Great expectations

Saturday, July 11. 2009
Comments

If you ever contributed your spare time to any project which gives away something at the price of zero, you may be familiar with a large variety of feedback.

It's always reassuring for those who spend their time to get feedback from happy users. But of course there's no way to please everyone at the same time. And aside from the usual "This doesn't work!!!11 WTF?!!", some people seem to be particularly ungrateful, or just way out of bounds when they email in.

I hereby classify feedback into three different types:

  • valuable
  • useless
  • mediocre — in between the above

By classifying feedback, I don't mean classify the content. Of course I have to admit that I prefer positive feedback over negative (Who doesn't?), but in the end it's more or less the attitude and effort which people bring to the table — in emails or bug reports.

Even if someone basically told me that something sucks, I can — given it's valuable feedback — work with them to improve.

Last night, a user had the urge to email us (RoundCube) to tell us how ridiculous RoundCube is. So according to him RoundCube does not provide enough features, whatever we provide is not up to his personal standards, he had issues installing it, using it and suggested that we should drop RoundCube and instead provide an ajax frontend to Squirrelmail.

He also managed to insult some ISP (pobox.com), which his "schoolmate from high school" founded.

No offense Squirrelmail (I'm using you as a backup from my non-JavaScript-friendly mobile), but I really don't see anything valuable in the email I read. I could have taken this a lot more personal when I took the liberty to reply. For transparency I copied our [email protected] mailing list on my response.

This morning the user complained to me about sharing his email with the world, told me I attacked his family (Err, what?), then attacked me personally and demanded that I remove his personal information from the archives.

His response was of course emailed off-list and I didn't feel sharing it again to fuel the fire.

Anyway, I did reply on key and stayed away from personals. But I just received another email from him where he emailed the SourceForge legal team and CC'd myself (and most developers again), demanding that we remove his information, or that they make us because I violated SourceForge's terms of service (3A).

Err... it's certainly not going to ruin my weekend. But what the hell?