Comment 85113

By Nasir_Jones (anonymous) | Posted January 11, 2013 at 14:56:58

Am I the only one who thinks that the citizen response was beyond harsh?

I work in software and if we ever have to build a public- or client-facing application, the client comes in, runs through some UAT (user acceptance testing), and gives us the OK to go live. This is standard practice. Did this not happen here? I find it somewhat hard to believe that not a single person from the city gave the site a once over in the whole 8 months that the site was in development. Is it standard practice for city staff to buy cars without test driving them as well?

With regard to the consultant being unprofessional, incompetent, etc. There were less than 10 mistakes on their website by my count:
1. the t-shirt from Hamilton, WA
2. the courthouse from Hamilton, OH
3. the bike path from Ottawa, ON
4. the payday loans thing in the HTML source
5. the 'offensive' comment in the survey about minorities and the under-privileged
6. the website looks ugly (subjective)

Those things are all simple fixes. It takes <5 minutes to swap out a picture or change some text. Why the citizens reacted with downright hostility instead of constructive support is beyond me. Is it just general frustration with City Hall reaching a boiling point?

Needless to say, the website was only one part of what was supposed to be a multi-faceted project (including live speaking/interaction engagements for example), and those things will never come to light now that this whole thing was cancelled. Are we all so clairvoyant that we can we really judge the project as a whole by the first day or two?

The twitter backlash to "What is HSR?" is silly, too, in my opinion. How many times do you go in to Canadian Tire or Zellers and ask where a product is and a staff member there doesn't know. Is that enough to judge the whole corporation as incompetent? Do you then choose not to visit the other departments you had planned to and leave the store entirely based on one interaction with one employee? Do you refuse to shop at any Zellers or Canadian Tire in all of Canada? Maybe the guy running twitter at that time was new, who knows. Maybe they knew a lot about the city but that was one thing that they didn't know. I don't know. People make mistakes. Mistakes of all sizes, large and small. That's why they put erasers on the ends of pencils and HTML isn't read-only once published. Either way I think the #tellOHEverything response to that was uncalled for and juvenile, and obstructed the original purpose of the project, to engage Hamiltonians.

One thing that I've learned building software for clients is that the client has to work constructively with the contractor in order to maximize the success of a project. The vocal citizens chose not to work constructively and resorted to hurling insults, ridicule, and other juvenile tactics. The citizens demanded and apology and once presented with one, refused to accept it. What option did they really give the contractor except to get the F*** out of our city? Apologize again? Apologize harder? What ever happened to meeting half-way? The citizens didn't even meet one quarter or one eighth of the way. This is what disappoints me the most. Given that the contractor in this case had been working with the city since April of 2012, all that time, effort and money is spent. The vocal minority of citizens, on all of our behalf, have simply refused to accept anything at all and now the project is cancelled. Maybe there was value in the other 90% that we never got to see. Now what? A legal battle in court? Go back to the drawing board with one of the other 3 firms that weren't chosen? Cut our losses and accept that we just can't have nice things in this city?

I liken the judgement of this engagement project to the typical judgement of Hamilton by a Torontonian driving over the Skyway. They see the Steel companies and that's it. That's enough for them to make their minds up about us and be on their way, and that's exactly what was done here.

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