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From Kay Schenk <>
Subject Re: How about a next-generation approach to user support?
Date Sat, 25 Jun 2011 15:09:43 GMT
DEFINITELY worth investigating from my perspective! :) Anything that can 
make overall "support areas" easier to maintain, whether it's this 
facility or some other DB driven mechanism is worth the effort.

I have never been really directly involved in "end user" support for but this is definitely worth pursuing.

On 06/25/2011 06:33 AM, Rob Weir wrote:
>  From a user's perspective, maximum satisfaction comes from not having
> a question in the first place.  The product just works intuitively.
> They don't need to interrupt their task to find out '"How do I do X?".
>   If they need to search for an answer to a question, the product has
> already failed them, at least in a small way.  The next best thing is
> to have an answer readily available in the in-product documentation,
> in the help system, which should be indexed and searchable.  If that
> fails, then the user typically searches the web.  If they cannot find
> an answer at that point, then they end up posting a question on a
> support list or support forum.  If they get an answer 24 hours or 8
> hours later, or even 1 hour later, then their task has been
> interrupted.  The product has let them down.  Of course, this is far
> better than the customer just giving up and not telling us what was
> confusing to them.  It is better than them moving to another product
> because they cannot figure something out with OpenOffice.  But it
> still represents a long string of lost opportunities.  The user
> doesn't want support.  They want to work on their task.  Support is
> the last resort.
> So we should think of a support site as **a way for users to get
> questions answered**.  This does not necessarily mean that they need
> to post questions.  A good support site will make it possible for
> users to find answers to many or even most questions without having to
> ask them.  This is done via FAQs, good search facilities, etc.  A good
> support site should also be SEO-savvy, and follow best practices for
> indexing by Google, Yahoo and Bing, and others.  Most users with
> questions will start from the search form in their browser than will
> start at whatever support site we create.
> So this leads us to want to maximize the value of questions and
> answers previous asked, to build a repository of wisdom and
> experience, especially for the most-asked questions.
> I think it is critical to keep in mind the accumulative value
> generation aspect of lists and forums, how the questions and answers
> build up a repository of information that helps us (the project
> members) understand the common user problems in the product. But it
> also feeds the search engines, so users can find the information they
> seek without having to post a question.  With commercial software
> vendors, you often see this feedback loop.  The support department
> identifies the top issues for new product releases and feeds that
> information to development.  They also look at most common questions
> and write them up as tech notes or FAQ's.  Developers take turns
> listening in on support calls, so they have a greater appreciation for
> the problems that real customers are running into.  The ultimate goal
> is user/customer satisfaction.  Not volume of support calls, or number
> of questions asked, or number of forum posts.  A large volume of
> support calls can often be an indication of product quality problems.
> It is a bad thing.  You want to maximize user satisfaction.
> I fear that if we fragment user questions into both forums and lists
> then we reduce the value that we could have from a unified repository
> of questions and answers.  In fact, I think we should be bold at this
> point.  The start of an Apache project is a natural break in the
> evolution of the OpenOffice project.  We don't need to copy the
> methods that were used before.  Maybe we should look at the best
> practices available today, and leap ahead to something more powerful.
> Someone mentioned before the StackExchange style of community led,
> collaborative/social Q&A site.  If you are not familiar with these, I
> urge you to poke around a site like
> These types of sites are not designed for long discussion threads.
> They are optimized for Q&A.  They bring in features like question
> tagging, rating of questions and rating of answers, a wiki-based FAQ
> system, etc.  Community members earn reputation points and badges for
> asking and answering question.  These points earn additional
> privileges related to scoring of questions and answers, moderation,
> etc.  So the site is self-policing.  This point system also makes
> participation quite additive, and that is a good thing.  The tagging
> of questions, and merging of duplicate questions adds a
> self-organizing aspect to the information as well, which is very
> valuable.  You can also assign some of your points as a "bounty" or
> reward for someone who answers a particularly hard question.
> I think something like this represents the state-of-the-art for a user
> support forum.  If we had this for, it would give our
> user community a coolness factor as well increase our support
> effectiveness.
> Forming a new StackExchange-based site is free, but does require
> demonstrating a high degree of community support and commitment.  It
> appears that you need a solid group of around 100 people willing to
> commit to participating in the site in order for it to be created.
> That should be possible for OpenOffice.
> The process is defined here:
> Regards,
> -Rob


"He's got that New Orleans thing crawling all over him, that good stuff,
  that 'We Are the Champions', to hell with the rest and
  I'll just start over kind of attitude."
                   -- "1 Dead in the Attic", Chris Rose

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