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How Not To Ask A Developer For Updates

Recently, we received an email from a customer looking for updates on BarTor. OK, not all that uncommon right? The thing that stood out was the approach this customer took in asking for these updates. Lets just say that it was shockingly hostile, especially for a first contact email. Rather than explaining it, I will just include the email here along with my response.

From: Chris
Date: Sun, Jun 20, 2010 at 4:35 AM

the open source world should bitch slap you across the fucking face for getting rich off of us – at least $10,000 rich and now you’re ignoring us and no longer providing updates to an app that you charged $2.99 on the android market??????? how’s about an update you fucking cheapskate. your app only searches for torrents from isohunt.com and isohunt.com has since gone legit and no longer carries any torrents worth downloading. wtf man? i outta press charges on your ass. i’m looking into googles agreement and checking to see if you are at fault here. dick.

And my response:

To: Chris
Date: Sun, Jun 20, 2010 at 7:46 AM

Hello Chris,

How are you? I am sorry to hear that you are upset about the BarTor update frequency; however, a little respect would have been more appropriate.

Although, I don’t think your email truly warrants a response, I will do so. First and foremost, a general tip on social etiquette: when making first contact with someone, especially someone who you expect to do something for you, hostility is rarely an appropriate method.

nEx.Software as an entity, and in particular the product, BarTor, has little to do with the open source community. BarTor was a commercial endeavour and unfortunately a rather unsuccessful one. I can’t even begin to guess where you got your estimate from, but I can assure that the real numbers are FAR less than that… more in the $1,000-$1,500 range over the course of 15 months. Not that it is any of our business though.

Although ISOHunt may have changed its business model, BarTor continues to function as intended and advertised. Your assumption that the business model of ISOHunt has any direct correlation or impact on BarTor is just plain wrong.

Yours is the first email we have received of this nature, so I can assure you we have not ignored anyone. As previously stated, BarTor continues to work as intended and I think most people understand that.

That being said, we are not opposed to making an update if it seems necessary, but sending hostile threats is not a good way to let us know you’d like an update.

Respectfully,

Justin
Founder
nEx.Software

http://www.nexsoftware.net

Now, I am sure that I will catch a little flack about the “has little to do with the open source community” comment in my response but, if we are being completely honest, it is mostly true. While I, Justin, make an attempt to be a part of the community and contribute occasionally, nEx.Software itself does not follow an open source model. But that’s enough about that, as it is not the point of this post.

The reason I posted this here is due to the fact that I was a little bit floored by this first contact email from someone looking for something from us. I certainly understand that this customer is frustrated, and would like us to update the software; however, this approach of name-calling and making threats is almost guaranteed to not have the intended effect.

So, now that we know how not to approach developers to ask for updates… Let me give a tip on how to approach us: Ask nicely. I know, profound, huh? Even if it is only for the first email you send, a first impression goes a long way.

4 Responses to “How Not To Ask A Developer For Updates”

  • Tom Richards says:

    Very impressed by civilized response.
    I have a small android app on the market and have only very good email responses. Meaning that the people emailing about an issue are patient and willing to help me.
    Good for you, Tom

  • Alec says:

    Hey Justin,

    Thanks for posting your response as people need to be aware of some of the mail dev’s get sometimes. I’ve had a few from madmen myself.

    I agree with tom though, very civil, great work.

    Alec (creator of torrent droid ;))

  • JewsOnIce says:

    Wow
    O.O
    Psh I get threats like that everyday

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