The other day I was reading posts on www.UtterAccess and thinking about what kinds of questions people ask. It occurred to me that some people look for database design assistance as if they are Ikea shoppers, some like Ethan Allen shoppers, and some like Home Depot shoppers.
The Ikea shoppers always want a database template. They’re willing to do a minor amount of assembly, but they crave pre-packaged solutions that someone else put all the hard work into creating, packaging and delivering.
The Ethan Allen shoppers want a high-end, finished database that they can have delivered to their home or office. They’re not interested in learning much about it, only that it is delivered with a minimum of hassle on their part. They’re willing to pay the cost which goes with that product.
The Home Depot shoppers are looking for an associate in the warehouse store who can help them pick out materials, along with few tools, and maybe conduct a training session on Saturday morning, but they expect to do the hard work themselves. They know the final product is going to be a bit rough around the edges, but that’s a good trade-off for saving a lot of money.
One problem, of course, is when shoppers expect to pay Ikea or Home Depot prices for Ethan Allen products. That’s a bit frustrating, as a matter of fact. I can’t say that I really blame them, I suppose. If you could get a $3,000 sofa for $198, wouldn’t you take it?
Another problem is when shoppers want to pick up an Ikea bookcase that exactly fits that odd-shaped corner of their living room. Well, chances are high that anything you get from Ikea is going to have standard dimensions, aimed at 99% of their customers, and not at your odd-ball space. If you put your mind to it, one of those out-of-the-box bookshelves can be modified to work for you. You just need to be willing to put in the work to do it.
And the third problem is that Home Depot shoppers tend to run into frequent difficulties that keep them returning to the store for more parts, more tools and more tutorials. There’s a lot more hand-holding involved.
Actually, now that I think about it, none of these are really problems, with a capital P. They’re just different ways to think about what it means to be a support person in the wonderful world of online forums.