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From Terry Ellison <>
Subject Re: [Was: Re: [Discussion]]
Date Wed, 24 Aug 2011 05:28:24 GMT
I've just been catching up and reading this thread.  Most of the main 
points have been made and discussed. But I think that there is one point 
that hasn't: so let me summarise so far:

    * DLs and Forums each have their sweet-spot advantages and
    * In general individuals have a strong preference for one or the other.
    * IMHO, true end-users rarely use emails or DLs for this type of
      user support. They seem to prefer asking google which then points
      at somewhere they can find an answer, which for something like OOo
      support will be a wiki or a forum.
    * Developers as a breed are often more email oriented.

However, here is my point.  Giving support of a FLOSS product is not so 
much about being able to ask questions; /it's about getting volunteers 
willing to provide quality answers/, so a critical success factor is how 
we cultivate and make it easy for the power users to contribute.  I say 
power users, because my experience is that in general OOo developers 
want absolutely nothing to do with answering users questions. (And the 
people who are willing to answer in general hate using email.)

On a year-to-date average, we have around 250 posts / day across the 10 
NL forums - put simply these are split 50:50 between questioners and 
answers from power users.  What this doesn't include is the tens of 
thousands of page views by guest looking for answers and wanting to 
avoid to ask the question.

Power users like answering interesting and new questions.  After all 
they aren't paid to do this. So they tend to give short-shrift to anyone 
asking a Q that can easily be answered because it has been asked and 
answered many times, and in fact if you've posted less than ten times 
then there is an explicit warning on the posting form to read the 
"Survival guide" and make sure that the question isn't already answered 
before post.  People who don't do this get a stock referral to this 
guideline or a link to the topic discussing there Q.

So my recommendation is that is if we look at the user query volumes an 
email based system just doesn't scale and won't receive sufficient 
support from power users to be effective.

Regards Terry

As a postscript, I have developed  a custom extension to phpBB which is 
to have a contact email address address for each NL forum 
( in the EN case).  This is 
needed for genuine catch-22s such as visually impaired people not being 
able to read the Captcha check.  This used to be a DL to the moderators, 
but we found that moderators would often answer the same Q twice.  Now 
such emails get posted to a moderator-only forum "Site -- Forum Inbox" 
and there is a topic for each month collecting these emails posts.  Any 
poster gets one of two stock answers,  In the case of unregistered users 
it is the following (For registered users it is a variant which points 
to the "how to reset a forgotten password topic).  We monitor this and 
one moderator tags each post with a "std answer sufficient", deletes it 
in the case of spam, or "I will take this."

> Thank-you,
> This is an automated response on behalf of the 
> community forum administrators. This mailbox is for assisting users 
> with registration difficulties. The best place to find out information 
> and to ask questions is on our forums. We therefore only respond by 
> email to those questions that cannot be resolved through using our 
> forums.
> gives 
> you guidance if you have registration difficulties.
> explains how to ask a Q on the forum.
> We have looked up your email address in our forum registration 
> database and according to our records we have no registered user with 
> the address xxx@yyyy.ddd. You need to register with the forum at 
> before 
> you can post questions. It only takes a minute or so to fill in the 
> form and then click on the link in our confirmation email to activate 
> your account.
> Note that this board is not managed by the OOo team. Therefore, if you 
> have an account for the main site, you have to create another one for 
> the forum. If the username has not been used yet, you can have the 
> same login information.
> Note that to prevent mail loops, we only send out one automated 
> response per sender. Our forum administrators also routinely monitor 
> this mailbox and one will contact you separately if we believe that 
> your request is not covered by this automated response.

  Dave Fisher wrote:
> The changes are good at showing where we are as developers.
> The unfortunate point is that is still a functional list with several
posts in a day and the change is hiding that list.
> Until there is ooo-users@i.a.o we shouldn't hide users@ooo.
<and the hundred odd emails that follow>

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