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A remarkable email exchange with a developer who cares
96 points by andrewfelix on Dec 17, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments
EDIT: I realise the below isn't exactly readable so I posted a formatted version here: http://andrewsplastic.tumblr.com/

I recently installed a Chrome extension that didn't do exactly what I wanted. I uninstalled it and promptly forgot about it until the following email exchange happened:

FROM BEN COE, THE CO-FOUNDER OF THE EXTENSION ATTACHMENTS.ME:

  Hey Andrew, Ben here. I'm one of the cofounders of Attachments.me:

  I've been reaching out to some of the people who signup for our
  service, I'd love to know how things are going for you.

  Any feedback you can provide about how the service is working for you
  so far, would be awesome. Also, I'd love to hear any suggestions you
  have for the product.

  Thanks for taking the time to try us out :)

  Cheers,
  Ben Coe

MY REPLY:

  Hey Ben,

  Thanks for getting in touch.

  I uninstalled it. All I really needed was my attachments to appear on the right of the email *and* be     
  downloadable from the right panel. My only option was to transfer to dropbox (I use cloud app) or open the   
  attachments.me window and browse for the relevant attachment. 

  If you guys enable the attachments on the right to be downloadable directly I'll re-install straight away. 
  CloudApp support would also be great.

  Cheers,
  Andrew
FROM BEN:

  Hey, thanks for the quick response :)

  I'm curious, what do you see as the advantage to being able to download the attachment on the right-hand side, as   
  oppose to being able to download it in the area provided below the email. Is it that we could consolidate all the 
  attachments in the thread into one area?

  Would love to get you back on board,

  -- Ben.
MY REPLY:

Hey Ben,

  When receiving emails from some people, GMail doesn't recognize the thread. It incorrectly assumes the reply's 
  are part of the email. So some emails get ridiculously long, and I have to scroll forever downwards to get to the   
  download link. When I first installed attachments.me, I was stoked, as I could see all the attachments relevant 
  to the thread on the right...but they were static names, not links :(

  Would it be hard to turn those static titles into attachment links?

  Regards,
  Andrew
FROM BEN:

  That makes sense. I think you're right, it would be smart for the name of the attachment to allow you to 
  download it.

  I've added this feature to the extension, if you install the newest version here:

  https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gdgofjdapkmlgpgjfielacjckplcdjjk

  it should do the trick.

  Keep the feedback coming,

  -- Ben.


In short Ben reached out to me, without being contacted and implemented the change I had been looking for, and he did it in minutes.



I used to work for a university High Performance Computing Lab. This was one of the things I loved about it. We were 3 guys running the whole system (10k cores) and we somehow slipped between the cracks of all departments and were left to do our own thing. When a professor or student would request something, we could make the change live while still on the phone with them. While we did try to put all features into our ticket tracker at least for records sake, it was nice not having to go through a big approval process to make the changes.


This is the exact opposite of my experience working on the USCMs Tier 1 team at Fermilab (we took data directly from the CMS detector at the LHC, processed it, and distributed it across the world).

We were a team of 10 people, constantly bogged down in red tape. Oh! You want iptables rules on your thousands of nodes that are publicly facing on a Class B to the world with no firewalls, etc in the way? That's 8 months of back and forth with PHDs, committees, etc.

Needless to say, I left after a year and moved to someplace where I could effect much more change in a more rapid pace.


Man, that sucks. Places like Fermilab are perpetually starved for funding and need to get the most bang from every buck. Doesn't sound like that's happening, with processes like that in place.


Too much dead wood, as well as no financial incentive to increase efficiency (with resources of any type).


Ben, Jesse and their team are awesome folks with an awesome product.

Your conversation with Ben was indicative of how many CEOs are missing a huge opportunity to connect with real users and make sure they're solving a real problem.

I do my best to answer as many BuzzData support tickets as possible, because it gives me direct access to the best early warning system we could ask for.

As the technical co-founder, I completely understand Craig Newmark choosing to stick to tech support. Once you have enough money, the best high comes from seeing how something you built makes people happy.


As the sole developer, I do one of these per week. It is always fun to 'svn up' and reply to the email personally.


I email every single customer within 24-48 hours of purchase and try to engage in similar conversation. I've learned quite a bit about our audience, our product, and our product expectations as a result of that.

I'm not sure adding features on the fly is something I'm into, but I do take all feature requests to heart.

Was it Steve Blank that said something about no product surviving first encounter with a customer?


This should not feel special at all. :-/


This is a great thing to do if you're a CEO or founder, especially if it's sincere. users feel flattered when you ask them for an opinion or feedback on a feature.


Ben and Jesse are great guys. I'm surprised more startup companies don't reach out to their potential customers like this. This exchange proves how valuable that contact & communication can be.


Wow, this sounds like someone who's actually looking to see what's wrong and proactively try to fix it. I hope he can instill this same philosophy to his current as well as his future employees.


I may have to go and install this now...




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