I belong to two genealogy software user groups, Family Tree Maker Users and RootsMagic Users. Last week, a comment on one of these users groups caused a member to rethink why he joined the group. I would consider this man the leading authority on using that software package. In fact, I know he has been helping people for as long I as I can remember which dates back to 1999 or 2000.
He became frustrated and posted the following comment: I guess that you aren't allowed to ask questions of a User who is having a problem. They just up and delete the entire message after I stopped doing what I was doing to help this user out. I am supposed to magically understand what they are doing. < / frustrated >.
Someone responded… I'll admit, sometimes your questions are a bit gruff and come across as mean. I actually took a class on this so I don't take it that way. Socializing through the written language leaves out the real tones behind it, such as body language and facial expressions.
Too me, the response came across as condescending. Unfortunately, he decided to leave the FB group again since he was coming across gruff. (I don't blame him, the group will suffer without him).
Personally, I have been on the receiving end of people saying when I do follow-up questions (even in person) that I am gruff. For the record, No we are not gruff, we are to the point and ultimately, we want to help solve your problem. When someone runs into a “computer” problem or “software” glitch, we are just trying to gather enough information to recreate the problem. Our time is precious, and we want to get you up and running as fast as possible. So we are sorry if we don’t hold your hand long enough, or let you cry on our shoulder, but we are willing to take time out of our busy schedules and try our hand at helping to solve your problem. We understand that you might not clearly state your problem, but bear with us as we try helping you. We are just trying to "pay it forward".
I join these groups for two reasons, I was hoping to learn how to the use the software packages better and to offer my help if I could on occasion. I do find that some of the questions are quite basic and if people would just take the time to do a little research first before jumping in and asking. I usually give myself a certain time limit to find the answer before I would ask my question. A lot of time I would find my answer and not need to ask any questions. Google is a great tool for finding solutions to a lot of problems.
Other times I find that question goes off base to general genealogy questions or about Ancestry.com. Usually someone reminds that person that the question is going off base and I am guessing the Facebook Administrator of the group closes down any further comments pertaining to the question.
My wish, if you figured out the answer, post a follow-up and thank everyone for helping and explain how the problem was solved so the rest of us “dummies” who are trying to learn a thing or two can benefit too.
Over all, do I find the user groups to be useful? Yes if we let the helpers help in the way they are accustomed to help and if the askers of question don’t get bent out of shape because we want to clarify your questions or ask follow-up questions to get to the root of the problem.
I personally, will take help where I can get it. I am not offended when someone asks me to clarify my questions or to answer follow-up questions. Ultimately, I want help and I want it now.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who has offered me help with any genealogy question or task that I had. Without a little genealogy kindness, where would anyone of us be?