The kindness of strangers

Dear Kettle fans,

There isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t find myself amazed by the number of contributions and help that the Pentaho Data Integration project receives in all kinds of forms.  There are people contributing anything from small patches to complete steps, folks helping out others on the forum, writing documentation, writing books, translating PDI, etc.  Without any question, this has been a truly amazing experience, not just for me but for the whole Kettle project.

It’s because of that overwhelmingly positive experience that I’ve always tried to be accessible and in contact with my community in all sorts of possible ways.  And because of that positive vibe I have refrained from commenting on the negative flip side to that story for the longest time.

The problem is really that lately things have been changing.  It’s probably caused in general by an increasing attention to open source and specifically by an increase in popularity of Kettle.  In any case, certain types of people do the following:

  • Send me personal email
  • IM me on skype/Yahoo!/MSN/AIM/…
  • Send me all sorts of messages and questions through the forums
  • Ask questions on this blog

Usually it’s a combination of any of the above.  Any time now I expect folks to be sending me direct twitter messages.  The questions are always the same:

I have an urgent Pentaho porblem.  I am incapable of using the forum for some stupid reason and so you have to help me, preferable now or within the next 15 minutes!!!!

This way, the meaning of “The kindness of strangers” becomes more and more like the one from the Nick Cave song.

I’ve just finished reading Linus‘ book “Just for fun” (Thanks again Domingo!) and his approach to the problem of staying in reach for people to contribute code and at the same time allowing yourself to have a life and a job is simple : if it ain’t fun, don’t do it.  Well, the barrage of this sort of questions has stopped being fun for me a long time ago.

As such, I’m going to try this approach: any question that could or should be asked on the forum is from now on silently ignored and deleted from my mailbox.  Any person that is not part of my “community” and that needlessly contacts me over IM gets blocked indefinitely.  And yes, that goes for twitter as well.  Off-topic questions on this blog go to the spam folder as well.  I will simply refuse to spend time on non-interesting topics.

I thought about creating a standard response e-mail, but any sort of replying is simply an encouragement to certain types of people and will only make matter worse. (been there, done that)

I’m sure everyone understands that this is the only way to free up time to work on the real problems at hand.  Thank you for your understanding in any case.

Until next time,

Matt