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  1.    #1  
    So there's been a bit of controversy both here and on Twitter regarding our decision to publish a story about webOS 2.0 that was based on a leak. The controversy didn't begin until Palm reacted by closing their Early Access Program (EAP) to new developers. Since that time, the whole thing has pretty much died down - especially since Palm reversed their decision and re-opened the EAP. Lots of people have advised me to let it lie or at least to be brief in my response. But the strong reaction from people whom I respect compels me to lay it all out.

    I haven't chimed in in full mostly because I'm traveling and covering a show that's chock-full of news for our other sites. But I have had a chance to breathe, speak with Palm, and, more important, a night's sleep behind me since the whole thing broke open.

    I've been with the PreCentral/TreoCentral/VisorCentral community for literally 10 years now. In that time I've learned that sometimes you try to convince people in the forums and sometimes you just state your position clearly and succinctly and don't worry that you can't bring every last person around to your side.

    As Rod Whitby said on Twitter:

    Anyone who thinks reporting on some ***** NDA-breaking dev going to splinter anything doesn't know the robustness of the #webOS community.
    We're not going anywhere and every family has disagreements - these can serve to make the community strong. Please take the time to read the whole thing before responding - consider sleeping on it too, like I did. It's unlikely that I'll be responding to replies in this post - I'm going to say my piece here and then get back to my job: reporting and blogging about smartphones.

    OK, enough preliminaries.

    I did not sign an NDA with Palm on this, neither did Derek. When we do sign NDAs or enter into handshake agreements, we are rigorous about keeping them and even help to enforce them by helping others remember where the lines are. Nobody is more serious about keeping an NDA than I am and anybody who questions Derek's honor is not familiar with his character.

    We are not Palm and it is not our duty to protect Palm's NDAs. It's our duty to report news. This was news. We are going to continue to publish stories based on leaks because we are a news site and because we see these stories as serving our community. These two things are not in conflict, as far as I'm concerned.

    Leaks happens literally every day on larger blogs and nobody bats an eye. I think Ryan Block probably said it best:

    I think it bears noting that there are almost never scoops in the tech world that are not born out of some illegality. At Engadget, whenever we'd publish a breaking story that no one else had [...] what you are actually witnessing is the act of someone providing a scoop that betrays their team, breaks their NDA with at least one party (if not sometimes more), and possibly violates trade secret law -- no ifs, ands, or buts.
    Do you really want PreCentral to be a site that never publishes leaks of any kind? To argue that we should never publish something because somewhere in the chain of information somebody broke an NDA is to ask us to become a completely different site, one held to a different standard than any other technology blog, one that most of us wouldn't enjoy.

    Make no mistake: if we hadn't leaked this story, somebody else would have.

    Publishing stories based on leaks is always a judgment call. We don't publish everything we get for reasons which differ every time. In our admittedly small little corner of the web, I think this story wasimportant enough to publish - it verifies that Palm is likely working on a software keyboard. That's important for users who are thinking about buying a webOS device someday to know.

    It's even more important for developers to know because it may affect the operation of their app. Anybody who has used the iPhone or an Android phone for any length of time knows that there are certain apps that just plain suck because they don't elegantly handle the keyboard popping up. So a developer should have that in the back of their mind and, let's face it, developers don't have time to dig through every line of code in the SDK.

    So in this case, I see this kind of article serving developers and as a part of an overall theme of PreCentral acting in their best interests. Trying to do right by developers is incredibly important to us - from Homebrew to offering free forums to spotlighting apps to literally offering free advertising on every page on our site via our featured apps program - in a spot that we could make advertising revenue on if we chose to. The implication that PreCentral hurt developers hurts me personally because I've worked so hard at fostering and supporting the development community around webOS.

    The many, many leaked stories we have reported on in the past did not provoke this kind of reaction. Why was this time different?

    This time was different because Palm chose to react to it by shutting down the Early Access Program for new developers while they considered 'new restrictions' for admission to the EAP. I believe that this decision was wrong. Many people are reacting by saying that PreCentral hurt developers because Palm closed the EAP - it should be obvious by now that I strongly disagree. In my opinion, Palm hurt developers by overreacting.

    Palm needs developers and excitement about their new SDK more than ever. I am not kidding when I say that besides new hardware, getting developers interested in webOS 2.0 and using the new features in it isthe most important thing going on at Palm. Anybody and everybody not designing boards and chipsets and software at the company should be focusing on it. The EAP is key for Palm right now and it was and is urgently important that Palm handle it with thoughtful care.

    I think Palm's decision to react to the leak by closing the EAP hurt the feelings of goodwill and buzz surrounding the webOS 2.0 SDK and by unnecessarily forming a small rift the community. It's not nearly enough to really damage things long term - we are a very strong community - but these are not the kinds of missteps that webOS can afford.

    On the twitter post, @webosdev's stated reason for pulling the EAP was to 'decide whether we need new restrictions on access to this stuff.' This reasoning still boggles me.

    I want to believe that Palm isn't so stunningly naive that they would really think that nothing would leak out of the SDK. They should be aware that leaks like this happen with Beta SDKs all the time. They happen with RIM. They happen with Apple.

    I want to believe that the EAP as it currently exists is the EAP that Palm really wants: open and easily available with minimal requirements.They could have amended the EAP before releasing this beta SDK to (hopefully) hundreds of new developers.

    I want to believe they had some sort of plan in place for when a leak happened under the current EAP. What I don't want to believe is that shutting down the EAP was part of that plan. If Palm doesn't have the tolerance for these kinds of leaks, they should have changed the EAP a long time ago. They didn't, they chose to launch the webOS 2.0 SDK under the terms of the existing EAP - knowing full-well that a leak was likely.

    When similar leaks happen on other platforms, those companies exercise restraint. These kinds of leaks happen all the time with iPhone/iOS SDK Betas and Apple - whose reputation about this sort of thing is much more serious - doesn't react like this.

    In that context, I simply cannot understand this decision and am gratified to see it reversed - with no change to their EAP policies.

    Greg Kumparak had some strong words for Palm yesterday. If you haven't read that article, please do. It's an indication of what people thought of Palm's decision outside of the webOS community.

    PreCentral is a big site that does lots of things: we are the largest webOS community around, we host apps and themes with the support of other communities like WebOS Internals, we serve as a help-and-how-to site for new and advanced users, we try to help build enthusiasm for webOS, we sell accessories, we call out Palm and carriers for things we think are wrong, we promote apps, we review apps, we report on news and some of that news is based on leaks. We fully intend to be all of those things - and plenty more - for a long time.
  2. #2  
    I can appreciate this response. Keep up the good work Dieter, and PreCentral as a whole.
  3. #3  
    completely agree
  4. #4  
    Thanks Deiter that was a great response. And i get your point completely.

    In Palm's defense, they had to do something to show how SERIOUS they are about NDA breaks, and i think there recent actions just did that. So i think they just made their point.

    I think it was also about what was leaked... and a leak about a Virtual Keyboard isnt really that devastating. In fact it was just stating the obvious... of course they are making one.

    But again, Palm had to act. Authorities sometimes have to "overact" to make these kinds of statement.

    That's just me.
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    #5  
    I agree 100% with this, particularly the sentiment that it was Palm and not PC who were harming developers and goodwill.

    Those who voiced their (negative) opinion in the other thread were on their high horse and completely off the mark in my opinion. I'm glad that you're standing by your decision and that you'll continue to report on things like this in the future. I'm totally in agreement that this is in your users' interests.

    Thanks for publicly taking such a strong stance on this to confirm you'll continue to report on leaks.
  6. #6  
    In stark contrast to the rude and often profanity laden posts over the last day you have restated the facts, your [long standing] position and that of P|C, clearly, intelligently and with great poise. Thank you.
    Sprint|Samsung Epic
  7. #7  
    Yeah, what was all the fuss about anyways? They already stated they will be releasing a tablet next year, so a virtual keyboard seems quite obvious to me. Why do people get all up in arms about this feature being 'leaked'. In the past news like this was what everyone loved. Keep it comin' PreCentral!
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  8. #8  
    Thanks for the well written and thoughtful response.

    Blo
  9. #9  
    Did I miss something? I might be wrong, but I didn't read anything misleading ~ or out of context.
  10. #10  
    very well written. My hope is that this didn't have a negative impact in the relationship bdtween palm and PC.

    obviously that's your responsibility, not mine. So it's not important how I might have done it - especially since I'm not a journalist.

    that said, I hope HP has the name of the person who broke the NDA. That seems appropriate.

    as someone known for over-reacting (really? me?), I'm most appreciative that you took the time to talk to palm and to share your thoughts here. Open and transparent communication is one of the ingredients that make this community so loyal and effective.

    thanks for posting this, and thanks for making this place so enjoyable.

    I'm impressed.
  11. #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by ryleyinstl View Post
    In stark contrast to the rude and often profanity laden posts over the last day you have restated the facts, your [long standing] position and that of P|C, clearly, intelligently and with great poise. Thank you.
    +1
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  12. #12  
    Thank you for a very well written, thoughtful response. I agree with every word of it.
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  13. #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by Workerb33 View Post
    that said, I hope HP has the name of the person who broke the NDA. That seems appropriate.
    Why? The best way to lose a source is to not protect them.
  14. #14  
    I wasn't necessarily saying PC should turn him in, hopefully other devs delivered him to palm in a box.

    I doubt the culprit will have access to anything confidential from palm for a long time-if ever.
  15. #15  
    Thank you for the response Dieter. I do agree that there was an over-reaction on Palm's behalf, and those screaming for Derek's head or posting responses with profanity and/or hatred were completely ridiculous.
    However, as I said I believe the the response was magnified by the publishing of a screenshot of the actual code from the SDK. I hate slippery slope arguments, because they're usually absurd, but in this case, if other, more in-depth code was leaked that could put Palm at a competitive disadvantage, would that be posted? What would've been wrong with posting the information about references to a VKB without the code shot. I am no journalist, and I completely agree that PC is free to report on anything you deem news worthy. My main concern is there being damage done to the outstanding relationship between Palm, PC, and the webOS community. I know they should really be thanking you and us for keeping the platform alive through homebrew and word of mouth advertising, but I don't want their overreaction to extend to their openness to the whole homebrew community. That would be a huge, if not fatal mistake on their part, in my opinion, but there's nothing that says it couldn't happen.
    Regardless, I want to thank you again for responding to the issue and not just sweeping it under the rug. It says a lot for your integrity and the respect you have for your writers/co-webOS enthusiasts. Here's to hoping that leaks and controversy turn to news and renewed excitement as soon as possible!
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  16. #16  
    I am with you, I was so chastised by people yesterday when I stood up for Derek, told that I am a 4th grader and should go back to my algebra readings . Almost feel like there are hundreds of nice and intelligent people on this website at the same time thousands of people, who are rigid and inflexible and unwilling to see others point of view.

    The only reason I would come back to this website is if you guys keep publishing stories like this(VKB) and that too with proof, other wise I will go somewhere else. Almost make me feel sad how a lot of my community gets so sentimental over few crazy things like leaks, flash and Palm promised and goodbye palm you wont see my dollar cause you didnt do this particular thing.

    I am glad you are putting palm in its place as well for overreacting. Imagine if apple pulled the SDK out everytime someone reported a new feature for the next version of phone.
    Last edited by kkhanmd; 09/04/2010 at 05:36 PM.
    If this helped you hit thanks.
  17. #17  
    Amen brotha. If the competitors really wanted to find out what was in the Palm SDK, they would have signed up and found out for themselves. Who's to say they aren't doing this now.
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  18. #18  
    Words Of Wisdom In An Unwise World.


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  19. #19  
    I wish Deiter you would publish this article rather than just keeping it in the forums
    If this helped you hit thanks.
  20. #20  
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