Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Something’s going to give

For the past six years I’ve operated a limited free support service for the various magazines who I’ve written Q&A columns for. On the whole this has worked well, but now I’m beginning to see that a line will have to be drawn.

The best in this regard is PC Answers – I’m paid a premium for writing Helpdesk to reflect the extra work I put in, but it’s not the same with Windows Vista Magazine, and it’s starting to make silly demands. It refuses to make it clear that I can only answer those questions I choose for the magazine, and I find myself being expected to pick up the pieces from readers demanding answers through inappropriate channels. Worse still, an increasing number of people who do get replies seem to think this makes me somebody they can email as and when they please – not a few months between questions, which is one thing, but within days of having one question answered.

I can’t rely on the magazines to tell their readers about the limitations of the service, so I’m going to have to find ways of making it clear from the outset about the limitations of my free service. I wonder how quickly many of them would disappear if they were expected to pay for the hours I end up putting in on their behalf?

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