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When should a vendor or developer post to the listservice?

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I have been asked many times by engineers and developers of products and software when it would be appropriate (if ever) to respond to a question about their products. Listservices are places for professionals to learn from one another. Who is best suited to answer questions about software or products that are proprietary than the developer or representative of the products. For this reason I have made it clear to all developers or representatives of proprietary products to feel free to respond to discussions when their products are included. This is not to become a contest to determine which product is superior to others, but to answer technical questions that will help engineers use the product of software in design. Some of the guidelines should include (and do on the Structuralist.Net Lists) the following;


  1. No comparisons between manufacturers – leave the evaluations to the engineers in responsible charge.
  2. Provide only the facts you know about your product – let your competitor discuss the merits or features of his software/product himself. Speculation is what most of us have been doing within many of these threads (for example: how is the stiffness or deflection of non-standard frames or panels evaluated conservatively by different manufacturers).
  3. Don’t try and sell your product – this is the one way to have professionals run from you rather than buy from you. I am so sick of looking at television commercials pushing the Martha Stewart look-alike that probably bought her stock from Target at a penny on the dollar to sell at J.C. Penney’s that I wouldn’t buy it if my life depended on it. Leave advertising off the list and in professional journals or by direct mail. Believe it or not, more engineers will buy from you if you prove your product is good and you are knowledgeable about the performance and use of the product as well as how it was tested and how engineers should design it. Trade associations help us each day by becoming involved in the technical aspect of the design for wood, concrete, steel, masonry and more. This is what we need – answers to technical questions, not sales pitches.
  4. Don’t push products – just keep the responses short and to the point. I don’t mean to stop you from elaborating on a topic, but sometimes it can turn a technical response into a sales pitch and this is what we want to avoid.


These are pretty simple rules to follow. I’ve noticed that not enough experts who work in the areas supporting the engineer in professional charge are willing to enter a debate or discussion that may satisfy both sides of the argument (discussion) with a little help from the real expert – those who know the product or software or services.  Feel free to become involved – we need this input as it prevents us from speculating and making inaccurate statements or comments that are at times insulting to those who create proprietary products from good ideas and who do so first to help the community and second to profit from their creativity.


I look forward to more public responses from the experts – especially those I speak with or who e-mail me privately to help get me on track or to support what I have stated in my e-mails. We should never stop learning and we should never stop creating – to do this we should never discount each other and what we have to offer the professional community as a whole. There are many sides to issues that each one of us can not see – when we learn we can keep up with the times rather than falling behind and stagnating.



Dennis S. Wish, PE


Dennis S. Wish, PE

California Professional Engineer

Structural Engineering Consultant



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