Providing Support

Following up on my ranting about users and developers I now want to discuss the meaning of 'User Support' a litte.

With Open Source projects the gap between developers and users if very small. Users can interact with the devs very easily, as devs tend to write their e-mail address in credit files to show their ego as much as possible. Unfortunately this brings also a non-pleasent side effect: users mailing devs directly with support questions.

Most of these emails are either ignored, or replied upon with a pointer to a mailinglist. The reason of this is that either 1. the question is waaay too stupid, 2. the user didn't RTFM*, 3. the user is just too lazy to try things on his own or 4. the message is written in a language they dont understand.

To make sure a dev even thinks of helping you out you need to follow a few basic rules:

THINK before you decide to bully a developer. Nothing is more annoying than a simple question of which the answer is written on the first page of the user manual. The response to these kind of questions will be mostly 'RFTM', or it will just be ignored.

Try to find the correct developer for your question. Asking questions about Windows to a Unix guru isn't going to help, it only makes your support question move faster to /dev/null**.

Write in the correct language. If you are not sure which language is the most compatible with a dev, try English. Without the correct language, the dev won't be able to read your mail, and thus not respond to it.

Be nice. We are not paid to do support, but ofcourse you can bribe us with gifts The nicer the gift, the faster we respond. Also you can buy us something nice after we helped you. If you take in mind the few guidelines I wrote down here, make sure you follow the e-mail etiquette ask your question in a nice way and show that you thought about the problem yourself, then you will see that most devs will help you gladly. Though don't expect us to help, as we may be short on time, or just don't feel to answer your questions right away. Good luck with seeking support!

*RTFM: Read The F(ine)|(ucking) Manual.

**/dev/null: the place where nothing comes out after it has been put in.

Comments

Derick, you're soooo negative...

Baby, I love you!!!!!!

That's instructive :)

Should we have it on the PHP-General list as our welcome message?

:)

Maxim Maletsky maxim@php.net

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