Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Knowledge base

So, in the past few months I've been building up a list of high-quality articles about EclipseCrossword that answer popular questions. They're searchable, so people who have common questions can theoretically find answers near-instantly instead of waiting for me to respond to them. This is good for everyone.

The thing that's new is that now I have a bunch of articles that I can point people to instead of writing lengthy replies. This is great for me, because it saves me a lot of typing. It's also great for the people asking the questions, because they get well-thought-out answers complete with pictures and links to other articles. The only real downside is that it loses some of the personal touch. Instead of getting a personal response (or something that looks like one) when someone asks if they can make corrections to a puzzle they created last week, they get something like this:

Hi! Yes, you can add and remove words, change clues, and make other modifications to puzzles that you've saved in the past. This page will walk you through the process:

http://www.eclipsecrossword.com/help-changing-word-list.html

I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions or comments, and have a good one.

—Travis
Green Eclipse.com personal support

(I've typed that last line so many times I don't even want to think about it. In Outlook 2003 I used to be able to type "I hope" and it would offer to AutoComplete it; it's probably the feature I miss most in Outlook 2007.)

Anyway, it seems a little less personal, at least to me, even though I honestly read their email from start to finish, thought a bit about how best to answer their question, and only then decided that I'd already written up an answer to that question and put it online. I wonder sometimes if people are put off by those responses; I might do a survey. I wonder if it seems like I'm ignoring them, or being condescending, or just being cold. Sometimes I word it to the effect of "Here's an article I wrote recently..." to make it seem a little more friendly.

What do you think? If you'd asked a question and got an answer back that was basically just a link to a page that was specifically written to answer questions almost exactly like yours, how do you think you'd react?

4 comments:

Andy Rutledge said...

If your reply is just "look at this page to answer your question" that's just a polite RTFM. :)

But in that example you actually answer their question ("yes, you can add and remove words...") and then direct them to the documentation. As a user, I'd probably think "oh that's good, I can change the puzzle's words. Because I now know that, I'll check out this link." A little more personal, a little more informative.

Andy said...

Dude, relax. I don't get support half as good as you're giving your users from software/hardware I/we pay lots of money for.

Travis said...

Sure. And I won't lose any sleep over it. But, if I can make someone else a little happier with no additional effort on my part, it seems worthwhile. :)

D Wheezy said...

Receiving any kind of coherent support for free software is rare and amazing. I could care less who wrote it.

Unless it was a monkey. I don't trust those bastards.