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Complaining about software ain't a bad thing?



Edited from a mailing list post by Steve Bowie 20©03



I think it's more correct to say 'complaining *may or may not be* a bad thing.'

Complaints certainly serve the purpose of drawing attention to perceived shortcomings.  I say 'perceived', because (in my estimation) something on the order of half of the more vociferous complaints just demonstrate that
the complainer is unfamiliar with the product.

Assuming the rest are valid, the complainants often don't realize that about 90% have been made previously many times.  The company has often long since prioritized them and either given some thought to implementation, nearly finished implementing them (surprisingly often), or rejected the idea either outright or as one that could be better done another way. 

This leaves a small percentage that are new ideas or concerns.  Raising *these* is certainly valuable for many reasons I won't go into.  Even then however, whether doing so 'ain't a bad thing' depends on tone.

The occasionally ALLCAPS with #$%^$!! posts are stupid at any time, and mostly fall into the first category -- a person who just got his system and is blowing off frustration at his (or her) ingorance.  Other styles range from 'well reasoned and contructive,' through 'whiny, trivial and petulant' to the zone mentioned above (abrasive, self important and obnoxious.)

The 'well thought out' sort can indeed be helpful, though they tend to be more in the nature of 'feature requests' than complaints (albeit accompanied at times by a sense of urgency).

Vociferous, rude complaints usually appear from people making that very same argument to justify them.  Too many times I've seen downright abusive posts justified (overtly or not) on the premise that  'I'm your best friend because only I am smart enough to see this issue and ignorant enough to belittle you with a huge outcry in a public forum to force you to see I am right.'

If such persons really had half the wit they think they do, they would be able to find a way to present a case in an articulate way, without making the community look like a bunch of foul-mouthed 10 year olds in the eyes of onlookers.  To me, that's not constructive - just presumptuous, arrogant and thoughtless.  It's damaging to the software vendor, demeaning to all of us here, and makes the poster look like a twit, at best.  OTOH, constructive criticism well argued and presented in a reasonably respectful manner is a boon.

Well, there's a cup of coffee somewhere with my name on it .. think I'll go in search :)

Two cents Canadian (with inflation)...
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Regards, Steve