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MMD > Archives > August 1997 > 1997.08.18 > 05Prev  Next

Miscellaneous Visitors to MMD Web Site
By John A. Tuttle

Hi Members,  Robbie poses an interesting question:

>[ The drawback is that it takes a fair amount of time for Jody to reply
>[ properly and then engage in a round or two of correspondence.  If the
>[ correspondent then subscribes to MMD that's fine, but I guess that not
>[ many do.  Perhaps they only wish to sell (or re-sell) an heirloom.
>[ How should we deal with this problem, members?

I have been dealing with this situation almost since the beginning of the
first web site.  However, for me it has been a little easier because I am
limited to player pianos.  Just the same, lots of letters (10-15) come in
everyday requesting information.  As a pattern develops, I try to seek
out the individuals who specialize in various devices and forward the
questions to them.  Many times, I have forwarded the request to the MMD
and suggested that the person join the MMD.  But enough history, what
about an answer.

I think the only way to reduce the number of questions is to increase the
amount of available answers and remember where the answers are located at
the site.  This line of reasoning seems to be working at my domain with
regards to Used Rolls.  Since installing the newest set of pages, the
number of roll related questions has dropped to almost zero.

You might ask, "how is it possible for the MMD site to post MORE
information? The searchable archive covers....  well, it covers
everything the MMD has ever published."

While this is true, it has been my experience that a fair number
of people are too lazy to look through the available information.
My reaction to this type of visitor has been increasingly blunt.
I simply reply:

    "Hi,  you can find that information at:

I don't like appearing rude or sounding rude, but when a visitor hasn't
spent the time to search out information that I know is readily available
at the site, I have little patience for them.  Much to my surprise, I
usually get a thank-you letter a few days later.  But what about the
people who have very specific questions that are not answered at the
site?  In those cases, and not unlike a knowledgeable librarian, I steer
the writer to a reference book.

My point is this: we (web site owners) are not a library and we are not
responsible for educating people, even though most of us will bend over
backwards to help those who sound sincere in their quest for knowledge.

The only other thing that I can think of that might make life a little
easier for the MMD would be the installation of an 'Information Input
Form' where you ask the questions.  Beyond that, a Frequently Asked
Questions (FAQ) might be in order, but not in the typical FAQ format.
As with the Used Roll page, my FAQ's are from the standpoint of the
dealers and collectors, not the visitor.

In closing, here is a list of ten questions that I usually ask people
who call my office regarding player pianos.

> What is the exact name of the unit as it appears on the plate?
> What is the serial number of the unit?
> How long has it been since the unit last played by foot pumping?
> When was the unit last serviced?
> How do you intend to use the unit -- as an instrument of learning,
    or as a toy?
> What is the condition of the cabinet?
> Are the ivories chipped or missing?
> Does the piano sound relatively in tune?
> Do all the notes on the piano work?
> Are you considering buying, selling or keeping the unit?
> How would you characterize the appearance of the unit:

    a) good  b) fair  c) poor

Oops!  That's eleven.  Well, you get my point.  I think that if other
dealers, technicians and collectors each put together a short question-
naire similar to the one above, a comprehensive set of questions
for each general category of instrument would result.  Personally, I
don't think that the average person knows the right questions to ask and
we end up spending a lot of time asking those pertinent questions.  So
let's beat them to the punch.

That's my opinion, I could be wrong!

John A. Tuttle

 [ Maybe we could make a "Customer Profiler"!  After answering the
 [ initial set of questions, a computer program guesses what the reason
 [ for the questions was, and then presents the next set of questions.
 [ Sort of like those dumb personality tests which employers and govern-
 [ ment agencies enjoy.  Certainly, after answering your questions,
 [ John, they must have a much better idea of which questions are
 [ most important to them.  By that time, maybe they seriously read
 [ the answers at your the web site!  -- Robbie

(Message sent Mon 18 Aug 1997, 12:44:50 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

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