Coming soon: a brand new support forum interface

Thousands of questions are asked on the support forum each week, making it one of our primary ways to help Firefox users around the world. For contributors, we can significantly ease workflow and make helping on the forums a lot simpler by improving the interface. In September, we have a milestone scheduled (SUMO 1.4) to address some of the primary issues with usability on the forums. These are based off of suggestions we got in our survey from last quarter (full results) as well as discussions in the contributors forum and over IRC. Here are some of the things we’re looking forward to:

  • Thread filters that help you answer questions. We’ll be adding the ability (for registered and logged in contributors) to filter for questions with no replies, with no proposed solution or where the original contributor has come back asking for more help. This lets contributors focus on just the threads that need help rather than having to flip through threads that other people have already replied in.
  • Advanced search. With new search features, you’ll be able to search for threads based on users who posted in them, date, status as well as sort your results in a variety of ways. Finding threads you answered previously just got a lot easier!
  • Better guidance for users asking questions. One of the most frustrating things about helping on the forums is that users will ask questions with very little information and you have to take guesses on what they’re trying to say or give broad all-encompassing answers. With a clearer, guided question form, questions asked by users will contain more detail and be easier to answer in a straightforward way. Also, once users finish asking their question, we’ll be making it much clearer how to get their answers via email or by bookmarking the thread.
  • New and improved thread statuses. Now when you scan through the list of forum threads, you’ll be able to quickly see the threads which have a solution proposed and which need more information from the question asker. We’re also adding a status for questions that aren’t related to Firefox. If you’re a moderator and you come across a thread about Thunderbird, Windows, Office or general web development, marking it as not being about Firefox means that other contributors will know to skip over it.

These are just four of the dozens of improvements we’ll be making to the forum experience. We’ll be blogging again with some more features to expect in this release as well as ways you can help out testing these changes.