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From "Dennis E. Hamilton" <>
Subject RE: A moderator's view of this list [was: Re: I Hate Your Product]
Date Sat, 31 Mar 2012 17:46:51 GMT
I agree with Rob that there is something about how the use cases don't seem to fit.  Alternatives
would be valuable.  

I am not clear how the StackExchange sites are appealing for novices though.  It strikes me
that those venues are definitely oriented toward power users and enthusiasts, at least: <>.
 I have a standing query for StackExchange posts that mention OpenOffice and there are 1-2
per day, tops.  These are usually not beginner questions.  Some could be answered on the Community
Forums but I would not ever expect to see most of those on this list, for example.

If there were an OpenOffice exchange for the products, I am not certain
that the StackExchange requirements for a sustaining site would be satisfied, although I see
a large number of low-activity StackExchange sites on the end of that list.

I think there is another factor too.  My sense is that many users do not want to bring their
problems to a public setting.  That may well be without ever using a public list.  The "fear
of embarrassment" threshold appears to be very low.  I suppose that is an invariant, but it
is probably a good reason for us to be very careful with newcomers who have shown the courage,
perhaps the anger, to bring themselves here or to a forum.

I think that ways to provide assistance via the product is also important to consider, although
it is known that help systems are under-used.  

I support consideration of all the avenues that may improve the success of users who stumble
in their installation and use of the software and/or their use of support resources.

Meanwhile, I also think there is significant room for improvement of list operation and removal
of some of the friction that appears to be a barrier to so many.

 - Dennis

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob Weir [] 
Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2012 09:43
Subject: Re: A moderator's view of this list [was: Re: I Hate Your Product]

On Sat, Mar 31, 2012 at 12:07 PM, Dennis E. Hamilton <> wrote:

> Fioretti's auto-replier idea is more interesting than a bounce with
> instructions to non-subscribers.  It in effect makes a moderated-in
> non-subscriber an automatic subscriber to the thread which they have
> initiated, and to only that thread.  I think that such a mechanism should
> notify the OP that is happening and provide other information as well.
> It is an intriguing proposal.  I am not so sure about the edge cases, but
> they can't be as messy as what happens now in reality.

Can anyone thing of an end user product with a user base the size of
OpenOffice that is successful doing user support via an email list?

The all-to-all paradigm seems doomed to suffer from information scaling
problems, as well as the obvious signal/noise problems and the
disproportionate impact of a handful of novice users without list skills.

Marco's ideas sound like a different list paradigm that might work, but
would require some custom coding.

Another option is to consider that there are more off-tue-shelf tools
available for support than just forums and mailing lists.  Collaborative
Q&A sites like StackExchange give a lot more ability for the community to
police itself, rating question and answers up or down, tagging questions,
a better search interface, cross linking of questions, etc.


>  - Dennis
> PS: Readers should not presume that there are unlimited resources
> available to others.  The extent to which ASF is operated by volunteers
> with a wide range of different skills (collectively, not necessarily
> individually) is quite remarkable.
> [From one moderator to another, here]
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rob Weir []
> Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2012 08:28
> To:
> Subject: Re: A moderator's view of this list [was: Re: I Hate Your Product]
> On Sat, Mar 31, 2012 at 10:11 AM, M. Fioretti <>
> wrote:
> >
> > On Sat, March 31, 2012 3:57 pm, Rob Weir wrote:
> >
> > > What do you think? What is the purpose of this ooo-users list compared
> > > to the support forums?  On some project communications we advertise
> both
> > > as equal support avenues for users to raise problems.
> >
> > Rob,
> >
> > email vs forums is an almost religious issue. IMO, one if not THE purpose
> > of ooo mailing list is to provide users with support ALSO from those
> > volunteers who will never ever use forums because they like email better
> > and since they aren't paid they're free to say no to forums, period.
> >
> >
> But for the people having problems, like with the previous thread, I don't
> think it is a religious issue.  They are not expressing a strong preference
> for the list.  They are just looking for help and for unknown reasons they
> ended up here.  But they could just as well have ended up elsewhere.  For
> example, we get user support questions to ooo-dev as quite a few to the
> bugzilla admin address (!).
> > This is just my opinion, feel free to ignore it, it's no problem, but for
> > heaven's sake:
> >
> > > However, I think a user that is in this state is not best served by
> > > sending a note to this list.
> > > A) First, since the original poster is not subscribed to the list, he
> is
> > > not receiving any of the responses, unless he was explicitly copied on
> > the
> > > response.
> >
> > please do ban immediately from this list whoever tries to propose or
> > practice even here the "sending again to unsubscribed user" idiocy that
> > plagued the OOo lists for a decade, details here for those who ignore the
> > background:
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > The Apache foundation should have inside enough skills and/or money to
> > implement the autoresponder trick I've explained in that post and, many
> > times before that, on the OOo lists.
> >
> >
> The autoresponder thing sounds interesting.  So you don't allow any
> non-suscriber traffic.  Any posts from non-susbcribers get an automatic
> response that presumably outlines their support options, tells them they
> would need to subscribe first if they want to post to the ooo-users list,
> maybe gives some hints for writing useful support request posts, etc.
> I think that would be an improvement.   What do others think?
> -Rob
> > If nobody wants to provide support by email, and everybody wants to use
> > the forum, no problem, close the list and go for the forum. But if
> support
> > via mailing list is needed hire any decent programmer for a day or two to
> > implement the autoresponder I proposed, and then forget the whole issue.
> >
> > HTH,
> > Marco
> >
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> >
> >
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