Ayende @ Rahien

My name is Oren Eini
Founder of Hibernating Rhinos LTD and RavenDB.
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The WRONG way to respond to criticism

time to read 1 min | 179 words

XHEO has finally decided to respond to my open letter.

I haven't read it yet, but I can point out one critical mistake that they have made so far.

They were silent.

I posted this on the 2nd. They responded on the 5th. Aside from demonstrating their lackluster response times, they made an even bigger mistake. They let the perception settle.

My open letter post has 97 comments at this point. It has been picked up by DotNetKicks and Reddit, it has been read by eight thousands plus subscribers to my blog.

And during all that time, XHEO was silent. Just to be clear, about 5 seconds after I posted the post, I have sent the link directly to XHEO's owner. That was around 8 AM, in his time zone, I believe, during a business day.

As I said, I haven't read their response yet, but by sitting quite and "collecting their thoughts", they have created a huge PR problem.

Regardless of the actual fact of the matter, waiting was exactly the wrong response.


Paul Alexander

I stated why I waited so long to respond to your post. I wanted to be sure that the emotion of such a blatent missrepresentation of the issue didn't color my representation of the truth. I'm not in the habit of running off to my blog to rant when I'm upset.

Ayende Rahien

Did you read this post ?

Have you realized the actual damage that happened to your company as a result of not responding in a timely manner?

Paul Alexander

I have read the post. The damage caused by posting in anger and writing irrational or incorrect statements would be even worse.

You’ve assumed that your position in the community entitles you to behave in any way you’d like. You haven’t spent any time reflecting on your own behavior and mistakes. The blatant misrepresentation of the case on your blog is shameful.


Personally I've been a bit put off by these posts, it was bad enough with commenters with the "oooh they pissed off the wrong guy, go gerrem ayende!", but now with this I just think whats so special.. I love reading your blog for your insights and its great that you share them with so many people but this stuff I just think is a bit 'ugh, take it outside please kids'.

Sergey Koshcheyev

After reading both posts I'm inclined to side more with XHEO, so I wouldn't say their response is that bad. Ayende, calm down a bit, you seem to assume that if many people read your blog then whatever crazy opinion you post here is somehow magically right but that's far from the truth.

Ayende Rahien


Did you read this message? Did you understand what I am talking about?


Shame on you Ayende for trying to use your respected position in the community. That is not to say XHEO has done right towards you, but that you have tried to use your community and subscribers to get at another company (XHEO) ... you have used it as a tool to excercise your power ... and not looked at it as a responsibility!!

As has been said earlier ... take it outside boys!! When we lend you our eyes(or our ears) to read at your blog, I want you to be responsible for what you write or say to us.

Sergey Koshcheyev

Yes, your post basically goes like this: I wrote something and I have a hundred of comments and it was picked up by two aggregators and read by 5000 people and the other guy didn't reply immediately so they are wrong and I don't even have to read what they wrote, I win.

A kindergarten-level nonsense.

This part: "Regardless of the actual fact of the matter, waiting was exactly the wrong response." is just plain arrogant.

Who are you to decide what's right and wrong for somebody else? God Almighty?

You're trying to make your subjective comments look objective and as a reader it makes me feel like I'm being manipulated.

I haven't examined your actual problems in any detail and I have no experience with XHEO at all, I'm just judging the style of your and their posts. From the PR point of view it's now you who seems to be losing.

I would expect that a technically minded person would actually read the post and refute any arguments of the other side one by one.


There is nothing wrong with stepping back and gathering all the facts, considering your reply and then calmly posting a response.

XHEO's response is fine, calm and rational and is a far more detailed account of what occured than your original post.

How about focussing on the content of the XHEO post rather than trying to divert everyone to looking at the timing.

In future when people are researching for a licensing component an read this account, they will also read the XHEO response and the matter of a 'few days' will not matter at all.

My question is back with the facts of the matter. Are they wrong in what they have written? If so, where?

Ayende Rahien


This post was about their response, and how it is all wrong for them regarding their PR.

It has nothing to do with facts, it has all to do with waiting so long to get their response.

Sergey Koshcheyev

I'm missing any justification of that statement ("it's all wrong for them"). What little justification you put in your post ("made the perception settle") just doesn't suffice since it's bullshit, sorry. Three days isn't a long response time for a potentially serious issue in my view.

You should either state that what you write is your personal opinion, humble or not, or you have to provide some facts to back up your statements.

Now, I can of course assume that since it's a blog, everything written here is just your opinion but it wouldn't hurt if you reminded people here about it once in a while especially since your blog is read by so many people and many seem to worship you already.

Arne Claassen

Just got back from reading the response... Rather than not being "in the habit of running off to my blog to rant when I'm upset" the recollection of their side does use language that continuously paints Ayende as the impatient, uncooperative jerk and their support as patiently willing to help, without much substantiation that this was the way the dialog occurred. So it's really just their version, rather than the "facts".

However this "lesson learned" statement kinda clinches the customer service attitude, doesn't it:

"Sometimes being right isn't in the best interest of the company."

I mean isn't that just customer relations 101, not some deep reflection of this situation?


And this was the WRONG way to respond to a response.


Having found myself in similar positions with companies before, on both ends, I feel that the open letter as well as the response are a bit biased in this situation. Reading that other people have had problems with XHEO tells me that there is definitely merit to Ayende's claim, but after reading the XHEO statement, I am sure that there were problems from his side as well as far as clarifying problems. This mostly seems like a problem of miscommunication. Ayende was probably frustrated with the problems he was having and not being as cool and concise as he should have been, but XHEO's support should have realized this and tried harder to get better clarification. Answers such as it works on my end are never appropriate. One of the biggest issues I noticed is that most of the communication was done over email, I know for tech specialists especially we like to rely on emails to convey what we are saying, however, there are a lot of situations when email is either too slow, or doesn't get the point across correctly. It is amazing the kind of results you can get from suppport or even the owner of the company his/her self over the phone.

I don't think either side is right or wrong here, I do feel the way both sides handled the situation could have been better.


What XHEO forgot is that the customer is always right, even when he isn't. They should have just refunded you the money if you are not satisfied, regardless of what is stated in contracts.

But now it looks like you are trying to get back at them by starting a PR war. And there are only losers. XHEO gets bad PR, but so do you. I now have a picture of you of someone who has a short fuse, and uses his influence in the community to get what he wants. Like a toddler who yells and cries the whole store crazy, because he doesn't get his action man figure.

Paul Alexander did the right thing by formulating a professional response, instead of lowering himself to your level.

Are you going to respond to the contents of his post? I can't wait for the next episode in this soap series.


Both sides think they're right. OTOH, only one side is the customer.

Aaron Erickson

I think the no refunds policy, and the talking to the customer about "their responsibilities", is the problem.

Keeping the customer's money on a contract technicality is always a very bad idea. Doing so of someone who commands a huge audience is blatantly stupid.

Peter Morris

They did what they accused you of, they started the story where they felt YOU acted incorrectly and left out the part where you said they had acted poorly.

The problem is that neither side of the story paints the whole picture.

When I've been in a similar situation in the past I put together then entire correspondence (including skype chats) and created one large document in chronological order, I then published it. People read the document and made their own unguided judgment. Luckily everyone who responded was in agreement with me :-)


After reading XHEO's post, I think your response has done nothing but create a situation that can only be resolved by third party, aka lawyers.

By trying to create a PR sh$t storm, you put XHEO in a situation where they have nothing left to lose, so obviously they probably won't even talk to you about any refunds. You are still entitled for their support but you have too much pride to do so I guess.

Publishing these correspondences and going public is bringing out the worst in yourself.

If you believe you have a case against XHEO then take your legal actions and let us know what happens. Unfortunately doing so will probably cost more than the price of the refund, but at least justice will be served for one of the parties.

Either way, there are no "winners" anymore.


btw, nothing personal, just my 2 cents

Will Shaver

"Exposing ourselves to the whims and careless purchases..." "By establishing a no-refunds policy it forces customers to be more careful in their consideration to purchase"

contrast with:

"The Fog Creek Promise: If you’re not satisfied, for any reason, within 90 days you get a full refund, period, no questions asked. We don’t want your money if you’re not amazingly happy."

Justin Tisdale


I'm ashamed to say that until reading XHEO's response to your "open letter," I believed you. This situation was handled badly by both you and by XHEO. At least XHEO has the fortitude to admit their screwups. You, apparently, do not.

The end result?

I would never have bought anything from XHEO anyway. I would have bought NHProf. Now I will not. I will not use a product that will be supported by someone who has given me hard evidence of how badly he handles these kinds of situations.

You have hurt yourself more than XHEO in this PR war, my friend.


It is worth pointing out that on the other post there are many other people, whom are respectable in the communities, also experience similar experience with XHEO support. that mean:

 Oren problem with XHEO support is clearly not an isolated incident.

Furthermore, XHEO response also suggest that this is the typical way for them to treat their customer... There are obviously two sides to every story. But in Oren case he wouldn't know whether XHEO product will work for him or not until he upgrade to the next and the next version. I don't expect a company to craw and beg in front of a customer but XHEO head-on approach is rather worrisome for any potential customer especially when they product doesn't work.

Following the stage of events of what happened I think that XHEO is the type of company that if their product work for you that's great, if not then the sooner you cut your loss and terminate your relationship with them the better.


I disagree with above comments about Ayende getting bad PR for himself.

BS - These post are a treasure trove of information for people who are actively evaluating licensing options for their companies!

I bet 10 different products have been discussed.

Kristian Erbou

Ayende: How many features for NH Prof. could you have ready by now if you had just written one single post claiming "Don't ever buy XHEO Products" and got it off your chest - and then moved on getting some work done? You're so much better at coding than being angry with people. ;o)


Wow, Ayende, take a chill pill.

Not everyone works at your (impressive) pace.

I agree with your comments on XHEO, but 3 days to give an answer? That's rather reasonable...

David Fauber

"Are you aware of the concept of PR?"

dear god the irony

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