When someone helps you, at least let them know if the problem is resolved or not

I’ll keep this brief because I don’t want to come across like any more of an
a$$ than I absolutely have to, especially since I know I’ve blown my stack
before…..

Gentlemen (and Ladies, if you’re out there),

If someone gives you advice on this list, and ESPECIALLY if they give you
advice offlist, have the courtesy to (AT THE LEAST) to let them know when/if
you get your question answered or your problem solved.

As many people point out, on community supported mailing lists and forums
around the world, these user lists are comprised of people who are giving
their time freely to help others learn about the software the list is about.
Sometimes those lists are about software that is quite useful in a
commercial setting, perhaps even very much in demand, like Asterisk. Now,
you should always appreciate when you get assistance from people on user
lists, but when you’re asking for help on a list like this one, (where I’d
say 80% of the participants on the list are professionals who earn their
living by selling their knowledge of how to install, configure, and maintain
a server application like Asterisk) it would be extremely appreciated if you
show some courtesy to the individual(s) who assisted you for free. I’ve had
several individuals contact me offlist (without being given permission
first, which is first and foremost bad form) and ask for my assistance with
configuring a feature, troubleshooting an issue, and once I got an email
that said something along the lines of:
“I saw a post on the list where you said you could accomplish *
insertNiftyFeatureThatDidNotPreviouslyExistHere*…. Tell me how to do it”
I’m sure many of you have been the recipient of more than your fair share of
emails offlist asking for help, and I’m sure a great number of you try to
offer assistance. What is bothering me is the fact there seems to be a new
trend forming, wherein I don’t get a repsonse from the person I tried to
help, even when I can feel confident in saying that I know I gave them the
piece of information they needed in order to answer their question and
accomplish the goal of making Asterisk perform the way they wanted…..

Has anyone else noticed this trend?

Those of you who are making the requests, is there a reason why you don’t
feel the need to be courteous and at least say, “Hey that advice worked,
everything’s working now”?

Next time you ask for help, especially when it’s offlist (and even MORE SO
when you’re contacting someone you weren’t invited to contact offlist), I
want you to remember that the person you’re contacting usually gets paid for
their time as an Asterisk professional, and that they’re helping you for
free. Hell, if you want to get down to brass tacks about it, thatr person
who is taking the time to try and help you is increasing his or her own
professional competition……

that’s all…nothing super rude, but I had to get that one out there…. I
get annoyed when I answer about 12-13 questions (all in separate emails,
mind you) from someone, and then I never get even find out if I was
successful in helping them

22 Responses to “When someone helps you, at least let them know if the problem is resolved or not”

  1. Nic Colledge said:

    May 10, 11 at 6:38 pm

    +1 I agree with all of this.

    Just wanted to add that there’s another good reason for not contacting people off-list and that is when you do so you leave no record of your conversation that others can use in future to solve the same problem.

    You can learn a lot just by reading the archives.

    Nic.

    Sent: 10 May 2011 21:24

    I’ll keep this brief because I don’t want to come across like any more of an a$$ than I absolutely have to, especially since I know I’ve blown my stack before…..

    Gentlemen (and Ladies, if you’re out there),

    If someone gives you advice on this list, and ESPECIALLY if they give you advice offlist, have the courtesy to (AT THE LEAST) to let them know when/if you get your question answered or your problem solved.

    As many people point out, on community supported mailing lists and forums around the world, these user lists are comprised of people who are giving their time freely to help others learn about the software the list is about. Sometimes those lists are about software that is quite useful in a commercial setting, perhaps even very much in demand, like Asterisk. Now, you should always appreciate when you get assistance from people on user lists, but when you’re asking for help on a list like this one, (where I’d say 80% of the participants on the list are professionals who earn their living by selling their knowledge of how to install, configure, and maintain a server application like Asterisk) it would be extremely appreciated if you show some courtesy to the individual(s) who assisted you for free. I’ve had several individuals contact me offlist (without being given permission first, which is first and foremost bad form) and ask for my assistance with configuring a feature, troubleshooting an issue, and once I got an email that said something along the lines of:
    “I saw a post on the list where you said you could accomplish insertNiftyFeatureThatDidNotPreviouslyExistHere…. Tell me how to do it”
    I’m sure many of you have been the recipient of more than your fair share of emails offlist asking for help, and I’m sure a great number of you try to offer assistance. What is bothering me is the fact there seems to be a new trend forming, wherein I don’t get a repsonse from the person I tried to help, even when I can feel confident in saying that I know I gave them the piece of information they needed in order to answer their question and accomplish the goal of making Asterisk perform the way they wanted…..

    Has anyone else noticed this trend?

    Those of you who are making the requests, is there a reason why you don’t feel the need to be courteous and at least say, “Hey that advice worked, everything’s working now”?

    Next time you ask for help, especially when it’s offlist (and even MORE SO when you’re contacting someone you weren’t invited to contact offlist), I want you to remember that the person you’re contacting usually gets paid for their time as an Asterisk professional, and that they’re helping you for free. Hell, if you want to get down to brass tacks about it, thatr person who is taking the time to try and help you is increasing his or her own professional competition……

    that’s all…nothing super rude, but I had to get that one out there…. I get annoyed when I answer about 12-13 questions (all in separate emails, mind you) from someone, and then I never get even find out if I was successful in helping them

  2. Sherwood McGowan said:

    May 10, 11 at 7:39 pm

    Very good point Nic! Oh and thanks for the +1…Usually when I get on a
    rant, I piss everyone off ;-)

  3. Sherwood McGowan said:

    May 10, 11 at 8:30 pm

    Believe me mate, I feel you, on that note. Not only because of my time when
    I was asking more questions than I was answering, but also from the
    standpoint of wishing the answers were a little more prevalent for the
    searching party to find so that I didn’t see soooo many repeats on the list
    ;-)

    Cheers guys!

  4. Steve Totaro said:

    May 11, 11 at 12:47 am

    On Tue, May 10, 2011 at 8:30 PM, Sherwood McGowan <
    sherwood.mcgowan@gmail.com> wrote:

    -1

    Since I was the number 1 poster on this list a couple of years ago, I think
    I can speak with some authority.

    I just assume that if that person does not ask any more questions, that they
    have either solved the problem on their own, or I helped them by giving the
    answer or steering them to it.

    I don’t need a public or private “Thank You” When I was posting all the
    time, I figured the ratio of “Thank you” emails to silence to be about 20 to
    1, maybe as high as 50 to 1.

    People are busy, under a deadline or whatever, I offer help and do not
    expect anything in return, not even a thank you. Probably because I have
    and will be one of those people, although my questions are usually a little
    over the top for the list or can be pointed to something in bugtracker, I
    have asked many questions when I was stuck and under an all nighter
    deadline.

    I would like to thank anyone out there that has helped me over the many,
    many years dealing with Asterisk and VoIP. It is a blanket thank you for
    all times I simply moved onto then next hurdle to get my deliverables out on
    time and working properly and neglected to post a thank you.

    Before there was any documentation, voip-info amd this list was my savior.
    The volume of traffic has fallen to almost nothing over the last year or
    two.

    I wonder if Digium could post totals as it did when I was shocked to find my
    name as the #1 poster. It would be cool to see who is the #1 poster now,
    but I am more interested in what I perceive to be a huge fall off of
    posting.

    It could be my email server, since I was getting notices from the list about
    excessive email bounces and removing me if I did not click a link. That
    seems to have stopped, and I don’t think it was on my side.

    Back to getting credit or a thank you.

    What I have received by answering questions or helping to troubleshoot is
    worth way more than a thank you. I get some name recognition, paid work,
    large call centers, Sr Positions in high profile jobs. Enough to make a
    nice living, whether I am independent or in a salaried position. Asterisk
    has literally taken me all over the world. My last trip was to Iraq, but I
    have been to Senegal, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, Liberia to help rebuild
    the infrastructure for USAID.

    I don’t really do job searches, I am usually offered a job or project and
    approached by the client.

    For the Dept of State, I set up prepaid call centers to answer questions and
    getting a reservation at the various Embassies about obtaining a visa to
    come to the US. It is called the US visa Information Service

    For DoD/Dos, I cannot really say much except I can say is that I am probably
    one of the few Asterisk people that were issued a Glock and M4, bullet proof
    vests, armored cars, and a PSD team.. How many VoIP guys were taking ak47
    rounds while I was on top of the Iraqi Government building, setting up the
    Motorola Canopy system. Luckily the AK is no sniper rifle by an means. I
    was in IZ and the shooter was in the redzone.

    I don’t need thank yous, although they are nice. I truly have never
    expected anything when offering help or ideas.

    I do see why someone “should” be thanked, even if for nothing more than
    trying to help, and certainly a resolution to the problem for the archives,
    but I am not holding my breath.

    Additionally, having multiple possible answers is not a bad thing. A
    similar symptom could be caused by many different things. Having several
    different answers is a great help to me.

    At least there are many possible answers to try. Judging by who was
    involved in any archived thread, I can usually pick the correct answer the
    first time.

    Thanks for listening to my perspective,
    Steve T

  5. "Andrew Thomas" said:

    May 11, 11 at 3:49 am

    Wow! How self-promoting was that post?

    As for a simple ‘that worked’ post – as others have already pointed out
    before you, it’s not for self-gratification – it’s to help anyone else
    who has the same/similar problem. I used the list archives quite a lot
    in my early days – and having the last post in a thread say ‘try this,
    this or this’ and no comeback is a pain. A simple ‘option 2 worked for
    me’ post at then end would make everything a lot simpler (and beat those
    deadlines you talked about).

    As for ‘off-list’ mailing – please do NOT do it without
    asking/permission as most people get enough e-mails as it is (from
    paying customers).

    Thanks all and have a nice day!

    ________________________________

    [mailto:asterisk-users-bounces@lists.digium.com] On Behalf Of Steve
    Totaro
    Sent: 11 May 2011 05:47
    know if the problem is resolved or not

    On Tue, May 10, 2011 at 8:30 PM, Sherwood McGowan
    wrote:

    +1 from me too. The other thing is that when you answer
    to say the problem has been solved this goes into the archives meaning
    that people can use Google to answer their own questions rather than
    having to even ask the list.

    There have been times when I’ve searched for a solution
    to a problem, found like 10 answers, and nobody has said whether they
    work or not so you have to try all of them.

  6. Steve Totaro said:

    May 11, 11 at 6:48 am

    Thanks Randulo,

    I am surprised you noticed that.

    I truly give thanks to all productive members of the Asterisk community.

    Would you say that I am a productive member of the list and go pretty far
    out of my way to help people? Most of the time give useful info, like the
    Outbound Caller ID thread?

    I may off topic sometimes but that is because I don’t think linearly. Tools
    such as Freemind work very well for me for many applications.

    Thanks,
    Steve Totaro

  7. Steve Totaro said:

    May 11, 11 at 7:15 am

    Wow! How self-promoting was that post?

    As for a simple ‘that worked’ post – as others have already pointed out
    before you, it’s not for self-gratification – it’s to help anyone else
    who has the same/similar problem. I used the list archives quite a lot
    in my early days – and having the last post in a thread say ‘try this,
    this or this’ and no comeback is a pain. A simple ‘option 2 worked for
    me’ post at then end would make everything a lot simpler (and beat those
    deadlines you talked about).

    As for ‘off-list’ mailing – please do NOT do it without
    asking/permission as most people get enough e-mails as it is (from
    paying customers).

    Thanks all and have a nice day!

    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    I am not a nitpicker on top or bottom posting unless someone deviates from
    the flow. Don’t top post when everyone else is bottom posting. Unless it
    was a mistake, understandable, if not, you should learn learn how to use
    mailing lists.

    How was my post self promoting? It is all true, so if it promotes me, then
    that is a good thing.

    You must be new to the community if you. Sometimes it is better to remain
    silent until you have something worth saying.

    Just Google my name and asterisk-users@lists.digium.com and you will see.
    Don’t pretend to know me.

    http://tinyurl.com/6zzfdxk.

    I do not email people that need help and offer consulting on a problem. I
    just suggested that if he was going to do that, it should be direct, not
    broadcast to the list. Your statement has things backwards. Who has the
    paying customers?

    Thanks,
    Steve Totaro

  8. "Andrew Thomas" said:

    May 11, 11 at 8:45 am

    Let’s not get in to to pissing contest. I am not new to this list (jfyi
    – I am also a dCAp). I do know who you are (and couldn’t care less
    anymore). I, also, have paying customers (but don’t feel the need to
    gloat about it in here). I am not pretending to know you – as I don’t
    know you on a personal level (and don’t wish to).

    Sorry that you feel the need to fish for compliments – but you just
    don’t get them like that from me (besides which – you have no bait!).

    You carry on doing what you do – and I’ll carry on doing what I do
    (without braodcasting it to the community).

    Oh, and pleae don’t trip over your ego on the way out.

    Have a nice day!

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  9. Steve Totaro said:

    May 11, 11 at 9:38 am

    Alex, thanks for the laugh.

    I have a wireless keyboard and the batteries are dying. I have been lazy
    and not picked up some AAAs.

    I have been using spell check to help. At least the wrong word was spelled
    correctly, lol.

    Or he is not really reading what I wrote which was along the same lines as
    everyone else, but nobody has to post their solutions, it would be nice, but
    it is a moot point.

    As far as deadlines and taking a little extra time to send solved, yeah, in
    a war zone, it could get you killed.

    Thanks,
    Steve Totaro

  10. Steve Totaro said:

    May 11, 11 at 11:38 am

    Yeah, I am not sure why dude went on the offensive. Got emotional but could
    not produce a single example of the name calling and insults he was hurling
    at me.

    Here is an email I received a very short time ago. Sender and company’s
    name have been removed.

    *| to Steve *
    *show details 9:15 AM (2 hours ago)*
    *
    * * steve,
    I haven’t been active in the * community for a while but ran across an
    interesting project that I would like to pursue. [COMPANY] in springfield
    needs a * admin part time and I could use the steady income plus I would
    like to get my hands back into *… I wanted to check with you first
    because this is your neck of the woods… do you have any experience with
    them?

    recently, I have been just lurking on the [asterisk-] lists. thanks for
    supporting the [asterisk-] groups in a big way. *

    On Wed, May 11, 2011 at 11:28 AM, Sherwood McGowan <
    sherwood.mcgowan@gmail.com> wrote:

  11. "Andrew Thomas" said:

    May 11, 11 at 12:13 pm

    Seems I have upset the God that is Steve Totaro!

    You want an example? OK – your last post. Has nothing to do with the
    thread (or our ‘discussion’) but yet you chose to post it as yet another
    self pat-on-the-back! I could produce a lot more – but you now bore me.

    You know it must be so hard being so perfect Steve. I so wish I was
    you!

    Have a really nice day :)

    ________________________________

    [mailto:asterisk-users-bounces@lists.digium.com] On Behalf Of Steve
    Totaro
    Sent: 11 May 2011 16:38
    know if the problem is resolved or not

    Yeah, I am not sure why dude went on the offensive. Got emotional but
    could not produce a single example of the name calling and insults he
    was hurling at me.

    Here is an email I received a very short time ago. Sender and company’s
    name have been removed.

    | to Steve
    show details 9:15 AM (2 hours ago)

    steve,
    I haven’t been active in the * community for a while but ran across an
    interesting project that I would like to pursue. [COMPANY] in
    springfield needs a * admin part time and I could use the steady income
    plus I would like to get my hands back into *… I wanted to check with
    you first because this is your neck of the woods… do you have any
    experience with them?

    recently, I have been just lurking on the [asterisk-] lists. thanks for
    supporting the [asterisk-] groups in a big way.

    On Wed, May 11, 2011 at 11:28 AM, Sherwood McGowan
    wrote:

    Wow…somehow this turned into a something so much darker than
    the original intent….*sits back and watches the show*

    Thanks guys, that little mini bonfire made an otherwise boring
    day into an entertaining Asterisk-Users version of WWE Raw.

    Cheers!
    Sherwood McGowan

  12. Steve Totaro said:

    May 11, 11 at 12:36 pm

    I am not upset in least, well I am but that’s because I own thousands of
    ounces of silver bullion and I am watching in get pummeled again. Good
    thing I bought the bulk of it when it was only $12 an ounce.

    http://www.kitco.com/charts/livesilver.html

    You are an angry person and it is sad.

    It is also sad that the example I requested earlier is something posted
    later. The only reason for that is because you had nothing to back up any
    of your rage.

    Seek help, please. If you feel like you want to hurt yourself or others,
    have yourself committed right away. I am serious. If you are voluntary,
    you can leave when you want.

    Thanks,
    Steve Totaro

  13. "Andrew Thomas" said:

    May 12, 11 at 3:01 am

    [This is my last post in this thread - as I really CBA anymore!]

    Wow! You really don’t see it do you? Fair enough. I thought you were
    just playing along with my ‘ego baiting’ game – but it seems I hit the
    mother load of all ego’s here.

    Apologies to all ‘watchers’ – but this was intended as a bit of fun -
    and I thought Steve was just playing along. Seems I was wrong.

    As a parting gesture though – I’ll give you an example from your first
    post in here (which reads more like a CV/resume than a post! [in fact,
    they all do]):

    “I was the number 1 poster on this list a couple of years ago”
    “I don’t really do job searches, I am usually offered a job or project
    and approached by the client.”
    “My last trip was to Iraq, but I have been to Senegal, Sierra Leone,
    Guinea, Ghana, Liberia to help rebuild the infrastructure for USAID.”
    “For the Dept of State, I set up…”
    “For DoD/Dos, I cannot really say much except…”
    “How many VoIP guys were taking ak47 rounds while I was on top of the
    Iraqi Government building…”

    A bit further in to the thread:
    “Would you say that I am a productive member of the list and go pretty
    far out of my way to help people? Most of the time give useful info,
    like the Outbound Caller ID thread?” [fish]

    And again:
    “I do not email people…” – then why did you just e-mail me off list?

    Your last post:
    “…because I own thousands of ounces of silver bullion…”

    Everyone a winner [and not one relevant to the thread or the
    discussion].

    Anyway – truth does indeed hurt mate. Grab yourself a Kleenex as I
    throw you back in to the pond.

    Goodbye.

    ________________________________

    [mailto:asterisk-users-bounces@lists.digium.com] On Behalf Of Steve
    Totaro
    Sent: 11 May 2011 17:36
    know if the problem is resolved or not

    I am not upset in least, well I am but that’s because I own thousands of
    ounces of silver bullion and I am watching in get pummeled again. Good
    thing I bought the bulk of it when it was only $12 an ounce.

    http://www.kitco.com/charts/livesilver.html

    You are an angry person and it is sad.

    It is also sad that the example I requested earlier is something posted
    later. The only reason for that is because you had nothing to back up
    any of your rage.

    Seek help, please. If you feel like you want to hurt yourself or
    others, have yourself committed right away. I am serious. If you are
    voluntary, you can leave when you want.

    Thanks,
    Steve Totaro

    On Wed, May 11, 2011 at 12:13 PM, Andrew Thomas
    wrote:

    Seems I have upset the God that is Steve Totaro!

    You want an example? OK – your last post. Has nothing to do
    with the thread (or our ‘discussion’) but yet you chose to post it as
    yet another self pat-on-the-back! I could produce a lot more – but you
    now bore me.

    You know it must be so hard being so perfect Steve. I so wish I
    was you!

    Have a really nice day :)

    ________________________________

    [mailto:asterisk-users-bounces@lists.digium.com] On Behalf Of Steve
    Totaro

    Sent: 11 May 2011 16:38

    let them know if the problem is resolved or not

    Yeah, I am not sure why dude went on the offensive. Got
    emotional but could not produce a single example of the name calling and
    insults he was hurling at me.

    Here is an email I received a very short time ago. Sender and
    company’s name have been removed.

    | to Steve
    show details 9:15 AM (2 hours ago)

    steve,
    I haven’t been active in the * community for a while but ran
    across an interesting project that I would like to pursue. [COMPANY] in
    springfield needs a * admin part time and I could use the steady income
    plus I would like to get my hands back into *… I wanted to check with
    you first because this is your neck of the woods… do you have any
    experience with them?

    recently, I have been just lurking on the [asterisk-] lists.
    thanks for supporting the [asterisk-] groups in a big way.

    On Wed, May 11, 2011 at 11:28 AM, Sherwood McGowan
    wrote:

    Wow…somehow this turned into a something so much
    darker than the original intent….*sits back and watches the show*

    Thanks guys, that little mini bonfire made an otherwise
    boring day into an entertaining Asterisk-Users version of WWE Raw.

    Cheers!
    Sherwood McGowan

  14. A J Stiles said:

    May 12, 11 at 4:28 am

    This is beginning to turn even more unpleasant than the original breach of
    netiquette which prompted the discussion — like one of those fights which
    starts with a raised voice, escalates to fisticuffs and then weapons, and by
    the time innocent bystanders are getting injured nobody can even remember the
    original point being argued.

    Please, let’s all just move on — and remember to (1) remove extraneous
    quoted material, because it saves bandwidth; (2) post *below* the points to
    which we are replying, because that is the natural flow of a conversation;
    and (3) acknowledge when issues are resolved with at least a quick “Thank
    you, this worked for me” — both to show that no more need be said, and to
    indicate to future readers of the archives that a working solution was found.

    Call me an old romantic if you like, but I firmly believe that we owe it to
    future generations coming to read our posts in the mailing list archives, for
    them to find the archives as helpful as we found the posts we once had to
    read in the mailing list archives to get to the position of posting our own
    answers.

  15. Steve Totaro said:

    May 12, 11 at 5:31 am

    On Thu, May 12, 2011 at 4:28 AM, A J Stiles
    wrote:

    Agreed, you should be a Diplomat.

    I will always defend myself though. If they drop it, I will too. If I am
    attacked, I will defend.

    Thanks,
    Steve Totaro

    PS 42 is the answer, now what is the quesstion. :)

  16. Bruce McAlister said:

    May 12, 11 at 5:39 am

    What is the difference between a bird?

  17. Matt Riddell said:

    May 12, 11 at 7:23 pm

    Heh, that might be one example where top posting would make sense ;-)

  18. Matt Riddell said:

    May 16, 11 at 9:05 pm

    Seriously guys. Why would anyone other than the two of you need to read
    this. It’s a personal conversation. We all know who you both are and
    your achievements etc.

    The longer the conversation goes on the more off topic it becomes :-)

  19. Sherwood McGowan said:

    May 17, 11 at 1:24 am

    I like puppies….

  20. Sherwood McGowan said:

    May 18, 11 at 4:40 pm

    Because poking the sleep tiger is fun for some, especially if you’re just
    BARELY faster than the tiger ;-)

    *poke*

  21. Sherwood McGowan said:

    May 18, 11 at 8:24 pm

    Definitely, especially with a nice chianti and some fava beans…*slurping
    sound*

  22. Paul Belanger said:

    May 18, 11 at 9:27 pm

    This topic has run its course. Let’s keep non-asterisk related
    discussion off-list.