Should I be nice?

May 18, 2012

(This article was first published on The stupidest thing... » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

I got the following email.

Subject: i have a question?
Date: May 18, 2012 7:57:56 AM CDT

how can i enter the data of QTL analysis.

That was the whole thing.

I presume that the writer wishes to use my R/qtl software.

I could probably respond helpfully (for example, “See the sample data files and code at the R/qtl web site.”), but can’t I expect more from people seeking my help?

I suppose there are three options:

  • Just answer the inferred question.
  • Answer the inferred question, but in an offensive way.
  • Ask the writer to provide further details.

I chose the third option, but I probably should have chosen the first. A fabulously useful person who I greatly admire is well known for his use of the middle option.


I responded

Your question is not answerable without further details.

to which the correspondent replied

How can i analysis data the by RQTL?

I responded with links to tutorials, sample data files, and my book with Śaunak Sen.

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