June 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm #13890
I don’t mind helping people out when they have questions. On a forum, I’ll answer if I feel like if and if I don’t feel like answering then I don’t. There’s not much pressure because I always know that someone will deal with it
So this is not about forum help requests. It’s about email help requests.
Here’s my policy when someone emails me for help: I will reply once, *maybe* twice, but as soon as it starts getting ridiculous, I stop replying. I don’t know if this would be perceived as mean or not, but I find it frustrating that people think I want to spend my days troubleshooting through email for them.
My most recent run-in is with someone who installed my wp plugin. It wasn’t working. I replied saying that it was an issue I had heard of before but had been unable to replicate myself. I gave him a piece of code that another programmer had written and claimed fixed the problem.
He emailed me back saying, “It didn’t work, do you have any other ideas? I’m sorry I can’t give you a URL; it’s just running on my local machine.”
He replied again:
“I’m not well versed in PHP, could you give me that bit of code to put it the plugin’s PHP file?”
Now here’s the thing: If I give him that code, then he’ll have to email me the file and say, “What does it mean?” And then I’ll have to take another step, and then another, in trying to debug this for him on his local machine. It could be ten or twenty back-and-forth emails. And I have ZERO interest in doing that. I wrote the plugin for fun, I’m not getting paid to support it, and I don’t think I should have to provide excellent customer service as a result.
How do you guys deal with help requests like this? Are you more patient than I am?June 21, 2011 at 11:56 pm #14660
I do not get help requests anymore (basically ever since I stopped writing scripts) but I think you are being very generous. The person should go to the plugin author, if anyone, for help.
I’ve always thought you were too nice for your own good (I say this as you are ever so graciously attempting to help me in another topic )June 22, 2011 at 2:53 am #14661
I used to get crazy annoyed by support emails. There are only so many times you can explain the same thing to the same person
I’ve only been tons of freelance work lately, so I haven’t had the time to get my scripts to the point where anyone using them would need support. I dread the day when it happens. You’re so much more patient.
In your particular case, though, that’s definitely the fault of the user. If he’s asking for support for a free plugin, the least he could do is try to replicate it on a site that’s online. And if he can’t, goody; there’s no problem!June 22, 2011 at 6:02 pm #14662
This guy was quite persistent and posted elsewhere and found his answer! Pretty impressive Turns out I used a + instead of a . to concatenate strings (can you blame me? I’ve been programming in python for the past 6 months! OK, so maybe I’m a little embarrassed….) Funny that my version of PHP (and other peoples’ as well!) overlooked this little hiccup.June 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm #14663
I think it was perfectly fine what you did. Sure, you should help people who installed your plugin, but you’re not obliged to lose sleep over things like these or anything.
It kind of reminds me of a CMS debate, where Joomla enthusiasts claimed that developers who hated it were money hungry and hated CMS which made things easy for the average user. But at the end of the day web development is not exactly what everyone can do (we’d be out of jobs if it were ), so… unless you’re paid I’d say not to worry too much. The fact that you made a free plugin, and answer questions about it is more than enough.
On a side note, things like “could you give me that bit of code” makes me laugh. Kind of sounds as if he were asking for a cup of sugar or somethingJune 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm #14664
Turns out I used a + instead of a . to concatenate strings
^ I hear you.
Netbeans’ intellisense helps though: it always underlines my PHP + – es and JS .-sJuly 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm #14666
I used to help until the problem was solved.
10 years, 1 kid, several exams and 8 working hours a day later … people are lucky if I even open their mails
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