The DDs reading this might know the situation: You are subscribed to a gazillion of mailing lists, and spend quite some time answering questions of people using your packages. That's fine, service to your users. Occasionally, users take great pains in finding out a personal mail address (for example, by googling, and finding the web
masteridiot mail address on my personal web page) to ask their question in private e-mail. This prevents the answers from showing up in mail archives and deprives the public of a possibility to find a solution to this question themselves in the future.
Today, I had this happen to me twice. In the morning, I received a question about exim4 in private e-mail. In German. I investigated the user's problem (which looked interesting enough), found two minor issues in the Debian exim4 packages and upstream exim behaving not as expected. I fixed the two issues in the package and reported the unexpected behavior of exim to the upstream mailing list. I then reported this - in German - back to the person who asked the question. Time from incoming message to outgoing report was like 80 minutes, most of which I spent with this user's issue. On my personal time.
A short while afterwards, I found out that this person has waited a mere eleven minutes before asking the same question on pkg-exim4-users, this time in English. Had I known before, I would have drafted my answer in English as well, to have the answer publicly visible. By doing this double post, the user has deprived the public of my answer.
I'm probably going to stop answering questions asked in private mail. I might draft a boilerplate answer along the lines of "I don't answer questions asked in private mail unless I am being paid to do so. You might be better off by asking one of the numerous mailing lists that are available on the Internet. I read a lot of them, might see your question, and you might get an answer from me. But otoh, there are many more knowledgeable people on these lists, and you'd want them to see your question as well." Or I just might hit Delete on questions in my private inbox.
The "Delete" approach has become more attractive this afternoon after I pulled the following (anonymized) from my personal Inbox:
Great job breaking exim4 on my system with no easy way to fix it. $ /etc/init.d/exim4 start Starting MTA:DEBCONFsomethingDEBCONF found in exim configuration. This is most probably caused by you upgrading to exim4 4.67-3 or later without accepting the suggested conffile changes. Please read /usr/share/doc/exim4-config/NEWS.Debian.gz for 4.67-2 and 4.67-4 2007-07-17 11:31:57 Exim configuration error in line 25 of /var/lib/exim4/config.autogenerated.tmp: malformed macro definition Invalid new configfile /var/lib/exim4/config.autogenerated.tmp, not installing /var/lib/exim4/config.autogenerated.tmp to /var/lib/exim4/config.autogenerated I've been running exim4 v4.63 for awhile now and only have you bugger exim4-config it doesn't work.
I mean, this user has
- Not read NEWS.Debian.gz before updating
- Declined the configuration file updates that were offered by dpkg during the update.
- Received a clear-text error message explaining the issue and pointing to the docs.
- Vulgarly insulted the maintainer
I think I'm going to stop being responsive to users. They're not worth the blood pressure.
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