Yes, this is one of my famous little rants.
I want to explain why I don't want PMs for support. Even though I've put in my signature that you shouldn't PM me for support unless you're going to pay me for my time, I still get PMs. I know the SMF team has similar trouble with this, so I thought I'd take a little time to explain why this is inappropriate and rude and should be avoided unless specifically asked for.
We're volunteers. We do this in our spare time. Most of us do not have much spare time, and when we do, we offer it up to people who need help. We choose who we answer, who we have the knowledge to help, who we have the time to properly solve their problem.
And in public, everyone benefits. Future users who encounter the same problem will find the posts when they're public, so if you get helped in a public topic, it isn't just you that benefits, it's everyone in the same position as you.
Such generosity is rare, even in a volunteer community. Now, if you send us a PM, there's quite a few things different:
1. It stops being about whether we choose to use our time to help you. Bear in mind we're doing this in our spare time (or some of us, doing this instead of earning money, so think about that, you might actually be costing us money to help you), you're expecting us to put aside our choice for yours.
2. It only helps you. It's selfish, because the same advice may well help others but you're expecting us to help you and only you.
3. It's impatient, because it doesn't allow us to go away and think about the problem and respond when it is convenient for us (given that it is being done in our time), instead it's expecting an answer sooner rather than later, and it also doesn't allow other people who are knowledgeable to add their opinions and experience.
That's why I now say that if you want support, either post it publicly, or if you want me to do it privately, we agree on a price for you to pay at the end of it. If I choose to use my time to help everyone, that's my choice. But if you want me to put you above everyone else, give me a reason to do so, and that reason won't be 'because I want it'.
I don't know exactly how others feel, but given the number of people who post in their signatures about not sending them PMs for support, I'm fairly certain there are a lot of people who are very fed up with this. I'm posting this here to let you know why it's irritating, and as a request to generally stop it if at all possible.
Thanks for reading, and to those of who don't go out and PM people because you're impatient, we appreciate it. To those of you who provoked this article, please think very carefully before sending us PMs. It is not for nothing that there is that fairly big notice in the send-PM area.