Officially unofficial? Or Unofficially official?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/02/20 10:31 -05:00, original URI:

So yesterday in The most important language in the whole wide world is yours, and you hardly even know yours! -- NOT!, post, I bemoaned a specific situation where the only documentation that existed for a particular issue was some poor hints in scattered MSDN topics and some posts on my blog:

Between you and me, the idea of "documentation" that is only contained in this blog is not something I am entirely comfortable with, and not only for the reasons that inspire disclaimer's like Raymond's. This is a topic that I plan to blog about another day since it includes just the mix of Policy, LCA, insanity, and inanity so as to delight and inspire the cynic in me. Stay tuned if this topic interests you! :-)

An even better example of when this whole issue came to a head is in Raymond Chen's Things I've written that have amused other people, Episode 4, which showed a real example that concerned him with is blog being treated as actual official documentation.

I get this from time to time too, though usually not as much -- Raymond once told people that he was envious about how I was able to set the tone here such that people didn't generally take my blog as official documentation (I talked about this issue and gave my own opinions on why that is the case in SIAO: As unofficial as you can get without a prescription).

But then there are times that some feature or bug fix was denied by triage and my lead literally asked if I would be willing to help out by posting about the workaround here in my blog. A good example is that post Cue the smarter version of GetDateFormat... ok, it's a wrap!.

And there are even more concrete examples like the Behold the Table Driven Text Service series, which is specifically being written because the team that was going to document this major feature ended up not doing it (after specifically asking me to delay my posts for over a year in anticipation of that documentation, which ended up never happening. It doesn't read like official documentation, but it is as close to official documentation as this feature is likely to get for the immediate and maybe even known future.

So what does it mean when you aren't official but you are more of an occasional un-official back-channel when no official work or documentation is planned -- or when the work/documentation that was planned was scrubbed?

Putting information here among the "random stuff of dubious value" does not make it magically supported (especially since "here" stubbornly refuses to act like a well-behaved blog that is "on message"), and there is no remedy or recourse to trying to make something supported solely on the basis of it being here.

So while it means something, I am wracking my brain trying to understand what that might be, exactly.

This may be one of the reasons that I continue to treat the blog as something outside of my job despite the fact that it kind of isn't - the fact that what happens here often does not seem to be something that can be (in the words of Fox Mulder) programmed, categorized, or easily referenced.... it doesn't exactly fit....

Just for the record -- this site and its content is not officially supported, and I mean that officially. It is unofficially as useful as you believe it to be, but I am only saying that unofficially.


All characters, in an effort to prove that their sponsorship does not imply endorsement by Microsoft (a Unicode Consortium member) for the contents of this blog, have declined to sponsor this post.

Mikkin on 20 Feb 2008 7:03 PM:

Considering that some official documentation is really just placebo, I will take the truth wherever I can find it. Sponsored or not, I found some here. Thanks.

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