Monday, 22 July 2013

On Managing Time and Direct Emails About Selenium

I tend to get a few requests a day asking for help with a problem with Selenium. I almost never reply to these. It's not (just!) because I'm an evil minded, grumpy so-and-so, but because it's not a great use of anyone's time.

I am just one person. I have a full time job, and family and friends that I like to spend time with. I work on Selenium as a volunteer, and that means fitting it in where I can. Fortunately, work are understanding about this, and support my role in the project, which means I do far more than if I only had the occasional evening free. Still, it does mean that I prioritise my time spent on the project. This is how I do so:

  1. Writing code. That comes first.
  2. Spend time on the IRC channel. I often just lurk here, but it's a handy way to talk to the core development team and keep an eye on what's going on.
  3. Answer emails to the selenium-developers group. This is where we run the project and hold design discussions. It's not a good place to ask for help, unless that help is about implementing Selenium itself.
  4. I scan the webdriver and selenium-users lists, answering questions where I can and provided I have time.
Now, the nice thing with this ordering is that the further down the list you go, the more people there are who are able to help you with your issue. Put another way: asking for help in the user lists means that you're far more likely to get the help you want. It also means that if someone else runs into the same problem, Google can come to their rescue. A private email doesn't have that benefit.

I know that may be frustrating for you. I know that it seems to make sense to contact prominent people on the project directly. I understand your particular issue is urgent and important to you. I really do, and that's why I don't answer your emails.