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From Rob Weir <robw...@apache.org>
Subject Re: User support: beyond forums or lists
Date Tue, 23 Aug 2011 23:20:06 GMT
On Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 7:05 PM, Jean Weber <jeanweber@gmail.com> wrote:
> I've started a new thread, because I think Rob Weir's very important point has got lost
in the discussions about forums and lists. Rob wrote:
>
>> Support is important. The question is
>> how best to do it.  If all we're doing is considering the merits of
>> different access methods to support, without looking at the
>> implications of fragmenting the repositories and the resulting
>> knowledge base, then we are doing a poor job at thinking this through.
>> Remember the best support site is the one that allows the user to
>> answer their own question, without signing up for a mailing list or
>> posting to a forum. We should be looking at how we can prevent user
>> support questions.
>
> This ties in closely with end-user documentation and how it is delivered, so I am very
interested in this topic. Later today I'll go through the archives of this list to find the
earlier discussions, which I believe occurred while I was traveling and thus weren't given
enough of my attention at the time. Or, have ideas and suggestions, perhaps examples of good
practice, been posted to the wiki? Apple is IMO a brilliant example, but they have a lot of
resources
>

Thanks for that.  In some sense we're currently debating whether we do
user support like it was 1990 (mailing lists) or 2000 (forums).  But
we should probably look at what the state-of-the-art is today.

The earlier thread you had in mind might have been this one:

http://article.gmane.org/gmane.comp.apache.incubator.ooo.devel/461

The proposal was to look at collaborative Q&A sites, such as those
built on the Stack Exchange platform.  These scale particularly well,
since everyone, via their votes and tagging, helps rate and organize
the questions and answers.  So the information improves with
contributions from questioners, from answers but also by the ratings
and tagging of later readers.  That is something that neither mailing
lists nor forums can do.

Those with additional rights, the moderators, have additional
abilities to move and redirect questions.  These kinds of sites also
has a point-based social reward system that encourages participation.
This can be key for attracting and retaining power users, by allowing
them to gain peer recognition for their contributions.

> It's clear to me that we need to do better than we have in the user support area, if
we can do so. Not only will that benefit users and improve our reputation, it will allow us
to work smarter, not harder. I will pursue this, along with other interested people. It's
something valuable that I can do while the techies are moving websites and working with code
etc.
>
> Setting up a suitable system and populating it with suitable information will be a big
task and take quite awhile, especially if we don't have enough skilled people to do it. (I'm
referring to content, not infrastructure.) All the more reason to get started now with planning
what we want to do, so we can start doing it ASAP.
>

A system like this is a big investment.  It is not easy.  In fact, it
probably would not be doable unless we collaborated with LibreOffice
and related products on this.  But I think it is worth the investment.
 Glad to help in any way I can.

-Rob

> BTW, the Docs mailing list at OOo gets quite a few enquiries from people wanting to contribute,
and a few of them sound like they have relevant experience and skills. I don't want to lose
them. Yes, we point them to this list as well as ODFAuthors, but I don't know how many have
actually joined. If we're actively discussing topics of interest to documenters, perhaps more
people can be persuaded to get involved.
>
> --Jean

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