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paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22347
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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For anybody that has sent me an email or private message asking me some particular question about a video or article or something I wrote in the forums, I have to say:

I will probably never respond. 

Reading my email is like drinking from the firehose.  And private messages on any forum, or youtube or facebook or reddit, is harder to deal with than email.

I just get so many. 

I process my email as triage.  Some things I can deal with very fast, so i do those.  Things that will take more than three minutes get put off.  Currently, I am putting off about 40 important emails a day.  Yesterday I tried to take time to catch up and didn't even get caught up for one day.

So many people want to have their questions answered personally by me.  And it just cannot be done.  And most people seem to find questions where the answer would fill five or six books to be accurate. 

And as i juggle so many things, I have promised myself to put out a new video every other day.  And I repeatedly break that promise.   And there are over a hundred other projects that require my immediate attention.

On my bio page I tried to express that folks should direct their questions to the forums.  If they want me to respond and I haven't responded in two days, then send me an email with a link to the thread.

(I have said this to people via email hundreds of times and then two days later I get en email that says "it's been two days" (no link) - apparently they think I read their stuff and rudely didn't reply)

I tell folks that if they want a private consultation, I charge for that.  But for stuff in the forums, I am happy to comment for free.  Fortunately, there are lots of super knowledgeable people in the forums, so I suspect that they will get an excellent answer within moments and be happy as clams.

So, I am making this thread in an attempt to explain this.  I hope to pass out links to this thread willy nilly. 

The list of all forums is here.  It costs nothing.  Most people can register in under a minute. 

I also want to take this time to say that I FAR prefer email over any kind of PM.  I can do triage on email, but I cannot do triage on private messages.  I tend to automatically skip all PMs.


 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22347
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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A lot of my thinking in the last few months has been along the lines of "if I spend five minutes there, I have helped about 2000 people - but if I use that same five minutes in this email, I have helped one person."

I've been thinking that the cutoff is about a hundred people.  If what I do will reach 100 people or more, then that has priority. 

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22347
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Another way of putting this:  I'll often get asked the same question several hundred times.  So chances are, if you look on the forums, you will get instant gratification.  If your question isn't already answered, then when I answer your question in the forum, it is then available to the future thousands of people. 

I do promise this:  I will answer every question by every person.  I just ask that the questions be put through the forums please.  And, since a lot of people here have already heard me talk at great length on many subjects, they will often say exactly what I would say.  (frankly, when I see a post that says "paul would probably say ..." - it charms me to the bone!)

But, if you post something, and you feel you didn't get the answer you were looking for and there has been no new info in 48 hours, send me an email (paul at richsoil dot com) and tell me 48 hours has passed on this thread and you would like me to respond in person.  Be sure to include a link to the thread.  These sorts of emails have a high priority for me.

 
T. Joy
Posts: 438
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You can set your email etc to have an auto response that says this sort of thing. It's certainly not the same as getting a personal answer directly from you but as you say, you are prioritizing your time for maximum effect and that's a good thing. In your emails etc directing people here will not only give them a resource for finding answers to their questions but also stimulate them to take responsibility for gathering that information themselves and that's an empowering thing. Lots of others get to read along, contribute and learn at the same time. A valuable network that would otherwise be curtailed in a direct answer from you.

I did really appreciate you taking the time to help me figure out how to register here though Paul, thanks very much for that  . Joy.
 
                                    
Posts: 147
Location: Anoka Sand Plain, MN Zone 4/5, Sunset Zone 43
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paul wheaton wrote:
Another way of putting this:  I'll often get asked the same question several hundred times.  So chances are, if you look on the forums, you will get instant gratification.  If your question isn't already answered, then when I answer your question in the forum, it is then available to the future thousands of people.


i think it would be nice as another way to organize things to have an FAQ on the front of your permies site with links to particular threads.  or just make a thread about the most common questions.
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 22347
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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christhamrin wrote:
i think it would be nice as another way to organize things to have an FAQ on the front of your permies site with links to particular threads.  or just make a thread about the most common questions.


Different than what I do now?
 
                                    
Posts: 147
Location: Anoka Sand Plain, MN Zone 4/5, Sunset Zone 43
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well on the front page now you have linked to some choice threads.  i guess i was thinking of a way some of the best and most pertinent info could be pointed to rather than wading through lots of threads.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22347
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
                                    
Posts: 147
Location: Anoka Sand Plain, MN Zone 4/5, Sunset Zone 43
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yeah, maybe. i hadn't really thought out my suggestion. 

i also think encouraging everyone to shut down new threads on well worn topics by encouraging people to posting links to the old thread would be beneficial.
 
T. Joy
Posts: 438
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If you check out a feminist forum called Bust the ladies there do not allow new threads to be started unless it's run by the community and found that the info is not already in or suited to an existing thread. This is very different from what is typically done but it's incredibly easy to find info there, when someone asks a question about something there is a single thread they can go to to read it all, nothing ever gets lost or repeated and people aren't forever rehashing the same topic again and again. It's a brilliant system but there can be issues with people who are used to doing it the usual way and just starting a new thread whenever they have a question or a thought.
That was my favourite community forum to visit, it made everything else seem like chaos.
 
Tell me how it all turns out. Here is a tiny ad:
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