Well, I had another post I had planned for today, but after reviewing some customer bugs and some newsgroups where I give out free help (on my own time, mind you) I had to change my mind. I’ve seen this behavior in grocery stores, online forums, and bug reports. No, this isn’t a reaction to something that happened to me personally, it’s just a general observation of what I’ve seen in “the wild”.
Is it me, or have we completely lost basic civility with each other? I’m constantly amazed at the hubris and rudeness of people who are looking for help. Now I know it’s quite fashionable lately to hate everything and everybody, taught to us by the “reality” shows that aren’t real, “idol” shows with nasty comentators who don’t idolize anything, and parents who have created a generation of egocentric-praise-junkies. But when you’re looking for help, it’s always a good idea to remember good old Mary Poppins: “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”
A little tip: If you need something, even if you feel it’s owed to you, remember that there are no companies, no governments, no organizations. It’s just people on the other end of the Internet or the cash register, so be polite. “It isn’t working like I thought it would, and here’s what I expected” is far more apt to get you a response than “Stoopid M$ devs can’t write code!”. For one thing, it’s insulting, and for another, why on earth would anyone want to help you with an attitude like that? Even if your motives are totally selfish and you just want your problem fixed, think about how you sound to the person on the other side. Sure, they already know you’re mad. What you want to do is get them to help. The insults and profanities are only going to let them know you’re mad, which is easily dismissed. Take that away, and someone might actually have to deal with the problem that made you mad – and that’s the real goal, correct?
OK – Sorry about the non-technical, moral outburst. I just think that we can work together better if we’re a little more kind to each other, or at least not mean.