Requesting a review

Pasi Lallinaho open at
Sun May 24 09:01:05 UTC 2009

Hello everybody,

I've written an article about Xubuntu support. I'm planning to publish
it on my blog soonish, but I'm asking *you* to review it before I do.
Feel free to propose anything to be added or removed. Also feel free to
note about grammatical errors.

Any links are marked with [[]]'s, link targets should be obvious.

Thank you.


= Getting support =

Support comes in various forms and is a vital part for an open source
project. If people can't get enough support there is a high possibility
they will quit using your product and switch to something else – maybe
even something closed source. In the article I'll briefly cover the
support methods Xubuntu offers. These methods are also listed [[on the
"Help & Support" -page]] of Xubuntu website.
Instant support methods

Instant support methods like IRC are most wanted and effective. The
caveat in instant support is that people expect to get their answer
quicker than any traditional method. And not just slightly quicker, but
really fast. They assumes that they will get an answer to their question
in less than five minutes regardless of how complex their problem
actually is. Five minutes is so short time that in many cases nobody
will even arrive and read the question before the question author is gone.

I've also noted that even in the case people wait for somebody to
appear, they want the answer right away once the other person has said a
word. This is also not always possible. It's really sad to see people go
if they don't get an answer immediately. It would be totally justified
if we were talking about [[paid support]] but as we are talking about
open source software and community support, it just feels people have
accustomed to something too good.

=== Types of people asking for support at #xubuntu ===

   1. "I will tell my problem once and I want the answer in five minutes
or I will go."
      There is nothing we can do. Even if we were available immediately
but couldn't offer (an easy) solution, they are gone. This type also
gets angry quite quickly. The questions are most of the time easy and by
browsing [[the Ubuntu forums]], searching [[Google]] or just thinking
sanely for a few minutes they would have got their answer. Maybe they
sometimes even do realize this themselves.
   2. "I will repeat and repeat my problem until somebody can answer it."
      These people can lurk around for a long time in the channel,
repeating their question every time somebody says something. Pointing
them to the forums sometimes lead into better results.
   3. "I'll lurk here and ask my question once somebody pops in."
      Like the previous type, these people might lurk at the channel for
a long time. These guys and gals usually get an answer sooner or later,
but usually could've done better by reading the forums or searching Google.
   4. "I'll paste any information I have into the channel even if I
don't know if it relates to my problem."
      This is not a truly bad solution, as long as the user remembers to
use Pastebin. These users rarely have a characteristics of type 1; "as
I've told you this much about my problem, you should have solved it
already". The complexity of problems varies a lot. Even if the user did
not get a solution for his problem, they should be pointed to the
forums, as they will most possibly get some results sooner or later.
This type is also the users who are asked to file bug reports more often
than the other types. At least they can provide lots of information.
   5. "Hello. Can I ask my question? Please?"
      These people need a lot of attention and sometimes a lot of
patience. Once they get to ask their question, they behave good and
answer any questions and provide needed information.
   6. "I will ask my question and wait patiently for an answer. If I
don't get one, I will try somewhere else."
      I like you. Like type 5, the people in this type are usually
well-behaving and know how to interact with the supporter.

The most important thing for anybody, including people who ask and
answer the questions, is to remember that people giving the support are
volunteers. Even if they might be professionals in the area, they might
not know the answer. And you have to live with it. Answering may take a
long time which I think is something that neither of the sides want.
People giving support should not get too cocky. You are helping an open
source project and your attitude should also reflect that. As always,
anybody doing this work should not work too much. Burnout, frustration
and lack of enthusiasm is not unusual. Do whatever you can and learn to
say no if you can't.

=== The correct way of asking for support at #xubuntu ===

Common information about general topics can be found by querying ubottu.
If you feel you only need a pointing finger, ask her (/msg ubottu
!topic). Once you are sure the answer for your question is not a
frequently asked question in the forums and you have done some searching
there and on Google, you should keep these steps to success in your mind:

   1. Ask your question. Include as much of information you know relates
your problem. If you don't know what to tell, wait for somebody to ask
you for more details.
   2. Wait. The most important step. People are not always available.
Please do not repeat your question more than maybe once a day. If you
don't seem to get any help, see step 4.
   3. Answer any questions you are asked, be polite and patient.
   4. Search the Ubuntu forums, Google or ask #ubuntu. In many cases,
questions are not Xubuntu-specific (if it's anything about Xfce on
Ubuntu, it's something you want to ask at #xubuntu). Asking #ubuntu
might be your way to success.

== Non-live support methods ==

    * Documentation. For the simple questions, there is simple answers.
Many of these can be found from the documentation. The offline
documentation can be found from /usr/share/xubuntu-docs/ (simply
[[navigate there]] with your web browser). As Xubuntu shares the Ubuntu
base, answers can also be found in the [[Official Ubuntu
Documentation]], which also includes [[community contributed
    * Forums. [[The Ubuntu forums]] are a great place to start your
search for answers online. If you don't find an existing (solved) thread
about your issue, you can start your own. If you do, please remember to
check the thread and mark as solved once you don't have the problem anymore.
    * Answers. You can answer questions on [[Launchpad Answers]]. Once
you add a question, please remember to come back and look at the
solutions that have been offered. If your problem is solved, please
remember to mark the answer as solved.
    * Mailing lists. Xubuntu has a mailing lists for support;

== Not good at English? ==

Please remember that Ubuntu has LoCo teams, which usually [[offer
support in your language]]. The LoCo teams are usually able to help you
also on Xubuntu-specific issues.

Pasi Lallinaho
Xubuntu Marketing Lead
Web-designer, graphic artist
IRC: knome @ freenode

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