User Support Channels BoF

Speaker: Stuart Prescott

Track: Social context

Type: BoF (45 minutes)


Room: Zhongyangjianshan (中央尖山)

Time: Jul 31 (Tue), 17:30

Duration: 0:45

Debian’s focus is on getting a great distribution in front of its users and the importance of the end user is enshrined within our Social Contract. All pieces of software have rough edges and users will always need support to help them make the most out of their available resources.

The environment in which support is provided is important to the user and also to the volunteer who is spending time providing help. In commercial situations the user support job is colloquially known as the “helldesk”, so how do we make it an attractive place for knowledgable volunteers to help out in our project? User support brings together all the best and the worst of the technical and social aspects of free software, offering opportunities for innovative tools to help with user support and also exceedingly negative inter-personal interactions.

In this BoF, we will discuss the channels that Debian currently uses for user support, consider the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches, look for ways to help users find the answers they need to solve the problems they face and also how to better support the volunteers who make this all happen. Spam, trolling, support vampires, BOFHs and burn out will be discussed. The venues to be discussed will include at least mailing lists, IRC, forums, official/unofficial documentation, wiki, and 3rd party websites.