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So you want to run a software company (part 2)


#1

This morning I woke up to this email:

I honestly don’t know how you do that, but you somehow manage to make every update worse than the previous one. And with the latest update you have reached the rock bottom. It just doesn’t work.

Sigh. There goes my hope for a good mood for the morning.

Today, some astute person wrote this on a HN comment:

“Having some huge number of people expecting things to always Just Work, and never have security problems, and never be confusing, and always get better but also never change in any way that might affect the way they use it, is a definite source of stress that I don’t think people working in large companies will ever experience.”

He is describing

“something that is big enough to be well-known, heavily used by a large enough number of users that it brings a lot of stress, but is not big enough to support a team to make it all go smoothly.”


#2

Yep, that is definitely adds a ton to my stress!


#3

My #1 pet peeve about installed software: diverse customer environments. For WP it’s a nightmare: WP version + PHP version + hosting company + plugins they installed + theme they installed

There’s no viable way to test it all, the best you can hope for is a common-use approach, beta testing with users before each release and hoping for the best after launch. Stress, indeed.


#4

@SteveMcLeod I’m glad you’re not getting threats like @andrey.

You can’t test it all, but can you have a configure script which tests for some known needed features and known problems? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Configure_script


#5

this is my biggest fear of giving shit for free. it ends up attracting hordes of freeloaders, won’t pay you a dime but expect you to do everything for them. I don’t know where this sense of entitlement comes from but it’s fucking rampant on the internet.


#6

Great label for 'em “Freetards” - http://www.seobook.com/freetards


#7

Steve,

It’s actually a good sign that the user is engaging with your product.

The opposite of Love is not Hate.
It’s apathy.

They may very well be crazy-demanding.
Or they may be having a bad day.
Or they are having a real, critical problem that is NOT the fault of your software (but they think it is)

If’ found that Criticism is engagement in disguise.

You may find that showing that you care and asking some good questions might give you some really valuable knowledge about your users.
(And I know from crazy users: my users are brain-injured as a rule. We may speech therapy software. )

-clay aka MrAnalogy on the old BOS forum.


#8

Brilliant! Yes, couldn’t have said it better. You get some great insight from users, even free ones, when they bother to contact you. Some of it is no doubt pathological, but there are some grains of truth if you are willing to sift through the chaff.


#9

Clay,

Thanks for the well-written and well-thought-out comment.

I should be grateful (and I am generally) for noisy customers - they give me money AND help me deal with issues that may be stopping other potential customers from purchasing.


#10

That’s a bit of a downer, @SteveMcLeod.

One thing I love about products is that we get much more appreciation than a day job. I’ve had many customers spontaneously say how they like my app, which I rarely get day-to-day when consulting. I don’t think it’s because my consulting sucks :smile: I think it’s because we stay in contact with the product once it’s released and get the benefits of happy customers, whereas with a consulting customer we mostly interact with them when the product isn’t built, or not running perfectly yet.

But yes, hard not to take it personally when they’re cranky or rude. Our products are us.


#11

I wish there was a site where people can upload and share snapshots of crazies.