More users = More support requests

Bruce A. Johnson Bruce at BruceJohnson.ca
Wed Mar 22 17:10:27 UTC 2017


More users = More support requests

I think that getting more Thunderbird users, improving the initial 
usability of Thunderbird for the average dunsel computer user, and 
getting publicity is great.

Do not forget support, though.  No matter how good you make a program, 
there will always be people who need help with it. Thunderbird is by no 
means foolproof, and people get turned off by it all the time because of 
problems with it.

Don't just assume that "someone will take care of it", when it comes to 
support.  The bulk of support requests are answered by people like me 
who have an interest, but who don't know everything there is to know 
about Thunderbird.  We cannot answer every question.

I say again that we need an escalation process for support requests.  By 
"we", I mean the people who answer most of those support requests.  When 
I don't know how to help, or get stumped, all I can hope is that maybe 
one of the others will try.  But in some cases, we just don't know.  
I've lost count of the number of times that I've resorted to telling 
someone to uninstall, reinstall, create new profile, etc, because I 
can't think of anything better. Sometimes those steps are necessary, but 
as a fall-back for "I don't know", it is terrible.

Today there are a couple of support requests that I've decided to not 
even touch, because I just don't know.  I'm going to be doing this more 
often now.  Not even trying to answer some requests.

Like one where Symantec has said there is a virus, but the user doesn't 
know how to find that message in his hundreds of e-mails in the Inbox, 
so he can delete it.  If you tell Symantec/Norton to deal with it, you 
lose the entire Inbox.

Another is that an e-mail has an invitation to put in their calendar, 
and somehow the user has messed it up so they cannot see it.

Then there was the one a few days ago that I banged my head on for 
awhile and could find no solution for, so I reached out to an expert 
here for help with it.  I was given suggestions I could not use (because 
debugging is beyond me), and told they would look at it in a "few 
days".  Rather than leave the user hanging, I told them to find another 
way to do what they want.

Without better support, and more of it, Thunderbird is going to get the 
reputation of being a "take it or leave it" option.  Actually, it 
already has that reputation, from what I can tell.  I try not to read 
what the general populace says about Thunderbird much.  It's depressing.

You want a good subject for PR?  How about people who care enough about 
their project that they quickly and efficiently provide consistent, 
excellent, and useful support?
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