Know When to Call Professionals For Help


I used to have red-eared slider turtles, and I’ve got a few web pages about how to take care of them.  Every now and then, I get a comment like this:

My turtle is bleeding and he hasn’t eaten in a week.  Should I be concerned?

Credibility Fail
Credibility Fail

Uh, hello.  If the turtle was your son, would you be worried?  (Maybe the answer is no, in which case I’d be worried.)  Obviously, if somebody’s health is involved and there’s something seriously wrong, your first reaction should be to call a doctor, not post a question on a web site.  I’m glad you think of me as so gosh-darned helpful, but I am not a doctor, although I play one on TV.

Similarly, I see questions on web forums asking things like:

My server is down and every time it boots, I get a blue screen.  What should I do?

Uh, hello.  Pick up the phone and call Microsoft for support.  Don’t get me wrong, you can get some fantastic free support on the internet, but if your production server is down, isn’t it worth the cost to open a support ticket with Microsoft?  Be up front with your boss, explain how much the support call costs, and ask if it’s worth the money.  If your boss decides it’s not worth the cost, then you can feel comfortable sitting around hitting refresh while waiting for someone to answer your plea for help.

Otherwise, as long as you’re hitting F5 on your forum of choice, you should open another tab and start looking for another job.

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5 Comments. Leave new

  • I get these messages on a regular basis for the ERP software I administer. Dave, my software is down and I have no idea how to fix it.

    My first question is, “When did you start having problems?”

    I’m still amazed when some of them tell me they haven’t been able to do business – sell, invoice, or ship anything for close to a week.

    I can’t imagine keeping my job if my company found itself in that situation. However, the converse is also true. I don’t want to work for an employer that would allow their system to be down for a week.

  • No every server is used for production :-). It is possible that one of the development servers is down and somebody has time to play with it. If one of my development servers is down and I do have free time – I’ll be all over it trying to figure out myself (or with google/forum help) what’s wrong, because I know that I will definatelly learn something new doing that.

  • I laugh when I see things like this
    “Help, my database is suspect! How do I get it back??? It’s urgent!!!!!!!!! I have no backup”

    Well, first there’s the ‘no backup’, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
    Seriously, if you’re going to depend on some random person on the internet, who’s skills with SQL could be anything from ‘can spell it’ to ‘former dev team’ with often no way to tell which it is and who’s posting in their spare time, to fix a critical production problem, then there’s more wrong than just the production problem.

    I’ve more than once had to tell someone I was helping fix a critical production-down scenario “I’m going to bed now. Be back in around 9 hours.”


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