mary’s blog

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Letting supportive users down

One of the tasks I find difficult while doing dev work is dealing with user feedback. Surprisingly, it’s not the abusive or complaining users that I find difficult to handle. It’s the super enthusiastic ones with a lot of “great” suggestions that are too complicated (or shouldn’t be) implemented in actuality.

I don’t know if it’s just the pakikisama or utang na loob culture in me speaking. I just find it much harder to turn down someone who’s been nothing but helpful and civil since day one. There’s this pressure to give them what they want in the way they want it to reward their supportiveness. But saying “yes” to their suggestion is saying “no” to a host of other things — things that you know will move the website to completion.

I’ve been lurking in the forums of some of the beta-access games I play and I see it happening there too. Users with 1000+ posts and feedback on every update sometimes get carried away with suggestions that pull the game away from its original direction and adds a ton of complexity –which further delays the originally promised features.

Ignoring these users make them feel un-acknowledged. While explaining to them why their suggestion won’t work can be effective, but usually only opens an even longer discussion where you have to explain every single decision you made and why things led to the current situation. And it ends in either “Wow, it’s really as difficult as you said” or “You guys f*cked up, it’s your fault you can’t make me happy now”. So it’s a choice between looking like an uncaring asshole or using precious dev time to walk users through your whole process which doesn’t guarantee good results.

There’s also this worry that maybe that hyper user is correct. In which case you are being an ass for not listening to them.

There’s a lot of doubt and guilt and second-guessing involved. I don’t know if other devs agonize over this situation as much. Is it a matter of self-confidence? If you trust that what you’re doing is correct, you can ignore everything else and keep inching towards your goal, sure in the thought that users will approve of the finished product. Those who don’t get it or left too early weren’t meant to be your users anyway.

I just don’t know. I feel a bit of guilt even shouting this into the void, but maybe another confused dev will find comfort in knowing they’re not alone in feeling this uncertainty.


This tall tale is filed under Opinion.

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