When clients and class students email us a question, we answer. It’s not always right away, but since everybody in the team has access to our shared public email address, somebody’s going to be available sooner or later to give a good answer.
But when people I don’t know email me with a technical support question, I respond with a GMail canned response:
Thank you for thinking of us! We’re busy tending to sick SQL Servers, so for questions, here are a few ways to get an answer:
- Free, at StackExchange 24/7 – post your question at https://DBA.StackExchange.com, and if you don’t get a good answer within a day, email me the link to the question. The geeks here love answering those.
- Free, at our weekly Office Hours – on Wednesdays, we do open Q&A. Bring your question, but make it as brief and clear as possible to get the best chance of it being picked. You can register for the next one here: https://www.brentozar.com/office-hours-podcast/
- With consulting or onsite training – we relieve SQL Server pains with our 3-day SQL Critical Care® process for $6,995. To learn more and read sample deliverables, go here: https://www.brentozar.com/sql-critical-care/
Hope that helps!
I’ve had this same approach for years, and it’s not the only right way. For example, lots of business books will tell you that you should never turn away a future customer. Answer their questions today, and maybe they’ll pay you back with loyal business tomorrow. I can totally understand why people would follow that philosophy.
It’s not like I’m pawning the work off, either. Check the DBA.se users page, and you’ll see that I’m a frequent answerer myself.
I just strongly, strongly believe in growing the online data professional community.
I believe that the faster a data professional discovers the online community, the better off they’ll be. I also believe that DBA.se is the fastest way for them to learn the rules of the road: how to craft a good question, how to work with others to get the right answer, and then longer-term, how to improve their own online reputation.
Getting one of your questions answered online, in public, is a gateway to participating in SQLslack, going to SQLSaturdays and local user groups, then eventually maybe even giving back by starting their own blog or delivering their own presentation.
I make less money this way, but who cares? It gets people hooked on free public help instead of expensive private consulting.
For me, teaching people to fish is just the most personally rewarding approach. Every time I see someone email us in a question, get that canned reply, then proceed to post that same question out on DBA.se, I’m ecstatic. It’s another new community member getting their wings.