Subject: Re: To help or not?
From: ghost@aladdin.com (L. Peter Deutsch)
Date: Tue, 13 Sep 94 10:09:48 PDT

> Should FSB staff give away free help on newsgroups/mailing lists?  Is
> the advertising value greater than the income lost?
> 
> I have an opinion.  I think it's *only* possible to have an opinion,
> because advertising works its effects in people's brains, and so is
> very hard to measure.  My feeling is that the advertising value is
> greater than the time spent.
> 
> People have a tendency to skip past or, when read, disbelieve
> advertising.  You have to do *something* to get the word out, and a
> lot of people read news.  So, not advertising is mostly not an option.
> Answering some questions helps establish your reputation [presuming
> that your answer is correct :)], lets people know that you exist, and
> gives people a taste of what you can do on a paid basis.

I've had to face exactly this issue with Ghostscript.  Since my time
is in extremely short supply, I've now taken the position that I
normally don't answer any question that I know someone else can
answer who reads and posts on that newsgroup reasonably often.  This
helps encourage knowledgeable users to take up the slack.  (And it
provides more opportunity for anyone with their own support FSB for
Ghostscript to be visible, which is fine with me.)  Of course, my
situation is somewhat different from a pure FSB, since paid support
is only a small part of my business; nevertheless, visibility on the
net through free distribution has been overwhelmingly the best way
for me to attract customers, and newsgroup visibility is certainly a
part of that.

L. Peter Deutsch :: Aladdin Enterprises :: P.O. box 60264, Palo Alto, CA 94306
ghost@aladdin.com, ...decwrl!aladdin!ghost ; voice 415-322-0103 ; fax 322-1734
	    "Implementation is the sincerest form of flattery."