In February of 2016 I deleted my contact forms (except one).


In the subsequent 18 months, I've actually enjoyed it, as the cruft email in my box has dropped significantly. But it led to a few peculiar situations. You see, people do still try to get a hold of me personally , and they've taken to interesting methods.


Keep in mind. I'm talking about my personal contact. Not work. Work is work is work. This is basically you calling my house, not my office.

Everything Is About Plugins


Every. Single. Time.


 I'm only talking about unsolicited messages. Not "We've been talking about X in the #meta and let's take it to a sidebar." And it's not "Last week you said X was okay in #forums and I have a followup."


I mean, literally, people I've never spoken to before who fall into one of two categories:

  1. People looking for help with a plugin I wrote
  2. People who got an email from the Plugins address


For group 1, please use the WordPress support forums. For group 2, please press 'reply' on your email.


But they don't. Instead they use…

Twitter


It's not a secret I leave DMs open on Twitter. This means, yes, anyone can DM me if they want. So far, I've received the following:

  • multiple offers to speak at an event
  • multiple requests to help with a plugin review
  • multiple complaints that blocking their 'company' account on twitter was unethical of me
  • requests for help from friends


That last one I don't mind. It's pretty rare, and it's from people who are, you know, friends. They're also incredibly respectful of my time (as I try to be of theirs) and understand when I say no. Pro tip: If someone lashes out or acts up after you tell them 'sorry, no' they're not actually your friend, they find you useful.

Facebook


This one cracks me up because I limit FB messages to friends only, so I get a lot of friend requests just so people can message me. I decline them. The only trend I've noticed there is people who met me at WordCamps (sorry, no), and people from AWP (again, no).


I actually block a lot more people from FB for snide comments than anywhere else.

Slack


90% of the 'unsolicited' contacts on Slack I get are people who, for some reason, instead of pressing the reply button in their email, decide to DM me.


The rest are people who have a question about plugins and even though they know about the email address, think it'll be faster to DM me. At 8pm. On Saturday.

Salem the cat from "Sabrina the Teenaged Witch" laughing maniacally while stirring a cauldron

The contact form on my ebook site


I actually went to look at those. The last few emails are:

  1. Spam to pay someone to write copy for my site for 'SEO'
  2. Spam for a VPN
  3. Someone asking 'If I can't use a contact form, how am I supposed to get help?'
  4. Spam about SEO


Dear person #3 – That's what the support forums are for.

How Do You Contact Someone Without A Contact Form?


Generally? You don't.


Look. There's no form on my website because I'm not your free support. If you have a problem with a plugin I wrote, go to the plugin page on WordPress.org and ask for help. I get emailed when you do that. If you have a problem with a plugin review, press reply on your email. Shockingly? I get an email about that.

What About Work?


Oh that pesky professional thing.


First of all – use the established contact methods. WordPress plugins all have support forums. Use those. Did you get an email? Press reply to the email and either propose a different method to converse or stick to whatcha got. Sometimes email will be the only way to go, as it's the lowest common denominator (it's 2017 – everyone has an email since you needed one to get on Twitter or Facebook or Slack in the first place).


Next, if you know how to contact someone, unsolicited, about work things, then just do that. It's not very complicated. You reach out, you apologize for the interruption, and you ask if I have time to talk about X. Here's an example for you:

Sorry to bother you. I'm planning a non-WordCamp event in Dallas for 2018 and I was wondering if you or your company would be interested in sponsoring? You can find the details at http://event-example.com and my email is me@event-example.com


That works because you're starting out being respectful of the other person's time. You're offering contact information, which demonstrates sincerity, and lets me know there's a non-platform limited way to get in touch with you.


Here's another:

Sorry about the DM, but I don't know where to go for this. I'm having a problem with DreamPress and I can't log in to my panel. What's the right way to get my access back?


This is good because you're not assuming I'm the contact, and you're asking 'what is right?' If it's me, I'll happily tell you. Well. Not happily, because I'll be bummed you can't log in, but I'll help you sort it out (BTW: The answer there is the DreamPress Support page where someone's familiar mug can be seen).


The point here is that reaching out to someone, in an unsolicited way, requires you to begin by respecting them as a human. If you can't do that, you're basically sending them hate-mail.


Be sincere. Be respectful. Be polite.


And if you DM me about plugin reviews, I'll just block you and walk away.

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