about:sumo – May 2009

NOTE: This is the blog version of our about:SUMO newsletter. To subscribe to the email version, sign up using the online subscription form.

about:SUMO

Welcome to about:SUMO — a digest of news from Mozilla’s support world! With this being the first issue, don’t hesitate to send us your feedback on about:SUMO and how we can improve it. Lately, we’ve had a few really important additions, such as the localization dashboard and a new search engine; and next month will be just as good.

Localization Dashboard

In SUMO 1.0, we implemented a dashboard for localizers, so they can get an overview of which pages are most important to translate. It also tracks how much of the knowledge base has been translated. You can view the localization dashboard now!

We’ve switched search engines

One of the new features that was launched in the last SUMO update is a new search engine. By using our own search engine, we can tailor results based on how useful pages are as well as return KB results and forum results together. This not only saves users time, but helps them get the best support in fewer steps. Furthermore, the data from these searches can help us more quickly pinpoint common issues and improve our support resources. You can read more in this blog post.

Get ready for screencasts

We’ve put a lot of effort into adding multimedia to support. The ability to show a person what to do in addition to telling them, makes instructions a lot easier to understand; and some of our most positive knowledge base feedback has been about the existence of screenshots. Soon, we’ll be implementing the ability to add videos (a.k.a. screencasts) to knowledge base articles. We will support both Flash and the open video format called Ogg/Theora, which the upcoming Firefox 3.5 will support natively (without the need of a plugin). For more information, read our recent blog post.

Get notified whenever a page in your language is created or edited

Keeping track of changes to the knowledge base is essential for keeping it up to date; and being notified of changes makes it convenient. In addition to monitoring individual articles, we’ve implemented some tools to make it possible to monitor all knowledge base articles for a specific language, which is something localizers have been requesting. In addition, you can monitor all articles in the “How to contribute” category, or even articles marked for Firefox 3.5. Give it a try.

Status update on the knowledge base update for Firefox 3.5

There is no better time to contribute than now! Firefox 3.5 is going to be released soon, and the entire knowledge base needs to be updated. It’s a giant opportunity to help and get to know Firefox 3.5, so you’ll be able to answer user questions when Firefox 3.5 is released. To get involved, read our Firefox 3.5 support status update.

Looking at writing more concise documents

After website usability expert Neil Lee from the webdev team made a usability audit of the Firefox Support website, there has been a growing movement to make the documentation more concise. By making knowledge base articles easier to read, you can make it helpful to users who might otherwise be less patient reading long-winded instructions.

Surveys for Live Chat and Forum contributors

We’re constantly working to improve SUMO for our contributors as well as our users. As such we’ve sent out surveys to current and recent contributors to get your feedback on how we can make it even more fun and easy to help our users. We really want to hear from you and your comments will help make SUMO even better for everyone. If you didn’t get a copy of the survey, let us know at feedback[at]support.mozilla.com and we’ll e-mail you the link. Stay tuned next month as we go over the results.

Spend 10 minutes a day doing support

One of the quickest and easiest ways to help out Firefox users on SUMO is to answer forum questions. You can do it for as long as you like and whenever you like and it takes just minutes to help out a user. Try helping out for just ten minutes a day and see how easy and fun it is.

New and ongoing support issues

In this section (which will be in every about:sumo newsletter) we’ll be covering one common issue on SUMO for the past month.  This month, one of the top issues was sqlite corruption/locking in the profile folder.  Firefox 3.0 introduced the sqlite database format for places (bookmarks and history) and cookies using places.sqlite and cookies.sqlite respectively.  Unfortunately, these files can sometimes corrupt if Firefox or the computer is shut down improperly.

Another common cause is security software (AVG in particular) detecting tracking cookies or malicious sites in places and locking/corrupting the file when they try to clean them.  When this happens, Firefox can crash on startup, lose or not save bookmarks/history/cookies, have a malfunctioning location bar or return random characters in cookies or bookmark searchs.

Firefox 3.0.11 will have an updated SQLite engine and notifications that will be more resistant to this and alert users.  In the meantime, the steps detailed here for places.sqlite and here for cookies.sqlite will help address this. Watch out for this issue in the forums and on Live Chat and help these users with these steps.