My current project at work is part of a product that many people use internally, with an active email list for user feedback. I recently pushed out a rather visible change and unsurprisingly someone started a thread on the list with some feedback.
I replied to answer questions, and mentioned we were actively working to improve one of their pain points.
Someone else replied to the thread:
There already is a function for [doing the thing] (as explained in the docs [link]). Does this system take that into account?
I replied that we are we using the same API as that function, and (very briefly) explained how. I also pointed out the current limitation, and that it would certainly be better if we could listen for changes in
foo (which should solve OP's pain point).
He replied again telling me that I should talk to the API's team because their code knows what
foo is, "see [link to code]"... which clearly showed the API only keeps one
foo for the whole system, when we need
foo per object... and while he couldn't have known it, the code he linked to was actually the code I used as an example when I was writing mine.
What I tried so far: nothing, I didn't trust myself to write a professional-sounding reply and didn't know what to say.
Personally I felt like it was quite rude to reply-all to a large email list and ask the engineer for a feature if they had read the relevant docs. My PM, managers, and coworkers are all on that list too, which means I am also worried about how they perceive the interaction. For instance, if I respond with "OK thanks for the info" will they think "wow, so she hadn't actually read the docs?!"... or if I respond with "Yes, I'm aware" will I seem rude, like I'm too good to accept help?
(Feelings aside, I am sure he thought he was being helpful! We've never interacted before so I can't imagine he had any ulterior motive.)
I think a big part of the issue is that this interaction was text-based and I don't know how to probe "why are you telling me this" or signal "yes I know about this already" politely.
If it was face-to-face, I might have replied with a friendly laugh and smile about "ah funny you should mention that code, that's actually what I referred to as an example!", which (hopefully) would prompt him to go "oh great, so I don't need to explain how it works to you" and then maybe we could have a useful conversation. The immediacy of face-to-face interaction also makes tone feel less high-stakes because if I say something that comes off wrong I can course-correct and apologize as soon as I realize.
But sending an email of "Yep, that's actually the code I used as an example" could easily come off as sarcastic (or even clueless, if I don't include more technical information - but what?? I tried that in my first reply and apparently that didn't convince him I had done my research). The context clues that would normally make me go "oh no, that sounded too flippant" won't be present in email unless he makes it very clear that he was offended, in which case it's a bit late to casually smooth over.
So, to summarize all that - How can I assert my domain knowledge, while signalling openness to useful information, over email?