I never respond to direct unsolicited email
Despite me placing a warning to this effect in my newsgroup signature, I
still get regularly bombarded with emails containing attached code and
plaintive requests for help. They all end up in the bit bucket - I am not
a free consultant. I and others will try to help people if - and only
if - they post publicly so others get the benefit of seeing both the
problem and the solution. Note that people will not tend to help you if
your posting meets one or more of the following criteria:
Insulting. You wouldn't believe how often you see the "bet none of you
know-it-alls can solve this" tactic tried. It's usually met with a deafening
Profane. This simply demonstrates childishness.
Clearly a test set by a class teacher. Maybe somebody will take pity and give a
hint, but don't expect the answer on a plate.
Solvable simply by reading the on-line help. It is truly amazing how many
questions on the newsgroup could have been solved by two minutes spent in the
tender embrace of the help system.
Will cause the responder to violate NDA. Many frequent posters here are on
Microsoft beta programs, some of us are on multiple betas. Don't ask us about
the stuff we're beta testing - we're under NDA and can't reply. Anybody who
does reply is either a know-nothing wannabe with a bootleg copy of the
software, or is deliberately spreading misinformation (yes, there are folks who
do that kind of thing, sad little gits that they are).
Has a subject line consisting of "HEEEEEELP !!!!" We have about a zillion
messages to wade through, and need a subject that tells us roughly what the
problem is, so we can zero in on those we know about.
The perfect question would be phrased something like
"I have a problem with symptom <precise description
of error symptoms>. I have searched the online help, and trawled MSDN, to no
avail. I have checked groups.google.com for
previous reports of this in the newsgroups and found similar problems with
solutions <X> and <Y>, but these do not work in my case. I have
traced the problem using a minimal repro program, and the bug occurs at line 14
in the following twenty-line code section, reproduced below. But I don't
understand why. Can anyone help?".
If I ever see this perfect question, I'll let you know :-)
For a better understanding of the software group-help ethos and how to make it
work for you, see
here (I am indebted to Rufus Smith for that link).