Guys (and Ladies)
i think its our turn to offload a bit of work from Oliver, so how about a Troubleshoothing Panel, freeing Oliver from handling all these frequently upcoming “My Display isn’t working” sort of assembly Problems. These repeatedly Problems should not bother Olivier as i think its in all our totally egomaniac interest having him developing more phantasmic Gadgets (whatever kind they may be) rather than teaching Newbies that Resistors are unpolarized.
Most of the more experienced among us are able to troubleshoot these things, now its time the Willing should line up.
Lets discuss here how this can be done, who wants to participate and how it can be assured that our own troubleshooting experience & spirit we all had can live on . . .
Guys, I think your overdoing it. I certainly would not work with any ticket system in my free time. However, I would like to hang out in an IRC channel and gladly answer some questions if someone pops in.
rumpelfilter is right about both:people want a personal answer and the entry barrier for eMail support must be adjusted so only the crucial cases get thru.
My suggested way of operation would be sending everyone with a Problem first to the WIKIs Troubleshooting Section, if the Problem isn’t solved then to the Forum and the Moderator (member of this fine soon to be Panel) of the corresponding thread could decide when the problem is either solved or if its time to hand out a Formal Ticket. This way people are forced to DIY even with their Problems and only have “professional” help as a last resort.
yeah you have a point there. The whole support system probably needs some sort of entry barrier to reduce the number of “bullshit” support requests.
I’m thinking that maybe a menu entry called support that leads to the forums or the ticketing system and a contact page that clearly states “no support via email” could at least divert people from the email. I don’t know, maybe if people have to write on a forum they will think twice about the problem, or maybe not.
Anyway one thing that will have to be considered is how to properly inform people about the risks and complexity of a DIY kit, and how to properly approach the whole thing.
Ticketing have advantages, it is formal and you can ensure you get all of the required information as there is a minimum data set.
But the advantage is also disadvantage as nobody really wants to sift through loads of issue reports?
We seem to mostly agree that a wiki, or any other kind of “expanded” manual would not do any good at lightening the support burden from Olivier. When people have a problem they want a person answering. Still I think improving the FAQ section might still be a good idea, as we are at it anyway.
The panel idea is not bad, but I see there is some issues here as well.
Generally speaking I think having mods on the forums would be a great idea anyway. Running a forum can be a bit of work even without the whole support thing. Mods would need to be labeled as such, and maybe even have a defined function. Also I must look into vanilla plugins, because there might be something we could use for support threads. The official vanilla 2 (the one they run on their servers, since they offer a forum hosting as well) has a plugin that enables users to flag a thread with different labels, like this:
unfortunately this plugin is not available for the rest of us.
There is a simple rating plugin, to turn vanilla into something like stackexchange, which might be useful…
But back to the main issue: email support. Don’t see a way around it. Some people will always write an email first, even when they know there is a forum for that. Maybe a ticketing system could be a solution, but only if you clearly state that there will be no email support, and support goes only through the ticketing system.
There is another advantage of a ticketing system: it makes you look professional and taken care of.
I’m not sure we could bend vanilla to act as a ticketing system, though that would make sense to not introduce even more complexity in this website.
One more vote for IRC channel!
6851punk: that’s a great idea! Talk about a perfect self-help tool.
Who knows how to make them?
as for troubleshooting support i help whenever i can. you can tell, it’s not much more than some basic knowledge, or taking some measurements
i think some kind of sticky threads named “LCD FUCKED UP” hinting to the most common issues like badly soldered trimmer and the like could help a bit. but… on the other hand… it also says read the manual before building, and whos actually doing that? (including me)
I do that for a living. The key is to be brief in email with a link to detailed on the FAQ. Then your email can populated by quick identification of simple problems, training the user to find stuff in the docs, and then you can spend more time on the actual/weird problems.
I use a tool call clippings for firefox, and I have shortcut macros for many of my common responses in a right click context menu. Helps me do easily 200+ emails a day by myself. Of course your product is WAY more complicated, but I like to think your customers are way more savvy than mine.
My product? I’m not the boss
I think clickable image maps of each board would be handy. Explain each section and voltages expected on key pins. Olivier posts these sorts of images already. But having them all in one place in an interactive form would be handy. Perhaps have an image of the PCB (detailed enough to see resistor colours) and then also the section of the schematic by the side of it.
Alternatively when you hover over points on the PCB it lists the voltage expected there? or when you hover over a component it shows the colours or markings?
In some of the MIDIBox projects (MB-6582) they have part numbers, values and then a little image of how it should look typically. It is quite useful.
The problem with any written documentation is getting people to read it
@fcd72 and Olivier
Check out Livid Instruments Wiki page.
I think this could be a great model of how to wikify all useful information, troubleshooting, installation, BOMs, best practices, etc. of all Mutable products. The Wiki system Livid is using is MediaWiki. It is open-source/free and I could install it on my webhosting account. Let me know your thoughts!
you people here write too much stuff, I really can’t keep track of all the comments. anyway I think I’m totally out of the question when it comes to technical stuff. anyway I offer my services to tweak the forums so that they work with this idea
I originally contacted Olivier by email for a problem and he referred me to the forum, which I didn’t even realize existed. Great advice! I think it should be clearly stated on the purchase page that, before you buy a kit, the purchaser is aware the kits assume prior assembly experience, support is not provided by email, support is available to some extent on the forum and that the buyer is ultimately responsible for getting the kit built and working. I would also suggest to potential buyers that they have a look around the forum to see what sort of difficulties could come up during assembly.
@pichenettes I didn’t realise you had to deal with so many help requests via email. I don’t remember having bothered you by email, but if I have, I apologise.
That does put things in perspective a bit.
I think you could legitimately direct future email support requests to a putative future Wiki, and/or this forum.
We all have a vested interest in finding ways to help you to continue making and selling DIY products in the future.
The more i think about it the clearer it gets: there are 2 categories of Problems
- the ones that could easily be solved by looking into a WIKI (my display doesn’t show anything)
- the ones that need tracking an overlooked issue (swapped Rs or totally new things…)
So the whole approach should be finding a way to compile the WIKIs content from the ongoing support threads. Here is so much knowledge about the Mutable Instruments Stuff thats mostly unusable because its buried quite unstructured in a Forum thread, only useful to the Threads participants. This way many Threads could end in a simple link to the WIKI. Many people that aren’t speaking english that good (like me) could peek there without having an “ask me that in english” barrier, not to mention the ones being ashamed of their failure.
So xtrmnt - can you do this?
Ill send you some Stickers with this famous Pic
I know that doesn’t cut your eMail Stream but maybe its at least some satisfaction
One clear option is to force support to the forums (stop answering support emails in most cases - send them here). Then allow a bigger delay in your responses to see if the community can handle it.
This may hurt a bit as some embarrassed people may just give up and then have not-nice things to say about the products (or at least not use and promote them). But it will buy back time for other stuff which allows for more products etc.
IMO, your support is second-to-none. I think you’ve got room to back it off a bit and spend more time on other things. A lot of people will work out their own problems given a few hours or someone here can help them. Personally I feel good if I get a support response within 24 hours. Here it’s often a few minutes.
My 2 cents
6581punk - hmmm what will happen if someone buys a kit, builds it, breaks it, comes over here, none of you can solve the problem and it fires back on me because the guy expected a higher level of assistance? I’m tempted to do the opposite indeed, big text in red telling people again and again that they are responsible for getting their kit to work.
This thread is based on the premises that my everyday troubleshooting on this forum (“oops, you swapped those 2 resistors”) is painful. It is just a little bit compared to the bulk of support nightmare which happens through private email.
You’d be surprised by the number of people reclaiming “exchanges” or “warranty” because they failed building their kit. It takes a lot of patience to explain them. What you also have to keep in mind is that there’s a small but reasonably sized category of people who are terribly ashamed at the idea of talking about their mistakes on the forum. Not to mention the folks who can’t write english.
In the end, if someone 1/ can reasonably explain their problem in english ; 2/ accepts participating on the forum and writing publicly about their mistakes ; 3/ is smart enough to use a wiki or ticket system ; it meets some level of “nice guy”-ness and is not really a support nightmare.