It’s been busy for us in the last few months. Not only was Firefox 3 released, but the software we’ve been using for Live Chat is now open source! We’re looking forward to being able to dig in and help make some of the improvements we’ve been waiting for. In the mean time, we’ve made some smaller changes that we hope improves the Live Chat experience for everyone.
Max chat lowered to 3 – 4 chats at once was still too hectic, so we’ve lowered it again to 3. As always feel free to take fewer if you need to. We’re working on hooking up UI for helpers to set their own max if they only want to take 1 or 2 at a time so that you don’t have to leave old chats open or keep rejecting incoming requests.
New Advanced queue – We’ve created a new Advanced Queue that users who have been waiting more than a certain amount of time will be transfered to. To start with, admins and room monitors will be members of the Advanced Queue, though anyone who is comfortable helping with any chat should also be in this queue. This will allow us to focus on monitoring and helping our support team, but we’ll also be able to jump in and pick up the oldest chats if the queue gets overwhelming.
New patch! Position in queue – To take advantage of the new Advanced Queue we needed a way to see which queue a chat was coming from. Thanks to zzxc, we killed two birds with one stone and now we can see what position someone is in the queue. Currently the server offers chats based on which chat was offerend to a helper last and not based on position in queue. When helping out, please take users with a position of 3 or lower. For now you have to keep hitting reject until you see someone with a low enough position. In the future we hope to fix the offer system so that it offers the chat with the lowest position by default.
Come see us in #sumodev if you’re interested in helping us make more improvments!
In other development news, zzxc and mzz have been working on a build of gajim that works with Fastpath. If you’d like to help test it (or even hack on it) please find zzxc on IRC and he’ll get you started.
The SUMO contributors have all worked incredibly hard to make our user-to-user support experiences for our users positive. Today they will need our help in order to maintain the quality, as the services will explode with new Firefox 3 users. Below are three ways you can make a difference to the hard working contributors as well as our new users.
Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, your effort can help one, two, three, or ten new users.
- Monitor the support forum for unanswered questions — Just browse through the list of questions and see if there is anything you know the answer to. You don’t even have to have an account, although I recommend you get one anyway to show who you are.
- Hang out in #livechat on irc.mozilla.org — Other Live Chat helpers may find you there and ping you to help them out in case they run into a hard question. You don’t have to participate in helping users directly, just answering questions other Live Chat helpers might have.
- Help users directly in Live Chat — Actually it’s not that hard, but it’s definitely more time consuming than the other ways of helping out. Read all about how to get started — it only takes 5 minutes! Seth Bindernagel’s blog post on why you should try Live Chat out is definitely worth a read too.
Thanks for considering helping us today! If you have any questions about how you can help out, don’t hesitate to contact us. Find out more on the How to contribute page on support.mozilla.com.
Just a reminder that the Live Chat meeting is today at 12pm PDT/GMT -7 (3pm EDT/GMT -4).
We’ll be discussing any special measures we want to take during release week as well as answering any other questions that come up. Everyone is welcome as this is a great chance to get to know our Live Chat community and to learn a little more about how we work.
- California: 650-903-0800 then extension 91
- Toronto: 416-848-3114 then extension 91
- Toll-free: 800-707-2533 then password 369
Then, enter the conference number: 309#
Don’t forget, the toll-free number is free from anywhere in the world using Skype! Click on “Call Phones,” choose United States as the country and then dial the number as usual.
If you don’t have a microphone or want to share a link we’ll also be watching #livechat on irc.mozilla.org during the call.
After having a few chances to speak together on the phone, our Live Chat contributors agreed it was something we should do more often. On that note, I’d like to invite you all to our first open meeting dedicated to Live Chat.
We’ll discuss things like common issues that are coming up with users, problems we’ve been having with missing or out of date documentation, and suggestions we have for making it easier to help users.
If you’ve had any experiences with Live Chat you’re welcome to join us and share your thoughts.
The meeting time is tentatively set for 12pm PDT (GMT -7)/3pm EDT (GMT -4). Look back Wednesday for a confirmed time as well as call-in details.
If you have any questions in the mean time you can always find us in #livechat on irc.mozilla.org
With SUMO, we make it a practice to regularly reevaluate what we’re doing well, and what we still need to improve on. We’ve made some changes to the Live Chat software in the last little while, like playing with the max number of chats a helper can take, and changing how long a user can wait in the queue. We think these changes have helped things along, but it’s time to dig in and see what else we can do to make Live Chat a smoother experience for our users, but especially for our invaluable volunteers.
Have you been helping out with Live Chat on Firefox Support (SUMO) lately? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what obstacles we should look at tackling next in making Live Chat easier to use. Was there anything in the process you found hard to grasp, or were there things you simply found annoying? Is our hands on training approach enough, or should we have more documents about how to help with Live Chat? Are there particular improvements to the software we should focus on?
One problem we’ve been working on finding a solution to has been providing our helpers with a way to coordinate with each other. Obviously no one wants to open alone, but people also want to come around when they’re needed. This is especially important for us to solve as our official hours don’t work for everyone who’d like to help. At first, a public calendar seems like a good way to achieve this, but I think that solution falls short in a few key ways:
- Calendars are geared towards single events occuring in a set time; views break the more overlap there is
- Calendars don’t restrict people to only edit their own events
- Using multiple calendars requires everyone to be aware of and subscribed to everyone else’s calendar
- Calendars don’t let us specify when and how many people we’d like to have for “official” shifts
For our purposes, I believe we need something that makes it easier to specify how many people we’d like on at once. I also think we need something geared more towards multiple users at one time. I’ve done some research and I believe room scheduling software, like a university would use to schedule lab time or equipment, could work really well for us.
- We would create “Rooms” that would be our slots for people to block off the times they’d like to participate
- The slots can indicate our desired coverage and, being columns, or rows, makes it easy to see at a glance if we have it
- Allows us to have slots for Room Monitors, again, making it easy to see at a glance when one is available or needed
- Many of the available software will output the schedule as text, allowing us to display it on a SUMO page
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this suggestion – do you know of great software that would be perfect for us, or are there any other needs for coordinating hours that I’ve over looked? – or any other suggestions for what you think we should work on next.
And as always thanks for your help and hope to see you on Live Chat!
This week and next week (April 16th to 25th) I’ll be leading a “trial” shift from 10am to 12pm PDT (19:00 to 21:00 CEST) to give our European community a chance to help users through Live Chat. At this time we can only provide support in English, and of course you don’t have to be European to help out during these hours.
These hours won’t be added to the official hours just yet, as we’re trying them out, so you don’t have to worry about being overwhelmed by lots of requests. At the same time, whenever we open we always get some users looking for help, so there should still be chats to go around.
If you’ve already checked us out but the current hours don’t work for you, please stop by. If you’re new and have been waiting for a chance to try us out, read here to find out what you need to get started.
For some time now, users have been redirected out of the queue if one of our helpers hasn’t accepted their chat after 4 minutes. Obviously this is a very short amount of time given the number of requests we can get and the fact that we usually only have a handful of volunteers on to answer them. We’ve wanted to raise this limit but haven’t been able to figure out how.
I’ve heard back from Jive support today, and it seems that there was a setting I was overlooking. There are actually several places to set a timeout, but they are defaults that are inherited by new queues. I had to dig in to the queue settings to change this timeout on an existing queue. A very big thank you to Chase from Jive for figuring this out!
As I said this should be fixed now. If anyone still has any problems with dropping from the queue before 10 minutes please let us know, either here or on irc.mozilla.org in #livechat.
We’re happy to announce that the transcript feature for Live Chat is now enabled and working.
When your chat is finished, the closing page will now include a field for you to provide an email address to have the chat history sent to you. Please keep in mind that each transcript will only include the details from the current chat, so if you get disconnected or have to restart the chat between steps you’ll need to request a transcript at each stage to have a complete record.
The Firefox Support project (a.k.a. SUMO) community has grown lately, with new knowledge base content writers and localizers, forum moderators, and live chat helpers. This is really exciting news, as the project depends heavily on the community to succeed. Thank you to everyone who has helped us help Firefox users so far!
With the release of Firefox 3 coming up soon, we will need even more people to handle the increased load. One thing we’ve talked about for some time is to host a full day event, where new people get together with existing contributors to exchange knowledge, get to know each other more, and have a good time. Let’s call this event the SUMO Day!
The step in the planning process where we are right now is figuring out the best day for the SUMO Day event. If you’ve been contributing to SUMO in the past, or if you’re just interested in learning more about the project, please help us deciding when the SUMO Day should occur. The dates to choose from are:
- Thursday, April 3th
- Friday, April 4th
- Thursday, April 10th
- Friday, April 11th
- Thursday, April 17th
- Friday, April 18th
Fridays would be preferable, because they give us the ability to catch up with the increased load during the weekend. Please comment on this blog post to let us know the day that would be best for you. Thank you!
We’ve created a spreadsheet of the issues we felt would be worth having fixed in the next 3 months. Beside each issue is a priority number which corresponds to the description in the legend. If something isn’t on the list and you think it should be, or if you think a priority on an item is incorrect, please let us know ASAP, so we can discuss it and make a decision about it before we choose the list of issues we’d like to ask Jive to fix.
Spreadsheet is here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=ptjORwt3Bhd3zdNMyhTzgMw
Reply to this blog posting with any feedback. Ideally the list is finalized Friday.