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:


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

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?


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 Misle 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.