by saying “I am sure Autodesk Legal has good reasons.”
I also appreciate the fact that Autodesk took this forward and acted upon it. It’s little things like these that make social media useful, to the extent that it can be.
For a start, if I want a topic not to be debated publicly, I don’t write that publicly: “This is not a topic to be debated publicly”. Am I clear?
Once you ask the lawyers into a conversation, all that WE consider sanity and logic leaves the room. Scott’s is the safest course – close the discussion before the legal weenies close your position.
“Right” and “wrong” are not relevant.