Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Doesn't Work

This may be the worst way I've heard to start a conversation about an issue you think you've found:

"Feature X doesn't work"

Huh? This phrasing is:
  1. Pretty unlikely. For all we tease developers sometimes, it's pretty darn rare for a feature to not work at all under any circumstances.
  2. Antagonistic. Congratulations. You've basically accused the implementors of totally screwing up, quite possibly on purpose.
  3. Really hard to do anything about. What exactly is actionable about that statement? What are you expecting the person to do?
So before you go running around being imprecise and pissing people off, stop and think. Make sure you're:
  1. Being polite.
  2. Being precise about what you did and what you saw.
  3. Expressing a desired action, whether its a fix or some help tracking the issue down, or just a sounding board for a rant.
If you're talking to someone about an issue, please be careful. You'll have much better luck getting the attention you want if you approach the problem in a way that encourages people to help you. 

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