It is not uncommon for site owners to be receive e-mails where the Sender is assuming something about them or one of their sites. Some of the assumptions are improperly accusatory while others are based on little to no knowledge in which to base the stated assumption.
Most Assumptions are Inaccurate But…
Maybe it’s me; but I do my best to not assume things about topics I know nothing about. I don’t assume to know how my car works just because I drive one. I am not a mechanic. When I go to the Doctor with an ailment, I do not assume what my treatment is. I let the person who is educated in the field, my Doctor, to ask the appropriate questions and then take the necessary steps to determine what the diagnosis is. Even then, I don’t tell him what to prescribe. I am not a Doctor!
But when it comes to technology, there is no end to those who e-mail websites who apparently believe they know what they are typing about. Enough so to tell the site owner what to do about something, to fix this or that, or to scold them about improper practices. When in fact the basis for their assumptions is not based in any experience or actual knowledge of how technology works.
The Right Way to Reach Out
If I have a concern or I think something is “wrong” I e-mail my questions or concerns in a genuinely courteous and curious manner. Not in an accusatory tone. Nor with a “look how much I know and you don’t” attitude.
I want to help, inform understand and help the site owner find out what’s up. And I do so knowing I do not know everything and leave the door open to the fact that I may even learn something I wasn’t aware of.
When e-mailing site owners on technical issues, be very careful to not make accusations or pointing out what you perceive to be “wrong”, “broken” or “not working.” First check your settings, clear your cache, reboot your computer, check with your ISP, check your firewall settings, check your spyware settings, check your spam filtering settings. Just to alleviate those things as being a potential cause of what you may be experiencing.
And more importantly unless you have solid experience — check your perceptions at the door! What are you basing your accusation on? If not on actual experience and knowledge, your approach should be even more humble and curious.
Being Realistic About Skills and Knowledge
When it comes to technology there seems to be this perceived level of knowledge that exceeds the actual experience of many users on various topics. I see it all the time. A little experience adding up to a big fat chunk of finger pointing via e-mail.
We have all experienced the increased boldness when one doesn’t have to look the person they are sending their comments to in the eyes. Comfortably hiding behind their screens.
In the end, there are times where it is embarrassing for these folks. Luckily for them, I respond in a courteous, factual and informative manner and use my experience to offer a teachable moment. In a kind way I help them to learn how their assumption indicated how much they really didn’t know. While allowing them to now know better.
Unfortunately, not all site owners are as patient. If you think about it why should they have to be? Most simply choose to not respond to accusatory or demanding e-mails. It is for each site owner to determine if this is the proper approach for them.
The smarties send me an e-mail of thanks for enlightening them. The others, well, they are probably off sending corrective e-mails to other site owners. (Some folks have way too much time on their hands…)