Saturday, May 8, 2010

Support burnout

or yet another way to shoot yourself in the foot.

Supporting people with problems too long creates support burnout. Those that suffer from it can't find that by themselves, and even resist to accept facts when confronted. It manifests in to much attention to details that should provide better support, but actually stand in a way for the primary goal of any support effort, a happy user.

Today I had one more touch with that.
One of people that supports open-slx version of openSUSE wanted to add Support Database (SDB) to the new wiki Main page and he did it. I objected, but did nothing to remove the entry. First it is visible only in a draft page (our wiki is using FlaggedRevs, a MediaWiki extension), so normal visitors will not see it, and second I want to  discuss this on the wiki mail list.

Why giving so prominent place to Support Database is bad?

SDB has many articles from those that solve problems with openSUSE, to few that explain how to use Linux for daily tasks. What will be opinion of a new user that just installed Linux thing and has no required background knowledge to explain large disproportion between articles about problems vs. advices how to do regular daily tasks using new applications and functionality. I know that I would not feel comfortable with software that has many problems and few useful functions, and I have no reason to think that that majority will have different opinion.

Ditto, SDB should be easy to find, but giving people with problems few other options before they start digging trough it, like it was done in Support article. I must admit that now reading article again, I can see my support burnout in the tone of the article and the fact that SDB link was first in the section "Non interactive", before Spyhawk (Remy) added documentation  link as a first and saved the day.

In my opinion, we (openSUSE) have to keep advices about daily tasks and problem solutions for irregularities separated as much as it is possible in the visitor eyes, which fits fine with current description in Help:Namespaces :
  • Main - Presentation of the current version of the openSUSE distribution. Everything for consumers of our distribution.
  • SDB - Help, Howtos, support. If you have a problem with the distribution you will find help here.
What can be better presentation of your new operating system then articles that will explain how you can do all that you did before and of course much more. 

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