Over the past month and a half, we’ve started an effort to gather data from users who come to support or provide input to other places in the Mozilla community to identify issues with Firefox that are new or frequently mentioned by our everyday users. This information is conceivably useful to a number of people from support contributors to QA team members to developers and marketing. This post will discuss the progress we’ve made so far and what people across the Mozilla community can do to help out and get involved.
Each week, we are going through a sizable sampling of forum posts, Live Chat conversations and posts to Hendrix to figure out the common issues. The focus here is on specific issues. Rather than noting that dozens of people have crashes, we’re flagging an issue if dozens of people have crashes when downloading specific files or visiting a specific site.
The central page for all this information is the Weekly Common Issues page. That page has a table of the issues we’re currently tracking. Each issue gets its own thread where more details will be provided as well as links to the source reports. Importantly, each thread will also list the information that we’re seeking from users who are experiencing a given issue to give support volunteers some questions to ask of users. The threads are open so that users can also post any answers they have directly in the thread or attach relevant files without registering.
This is where the community comes in (that means you!). Members of the community can volunteer to lead the followup for each issue. Followup can be very simple (write the relevant KB article if the cause is known) or be more involved (working closely with users and QA to identify the source of problem and coming up with an acceptable solution or workaround). Whether or not you choose to lead the investigation of issues, there is a lot you can do to help out. Since we can’t read everything that everyone writes about Firefox, we would appreciate if you see additional reports of a given issue to note it in the relevant thread. You can also help by testing or suggesting workarounds and suggesting questions that we should be asking to troubleshoot. A lot more information and a FAQ is in this discussion thread.
The other half of the metrics project which is also on the weekly issues page is measuring way users use our knowledge base. The current ranking is based off a score that incorporates the number of users that reach an article via search results, the number who reach via links on the front page and the number of votes that a page has (yes and no votes) in response to the question: “Did this article solve a problem you had with Firefox?” For a really long discussion of how we’re calculating this and some of the reasoning behind it, see this post.
Since these rankings are based on support articles that users find themselves, it can be hard to tell which single issue users may be experiencing in each case. However, a few generalized conculsions can be drawn. For example: Four of the top five articles this week are related to clearing the location bar, search bar (which is likely users confusing search bar with location bar) or clearing private data in general. This suggests that having “private” results show up when using the new Awesomebar is still one of our users’ top concerns. Essentially, these rankings are a good indication of what kind of help users are looking for when they come to support.mozilla.com. As we refine the articles, split up overarching articles and provide more specific titles, we hope that these metrics will get better and better at pinpointing exactly what concerns and issues our users are facing most often.
By tracking users’ specific issues in threads and collecting generalized metrics through the knowledge base, we can better address the concerns quicker and improve our support process. Most importantly, however, this is an effort that we would really like your help with and input on. Whether you’re just linking to reports of the tracked issues, helping test or leading the followup, it’ll all help make our user experience that much better.