[rc5] Re: rc5-digest V1 #44

Stephen Langasek vorlon at dodds.net
Thu Jul 17 21:49:57 EDT 1997

Just one more, Jude, then I'm done. ;)

On Thu, 17 Jul 1997, Rebecca and Rowland wrote:

> >Is it all right for people to bitch if they've investigated the problem
> >fully beforehand, you ask?
> No - I'm pointing out that there's two sides to everything.

Well, three, actually, but that is most definitely off-topic. :)

> >All but the most lazy who seek tech support
> >feel they've investigated the problem to the best of their abilities.  Its
> >their attitudes once they're on the line with tech support that determine
> >whether they help or hinder the resolution of their own problem.

> How about someone who's careful, methodical, and polite most of the time,
> and finally blows a fuse after being told for the umpteenth time the `The
> Mac client works fine in default mode! The really great things is you don't
> need to know anything about it, just run it, its works great!'

First, I would say, just in case I managed to obscure it with my
meandering words, that yours were not the only posts that I was
targetting.  There were many others I saw posting to this list whose
attitudes were less than admirable.

I don't see any of them defending themselves.

... case closed.

And second--in your particular case, the progression I saw on the list
went straight from initial request to complaints about the lack of
response from the developers.  Since I can't read the developers' inboxes,
and wouldn't be inclined to if I could, the middle stages were completely
lost to me.  And then I saw the comments give way to replies to other Mac
users which seemed to be discouraging them from running the client,
because--the client's broken, after all, and there's no point in you
asking for help or even trying to fix it yourself, because it can't be

(Pay attention here, folks, this part's the only reason I didn't take this
private :)
This bothered me, because when such comments are made in a public setting,
such as this mailing list, they don't just make the coordinators look bad,
*they make the whole team look bad*.  I happen to consider myself a member
of this team; a somewhat vociferous, occasionally helpful, and always
active member.  And I don't like being made to look bad when I haven't
given my prior consent.

One thing that must be kept in mind in a mailing list setting is that
there are always more people listening than there are talking.  At last
count, there were 386 known readers of this list, not counting those
receiving the digest, and surely many others who are influenced by what we
say here.  It takes a certain level of interest to subscribe to the
mailing list for something like this.  A lot of those probably find it of
borderline interest--diverting enough to read, but nothing more.  If the
posts are interesting enough, some of those people will be persuaded to be
more active.  If all they see is bickering, they'll unsubscribe and walk
away, maybe leaving the client on their desktop machine for the fun of it.

In a very real sense, we who post to the mailing list are official
representatives of the RC5 bovine effort to the rest of the world.  The
web page shows people the facts; the mailing list shows people the people.
No matter how intellectually stimulating or politically appealing a
project might be, if they can't stand the people, they won't stick around.
This mailing list has a lot of potential to draw people to the project,
and a lot of potential to repel them as well.  The people who read this
list carry their impressions out to the world with them, and lately
they've been carrying impressions of a group of petty bickerers who are
complaining about the clients, the organizers, and their peers for no
apparent reason.


Of course, a flame isn't the best way to draw supporters, either (at
least, not the kind we're looking for), but I figured, hell, all I'm
seeing is negative feedback anyway, might as well try to scare off some of
the perceived troublemakers.

And besides--what if one of those Mac users you'd told the client doesn't
work happened to have the insight needed to fix your problem?

> I have a pretty good idea of the effect of my words...

<chuckling>  Well, I suppose you did get the results you were after,
although probably not from the looked-for source...


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