Edward Lai Harner, Edward Harner
Andrea Harner
andreaharnerblog AT gmail
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March 7, 2007

How NOT to conduct yourself via email

I get lots of email from people saying nice things about my blog. That's great. In fact it's lovely. But I also get lots of emails from people asking me questions. And most of them are not little questions that I could answer in a few seconds like, "How much per month do you pay for blog hosting?" They are painfully vague, incredibly annoying questions that if I were to answer would require a lot of my time, thinking and energy which means the questioner is the type of person who 1) does not value other peoples time 2) is entitled because they believe that people are just willing to help them out! and 3) has a terrible understanding of social ties (i.e. your friend or friend's friend may be willing to help you out but you can't expect the same TLC from a stranger!) Why, I ask, I plead, I beseech, why are people like this?! Ugh. So deeply irritating.

Just one of several recent examples (I was kind enough to fog out her last name and email address - not sure why):



hahaha that is just too much!

Posted by: jorja at March 7, 2007 12:08 PM

That's kind of mean. Not everyone is web savvy.

AH.com: Sorry but that's not the point.

Posted by: noname at March 7, 2007 2:56 PM

That sounds kind of bitchy. You want people to read your blog but taking the time to answer your fans' questions is an irritant to you?


Posted by: Simon at March 7, 2007 3:03 PM

It's not bitchy at all. Everybody gets irritated, and with damn ggod reason - people are fisking irritating. See? I've irritated you already.

Sadly, Andrea's example isn't very good. I entered "create photoblog" into Google and found this in under a minute...


Care to email her the link, Andrea?

AH.com: If the answer is available from a two second google search then why would someone not do that themselves and instead bother someone else for the info? This is a whole other issue I get annoyed by. Perhaps I wish people were just more self-sufficient and chose the times they asked for help, more judiciously. Further, when I engage with anyone whether it's social or professional I always try to give the interaction all my thought and attention. That's why when I am asked a big question like the one above I think of all that would need to go into a considered, thoughtful response and then I get frustrated.

Posted by: Hasan at March 7, 2007 3:21 PM

"Update in response to comments: If the answer is available from a two second google search then why would someone not do that themselves and instead bother someone else for the info? This is a whol other issue I get annoyed by."

I completely agree, but some people need help, so it's nice to give it to them.

Posted by: Hasan at March 7, 2007 5:49 PM

In response to Hasan. I don't think it's a 2 second search at all to make a blog like Andrea's. Eyefetch.com just looks like nothing but photos and comments and different from the feel of your blog and Andrea's. I know when I was trying to do my own crappy blog site I was pouring over search engines and forums trying to figure out stuff like: 1. Best place to buy a domain name. 2. Should I pay someone to host my site or try a free site like blogger.com. If I pay for a hosting company how much should I pay? 3. If I host my own site how do I do comments without paying for a mysql data base? Can I still do it with CGI or PHP? 4. What the heck is moving text? 5. Do I have to install blog software to my own personally hosted site? 6. How do I link a free site to my purchased domain name.

You get the picture, and my site is still crappy. Not that I get any mail like Andrea, but I think my answer would be I wouldn't answer all those questions either and I probably would just tell the reader nicely, thanks for reading or not answer at all. Not embarrass them. It's probably just a little old lady.

Posted by: TB at March 7, 2007 6:35 PM

I remember once writing an e-mail to Andrea to ask a question as a non-New Yorker that I thought she might be able to either answer or give me a lead. Never got an answer back. A simple, "no, sorry I can't help you" would have been fine.

So: Maybe there is a neat autobot that you could use, Andrea, just to "say" that with no trouble of doing so. You're brilliant and maybe there is even a good market for such a thing that we all might use with annoying or irrelevant e-mail questions; no problem also if you make a buck or get revenue to support your blog too.

It could be clever and hilarious, something which you hold in no short supply, cleverness and hilarity and you could grin at too.

Regardless, this blog is a source of many minutes of interest, good information, and sometimes lots of amusement, so sincere thanks.

Posted by: RJ at March 7, 2007 6:41 PM

Maybe she does have a pic blog (www.littleoldladywhogotanearemptybottleofjackdanielshurledatmetoday.com), but might be an inadequate simpleton like mine, and she wants to know: "how can I pic blog like THAT (instead of my sorry wannabe)." At any rate, I think the Google search would at least 57 seconds if you include scanning.

Posted by: Jamie at March 7, 2007 11:18 PM

Maybe a FAQ would help? Kottke has a pretty good one set up. Something similar might work well for you.

We have a saying in the bar business when it comes to dealing with "challenging" customers.

"Well, we are open to the public." :)

It could be applicable to public blogs that accept comments.

AH.com: Thank you! This is actually a good suggestion - much appreciated! :-)

Posted by: keith at March 8, 2007 11:38 AM

The blog post really is not about how to do a successful photoblog. It's about the fact that Andrea takes the time to actually look at the emails written from strangers and they are not about the blog but the logistics of this blog. Irritating. Say I enjoy knitting...... you love the scarves I make....... you want me to teach you how I make them. I enjoy knitting not teaching. If she wanted to teach, her site would be www.andreaharnerteacheshowtohaveaphotoblog.com Just enjoy the blog!!!!!

AH.com: You are so right on and I am completely in love with your comment! :-)

Posted by: j at March 8, 2007 8:33 PM


Why is it that anyone (much less Andrea Harner who appears to be very busy) wants to have a blog? I have never understood that. I guess that's why I neither have a blog, picture blog or otherwise, nor would ask a blog related question. (Although I apparently just did...so...Nevermind...)

Posted by: RJ at March 8, 2007 11:26 PM

Yep annoying as hell.

To all those hippies that are saying that its nice to help people, sure, doesn't that go without saying? But what about the next person that asked, or the next, are you going to go through the same rigmarole with them too?

"No sorry mum, wont be able to make it to dinner tonight, gotta help out a dullard i just met setup a photoblog. Hmm? Oh, pictures of their renovation i think."

And if they're web savvy enough to fire off an email to a blog owner, of which they probably FOUND using google, surely they can google some how-tos? They just can't be bothered wittling down the wheat from the chaff, and thought Andrea might save them the trouble.

People are idiots. Next!

Posted by: Davey at March 9, 2007 12:19 AM
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