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Netiquette - brad's life [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Brad Fitzpatrick

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Netiquette [May. 4th, 2006|09:38 am]
Brad Fitzpatrick
A dozen or so times in the past few weeks I've had to tell people (who mailed me directly) that:
"I'd be happy to reply, but only if the discussion is on the $XXXXX mailing list so other people could benefit from the exchange. Unfortunately I don't have the time or wrist energy to write emails that benefit one person only."
Is there a more friendly way to say this?

I'd ask for a URL to point people at but it seems despite what that URL says, the act of getting a URL shoved into your face as a reply would feel like http://justfuckinggoogleit.com/ or something.
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: lithiana
2006-05-04 04:48 pm (UTC)
sorry... i mailed you directly the other day by accident, since i wasn't subscribed to the list from the address i sent it from ;-(
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-05-04 04:58 pm (UTC)
You don't count. Emails of the form "HERE IS INFORMATION YOU WANT! Oh, and a patch" I would love to get all day.
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[User Picture]From: lisa
2006-05-04 04:52 pm (UTC)
Not really...you're still a jerk
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[User Picture]From: lisa
2006-05-04 04:53 pm (UTC)
But really, can't you cc the mailing list in your reply? Or is that considered rude too?
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-05-04 04:57 pm (UTC)
Without a round-trip to them asking if they wouldn't mind, yeah, it could be considered rude. I'd be offended if my words showed up on a mailing list without me being ready for that.
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[User Picture]From: bostonsteamer
2006-05-04 06:08 pm (UTC)
You could put the mailing list on the TO line, BCC the original question-asker, and scrub anything identifying them from your reply.
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[User Picture]From: xlerb
2006-05-05 05:38 am (UTC)
I've seen people put a warning in their .signature that they'll respond to the list if mailed privately (when reasonable). I don't know if that's actually any good at drama-prevention.
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[User Picture]From: aca
2006-05-05 12:14 pm (UTC)
Perhaps craft an initial reply and bounce that to the list says "someone asked me about this, I figured it would be useful to someone if the info was recorded here" or similar, then direct the rest of the conversation there?

If someone is asking for your input then you are certainly in a position to suggest how that input is provided, since it's your time/effort/wrists which are being diverted.

If you're really concerned about getting peoples permission before making the mail "public" then maybe just a short, sweet "Do you mind if we take this discussion to $mailing_list, I think they'd find it useful and would have something to contribute" or similar. Makes it seem like a benefit to them to have it out on the list, rather than in your inbox. :)
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[User Picture]From: drmellow
2006-05-04 04:55 pm (UTC)
That sounds friendly enough to me. People should be able to understand that. Too bad that there are to many asshats out there, though. You'll always end up upsetting someone with that sort of response.
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[User Picture]From: dakus
2006-05-04 05:04 pm (UTC)
"Good question, I replied over on the XXX mailing list so others could benefit as well."
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[User Picture]From: scosol
2006-05-04 09:02 pm (UTC)
Hahah I like that- it makes them go work to get their answer-
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[User Picture]From: mendel
2006-05-04 05:23 pm (UTC)
It's more friendly without the second sentence (and maybe without "only"). Just "I bet a lot of people are wondering the same thing. Post to $LIST and I'll reply there" ought to be enough for people to get the hint.
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[User Picture]From: henrylyne
2006-05-04 05:32 pm (UTC)
I like MUNI's sign near the driver:
INFORMATION GLADLY GIVEN BUT SAFETY REQUIRES AVOIDING UNNECESSARY CONVERSATION

Your first line is enough if it includes a URL to the list.
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[User Picture]From: anildash
2006-05-04 06:09 pm (UTC)
I get a lot of this, too, and the temptation is definitely to just page-slap people into submission. I think dakus nailed it, and I'd probably just go with something like "Good question, I'm going to move my reply to the $foo list because the folks who haven't gotten as far as you yet are going to ask the same thing in the future."


That way, you're praising how smart and leading-edge they are while still making it clear you're not gonna carry on with them one-on-one.

Also, I am amused by the phrase "wrist energy".
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[User Picture]From: way2tired
2006-05-04 06:33 pm (UTC)
I take no offense to being told "the information you're looking for is at http://foo.bar". I guess other people do?
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[User Picture]From: dossy
2006-05-04 08:21 pm (UTC)
Brad, get with the times. Just say, "Hey, can I post my response to my blog (or, in your case, LiveJournal)?" If they say "no" then stop. If they say "yes" then do just that, send them the URL, and assume that the rest of the world who cares will find it via organic search. :-)
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[User Picture]From: taral
2006-05-04 08:58 pm (UTC)
"Thank you for your message. I will reply in due time, but due to a high volume of email, you may receive a faster reply asking on the $XXX list."
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[User Picture]From: jwz
2006-05-04 11:01 pm (UTC)
When I get asked the same question a lot, I just write the answer once, put it on a web page, and reply with the URL.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-05-05 01:13 am (UTC)
Yes, thanks! I was remembering that.
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[User Picture]From: edm
2006-05-05 04:42 am (UTC)
Having been there, done that in the past, I've tended to write something to the effect:

"Unfortunately I don't have time to provide individual support for $X.
However if you post your message to the $X mailing list, someone there should be able to help you."

Even if it ended up being me that answered the mailing list question too, it seemed to be a net win.

Or, as jwz said, add it to a FAQ list on the 'net and email them the URL. But even responding with FAQ item URLs gets boring after a while.

Ewen
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