Category Archives: Live Chat

Open Badges 1.0: Minimum Awesome Achievement


Just before the Mozilla Summit back on September 30, we launched the first phase of SUMO Open Badges. They are: Minimum Awesome Achievement Badges for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013:

  • The KB badge for our awesome knowledge base writers (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013).
  • The Forum badge for our splendid English language forum support contributors (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013).
  • The Army of Awesome badge for folks who have contributed to the Mozilla SUMO twitter awesomeness (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013).
  • The L10N badge for our fantastic folks who translated KB articles from English (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013).

By “Minimum Awesome Achievement” we were trying to recognize significant non-trivial contribution on a yearly basis.

Four badges awarded algorithmically for four years: 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. In total: 16 badges. And we will issue these four badges automatically for 2014 and future years.

What’s next? Badges for the awesome folks who helped us with SUMO Live Chat support and badges for the “OG”s (the original SUMO gurus who contributed from 2007-2009). And adding our SUMO badges to the Mozilla Open Badges Backpack.

Got some ideas for future SUMO badges? Please add them to the future SUMO badge etherpad.

Want to be help lead the future of SUMO badges? I am looking for somebody to be a “co-driver”. All you need to do is read up about Open Badges and be passionate about them and be willing to work with me for about five hours a week (usually far less than five hours!). If you are interested email rtanglao AT

UPDATE: A big thanks to all who made SUMO open badges happen: Yvan for the awesome badge designs; Ricky and Will of the superb SUMO-DEV team for the SUMO badge code; Les for the excellent Django Badger code; splendid SUMO colleagues: Ibai, Rosana, Madalina, Kadir and Michael for feedback and guidance; Carla, Emily and Sunny of the Mozilla Foundation badges team for great Open Badges mentoring and ongoing badge system design advice; David of the community team for building the community of open badges within Mozilla and most importantly all those who contribute to support at mozilla!

Help 7 Million new Firefox 4 users now!

Join us for today’s Support Firefox Day and help our new users have a great first experience with Firefox 4!

Yesterday we released Firefox 4 to an excited world wide audience and got over 7 Million downloads in the first 24 hours. That’s a lot of new Firefox 4 users. And since so much has changed between Firefox 3.6 and Firefox 4 they are going to have many, many questions.

There are many different ways to help. You can

Check our Cheng’s blog post for more details on how to participate. We will be around all day on #sumo in IRC and

All info for the Support Firefox Day:

Adding flexibility to Live Chat operating hours

Live Chat allows Mozilla community members to connect in real-time to a Firefox user seeking help.  We currently set three to four hours per day, based on community input, during which both volunteers wanting to provide help and users with questions are encouraged to come online.  Around 20 people per week usually help out each week, during which between 500 and 800 users are able to chat.

The system of setting aside official hours works well, as we are able to make sure experienced helpers are available during those times in order to help newer contributors and assist with questions that we don’t have documented solutions for yet.  Many users and contributors want to chat outside these rigid hours, so we want to allow users to chat anytime an experienced helper wants to help.

By showing users the current status of the chat queue and how many helpers are available, we can make sure more users who need personal support can get it.  When the expected wait time is high, users who would rather receive a reply by e-mail will be encouraged to ask a question using the support forum.  Volunteers can limit the number of chats they accept, and the queue status will be updated once the question limit is reached.

Queue status example

Queue status example, Live Chat full

We will still specify official hours for Live Chat, so that both users and new contributors can plan to come online when experienced helpers are usually going to be online.  The added flexibility will let questions be asked at other times, as long as enough contributors are online to help.

If you’re looking for a way to get involved with the SUMO project by helping Firefox users and other volunteers, we’d love to have you in the Live Chat community.  It only takes a few minutes to get started!

Help the Firefox team

There are a few bugs that the Firefox team is asking for help with. If you’re experiencing any of these bugs or are helping users with these bugs on SUMO, they’d love to get in contact so we can get more information or try workarounds.

  • Crashes with the @_woutput_l signature that have FFTMUFEHelper.dll in the crash stack or the module list. These are probably the TrendMicro Toolbar. We’d like some specific information about the users’ TrendMicro install and put them in touch with TrendMicro so they can figure out what’s causing the crashes. See bug 511756.
  • Crashes for users in Turkey. If any users would like to help in debugging these crashes (the current thinking is they’re related to DNS servers in Turkey, please have them post in bug 508292.
  • Lost or missing downloads. We saw a few reports of downloads in Firefox being deleted as soon as they finished downloading. Now we’re looking for more information. This is most likely do to some kind of security software — we’re just not sure which. Try to get the users’ antivirus software, version and if they’re still getting updates. Please comment in the Contributors’ forum if you find out anything.
  • Firefox closes/quits (no Crash reporter) when closing AOL mail windows. We’re looking in particular for steps to reproduce and also their Firefox version and window/tab settings. Again post in the Contributors’ forum or pass along any contact information. Bug 515679 has more information.
  • Firefox 3.6 has two changes just pushed in beta 3 that affect some users: 1) Third party software in the components directory of the install folder will need to register itself 2) Users who tweaked a preference to disable extension compatibility checking in Firefox will find that it now needs to be set for every version of Firefox.  If you come across legitimate software that is using the components install pathway or websites giving the old compatibility checking advice for 3.6 please let us know in this Contributors’ forum thread.

Getting help on these bugs would go a long way towards improving Firefox and fixing issues. If you’re passing along information from a Firefox user who comes to support, please make sure that you ask their permission and be sure to convey along our thanks for all their help.

Help make Launch Day a success!

The community is really excited for the release of Firefox 3.5 tomorrow (Tuesday). The quality of support in the hours following a launch is important to ensure a great upgrading experience and a successful release overall, so we’re organizing an effort to answer as many user questions as possible on Launch Day, Tuesday, June 30th.

Most users on are able to get help via the knowledge base, but some people still need individual help. They may be reporting a new issue or may need help understanding or finding an article. We have two primary ways for these users to ask questions and have a community member (that’s you!) answer- the Forum and Live Chat.

To make this even easier and coordinate efforts, we are also maintaining a list of issues expected to be common in our Contributors Forum. This list contains links to knowledge base articles, bugs, possible solutions and other resources to help with Firefox 3.5 issues. We’ll make sure to update it often so keep that page open. If you are helping with Live Chat, we also have a post with tips for making Live Chat a success on release day.

To get started helping, join #sumo on We’ll have a number of people from the Mozilla Quality Assurance team helping to answer questions, along with Support Team members to answer any questions you have. Thanks to everyone who is able to help make Firefox 3.5 the best release yet!

Making the Live Chat experience even better

As the Live Chat community on SUMO ( continues to grow, we are working on ways to make the experience even better for Firefox users and for our community members. Live Chat allows us to chat directly with users of Firefox, troubleshooting problems and helping users get the most out of their browser. Our community has been doing a fantastic job over the past few months, handling between 600 and 1000 chat sessions each week. We’re really grateful to everyone who has helped us out, as well as to the numerous community members who have shared ideas for making SUMO even better. As we get ready for Firefox 3.5, we’re working on ways to make Live Chat even more rewarding for both users and for our community.

Last year, we started asking users about their experience when asking a question in either Live Chat or the Support Forum. Each week, approximately half of users who respond say that a chat session already fixed their problem, while another 10% indicate that they will follow up later. The remaining 40% indicate that their problem was not resolved, so we ask these users why we weren’t able to solve their problems. The reasons users pick are graphed below from week to week, along with the people who have solved their problem or will follow up.

Consistently, the top reasons for problems not getting solved have been chat sessions ending early and cases where the helper “was not responding”. Reducing the number of unsolved cases has been a top priority for improving the Live Chat experience. As a result, the SUMO 1.1 release (scheduled for Tuesday, June 2) will fix two bugs that are causing some users to disconnect early, and the next release will focus on allowing users to follow up after a chat session more efficiently. While a user may leave Live Chat before solving an issue, such as to restart Firefox, we want to keep tracking each user via the Support Forum until the issue is resolved. Since only about 10% of users respond that they are using the option to follow up, we also want to make this feature easier to find and use. If we can increase the number of users following up, we will increase the number of people who eventually solve their problem, as well as reduce the need to stay online for lengthy chat sessions.

Looking further ahead, we are developing a web client for Live Chat that will allow community members to participate in Live Chat from anywhere with Firefox. Our goals for the web client include streamlining the process of getting help once a chat session ends, which will increase the number of users we are able to successfully help. We’re also asking the community what we’re doing well and how we can make Firefox Support even more rewarding in a survey that we’re wrapping up next week. Thanks to everyone that has provided feedback and ideas so far! (Thanks especially to Ricardo (ricmacas) for sharing great ideas and design concepts for the Live Chat web client!)

If you’re looking for a way to get more involved with the Mozilla community and enjoy troubleshooting or assisting users, you should consider helping with Firefox Support! Check out the top ways you can make a difference by helping with SUMO. If you have more ideas on how we can make Mozilla Support even more effective and rewarding, we’d love to read your comments on this blog, on our mailing list, or in the Contributors forum.

SUMO — Part of Mozilla’s periscope

I wanted to share a good example of how Firefox Support wasn’t just launched to fill the support need of our 270+ million Firefox users, but also to allow us to quickly discover new or emerging issues and escalate them so they reach the attention of the right people.

periscope2The background of this story is the problem many Firefox users experienced with anti-virus program BitDefender a few weeks ago, where BitDefender would quarantine one of Firefox’s program files — nssutil3.dll — treating it as a malicious trojan.

In September last year, Asa Dotzler initiated an effort to better monitor our marvelous world wide web for emerging during new Firefox releases to detect possible new problems with Firefox quickly. This is now known as the Release Rapid Response Team, or RRRT for short — and SUMO is an important part of it.

On the morning of April 17, our SUMO Live Chat administrator and general genius Matthew was anchoring the Friday morning Live Chat shift. In this shift, many Live Chat helpers were getting support requests from users with BitDefender. Matthew then filed a bug, alerted the RRRT, and set up a canned message so helpers could quickly respond.

A quick search in the support forum showed quite a few threads, so Cheng Wang, chemist, IRC hacker, and administrator of the support forum, set up “sumobot” in channel #sumo to alert us whenever forum threads were posted with “nssutil3″ or “bitdefender” in them, so we could quickly respond to those threads.

The first things we were telling users were that it was not actually a trojan and that we were working with BitDefender to figure out the false positive. SUMO contributors Noah and Quarantine deserve lots of props for making sure every thread about this issue got a quick response!

We had constant contact with Tomcat from QA, and Kev Needham, who hunted down BitDefender to get a first hand update about the situation. We were all in constant communication over IRC, so as soon as BitDefender released an update, we knew about it.

Once we got confirmation that the newest BitDefender fixed everything, Cheng posted to the bug and we were set. The whole thing was solved in less than 2 hours, which is amazing!

Many thanks to everyone on Live Chat for handing this on that end — these people really were pulling those chats out of the queue fast: noah, tmz, codylg13, dat, mzz, starpluck, leo, SliderMan, collin1000, and CoMpAnY.

A couple of weeks after this happened, I had the fortune to sit down in a conference room with Ken Kovash in Mountain View to discuss SUMO metrics. In this discussion, Ken helped me with setting up so we can see trended search terms on the website — search terms that are most rapidly changing in frequency in the last few days. So, rather than just looking at the most popular search terms on (which is almost always “bookmarks” and “clear history”), we can now also see trended search terms.

Ken and I looked back on the stats for April 17 and guess what? nssutil3.dll was at the top of the list! So now we have an even stronger zoom on our periscope lens in the ongoing hunt for problems on the web.

Expect to see this added to the Weekly Metrics shortly.

Designing a Live Chat web client

Over the past few weeks we’ve been working to collect ideas and feedback for the SUMO Live Chat web client. Contributors currently use the open source Spark client to help in Live Chat, but we’re working on a web-based client to allow everyone to participate from any standards-compliant web browser. This web-based client will allow Live Chat to be tightly integrated with the SUMO Knowledge Base and Forum, streamlining the chat process for both users and contributors.

Spark has a lot of neat features that we will want in our web client, and we’re planning a number of improvements based on feedback from the community. To guide development, we’ve focused on some of the best ideas we’ve received to create mock-ups of the new Live Chat interface.

Live Chat web client mock-up

Much of the new functionality is intended to decrease the length of chat sessions, increasing user satisfaction while allowing contributors to help more people in less time. Communication following a chat session will be streamlined, and transferring chats between helpers will become more efficient. We will also be able to integrate with the new SUMO search engine, allowing helpers to find solutions to most issues without needing to open another window.

More details and implementation requirements for the Live Chat web client are on the project requirements page. We’d love to get feedback on these concepts or on implementation ideas — the best place to get in touch is the SUMO Contributors forum. (If you’re a Java developer and are interested in helping with this project, you can find the SUMO development team in #sumodev on

Live Chat, the most social way to help with Firefox Support, allows contributors to chat with Firefox users and with each other to help people use Firefox. To see more ways to get involved with SUMO, check out our guide to getting started.

A guide to troubleshooting frequent issues in Live Chat

Over the past few months, the support team has been working to identify top issues and pass this information along to the rest of the community. For Live Chat, we are now keeping weekly summaries on the Live Chat issue guide, a page that documents common issues both for live chat helpers and for QA team members assisting with live chat. This page is useful for anyone wanting to help with live chat, as it contains a brief overview of the most common questions we get. Information maintained there includes background information on symptoms, links to knowledge base articles, links to troubleshooting explanations, the current status of each issue, and suggested steps to troubleshoot each problem.

In addition to being a guide for new helpers, the issue guide allows everyone to quickly see which information we want to collect from users with specific issues. When helpers discover new information, they can let others know by posting in the Contributors forum or by talking to other helpers in #sumo. In either case, room monitors and administrators make sure that useful information is shared in bug reports or on Weekly common issues.

As I discussed last month, people from all over the Mozilla community can help with Live Chat by assisting helpers with new issues. Anyone can get started with this by joining #sumo on irc and configuring your XMPP (Jabber) client. For QA team members or other community members wanting to assist live chat helpers, the Live Chat issue guide is useful to get a glance at what helpers are seeing. If you know of an emerging issue that we should be investigating, let us know by posting in the Contributors forum.

Since we are able to only directly help a small portion of users in the forum or in live chat, it is important that the knowledge base is kept up-to-date as the primary source for help by ensuring that known solutions are documented there. The majority of frequent issues have documentation which is linked to from the Live Chat issue guide for easy reference. To assist with documenting new issues, each undocumented problem in the issue guide is noted as needing documentation, so that documentation can be created when enough information is received.

For more information about Live Chat, read our documentation on getting started. You can assist other helpers using any XMPP client by following our guide to connecting with alternate clients. (If you want to answer your own Live Chat questions, you will need the open source Spark client.) If you have any problems connecting, join #sumo on irc to get help.

How Live Chat fits into SUMO: Community participation

The Mozilla Support (SUMO) project is unique in the way it involves the broader Mozilla community to improve the user experience. The Live Chat component of SUMO, which I started leading last month, is no exception. As a compliment to the Support Forum, Live Chat is best able to investigate new issues that arise and serve users who need help following the written documentation. Live Chat helpers can investigate issues interactively with affected users, obtaining useful data for the rest of the community. Not all helpers actively answer questions – we also need people who can advise other helpers and ensure quality service. People who have helped in Live Chat range from new Firefox users to seasoned support volunteers to Firefox developers.

One great thing about support as a community is that the line between user and helper is blurred. Many of the current support volunteers got started by asking a question themselves, staying around to help other people using information learned solving their own problems. While most users don’t have time to commit regularly, many users have spent extra time to troubleshoot an issue, to let us know what finally fixed a problem, or to post advice about solved issues in the forum. Likewise, many people in the Mozilla community without a lot of time to commit have helped by assisting newer helpers when a new issue arises. The support community allows new helpers to learn about Mozilla and support in general, while actively helping users solve problems.

While SUMO doesn’t define rigid roles for contributors, we need people helping users and those assisting helpers to be available at once for quality help in Live Chat. To regularly achieve this, we are starting a new scheduling system where community members can sign up to fill a ‘role’ in a given time slot.

  • Advisor: Senior helpers and other community members who can assist other helpers, but not accept user questions directly.
  • Helper: The majority of volunteers sign up as helpers, answering questions from users and participating in discussions in #sumo.
  • Anchor: These users commit to an entire block of time, ensuring that users aren’t left without a helper.
  • Room monitor: Experienced helpers who watch chats in progress and document new findings to ensure quality service. They should ensure that correct advice is given and that helpers are discussing issues in #sumo.

A senior helper, for example, might want to anchor two hours and advise five hours in a given week. If you know specific times that you can help, please sign up so that other helpers know when to come.

If you think Live Chat might be right for you, read our documentation on getting started. To start accepting Live Chat questions, you will need to get the open source Spark client. However, you can get started assisting other helpers on irc, joining chat sessions using any XMPP (Jabber) client. If you think another area of SUMO would suit you best, check out our other ways to contribute. Alternatively, simply join #sumo on (or via mibbit) to ask us directly!