A simple email introduction: Fan mail

One of my former colleagues on the Windows kernel team wasn't afraid to make changes all across the system when necessary. If the engineering team decided to upgrade to a new version of the C++ compiler, my colleague was the one who gave it a test-drive on the entire Windows source code, and fixed all the warnings and errors that kick up as well as ensuring that it passed the build verification tests before updating the compiler in the official toolset. Beyond that, my colleague also ran around being a superhero, writing tools that needed to be written, fixing tools that were broken, and generally being somebody.

Since the effect on the Windows project was so far-reaching, everybody on the team knew this person, or at least recognized the name, and as a result, my colleage ended up receiving a lot of email about all different parts of Windows, be they bug reports, requests for help using a particular component, whatever.

And when the question was about something outside my colleague's sphere of responsibility, the message was forwarded to the correct people with a simple introduction:

From: A
To: XYZ-owners, Y
Subject: Problem with XYZ

Fan mail.

From: Y
To: A
Subject: Problem with XYZ

Blah blah blah blah

I've used this technique a few times, but it's been a while. I should start using it again.

Bonus chatter: At least one of you has come out and said that you post your complaints here with the expectation that the complaints will be forwarded to the appropriate team. This expectation is false. No such forwarding occurs. This Web site is not a complaint desk.

Comments (6)
  1. jschroedl says:

    I like this technique

  2. Mark VY says:

    I don't get it.  If my message gets forwarded, whose fan am I?  The subject of the story, or the eventual recipient?

    ["Dear XYZ-owners. Here is some fan mail from person Y." -Raymond]
  3. Rampage says:

    Mark VY: the way I read it, you're a fan of the original recipient…  you're so impressed with him that you've sent him email about something for which he isn't even responsible.

  4. Lawrence says:

    Yay! I thought stories of colleagues were gone forever after the "Bob" issue. I love hearing stuff like this, Raymond, please continue :)

    (also, very clever way to distract people from the identity guessing by throwing out the troll bait bonus chatter!)

  5. @Mr. Chen: "I've used this technique a few times, but it's been a while. I should start using it again."

    What exactly are you planning to do?

  6. Nick says:

    @Lawrence: I think one main difference here is that even if Raymond has one particular person in mind, the description likely falls on many people. Note: I have never worked with any of the people Raymond may be writing about.

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