Joe Goldberg Working hard
Those who feel that the Robots are poor at communicating with the 43 Things community have a valid gripe. While I do not consider myself a poor communicator, I have found it necessary to place some limits on my direct interactions with the 43 Things community. This document is a sort of form letter explaining why I am the way I am.
Programming is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time, each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be interrupted, I can’t concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be interrupted, I can’t do anything at all. Likewise, several consecutive days with four-hour time-slabs in them give me a stretch of time in which I can implement a decent website feature, but the same number of hours spread out across a few weeks, with interruptions in between them, are nearly useless.
This accounts for why I am a bad correspondent and why I rarely engage in long comment threads and collaborative, community-driven idea-brainstorms. If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write code. But as those chunks get separated and fragmented, my productivity as a Robot drops spectacularly. What replaces it? Instead of a website that will be around for a long time, and that will, with luck, be enjoyed by many people, there is a bunch of messages that I have sent out to individual persons, and a few entries posted at various goal pages and the company blog.
That is not such a terrible outcome, but neither is it an especially good outcome. The quality of my e-mails and writing is, in my view, nowhere near that of my programming. So for me it comes down to the following choice: I can distribute material of bad-to-mediocre quality to a small number of people, or I can distribute material of higher quality to more people. But I can’t do both; the first one obliterates the second.
I am not proud of the fact that some e-mail sent to the Robots goes unanswered as a result. It is never my intention to be rude or to give well-meaning users the cold shoulder. If the Robot Co-op was a huge corporate entity, we’d have enough money to hire a staff to look after community interaction. As it is, the site is run in such a way to provide for the 6 of us, but not lucrative enough to hire a dedicated PR/community-outreach person, and so I am faced with a stark choice between being a bad correspondent and being a good programmer. I am trying to be a good programmer, and hoping that people will forgive me for being a bad correspondent.
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