Warning. A bit of a frustrated rant ahead.
I have many, many distributions on the CPAN and have been struggling very hard to support them as well as I possibly can. Unsurprisingly, providing user support and fixing bugs is not the only thing I do and certainly not the only thing I like to do. In order to be a good CPAN citizen, I have adopted various unmaintained modules and applied tiny changes or made large overhauls resulting in a total of 488
One of those distributions is PAR, the Perl Archive Toolkit, and many are related. If you happen not to know what that is, it's a set of tools for packaging, managing, and distributing binary packages of Perl code and related resources and was written by Audrey Tang. It's a complex and very system dependent piece of software and I'm very, very glad that unlike many other packages in my CPAN directory, I'm not the only one who works on it. There is an active mailing list with quite a few incredibly nice, competent, and patient subscribers. In particular, there are various people who have a better overview over the code and its peculiarities on some platforms than I do. (I don't do Windows nor MacOS, for example.)
Now, each and every manual page of a PAR-related module states explicitly that support requests shall go to the PAR mailing list and bugs to the request tracker (which also sends a copy to the list, thanks to Jesse Vincent's tireless work). The PAR homepage prominently displays that same information and nowhere does it as much as mention me.
Regardless, I regularly receive support requests for the PAR modules from users to my personal e-mail address. I'm glad to hear they're using PAR, but they're usually very badly written and do not even give enough information for me to help them.
So far, I think I have answered all of these mails except maybe a handful that were either extremely impertinent or just unlucky because I was much busier than usual.
I started replying with an answer to their problem if I had one. Eventually, I grew tired of that and gave them their answer after noting that they should follow up on the mailing list.
This, however, has turned out to be highly ineffective. Those who got their answer usually didn't end up participating in the mailing list but just disappeared again.
How do you solve this dilemma? I still want to try to help wherever I can, but should I really spread my spare time thin between those who read the documentation, do some testing, and write a well-phrased mail to the mailing list and those who just send me a two-line mail saying that my shit doesn't install on their computer with an unspecified operating system? I'm exaggerating here. There's lots of shades in between.
Replying simply RTFM or Send it to the mailing list and include your system details and logs feels really rude. Forwarding the terrible thing to the list seems much worse: I'd be rude to those people who spend their spare time supporting the software. I'm actually thinking about not answering those mails at all unless they seem particularly interesting.
I can't be the only one in this situation. How do you handle this?