scam

scam - The Best Advice So Far

Most people who read my blog know me first and foremost as an author. So they are surprised when they learn that I do other things as well. (And conversely, those whose first dealings with me center on one of those other areas are always surprised to find that I’m also an author.)

Well, one of those other things I do is designing information systems. I’ve done this since I was a child and home computers first came out. But as far this story is concerned, here’s the simple version: I build fancy stuff with spreadsheets. Often, it’s stuff that few other people can figure out. And for that reason, I always have clients who seek me out and pay me well for this work (which I fit in between my writing and marketing and mentoring and…)

You might think these two worlds are incongruous, but in my mind, they’re just different ways of helping people. And I am passionate about infusing both with core values such as kindness.

To that end, I choose to donate a little time each week as I’m able to helping answer posts on a couple of free online forums. Typically, I can only volunteer about a half hour or so per week; but I can get a lot done in that time, considering that the forums are designed to help people with relatively small stuff. A little knowledge sharing here. A formula tweak there.

Recently, I read a forum post from someone who appeared to be located in Romania, and who was requesting spreadsheet help. But in assessing things, what he required wasn’t small stuff. It was a highly customized, time-intensive solution (i.e., real work).

Usually, I’ll just pass over such posts or suggest that the person consider hiring a developer. In this particular case, however, I made the choice to “break my rule” and try to help the guy out anyway. You see, I’ve been especially aware lately of the need for tenacious worldwide kindness. And while it wouldn’t bring about world peace, going the extra mile for this stranger in Bucharest seemed a good opportunity to put feet to my convictions.

Still, it was a bit tricky. Sharing complex solutions on a free forum would create unrealistic future expectations for site visitors. In addition, I can’t offer in a free public forum the same level of complex work that my private clients pay me for.

But my mind was made up. I was going to help this guy (I’ll call him “Ivo” here).

Since Ivo’s shared spreadsheet contained his email address, I reached out to him privately rather than through the public forum. I introduced myself. I explained essentially what I’ve shared with you here: that I am a longtime forum contributor, that the help he required went beyond what I could provide through the free forum, but that I was willing to help him at no cost if he would simply share a copy of the sample spreadsheet with me.

Some hours later, his email reply popped up.

As I try to keep this blog family friendly, I’ll have to do some censoring:

“You bet. You [#&%@!] poor [*!@~$] scammer, eat [&$^#%]. Maybe that’s more useful to support your laughable existence.”

Here, I’d offered him free work —work I’d have charged any other client $150 for—and this was his response?

What would you have done at this point

Most people who read my blog know me first and foremost as an author. So they are surprised when they learn that I do other things as well. (And conversely, those whose first dealings with me center on one of those other areas are always surprised to find that I’m also an author.)

Well, one of those other things I do is designing information systems. I’ve done this since I was a child and home computers first came out. But as far this story is concerned, here’s the simple version: I build fancy stuff with spreadsheets. Often, it’s stuff that few other people can figure out. And for that reason, I always have clients who seek me out and pay me well for this work (which I fit in between my writing and marketing and mentoring and…)

You might think these two worlds are incongruous, but in my mind, they’re just different ways of helping people. And I am passionate about infusing both with core values such as kindness.

To that end, I choose to donate a little time each week as I’m able to helping answer posts on a couple of free online forums. Typically, I can only volunteer about a half hour or so per week; but I can get a lot done in that time, considering that the forums are designed to help people with relatively small stuff. A little knowledge sharing here. A formula tweak there.

Recently, I read a forum post from someone who appeared to be located in Romania, and who was requesting spreadsheet help. But in assessing things, what he required wasn’t small stuff. It was a highly customized, time-intensive solution (i.e., real work).

Usually, I’ll just pass over such posts or suggest that the person consider hiring a developer. In this particular case, however, I made the choice to “break my rule” and try to help the guy out anyway. You see, I’ve been especially aware lately of the need for tenacious worldwide kindness. And while it wouldn’t bring about world peace, going the extra mile for this stranger in Bucharest seemed a good opportunity to put feet to my convictions.

Still, it was a bit tricky. Sharing complex solutions on a free forum would create unrealistic future expectations for site visitors. In addition, I can’t offer in a free public forum the same level of complex work that my private clients pay me for.

But my mind was made up. I was going to help this guy (I’ll call him “Ivo” here).

Since Ivo’s shared spreadsheet contained his email address, I reached out to him privately rather than through the public forum. I introduced myself. I explained essentially what I’ve shared with you here: that I am a longtime forum contributor, that the help he required went beyond what I could provide through the free forum, but that I was willing to help him at no cost if he would simply share a copy of the sample spreadsheet with me.

Some hours later, his email reply popped up.

As I try to keep this blog family friendly, I’ll have to do some censoring:

“You bet. You [#&%@!] poor [*!@~$] scammer, eat [&$^#%]. Maybe that’s more useful to support your laughable existence.”

Here, I’d offered him free work —work I’d have charged any other client $150 for—and this was his response?

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About Erik

I'm an author, speaker, blogger, facilitator, people lover, creative force, conversationalist, problem solver, chance-taker, listener, noticer and lover of life. "It's more about writing lives than writing pages." View all posts by Erik

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