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Poll

Why are there so many duplicate support posts? (Top 3 reasons)

The simplemachines.org website is too hard to navigate.
Search fails to return accurate results.
Not enough documentation in the manual.
Support staff is faster than searching.
Human laziness.
Don't know what to search for.
Other (please post below)

Author Topic: How can we improve the support process?  (Read 127381 times)

Offline Harro

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2007, 04:20:29 AM »
Enable the karma would be a good idea!
Just have to find a way then to prevent that eg 1 user would keep decreasing karma for a certain person of the support team.
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Offline ladynada

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2007, 05:18:25 AM »
I would vote for enhancement of the search function. I like to use the + and the "xxx" when I do searches, to narrow down the results.

Also, the search needs to be able to handle filenames and code fragments.  Most of the searches that fail for me, are on those two criteria.

thanks.
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Offline KGIII

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2007, 05:56:41 AM »
Harro:

I just posted a zany idea, that I suspect will be squished, a few moments ago. A self-elected group who had to (by way of profile and confirmation perhaps - method can vary) say they wanted to be so could also have a separate membergroup. Those might be "Volunteers" or the likes but, remember, I just mentioned it a few moments ago and there are so many holes in that idea that it is sure to fail.

I think that you might fit into that category? You like to provide support. You're not on the team. Yet your support is reliable and effective. Coupled with a rating (Karma) and a voluntary admission into the system as a helper or the likes? Hmm... This does NOTHING to lessen support requests immediately I don't think but, in time, I suspect it will.
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Offline Harro

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2007, 06:36:16 AM »
* Harro thinks out loud
If you would create such a "volunteer" membergroup I think the members of the support team should also create a way to evaluate those volunteers.
It's easy to become a volunteer, but it's not because you set it in your profile that your support is reliable and of good quality.
So some kind of checklist is needed, and also evaluate the volunteers with this checklist every now and then.
But then it could be that these volunteers would become more "official" then voluntary...
On the other hand, it would indeed be a sign to people who need help with something, that you are willing to help, they can trust you and that your help is of good quality.

You can also create a new membergroup for these regular members that give support and the support teams decides who to add to it (so don't make it voluntary).
So if you notice a member that gives good support, simply add him (or her) to that membergroup.
So it's more like a sign of "gratitude" and a way of saying thank you from the support team.

Or create more "support categories".
Now there are for example "Support Specialist" and "Lead Support Specialist".
You could also create for example a "Junior support specialist".

Hope these pretty random thoughts make some sence.

[edit]
Thanks for the compliments by the way.
Nice to hear a support specialist say that my support is reliable and effective ;)

Offline Joshua Dickerson

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2007, 07:08:36 AM »
I would vote for enhancement of the search function. I like to use the + and the "xxx" when I do searches, to narrow down the results.

Also, the search needs to be able to handle filenames and code fragments.  Most of the searches that fail for me, are on those two criteria.

thanks.
nada

It does find files and parts of code. There is a huge usability issue with the search though - it searches in the board that you are in or the topic that you are in without telling you.
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Offline margarett

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2007, 07:10:13 AM »
That is true and very valid but, nevertheless, it will not make less duplicate support topics I think.
But, the topic is "How can we improve the support process" so it's a valid option.

Anyway, I think that the problem is still human laziness :P
Since I started to give some basic support, I lost count to how many forums I accessed with admin accounts. FTP accounts, CPanel accounts (!!!!) everything. If I had bad intentions, those guys would have gotten bigger problems. So, if I was given those accesses and I'm not any kind of "official supporter", I assume that they would give them to anyone who offers support.
Some people are so lazy that they prefer to give anyone their forum administration, than to try to solve things by themselves...
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Offline Harro

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2007, 07:14:47 AM »
That's indeed true.
couple days ago somebody even posted his cpanel info on the forum, together with a database dump, including admin username and password.

Offline Joshua Dickerson

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #27 on: April 12, 2007, 07:45:06 AM »
I've edited the original post with a question ... Without requesting support here, can you give a couple of examples as to the question that you have asked and didn't know what to search for?
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Offline margarett

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2007, 09:39:08 AM »
Sometimes I think that... it's not worth it.
This thread has 4 days now, and only +20 replies, 370 views.
The only persons who participated are team members and 3 or 4 "regular members" who also do some support.
People DON'T CARE! And that really annoys me. On my forum, same thing happens... Members claim that something is not OK with the rules, the admin actions, etc etc. Then I say: "OK, everyone, then let me hear your proposals. What do you think you can do to improve?". And the result is... nothing, niente, nada!

Obviously you (we?) cannot simply ignore users because they are lazy, they don't search, and do not participate in a "support improvement" thread. But it's also true that most of the people simply don't care, as long they can have someone (team or not) willing to help them in a question that has been answered 143242354243412 times...

So, this pool's winner is: Human Laziness :P
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Offline Joshua Dickerson

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #29 on: April 12, 2007, 10:53:41 AM »
Just because there is not a lot of people posting doesn't mean that we aren't learning a lot. The poll results are proving a lot. The posts are still great. The only true way of knowing the effect of this poll is by implementing changes and then seeing how things have changed.

To your point about users not giving good feedback, see my blog post.
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Offline PixieWAttitude

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #30 on: April 12, 2007, 11:05:19 AM »
I have to say. When I search for a particular suppor topic, I have had no problems at all finding what I need. Sure I may have to go through the first few pages but I will find it.

I think it's all a matter of choosing the correct keywords when searching. People just use the obvious...can't find what they need, that's where the laziness comes in. The lazy person doesn't want to sift through tons of pages to find the answer to one question they may have so they make a topic. Sure, sometimes it's faster this way.


Another idea that I have seen on another board (Not an SMF board) but when the member types in their topic, there is a popup showing similar topics. This might encourage and stop the double postings of these issues at hand.

Offline margarett

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #31 on: April 12, 2007, 11:20:13 AM »
I do not fully agree... If people do not post, then you will never know why did they voted. Worse! Only 24 votes :(

I still defend that most of all, people are lazy. Then imagine I am a lazy guy searching for help:
1 - I don't care about search and make a new topic directly
2 - I try search: "parse error". JEEEZZZ 400 results. I don't feel like go through all the results, so --> new topic
3 - I see a "how to improve support" thread. Vote for? Txaram! "Search fails to return accurate results"

I am sorry if I sound like somehow annoying. But the more I think of this, the more I feel that it's a lost battle from the start.

edit: here is the translation for PT language:
http://www.simplemachines.org/community/index.php?topic=164424.0
« Last Edit: April 12, 2007, 11:44:08 AM by margarett »
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Offline Joshua Dickerson

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #32 on: April 12, 2007, 02:12:49 PM »
margarett: feel free to make that in to a poll. I will probably be able to understand the poll better than I can people replying to that post ;)
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Offline Sirius

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #33 on: April 12, 2007, 03:59:25 PM »
there are many type of SMF users , those who have a meaningless forum and are still on version RC1 , those who just like to play with this and screw up their installation in 1 hour and those like me who use it as a business tool and make money with it and have to pay a PHP scripter to fix the problems.
 
If I have a major problem with my forum, my paying members won't wait 2 days for it to be repaired.    At one time, i have paid here to be a charter member ( i'm french sorry for bad english) and the answers could take up to 2 days to come. So then I go for a search, and I really don't have the time to read 5 threads of 10 pages each to find an answer.
 The idea to be able to find an answer posted by a certain person that we trust is great..  this is what i will do from now on because i have seen some great answers. I should of thought about this before ( keep a log of the best helpers)
None the less , keeping all the old posts and irrelevant answers just pollute the forum. At first when I've started my forum many years ago, everything was wild like here... keeping every threads whatever stupid they might be..  then we did end up with a major headache because we had to repeat the same thing all the time since peoples couldn't find their answers anymore by doing a search. So what I did was DELETE and start a new forum where every posts are seen by mods or admins and sometimes whole threads are deleted.
Also i have created a member group named reader's club.. ( they can't post)  this is for those who ask the same question that was asked a few minutes before and is still on the list of recent topics.
Believe me, this work marvelously,  now they make sure they do a basic search before asking a question or at least read the recent topics .
And who does pay the 50$ for support in here ? peoples like me who don't have time to read 10 threads of 10 pages each to find an answer... no wonder why i don't pay anymore.
So you need some trustworthy peoples to be able to delete and purge the useless answers and make a 2 pages thread of a 10 pages mess. True though that you have a hell of a big forum to maintain, a lot of mods would be needed to be able to read every posts as they arrive.  good luck !  ;D
« Last Edit: April 12, 2007, 04:05:20 PM by sirius »

Offline metallica48423

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #34 on: April 12, 2007, 04:05:46 PM »
I can agree and disagree with the idea KGIII posted about some sort of 'helper' membergroup... theres a few flaws and a few strengths i see with the idea.  I will list the strengths first.

Mainly,  It would show people who are known to be reliable in support.  It would also be useful as a sort of pool to pull from in the future in the case of a need for support specialists... so in that way, with proper insurance in the integrity of those in the group, you could benefit the operation significantly.  Reduce support topics?  unlikely.  Now, the problems with the system.

Firstly, It could incite anyone that wants to help out to do so just for the position.  I know that sounds dumb but theres a lot of people out there that would do so just to get some sort of status.  I have learned that through many long stretches of service in various communities.  People would join, be excellent members, be IDEAL choices for moderators or site staff... do awesome the first week on the job, then completely die.  Lose all activity, and leave.  After you've spent time and energy and risked your integrity to give them that chance... poof.  I could see it being something more an icon than a useful group if not done correctly.

Secondly, where is the line between 'volunteer helper' and 'support specialist', as support specialists fall into both categories.  Basically you'd have a support specialist with no access, no permissions, just a badge.  Which could lead to the above happening.  I guess the point is, where would the line be drawn? 

I have been mistaken for a support specialist many times already.  This is alarming in the aspect that people OPENLY hand out their login information to the first person willing to help, or even post it in a thread!   Now, not gloating, but i have fixed, installed, or upgraded a good number of forums already and that would not have been possible without that information...  so wheres the medium?  Security, or getting things done.  Not sure how to approach this one.

I see sirius posted whilst i was typing, and a very good post it is, IMO.  Having a database of support threads is an AWESOME idea -- but there's so many meaningless posts that its not funny sometimes.  The problem i see is that not all questions that seem like they're caused by the same thing, are in fact.  for example, a mod package failing to parse or install could be the result of incorrect permissions, or it could be the lack of a temp folder, or it could be a corrupted xml file that wasn't picked up as corrupt by SMF, but still couldn't be parsed.  The only way to know in a thread this sort of thing is to read in context -- and you can't do so if all those posts get deleted.

That said, there are a number of posts that could stand to be removed, but it would be a very long and manual job to do so, there are over 100,000 posts in those boards.

I think thats all for that mini rant :P  Thats just my thoughts and opinions

</long ass post>
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Offline Sirius

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #35 on: April 12, 2007, 04:23:46 PM »
yes the problem being that , cleaning a forum has to be done from the start, not when you have a huge amount of threads like here...  it would be a MASSIVE undertaking to clean up this forum..

as to your comment :(The only way to know in a thread this sort of thing is to read in context -- and you can't do so if all those posts get deleted.)

 What I do is merge the good infos in a messy thread with another thread of the same nature that would fit the subject.  Mind you, i work 10 hours a day shift on my forum and my mods  about 4 hours each. ( and I pay them once in a while with small gifts here and there , money or hardware)
 Another problem is that I would never give the login infos to my forum to someone from here whatever his name would be the POPE.
Some peoples with a forum about nothing can afford to give their infos to anyone and everywhere, but not me. My forum is of very secret nature ( not porn don't worry lol) and I don't want any strangers reading anything in there, let alone play with my admin panel and settings. So, being a charter member and allow a staff from here to enter my domain is out of the question, so I pay someone that I trust to fix the php scripts.

So for here I would start by pruning , remove the posts older than 300 days, keep the stickies..  .. example: when christmas will come again,  those old threads about christmas themes won't even fit anymore because all those SMF versions and suggested theme would be way too old. so why keep them ..
« Last Edit: April 12, 2007, 04:25:31 PM by sirius »

Offline metallica48423

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #36 on: April 12, 2007, 04:29:25 PM »
I agree, its something that needs to be done from the start.  I just thought i'd put my 2 cents (okay, more like 2 dollars -- that was a rather long post) forward as that is what this post is asking for :P
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Offline Joshua Dickerson

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #37 on: April 12, 2007, 05:09:48 PM »
Without getting too deep in to a discussion about this, because I think discussions should be broken off in to another topic and this topic being used for suggestions...

I am not a fan of KGIII's suggestion of creating another group. For one, I think there are enough groups here already. If people are really that helpful, they will most likely become a member of the team. When we do notice someone being helpful, we give them a little while, then invite them to the team and give them an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship would be the equivalent of KGIII's suggestion.

The idea of reducing the number of topics is exactly what documentation is for. You should always look at the documentation first. The support page needs to be revamped for this. Regardless, your suggestion has been taken in to account.
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Offline metallica48423

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #38 on: April 12, 2007, 05:12:15 PM »
thats what i'm saying, it'd be like blurring the line... its really unnecessary IMO, hence KGIII's assumption of it being squished :P.

But i like to see the good and bad aspects of an idea.  Theres good things about the idea, and theres bad and unnecessary things.  Figuring out and determining which is which is the determination that must be made.  I guess that was my point :p
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Offline Harro

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Re: How can we improve the support process?
« Reply #39 on: April 12, 2007, 05:24:06 PM »
Personally I'm not sure I would like to be an official member of the support team though.
My php, Mysql and SMF knowlegde isn't good enough to help in all situations and when you are not an official team meber there are no real obligations to give support.
Although I would feel honoured if you would ask it to me though, and probably will consider it eventually :P
And it will probably also change once I learn more about everything :)