This holiday weekend I had an enlightening conversation with a large company, that had been a training client of mine.
They got stuck on a little joomla issue with extension XXXX and just couldn't work out the problem or find the solution.
This client is pretty tech savvy and had followed most of the advice I gave in the training class.
"You're not alone, with so many users of Joomla there is a high probability that if you get stuck someone else will have faced the same issue before. So...."
- Read the docs and faq
- Search the forum
- Search google
And this is where the problems really started.
They didn't find any documentation or FAQ that appeared to address their problem but they did find several people on forums who all appeared to have the same problem.
Unfortunately none of the forum posts had a resolution, and for me this is one of the largest problems with using forums for support.
The problem is not with the forum but with the user. Let me try to explain with an example.
- Question: Help - how do I ...
- Reply: What I would try is ...
Did you spot the problem there? There is no response from the questioner that says "Great it worked" or "You suck I'm switching to something else"
So what do you when your search for help and support comes across responses like this?
- Do you reject the search result and keep looking for an answer that definitively works
- Do you back up your site and test the advice
- Do you ask your own question on the forum
- Do you reject the software and switch to something else.
Wouldn't it be great if every forum question that is answered could be flagged as "solved - follow this advice".
But of course it's not that easy to do if the Questioner doesn't provide feedback on the advice they received. On one joomla extension forum that I visited recently I came across a thread where 20 different people all reported the same problem.
At first glance a visitor might think this extension ducks, "just look they have had this problem for ages and there is no solution". But each person who had posted in the thread had received the same advice "have you tried X and what are your settings for Y" but no one replied.
Now it could be that X was the solution or perhaps Y highlighted the error, it could even be that the users all moved on or there could be a bug the developer needs to address, we just don't know.
So don't sit there and bitch about using forums for support do something about it.
If you ask a question on a forum do it the smart way and be precise and informative when you describe your problem.
If you get a response make sure that you respond to it
- Thank you - it worked
- Almost but not quite, but your answer showed me the path which was to do Z
- Sorry that didn't work here is some more information
Suport and help on a forum is a two way process.
Don't forget to provide feedback!!