Discussion: Support Requests

There are a couple characteristics common to most (not all) misdirected support requests:

  • Low english proficiency
  • New user
  • Post in ‘Desktop’ (not Support)

New users show up everywhere in the Ubuntuverse - shaky english makes the help seeker’s life quite hard. Were I seeking help in, say, Bengali or Arabic, I would probably make a few embarrassing mistakes in the wrong quarters, too. It doesn’t much matter what minor redirection or banner changes we make - we will still get a constant drip drip drip of new non-english-speaking querants looking for help everywhere…including here.

I think this is a symptom of unmet demand for non-english support.

Considering that the user is already having two bad experiences with Ubuntu: Problem, and misdirected to wrong place for Support, I suspect the best this site can do is to kindly direct them to where they can get support.

There is no ‘best’ or ‘preferred’ support venue. IRC, Ask, and UF all have different strengths and weaknesses. Send the lost person to where you feel they will get the best help for their problem.

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I’d agree that this is likely to be confusing to some, however …

Agreed.

Maybe add ‘Discussions’ or something to the banner which currently just says Ubuntu. If nothing else that might reinforce what people get given to read (even though it appears that it’s not read), that is this isn’t for support.

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Yes, I totally agree with this comment. My intention is to just reduce the amount of people coming here thinking we provide support here and this is also alarming in some way, as we are not making the entire experience frictionless and that should be something to think about. That said, I totally agree with @stephen-d-allen and I think we should consider changing that. Moreover, @flocculant’s suggestion is appealing.

Regarding the lack of support of native language support is something I am experiencing in my own LoCo and I would like to discuss some strategies LoCos could consider.

Good points raised in this discussion by all. I’m not experienced in the various Ubuntu Help Channels and I guess confused the thought that the Ubuntu Forums were called Ubuntu Community Forums, which apparently they’re not.

As an aside there seems to be way more discussion here on different flavours of Ubuntu rather than the supported 18.x that Ubuntu is working towards officially. Why is this? I’m running what will be the official 18 release and was expecting more discussion from that point of view.
If I’m out of order, let me know. Cheers.

I believe Ubuntu Forums had a multi-lingual section. I hope I’m not mistaking it for something else. Regardless, I personally think forums feel a bit outdated and thus platforms like this and AskUbuntu make a lot more sense. Needless to say I understand it is not easy to implement these solutions for every single purpose and hence this issue was somewhat expected.

Well, this place is suppose to be the home of all Ubuntu projects, including non-Ubuntu core projects. I guess they have adopted this platform easily while others have decided to keep reaching each other via other platforms - I can’t tell really, I’m just guessing.

I think this has potential be a very productive discussion.
Please consider a new thread with a few ideas. The Community Council section would be an appropriate section

They still do. It’s tied in with the LoCo subforums, and is a bit quiet at the moment. It could pick up again if users and gurus want it to.

UF does have many busy subforums, including 18.04 development and testing, general Linux and Ubuntu chatting, general socializing in the busy cafe, and much more.

As this particular platform is quite new, I would say we are still in the migration and adjustment period. Projects and teams, and their platforms and workflows, are just starting to adjust.

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  1. Community if a common search term for forum

  2. You guys promote this forum on social media through Ubuntu accounts. Enough for Google to take people looking for support forum requests. Google can relate synonyms like forum, community etc

  3. When search engines crawl, they see a board which says " Support ". They might wrongly assume that this is a support community

  4. Search engines see Ubuntu.com as official domain or anything legitimate about Ubuntu. A community subdomain is an easy pick for people who search for Ubuntu support forum.

In short, it is Ubuntu.com part that is bringing the users through search engines.

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That is done: https://community.ubuntu.com/t/support-in-multiple-languages/2047

Is there a way we could review the contents of this platform and maybe adjust this bit if we all agree this can cause confusion to new comers and/or can mistakenly bring people from search engines ?

The authority of Ubuntu.com domain is unquestionable at the moment. Unless you have some way to talk to search engines,

  1. Move this community to a different domain than ubuntu.com

  2. Setup a Support board and set a redirection to ubuntuforums.org or askubuntu

  3. To deal with humans who land here,

a. Remove " Support board "

b. Rename " Desktop " board to something that clearly means it is not for support

Changing the domain would be however the best thing to do while dealing with the search engines. Even set 301 redirects and initiate change of domain through Google Webmaster tools so that they will know.

Thanks for bringing this up. We have actually been discussing this already previously and have tweaked things a little to improve the site.

First off, we have a banner that new users see which explicitly states that the site is not for support. However, it appears this either isn’t prominent enough, or people just flat out don’t read it, or do read it, but are frustrated and feel this is the best place to vent and get their problem aired.

The site also pings a notification to new users, letting them know - again - that the site is not for support. Again, people don’t seem to read this.

Now, you’re probably seeing more support requests in the last couple of weeks because we changed how we process them. What we used to do is:-

  • Move the topic to the Support Requests category
  • Reply, linking the user to the page which details all the ways they can find help
  • Close the thread, so they don’t continue to ask questions in that thread
  • Hide the thread so it doesn’t appear on the front page

We had one person who asked a support question and we went through the above process. When they came back to the site they couldn’t see the support request (for some reason), possibly because we’d “hidden” the thread. So as an experiment what we’ve been doing is all of the above, but not hide the thread.

The net result is that the user can more easily re-find their thread, but the downside is that those threads are surfaced on the front page, so all of you see them. We could go back to hiding them, or we could hide the entire Support Category from the home page. That won’t stop people starting threads in other categories, but it will mean when we move them to the Support category, they’ll disappear from the front page.

On the subject of why people come here for support. There’s a few reasons. The Ubuntu installer sends people to this site to find out where to then get support. When the site was static, it was impossible to ask support requests so people had to follow the subsequent links on the static site to take them to a viable support platform (be that askubuntu, forums, irc or mailing lists).

Now this is a dynamic site which to all intents and purposes looks and acts like a support forum, people could be forgiven for thinking it is a support forum.

I’d be interested in hearing practical suggestions for improving this, obviously. But we have to respect that the people looking for help are likely frustrated users who have issues with their system, and while this isn’t the best place to get support, we need to figure out what to do with these people in a respectful and thoughtful way.

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Thank you for your thoughtful review of this topic.

I am in favor of hiding these posts and category from the front page. Maybe that will clear what the purpose of this site is.

I am interested in improving this and working on implementing any solution that clears this out for new users (namely rephrasing the context where this website appears in the installer to make sure people will understand where to get support and what they can expect in this website). However, I am not entirely sure of this platform and other’s capabilities so it becomes harder for me to suggest concrete things. Nevertheless, I’ll brainstorm with you some ideas because maybe some derivation can come out from it and help us achieve our goals.

For instance, can we stop users from posting if a condition is met? Say, some keywords would appear if help, not working and so on appear in the topic bar, then do not allow posting and mention why in a pop-up on the right side.

Long term, is this the correct way? Or should it be changed? What’s the URL it sends people to, exactly?

http://bazaar.launchpad.net/~ubiquity-slideshow/ubiquity-slideshow-ubuntu/html/view/head:/slideshows/ubuntu/slides/gethelp.html

<div>
<p>For pointers to other useful resources, please visit <a href="http://community.ubuntu.com/help-information/">community.ubuntu.com/help-information</a> or <a href="http://www.ubuntu.com/support">ubuntu.com/support</a>.</p>
</div>

So community.ubuntu.com/help-information which redirects to https://community.ubuntu.com/c/documentation/help-and-information

Which looks like this for new users:

image

I think perhaps it should link directly to https://community.ubuntu.com/t/finding-help/712 which would look like this for the new visitor.

image

Suggestions in improving the wording on that page most welcome too :slight_smile:

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As regards the link from the installer, I submitted a merge proposal (not merged yet) which would completely remove the link to this site in 18.04. Please let me know if you want me to modify that MP.

I’d like to say I truly like your suggestion. Seems clean and a good alternative to reduce conflicts. Thank you!

The other link - to https://www.ubuntu.com/support/community-support has a big fat link to https://community.ubuntu.com/ too. I’m not convinced we should go ripping out useful links to this place from everywhere. But we certainly need to be careful how they’re framed.

image

Community means community, and in a community, people help each other, and people ask help from each other. In community.ubuntu.com (people don’t read the dots), you get community of ubuntu, or ubuntu community. So, it is natural for people to ask help. They also see developers here, so why not ask the question?

Either (1) the url name has to be changed to something else, maybe even without the name community, (2) redirect all questions to Ubuntu Forums General Help

The (1) must be much easier than (2) as someone has to work continuously to redirect.

Wow. And it’s labeled “Get free community support”. That link should indeed go away.

No, of course not. For instance, the top of the https://help.ubuntu.com pages includes these links:

Personally I think that makes sense. (I.e. once the confusing link at https://www.ubuntu.com/support/community-support has been removed.)

I’ve filed an Issue

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This is now fixed :slight_smile:

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