melanie at itcouldbenothing.com
Wed Sep 12 12:25:14 GMT 2007
From: wp-forums-bounces at lists.automattic.com
[mailto:wp-forums-bounces at lists.automattic.com] On Behalf Of wordpress
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 2:37 AM
To: wp-forums at lists.automattic.com
Subject: Re: [wp-forums] Tone
thats understood -- and fwiw I really wasnt pointing at you.
THIS is the kinda "crap" that is frustrating to me:
My own last reply is unedited since the last post - in other words, I didnt
edit my post after his reply.
Its becoming almost trendy to cry foul when you dont get the reply you want,
Well now, this ought to be interesting. Most of you don't know me from Adam,
and probably wouldn't have the first clue which username I am on the forum,
which is understandable. I started helping out on the forums over a year
ago, but I only lasted a few weeks before I got fed up. Not with the people
asking for help - even the really nasty ones - but with a choice few of
those offering.... well, not necessarily help. But answering posts anyway.
Since then I've more or less lurked on this list just out of curiosity and
with the idea that I might jump in again one day, if some things changed.
Obviously, with the renewed discussion about tone, they haven't.
So I thought I might share a bit of why a volunteer got run off, from my own
perspective, and I'm going to be bluntly honest about it. Normally I would
try to dull the sting with emoticons or a light tone, but you know what? I
think it's about time someone just outright said it. If you guys wanna kick
me off this list after this, not only will I understand, I'd probably agree
it's the best thing. (And really, I should unsub myself anyway - I really
don't plan on ever coming back to help in the forums again.) I won't be
making friends here.
This example from whooami is a perfect springboard, and what spurred me to
spend time writing this when I should be sleeping. It nicked a nerve. First,
let me just say - whooami: You and I would probably get along famously in
real life. I've read some of your blogs and such, and believe it or not (and
you won't after reading the rest of this) you'd probably dig me a bit. I
know I'd like you - I always love smart techie women. But your positive
contributions to the support forum (as numerous as they indeed are) are far
out shadowed by your know-it-all condescending attitude. Looking at that
link you provided as an example of the "crap" that is frustrating to you,
what I see is a person who is trying to figure out something, asks a
question, and the your response is pretty much, "ha ha - you're a total
idiot." When you throw that kind of attitude at people, guess what?? That's
what you'll get in return, which is exactly what happened. Oh, I know, the
PC thing here is to say that I'm reading tone into text that isn't there.
No, really. I've been reading & writing stuff on the Internet for 13 years.
I've kind of got the hang of figuring out when someone is being a smart ass
and when someone is answering a question. That was being a smart ass, plain
and simple. If my first question posted on the WP forums had been answered
that way (and my first question was almost as stupid - we all have to start
somewhere) I would have "cried foul" in the same way. Not because I didn't
get the answer I wanted, but because of the attitude. If you REALLY just HAD
to post an answer, something like, "I don't know what program that is, but
it's not WordPress, so we won't be able to help you" would have given him
the EXACT SAME INFORMATION without pissing him off. I personally would have
added a nicety like "Sorry!" even. It takes about a second longer to type
that, but if it leaves someone feeling better about their experience when
trying to get help, it's worth it.
Honestly, having been a tech support manager for many years, if you were
working for me, I'd fire you after the second or third response like that.
Oh, and yeah, blah, blah, you're volunteering, not working. Eh, so what? As
others have said, really, if you can't answer a question directly (hell, I
wouldn't even ask you to answer nicely, just leave out the snarky comments)
why not just skip the thread and let someone else who can answer it directly
do so? Why MUST you inject the snottiness?
I'll admit that you're really smart, sharp, and you know your shit, far
better than I do. I'd hire you for a coding or QA position any day. But I'd
make damn sure you never talked to a customer. Your people skills - at least
from what you've posted on the Wordpress forums - need some serious work.
(Maybe you're nicer in real life, I don't know.)
And hey, while I'm here and making enemies for life (whee!), let my just add
that one of the other folks who pretty much ran me off was Moshu. Never have
I come across a moderator on a support forum - paid or volunteer - who has
less business being a *moderator* on a support forum. Again - you're a smart
cookie and when it comes to the tech side of things, probably brilliant. I
wish I was as skilled. And you might be a really nice person in reality. But
your curtness (which will ALWAYS be read as rudeness, no matter how much you
want to tell yourself that it's someone else's issue with reading tone) is
just unnecessary. I actually disagree with your assertion that helping
people with things that are only tangentially related to WP - like CSS -
isn't a good thing for the forum (in my line of thinking anything that keeps
people engaged with WP can only be good for it in the end) - but even if I
agreed with it, your way of telling people it's not related is just, well,
it's bitchy, for lack of a better word to describe it. Read some of the
responses that Handy gives -- ALWAYS nice, always courteous, even when he's
dealing with someone who doesn't deserve kindness -- and learn.
Listen -- here's the thing: Yeah, you're volunteering so you don't get paid.
Yes, there is a LOT of work involved in moderating a forum or even helping
to answer the questions. And yes, frequently there are some major PITAs
hanging around that do deserve the snarky comments and attitude. But 99% of
the time they don't. Cut down on your own workload by simply IGNORING the
threads that you cannot answer without being snotty. Or in Moshu's case,
well, damn, since you're a moderator, my only suggestion is either stop
being one or work on taking that extra second or two to attempt being nice.
It won't be nearly as hard as you think, and it will add maybe 20 minutes to
your time spent on the forums, if that.
When I first started coming to the WP support forum - for help before I'd
figured out what I was doing - the forum had a rep for being a really
friendly, helpful support site. A couple of folks who have long since
stopped being around all the time helped me a lot with their responses, not
just to my own questions but to other people's queries. I was really
impressed with how nice everyone in the forum was, and that's why when the
search was completely borked and the forums were stuffed with people trying
to get help, I decided to jump in. In the last year or two that has changed,
and it seems like it started changing right before I started trying to help.
This a big part of why that rep has changed. There are still a ton of really
nice, helpful people, but a few nasty apples are spoiling the whole thing,
and negative press spreads much further and faster than positive press. (The
other part of the rep changing is that bbPress *still* isn't a end-user -
read: non-techie - friendly forum script, and the search is still mostly
unhelpful. I might as well go ahead and be blunt about that while I'm
pissing everyone else off.)
Now, I'm sure all of you have quit reading at this point, a few (or even
most of you) aghast at how snotty I'm being in my admonishment of those
being snotty on the forums. So be it, but I've read so many emails on this
list with people trying to offer constructive opinions, pussyfoot around the
issue and be nice about it, and that's obviously not making any difference.
Not that I really think me stating it this way will actually make Moshu or
whooami reassess their approach (in fact, I'm pretty sure the response I'll
get, if any, from them will pretty much fall into their status quo), but
damn, I just think it's about time someone said it.
And in a lame half-assed attempt to end on a high note, since I brought
Handy up - man, you are one of my heroes. I don't know how you do it, I
don't know why you do it, but I'm always in awe of how helpful you are. It's
obvious (by the snotty tone in my own email here) that I will never be as
good a mediator or as nice a person as you are. I aspire to it, but things
like this rub me the wrong way and I have to let it out. I wish I could roll
with it the way you do. If there was an award for being the most awesome
support forum moderator ever, I'd do everything in my power to make sure you
got it. I hope, for the sake of the people in the forums that need your help
and for your own peace of mind, that you never get as jaded and bitchy as I
I'm off to sleep now, and I'm sure I'll have some regrets for having spent
time writing this when I awake, but for the moment, it just feels good to
get it off my chest.
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