10 Suggestions for better service
when using the traditional (email) updating methods
The Dance Gypsy receives 100s of requests for updates every week, resulting in an ongoing backlog (typically a couple weeks, can be more or less).Although it is faster to use the automated service, the Dance Gypsy realizes that there are many very real reasons why some requests need to be processed by hand. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help assure that your own request will be processes in a timely and accurate manner.
The ideal update request
First, some events are simply easier to process than others. I can update more listings in a timely manner if I move the easy ones to the front of the list. So here are several ideas that help you help me (and thereby help you)
- Send the requests as a reply (use reply button) to my periodic update request letters.
- Be sure to identify your event (the reply above will assure that)
- When replying to my request, keep the same subject line and include the update link that is always included in the request .
- Send multiple weeks//months of a single series in a single message (e.g., all dances for the next six months)
- Keep the format as simple and sparse as possible, perhaps something like:
- 7/8/9 caller jim Jones, music by the contrasonics
- 7/15/9 caller Mary Smith music by the Well-Balanced (pie eating night)
- Avoid redundant or irrelevant information (the less I have to wade through the fast I can update)
- Avoid generic responses, such as an email distribution list (spam filters often erroneously filter bulk mailings as spam)
- Avoid images and other things that cannot be copied (images and pdf files may not let me copy the name of the band or your phone number etc. if I have too type it, I may make a mistake)
- Do not describe performer details in the same letter as an event. I need to strip off any information about the instruments a person plays or who is in the band.
My time priorities for dance updates
A little information about how I prioritize my available time may help you improve your own results. That is, if you know how I will respond, then you can use the approach which gets you the fastest service. So here goes, my priorities are:
- Those updates which will have the largest impact on the most users generally get addressed first. Unfortunately for manual submitters, this means that fixing an error experienced by a user of the automated system will come first: fixing that error will have an impact on every single user of those services (fixing a single dance listing, changes only one event).
(But I do understand that manual users may be stuck with that approach, the following items discriminate among the manual users)
- If I have a pile of updates, complicated or confusing ones are likely to be processed last (see top item on this page)
- Although I do it when I have time, searching for details in other web pages can be very time confusing. If every page had the same format, it would be easy. But they don’t.
- I process direct requests before attacking generic email-list updates
Things that often delay postings
- Anything that causes spam filters to capture your message. Most common offender is bulk email lists (this doesn’t do it all by itself but it does add to their spam score). I do periodically scan the spam folder for misclassified messages, but this means that I don’t discover your email until then
- Attachments. First, my email system automatically strips large attachments; so I need to manually intervene to find them. even if not stripped, an attachment requires an extra step on my part. Sometimes after I have been editing postings for awhile I discover that in addition to my email program and web browser, I also have open: Word, Excel, Acrobat, iPhoto and others. This slows down my computer so I need to close the files to keep updating.
- Anything that confuses me. Remember that i may not be intimately familiar with your dance.
- Mislabeled emails (I tend to work in batches. if I am doing monthly dances and your message looks like a festival, I put it into the festival folder. later when I am doing festivals I read the details and see that it is really a monthly dance so I move it back to the other folder (for later). Similarly suppose a header says “dance July 31”, but contains information about several events. If I do not process the message until after july 31, I may throw the whole message in the trash not realizing that there are additional events.
- Repeated updates of the same information. This doesn’t slow your own request down, but cumulatively these slow down all requests. I actually spend more time processing repeat requests than I do the originals
Things that confuse me
Some answers are much easier to understand than others. When I get confused, I make mistakes, perhaps recording your information incorrectly. Some examples:
- My update request letter to you may list several events as “unconfirmed” (meaning I do not know if it is happening). Some people answer: “all are fine” or “you are correct”. More common than not, this means: “the unconfirmed events are correct, please confirm them”, but a significant minority mean “the listings are correct as given; the unconfirmed dances are in fact unconfirmed.” I make my best guess as to the meaning.
- One skill I am very poor at: reading two long descriptions and looking for a difference. this is doubly hard if the two items are not in the same format -- or if I have only the edited version (remember: once you edit it, the original is not in the your reply!) Some people are surprised that their careful editing of my description (in an update request letter) is likely to be missed. for example if a listing is 100 words long and 3 are changed, I bet that 9 times out of 10 I will miss it. I do much better with “our new phone number is 123-4567”.
- I may not know the names of your local performers. When you announce that Bill and Mary are playing, your regular dancers may know who those are, but I often don’t.
- Similarly I may not know your area code.
- And when I receive an email that says “my new email address is firstname.lastname@example.org" with my humblest apologies, I am sorry but I may not know who bill is — or what dance he represents.
- remembering that some town name exist in many states, and that the initials of your group may be the same as some other group’s
Items I probably can’t/don’t do
- I do not manually insert the newer features such as pictures, soundbytes, general descriptions or social network addresses. You are free to create these extended listings for your group but I probably will not add those for you.