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Don't be a jerk

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How to let go of your ego and help your customer's succeed.

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Don't be a jerk

  1. 1. How to let go of your egoand help your customerssucceedSubtitle: Dont be a jerkRich Bowen - rbowen@geek.netCommunity Growth Hacker, SourceForge@rbowen
  2. 2. Open Source = Middle School Make fun of the new kid Say mean things to the girls Show off your scars
  3. 3. Its even codified:
  4. 4. Smart Questions: Eric RaymondRTFM and STFW: How To Tell Youve Seriously ScrewedUpThere is an ancient and hallowed tradition: if you get areply that reads “RTFM”, the person who sent it thinksyou should have Read The F***ing Manual. He or she isalmost certainly right. Go read it.RTFM has a younger relative. If you get a reply that reads“STFW”, the person who sent it thinks you should haveSearched The F*ing Web. He or she is almost certainlyright. Go search it. (The milder version of this is whenyou are told “Google is your friend!”)
  5. 5. Why do we do this?This is a hobby. Support is a jobPeople are mean and entitledThe answers are obvious
  6. 6. Users vs CustomersWhat difference does it make?
  7. 7. Users, right? They didnt pay for it We dont owe them anything
  8. 8. CustomersWithout them, theres no reason foryour productYour product is not uniqueGood customer service is whatdistinguishes you
  9. 9. Whats the difference between users and customers? The attitude of the people on the otherend of that transaction.
  10. 10. The way you treat themdefines their role
  11. 11. Disclaimer: PHP are the good guysGreat documentationUsually a courteouscustomer supportexperienceGood parties
  12. 12. But ... The first graders learn by watching us
  13. 13. I learned it from *you*
  14. 14. So, what can we do ...
  15. 15. 1. Write A Better FMKathy Sierra
  16. 16. ドキュメント Your audience is not composed entirely of white, English- speaking males Idiomatic language is cute, but can also be very confusing
  17. 17. A wonderful example, but requiresidiomatic English to understand
  18. 18. VoiceDetermine who your audience isSpeak to them
  19. 19. Who is your audience?Apprentice Avoid terms like "newbie" and "user", as they set the wrong voice.JourneymanMaster
  20. 20. ApprenticeHow to get startedMay not know what questions to askPreserve their dignity (See also: Dontbe a jerk)
  21. 21. Journeyman Viz: WikipediaMay do this every day, but its probablynot their primary skillWill likely know what to ask, and hasalready done some researchGenerally wants to solve a problem orcomplete a task
  22. 22. MasterDoesnt want to waste your time ortheirsMay be a good candidate for projectparticipation
  23. 23. Speak to themImagine an actual audience that yourewriting toThis helps set your voice correctlyGood docs will have different voices foreach audience
  24. 24. Elevator     “If you cant explain it simply, you dont cszar, on Flickr understand it well enough” -Albert Einstein
  25. 25. Again, half as long
  26. 26. 2: Definedocumentscope
  27. 27. ScopeWhat are we going to talk about?
  28. 28. ScopeIf you dont define your scope, yourreaders will insist that you expand it.
  29. 29. Benefitsofdefiningyourscope:
  30. 30. Benefits of defining scopeYou know when you hit itYou know when youre doneYou know when you can safely say"thats documented over there"
  31. 31. Document your scope"This documentation covers ..."Helpful when people insist you covermoreCan politely point to your policy
  32. 32. This is not just being lazy Do your thing really well Let other people do their thing well This is what the <a> tag is for
  33. 33. 3.Dontbe a jerk
  34. 34. zazzle.com Co roco lla st ry: yo B u ad cu m st an om n er ser s
  35. 35. Good Mannershttp://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335&id=2526&np=287
  36. 36. Being RudeMost of the time, you dont mean toThat guy was just an idiotIdiots are frustratingIve already answered that question17,000,000 times today
  37. 37. Idiots
  38. 38. Two things to rememberYou were a first-grader once, tooYou dont actually know the context oftheir question
  39. 39. ftp://rbowen:glio124@s.ms.uky.edu/
  40. 40. You have a story like that too. You donthave to share it withthe whole class, butwe all know you do.
  41. 41. Be an advocate, not an ... Not everything is "good" vs "bad" There are many right answers http://www.perl.com/pub/2000/12/ advocacy.html
  42. 42. 3.5 - Be a mentorIt takes timeMost people wont thank youThe benefits are immeasurable and willoutlast your "real" work
  43. 43. 4. Listen to the customer
  44. 44. Context Context can be the differencebetween a stupid question and a brilliant one. Dont assume that the customer is an imbecile.
  45. 45. Stupid Questions
  46. 46. Yes, some questions are stupidAttempt to understand thesituation the question camefrom, rather than critiquing thequestionTheyre probably not intentionallywasting your time
  47. 47. Dont hesitate tosuggest a bettersolutionBut ... they mayhave a reasonfor theirproposedsolution
  48. 48. Frequently Asked QuestionsTheyre called that for a reason
  49. 49. Frequently Asked QuestionsDont say "RTFM"Rather, provide a link directly to theanswer in the FM, so that next time,they look there firstActually read that answer, and if itsinadequate, GO FIX IT
  50. 50. Frequently Asked QuestionsAlso, dont say "STFW"Its insulting to assume that theyhavent done anything at all towards asolution.(Even if its occasionally true.)By listening, you can ascertain whattheyve already done
  51. 51. Yes, people should dotheir research, but ... Being rude as your initial stance is hugely arrogant "How to ask smart questions" is an arrogant document that puts all the blame on the customer
  52. 52. Do it once, really really wellIts better to answer the question once, really well, and then link to it, than to answer it repeatedly, getting more frustrated each time
  53. 53. Also, its a business model
  54. 54. Where do docs come from?These are questions we think usersmight want answered vs.These are questions customers areactually asking
  55. 55. Young projectsYou dont know what folks will askYou write docs about what you expectto be useful
  56. 56. Mature projectsListen to the customer, and answer thequestions that theyre askingFrequently asked questions mightactually be feature requests
  57. 57. Listening Mailing lists Usenet (Yes, its still alive) IRC Third-party websites with their horrible horrible advice
  58. 58. Third-party sites Sometimes evidence that youve failed with your docs Gently point out their errors Ask them if theyd like to contribute to the official docs Everybody wins
  59. 59. Third-party sites Tend to go for fastest cheapest solution, not necessarily best practice
  60. 60. Unfortunately ... You have to actually participate on those sites to make a difference
  61. 61. Statistics What docs are people looking at? What Google search led them there? Does the doc seem to answer that question? Do you provide them a feedback method?
  62. 62. 5. Learn somethingIf you go very long without learninganything, you probably are out of touchwith the audience of yourdocumentation
  63. 63. By duane.schoon, Flickr
  64. 64. FIN rbowen@geek.net rbowen@apache.org sf.net/blog drbacchus.com @rbowen @sourceforge joind.in/6504

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