A Thank You Letter to Incredibly Helpful People I’ll Probably Never Meet in Person

Dear Helpful People,

You’ve shown up in various books, threads, obscure help forums, blogs, how-to articles, podcasts and tutorial videos. You’ve helped me rescue dozens of projects from the brink of failure. You’ve provided advice and taught me how to do things that I never dreamed I’d be able to do. You’ve challenged my thinking and encouraged me to grow. Today, I’m a more confident and competent human being because of you.

I think it’s safe to assume that many of you don’t receive compensation for your hard work, except maybe through Amazon affiliate links or through some sort of publishing deal or if content development is like your legit full time job. It’s probably not about the money for you anyway. I suspect that you do what you do because you love helping people.

We’ve all heard the admonition to “not read the comments” online, and although the internet has a way of highlighting and promoting vulgarity and brutishness, you’ve shown me that there are lots of people who are willing to help for the sake of bona fide altruism. With that said, I’d like to share a few specific thanks, in no particular order.

To the guy in the John Bridge tile forum who posted a tutorial about laying neat silicone beads, thank you. I once made one hell of a mess trying to caulk around a shower door, and for a time I truly though that silicone was the devil’s invention. Your post showed me that my woes were due to operator’s error. I’ve never used any sort of caulk or silicone since without thinking about your post, and your taping method has always delivered pro results every time. Also, thank you to all the people who chimed in on my frantic questions about how to get proper thinset coverage on large-format shower tiles. I almost bit off more than I could chew by making my first tile job a full shower surround, and your comments and suggestions made it possible. (I’m definitely going to use a ledger board from here on out.)

Thank you to all the folks at This Old House, The Family Handyman, and other DIY publications who’ve given me the gumption to tackle progressively more complicated home projects.

To the countless people on Quora, Reddit, and Medium who write about your random interests, thanks for providing your insight. Most of my online queries tend to direct me to your posts.

Thank you to Scotty Kilmer and ChrisFix for posting excellent videos about mechanic work. My Haynes manual is indispensable for working on my truck, but it’s no substitute for seeing how things are done. Also, thank you to all the obscure posters who shared their videos of how to replace the carrier bearing on a two-piece driveshaft. My Haynes manual didn’t cover that procedure, and it was quite a doozy the first go-round.

Thank you to the writers, videographers, and technicians at iFixit for posting clear, concise instructions for how to fix my tech. You’ve helped me save a boatload of money, and now I’m dead set on never buying a new MacBook again. Thanks to you, I’d rather buy used and trick it out how I’d like.

Thank you to Tania Rasica for providing inspiration for this blog. I switched my website to WordPress a few months ago, and I came across your website pretty much by happenstance. I think I queried something like “how to build a WordPress theme” and your post on that very topic showed up. I loved the structure of your blog, and I was inspired by your “Learning in Public” section, which I adapted for my own purposes. I had been wanting to keep some sort of learning journal for awhile, and you deserve the credit for helping me structure that idea.

Thank you to all the podcast hosts, collaborators, and interviewees who have redeemed lackluster commutes, transformed doing dishes into precious learning time, and broadened my thinking. In particular, I’d like to thank This Cultural Moment, Projectified with PMI, HBR Idea Cast, The Design of Business, and Ransomed Heart. Keep up the good work.

Thank you to all the talented people who create online courses and tutorials. You’ve helped fuel my desire for constant learning and improvement, and I’m grateful for your work.

And finally, thank you to all of the authors who have devoted thousands of hours to writing simply to share your insight with the world. Some of you have already passed, but you live on in the wisdom and experience that you share in your writings. For those of you who are living, there’s always the chance that we’ll bump into each other at some killer barbecue joint in the future, but that’s probably a pipe dream. I know that writing is often lonely, grueling work, for it is in the arena of the blank page that we confront the very limits of our insight and the fallibility of language. To embrace that work, to write without any guarantee that anyone will really care, to “give voice to your own astonishment” as Annie Dillard puts it—that is an act of fierce courage.

As I come to the close of this letter, it’s abundantly clear that I’d never be able to write a comprehensive list of everyone who has assisted me in my journey. However, I wanted to thank the people who have helped me in ways that they could never expect or imagine. Your work is valuable, even if often unseen or unrecognized.

Ignore the view counts. Reject the stats. Some of the posts that have been the most helpful to me have been the most obscure. Quality matters more than quantity.

Never tire of sharing your perspective—you’ve already been a difference maker in my life.

With Gratitude,

Joshua Callandret

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