Writing To Me
I try to respond personally to all my mail, but this depends upon my workload, which varies between high and unreasonably high. I answer many correspondents each week, most frequently from students. I spend a lot of time at this. But please avoid asking me these things:
- Don't write asking me to solve your job problem or write your research paper.
- If you have specific questions about jobs or schools, I will try to answer them, but I must have specific questions, not vague, general ones. Start by reading my essay "How to find a job or graduate school."
- Don't ask me about websites--that's for Jakob Nielsen.
- Do not send me a questionnaire: I will not answer them: they seldom get at the important issues so they waste everyone's time.
- Don't ask the obvious. To answer student questions, I often do simple web searches, entering a few terms into a search engine, then emailing back the result. When I do this, I try to explain what I have done so that the students learn how to do it themselves the next time. But when senior people ask me those same sort of questions, ones for which they could have answered by themselves with a little bit of work, I tend to get annoyed, cranky, and rather irritable. Please, don't make me be rude to you.
- Don't ask the impossible. I sometimes get questions that are unanswerable. They are not quite in the same league as questions about the meaning of life, or how to reach world peace, but at times they feel the same to me. My rule is simple, if the question can't be answered in a paragraph, please don't ask it. I already spend roughly 3 or more hours a day on email, every day of the year: weekends, holidays, .. every day. Please be considerate.
But please do write.
I enjoy the questions and examples. I learn a lot from them, and I usually learn even more when I answer questions, so the time is worthwhile for all concerned. Just don't abuse the privilege.
You can contact me at don at jnd.org