I will say this, though: unsolicited redesigns are terrific and fun and useful, and I hope designers never stop doing them. But as they do so, I also hope they remember it helps no one — least of all the author of the redesign — to assume the worst about the original source and the people who work hard to maintain and improve it, even though those efforts may seem imperfect from the outside. If you have good ideas and the talent to execute them and argue for them, the world will still sit up and pay attention even if you take care in your language and show respect to those who don’t see things quite the way you do.

This was the incredibly gracious and graceful response of Khoi Vinh, former design director of NYTimes.com, to Andy Rutledge’s widely blogged redesign.

When reporting it’s a useful frame of mind to assume good faith going in, and then reality check. People are rarely villains in their own minds, and talking to them like they are rarely produces results. In his own mind, Bernie Madoff was the victim of small mistakes, compounding on top of each other and burying him deeper.

I’ve learned that rule the hard way over several years, but I’m still struggling with it as a business owner. I’m quick to dismiss, even on this site, ideas that seem superficial, poorly thought out or driven by flash rather than substance. And I’m often dead wrong as the project evolves. Hopefully this post will serve as a reminder to myself to show some of Vinh’s restraint.