[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

2001/12/25

by Joel Spolsky
Tuesday, December 25, 2001

This site is supposed to be about software management. But sometimes you don't have the power to create change in your organization by executive fiat. Obviously, if you're just a grunt programmer at the bottom of the totem pole, you can't exactly order people to start creating schedules or bug databases. And in fact even if you're a manager, you've probably discovered that managing developers is a lot like herding cats, only not as fun. Merely saying "make it so" doesn't make it so.

Getting Things Done When You're Only a Grunt

WhatCounts Replaces Mailman

I used to use mailman to send the notification email to the 7568 subscribers who signed up. It had some problems. The biggest one was that every email that went out had to be exactly the same, and there was no way to include a recipient's email address in the text of the outgoing message. This made it a pain to unsubscribe people who didn't quite know why they were subscribed (usually they had an old email address forwarding to their current address). In fact I'm embarassed to admit that under the old system the only way to unsubscribe people was for me to go through all the unsubscribe messages and remove people manually. Why I put up with this for so long is completely beyond me.

WhatCountsThanks to David Geller at WhatCounts, I have a new system to manage the notification email. Every outgoing message will automatically have a custom return address on the WhatCounts server and a custom link you can click to unsubscribe. I hope this will make list management, finally, a totally painless process. The only problem with the new system is that if you receive one of my notifications and reply to it, I never see the reply. WhatCounts will assume it's a bounce or an unsubscribe request and deal with it appropriately. If you want to contact me you have to send email, rather than just replying to the message.


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, insanely simple project management, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracker designed to help great teams develop brilliant software, and Kiln, which simplifies source control. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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