In 5 years of being a lensmaster, I’ve always finished and published every lens I started. No longer. I’m deleting an unpublished WIP lens for the first time. There’s an important reason why…
Two years ago I wrote code to work around a missing feature in some office productivity software I use at work. Nothing grand, just some XSL to display the program’s XML output in HTML so that my coworkers could easily view it. It should’ve been a basic function of the program, IMO.
It wasn’t pretty (my XSL skills are basic) but it worked. I thought other users of the software might look for this type of solution so I started building a lens to share it. Even wrote a sample file and took before and after screenshots to include on the lens. All good helpful stuff.
But when I first wrote the XSL, I didn’t start from scratch. I searched the vendor’s support site for how to do what I wanted (assuming it was a standard feature hidden somewhere). There I found an XSL snippet they wrote to do something similar. I heavily modified it for my needs (their version wasn’t very useful) but I did start with their base code.
My plan was to link to their support article and give credit for the starting point along with my version of the code. Then I thought about possible copyright issues. It’s one thing to give away code I wrote on a lens. But the snippet I started with could be considered proprietary and not modifiable, even though it was posted on a support page. Plus the software vendor vigorously defends their intellectual property so there’s a potential legal risk.
That uncertainty about the copyright status combined with the risk prompted me to stop construction after halfway completing the lens. And it’s lingered in WIP status at the bottom of my dashboard ever since.
For a while, I’d occasionally think about the lens and reconsider my reasons for not publishing it…always reaching the same conclusion. Then I learned of 3rd party tools that provide the functionality I wanted in a much better way and I don’t even use my hack any more.
There’s two lessons here for lensmasters…
- Think about potential copyright issues when building a new lens. Whether it’s code snippets, photos, recipes, song lyrics, or anything else that wasn’t created by you, always stop and consider the item’s copyright status. When in doubt, don’t use it unless you can get permission from the owner.
- Consider alternative approaches to the topic. Once I decided not to publish the lens as originally planned, I could’ve taken a different tack. The lens could have done any (or all) of the following instead: discussed and linked to the 3rd party tools, linked to the support article and given readers tips on how to use the code themselves, or hosted a debate on the value of this feature to the product. You get the idea. I’m not interested enough in the topic to do any of those.
So this lens will never be published and it’s time to send it off to the breakers. I’m deleting it right…now. Poof.
Have you ever deleted a WIP lens? Why?
I have deleted two lenses: one that featured a product that is no longer available and one about a book I hadn’t even read yet.
One time I accidently published a WIP that had almost nothing on it, I frantically pulled something together before many people saw it. Although I did get one like which kind of mystified me. 🙂