Friday, 14 March 2008

Personal Messages on the Forums

I've been trying to be helpful on the forums for a while now and in general people seem to appreciate most of my efforts.

One thing that does happen quite a lot is that I post a reply to a query, then the original poster (or someone else) wants to start a follow-up discussion by personal message.

Usually I respond to this by giving a general reply to any follow-up questions, followed by a note something like

I prefer not to give too much advice by PM. If I'm going to try to be helpful, I like as many people as possible to benefit from it.

If you have any further questions, it works better if you ask them publicly and I (or someone else) respond on the forums.
Most people take the hint. Some apologise (for which there is no need at all) and some never speak to me again (or that's the way it seems to me)

Some people, however, just ignore the note and ask the next question in another PM.

I may give them the benefit of the doubt once and assume that our messages crossed, while the poster was composing his question.

I may reopen the correspondence myself by suddenly remembering something else I didn't put in my original reply. Then it's only reasonable to accept a couple more PMs before giving up.

To a subsequent question, if I'm feeling reasonably polite, I may reply
We really should discuss this publicly in the forum.
But after that, I really can't think of anything polite to write, except to tell them exactly what I charge for consultancy. I normally express this in USD per hour, even though my charges are nearly always in GBP.

Strangely enough, that usually ends the conversation.

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