30 August 2004
An essential service of any Public Survey project is to maintain a two-way flow of information between survey team and survey users. Keeping the community informed of the progress of observations, reductions and data releases, as well as possible features encountered and upgrades of individual survey products, is essential to ensure transparency and the best possible use of survey products. It is equally important for the survey team to receive as much feedback as possible from experts in the community about the broad range of topics involved in conducting multiple surveys and their administration as for instance:
Finally, it would also be benefitial to provide an infrastructure to facilitate user-to-user communication.A possible way of doing that is presented below.
WEB services form a key element at the interface between the survey team and the community. WEB services also provide the necessary infrastructure for users to request survey products (software/data) as well as other important on-line services (e.g. cutout server, postage stamps) which will soon be reinstated.
In order to meet the communication requirements outlined above, several mechanisms are being considered to be integrated into the EIS Survey System to provide the necessary infrastructure. Currently, the following mechanism is available:
Electronic Mail: email@example.com
The electronic mail address firstname.lastname@example.org is the preferred method of communication when reporting errors/features in released products or the WEB pages, as well as for private inquiries or comments to the EIS/PSG team. Correspondences to this electronic mail address enter a so-called Action/Request system (ARSystem), are automatically allocated an new "ticket" number, acknowledged, assigned to team members depending on their nature and added to a queue for resolution. Tickets remain open until a resolution is provided.
When reporting any errors/features found in released products, the product identification number (PROD_ID) found in the FITS header of each image or catalog and/or the time-stamped filename of the product should be indicated. User support shall not be provided for products not directly requested via the recommended mechanism: past experience has shown that products obtained by other means are often incomplete, undocumented and out-of-date, generating unwarranted user support.
When reporting any errors/features found in EIS WEB services, indicate the URL of the page. Comments that may improve the clarity of the WEB pages (e.g. format, organization, missing information) or ease the navigation are also welcomed.
In order to provide a communication medium among interested parties, a Forum (message board) will be made available for evaluation. The initial topics, listed below, reflect different work areas covered by the EIS/PSG teams. Some suggested topics are:
This mode of communication is ideal for reporting issues and warnings of general interest. For instance, problems with a survey product can be posted by users before the survey team has time to react to an error reported via e-mail. It will also simplify the work of the survey team by enabling it to reach a broad audience in clarifying issues of special interest brought to its attention by individual users.
The content of the Forum will be moderated by the EIS/PSG team to ensure its integrity. New topics may be introduced in response to suggestions made by the community and/or the needs of the survey team. To participate in the Forum, the user must be registered with EIS/PSG as described below.
Electronic Mail Distribution List
The e-mail distribution list will be used to send ''news alerts'' notifying registered users about new data releases as well as other information of relevance.
In order to benefit from these services, users will have to be registered. This registration will not the same as that required to access the Science Archive Facility and will have no impact on the data retrieval operation. Only by registering will the user become automatically part of the mailing list and granted permission to post in the Forum. This will ensure screening of valid users.
User support is a demanding, time consuming activity which cannot be automated. Those providing user support have several high-priority commitments. Reaction time may vary depending on team activities, composition and availability of the assignee.
It is also important to emphasize that the system has been developed to operate mostly in an un-supervised, robotic mode. This implies that what may seem ''easy'' changes to make for a particular case, may not readily fit to the automatic procedures set up to cover a broad variety of circumstances. The primary role of the survey team is to identify ''flexible and programmable'' generic solutions that encompass a wide variety of situations and not to create ''one-off'' adaptations to meet the requirements of a narrow range of interests.
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