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Why I Don't Give Personal Tech Support

I don’t give personal, one-to-one technical support for open source software I’ve created. This may seem obvious to some of you, but to many people it is not obvious.

· DevOps Zone

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What do I mean by personal tech support? I mean I don’t use private email or other means to answer questions about software I’ve created. I don’t troubleshoot bugs or answer how-to questions.

The reasons are simple:

  • I don’t have time to solve everyone’s issues.
  • If I solve your problem, it will recur for someone else, who will ask me again.
  • Your problem is probably shared by others. They can help you find the solution.
  • When you find a solution, if it’s done in public, it will answer many other peoples’ questions. They will not ask anyone for help, they will only need to ask Google.

Despite the fact that I’m pretty clear about this, people regularly ask me for individual, private technical help on email.

I do not understand why, when I ask them to ask again in a public forum such as the project’s mailing list, people won’t do it. In some cases I can tell that they have read the documentation directing them to use the mailing list, and have instead gone to some trouble to seek me out and ask me a personal favor one-on-one.

This blog post is an effort to save time in the future: I have gotten tired of saying no in a personal, individual way. I’ll just respond with the URL of this blog post in the future!

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Published at DZone with permission of Baron Schwartz, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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