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On Expectations and Civility

It's easy to contact the authors of most websites. So easy, that when a particular technology fails, the website owner is made aware of the failure quickly, by visitors angered by the failure.

A lot comes down to expectations. We expect things to work. When they break, we expect them to be fixed. On the web, it's not always clear how many resources an organization or a particular project has. A lot of the web is filled with experimental projects that don't have a large tech support team making sure it's running perfectly 24/7. When these projects have technical difficulties, it can be very helpful when a visitor sends in a bug report.

Based on my own experience, a lot of people are confused about the difference between a helpful bug report and an abusive complaint. Behind that comment form is a real person, and nobody enjoys reading abusive complaints. The next time you're all fired up and ready to send your thoughts, stop. Think for a minute. Was there a notice on the page? Did you read it? Could you phrase your words in a more civil tone? The person reading it will appreciate your efforts.


The same can be said about developers. When reading such emails & reports, consider the source, give them the benefit of the doubt, and if you start writing an emotional response, don't. Wait 10 minutes, then come back. I find the quickest way to deflate irritated people is to thank them for their hard work in sending me an email.

Is it hard to bitch in an email? No, but they don't have to know that!

Yep, responding to mail required a bit of a thick skin sometimes. However, if a message is too abusive, I just don't respond to it at all.

As authors, I was actually speaking in the general sense and including coders/developers as well as text creators.

I'm curious if there's been a change in the overall tone of bug reports for software companies (small and large) since the mainstream internet. With the expectation of instant gratification, is the general public getting angrier when things don't work as they expect it to?