Sorry to divert back to Alain's response - am I alone in not seeing anything terribly inflammatory or insulting about "John Smith's" questions?
To be honest Peter, I actually thought “John Smith” was rather insulting and inflammatory and felt that Alain handled it wonderfully, including his posting it to his site.
Anyone selling their work for a living, and/or those who are familiar with Alain, his business, and his writings would have made the conclusion that “John Smith” was a troll, a trap, etc. and was not in any way a potential buyer once “John Smith” made his second reply.
In “John Smith’s” first email the wording starts to give him away. Questions like “why are your prints so expensive?” and “what makes your prints so special?”, while perhaps legitimate questions, given the context of the email seemed a little accusatory and argumentative.
The other suspicious part was “John Smith” stating “I have seen some images quite similar to yours (not those I am interested in) offered by other photographers for a fraction of the price.” If those images were so similar, and at a fraction of the price, why is he not interested? Additional clue he was probably not a buyer - just someone looking for a conflict.
But given the benefit of the doubt, Alain replied with a great answer as to why his prints are so special. He answered a very direct and accusatory initial email with a pointed but descriptive response. If this was a buyer, “John Smith’s” reply, I am sure, would have been a little bit different.
But “John Smith’s” response really sealed the deal in determining this wasn’t a buyer. Certain statements made in “John’s” response made it seem to me that he was in fact familiar with Alain and his business practices and just wanted to call him out on it. It is probably something Alain has to deal with a lot these days given the success he has had.
Further, “John Smith” never really gave any indication that he was really interested in Alain’s artwork. All he was interested in was the price, camera used, type of printer, etc. People buy art because they have a connection with the artist, not the tools.
Alain’s response, I believe, was perfect and didn’t go overboard. He handled someone looking for a fight wonderfully, gave great answers to each of “John Smith’s” concerns, and did the right thing in posting it to his website.
The only thing I think Alain might have done differently was to have added a brief mention that he believed this “John Smith” was not a sincere buyer. While many people were able to recognize “John Smith” for what he is, perhaps a first time reader of Alain’s site, and/or those who do not sell for a living, might have thought “John Smith” was a legitimate buyer.