I just created some trouble reporting forms to use with the call center agents at work when they report problems to my team because we always need to go back to them and ask questions to clarify what the issue is. I see the same thing happen here all the time where someone will write a post tjat "x doesn't work" or "y crashes" and we always need more details. I thinking we should list some of the most common questions here and at tje end I'll either write a short trouble reporting tutorial with a section that cam be copied and pasted, or maybe DJ could create a form that generates a new post with the questions and answers.
I'll get us started with a couple from just the last few days:
Is there an error message displayed in the debug window?
Did the EZ-B make the disconnect sound or reboot?
Please post a copy of your project.
What are the steps to repeat it?
Is your battery charged?
Did you check the fuse?
Are you in AP or Client mode?
Can you access the EZ-B's web page?
Have you tried the servo on a different port?
If we get enough questions, we could even build a self help flowchart to get users through some of the most common issues or determine that a bug report or warranty claim is really needed.
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But, on that note - it has been an interesting challenge!
Where do we put these questions that people will see?
No worries, I thought you might know about it. Truth be told, I actually forget to refer to the FAQ's myself when answering questions. Your thread just reminded me of it again, lol.
To try to explain...
I have a question...
Prompt: What is the topic of your question
Prompt: What is your question about
Answer: vision or camera
Prompt: What it feature are you looking for
Answer: Object tracking
Bring them to the tutorial showing script commands for object tracking.
Have a "Did this answer your question?" question and indicator.
This is a pain to program I would think.
From what I have seen, people post questions here instead of finding answers on the learn section. That could be just because that is what I see, but it seems that people think that this is the learn section of the site. It could be because they search google for a topic and it takes them here. It could be that people can't find the learn section for some reason. It could be that for every one that posts there are 1000 that find answers in the learn section. I don't know, but it appears that this is where most come for help. Without having some way to know if the question was answered by the learn section, I don't know how you would do a comparison to find out.
I think that when someone posts here when the answer is in the learn section we assume that this is the common thing, I think that unless you have the data to analyse if this is infact the situation, you wont know.
Before the learn section was created, this was the place to get the answers. Because of this, you have a lot of users who are more than willing to give answers instead of direct people to the learn section. This causes the issue to continue. I face this in business daily. If a helpdesk is setup in a company, and everyone has been told to go to the helpdesk with all issues, and the helpdesk will help or get you in touch with the person who can, but... when people come to you, you don't refuse to help them and force them to go to the helpdesk then you are defeating the system that has been put in place to ultimately help you and them out. Any english majors hate me right now...
The first requires no work from you. As soon as we have collected enough useable questions, I keep the first post of this thread up to date with useable questions, and ordered by the ones we are needing to ask the most at any given time. Those of us who answer a lot of questions just keep it bookmarked so we can easily copy and paste it when someone asks for help without providing enough information to answer their issue.
The second is a variation on the first, except that you implement a "sticky" thread function on the web page so that it is at the top of either the current topics or maybe just bug reports, and we word it to ask users with questions to include the relevant answers in their posts. When we get a vague or incomplete issue, we can still cut and paste the relevant questions into the thread asking for help, but it is easier to find.
The third requires the most work, and I would rather have you doing ARC releases, but you could have the web site insert whatever we decide are the absolutely essential questions into any new post when someone selects the Bug Report tag or the Needs Assistance topic type.
1) it's in the welcome email
2) it's in the purchase email
3) it's in the included instruction pamphlet in the box
4) it's in the software on boot up. And the only way to make it go away is to type "no learn" and answer yes to the verification question
5) it's in the achievement email after using ARC
6) it's in the account verification email when an account is created
7) it's in the contact us
8) it's in the new thread page with a video that takes up 1/5 if the screen vertical and 1/2 horizontal
9) it's in the checkbox that the user must click that agrees to the question post
Good news is we can see how many people have follow learn section because it's all logged, as you can see from viewing a users details. We can also see quite a bit more, such as every link any individual session takes. Which is why the site changes sometimes. Because we run reports that tell us to move things around.
The good news is there's a very small number of posts with their "issues" that would be solved if they visited learn. I think it's because these people want the community engagement. I believe they aren't knowledgable enough to contribute, but they want to be welcomed. So rather than coming in with, what they feel might be boring, a "hi I'm so and so and want to make a robot". Instead they come in with an "issue".
Also, some of the issue posts are people who are so excited to get the robot working, that they overlook the learn section and see engagement as a quicker and more personal touch.
Lastly, it's hard to not want to engage the forum when everyone on here appears so knowledgable and friendly.
In short, the percentage of those posts is incredibly small. If you consider brookstone's recent sale of thousands of jd's and six's plus the Christmas rush... As Dave put it - there's very few posts compared to a year ago. And it's not a little bit of difference / it's significant! Last year less than a thousand robots were sold for holiday season. This year thousands of robots were sold and the number of posts for assistance was still less, even though the number of units is ten fold.
Good news is that means we really did something right. We will continue to support all issues - but some will leak by with the reasons I stated above.
Something good to consider is questions still are necessary for our individual growth. I get questions from the forum experts as well - and that's never something to be ashamed of. Even if the answer is already there. This helps me as well. And the questions from these new users help you, whether you realize it.
They help you recognize how far you've all come. They show you that there's knowledge to share and you've positioned yourself that role. It's quite impressive to consider what we have here.
It's not like any other place on the Internet. There are no robot forums this helpful with this number of serious enthusiasts. Sure you can find "brainiacs" blabbing about c++ complicated blah blah with ros somewhere. But they're not doing much to share knowledge outside of their bubble. Ezrobot's bubble is expanding because you have all gone from "I can build a robot?" to "hey you, here's how you build a robot"
And when we say robot, we don't mean robot like everyone else. How disappointed do you get when visiting let's make robots? Or watching kickstarter and seeing "educational bots" that you shake your head at. Or reading a blog post about some maker who "diy" robot with an arduino and it avoids a wall with a distance sensor and drives on wheels... Meanwhile, your ez-robots are walking and talking and dancing and interacting and blowing peoples minds!
Ezrobot and this community is pretty much years ahead of everyone else - AND we make it atainable to pretty much anyone.
So, is it bad that we get the occasional post that sneaks by the learn section? Nah... There's plenty of positive perspectives which we can apply to this scenario. That doesn't mean to not take efforts and help them. I encourage these efforts, because it's part of what makes all of you so friggin awesome.
I just wanted to respond to some of DJ's comments, as I really enjoyed reading his last post.
This is so true. When I answer or just read questions from newer members I know the answer to, I do find myself thinking "man, that's easy" but then remember "wait, did I actually know that or find that easy when I first started?". As Richard so politely and correctly put it in one of my earlier threads, "6 moths ago, you didn't even know what a servo was... Now you're writing your own scripts and helping others". which has a lot to do with the documentation on this website, be it the learn section, or member input. I still do find myself missing the obvious when working on something, but that's only because there so much content in the EZ-Robot platform. As DJ put it once, he starts to write a new builder control, only to realise it already exists as he already done it some time ago, lol. Funny, but I get that.
Ain't that the truth. Here's one example for a fairly popular robot. Recently I helped @nomad out with his Aldebaran NAO robot. I've never owned one, nor ever used one, so to clarify a few things, I posted a couple of questions on their forum after looking through the their poorly laid out user guide. Two days... not a single response to any of my questions. Thanks a lot, lol. Even their customer support replies were crappy and short. Ask a question here, you sometimes get an answer before you even finish typing.
I couldn't agree more. I give up at looking through the "Lets make Robots" project pages sometimes, as a lot of it is the same old Arduino line followers and the like, or the humanoid bots which are "all that" (I think the kids say) but it's basically a remote controlled toy. No speech rec, no camera rec, and no way to expand on the design or programming.
I'll make a point of something here. Not to blow my own trumpet, but I think I have built a couple of fairly okay robots (K-9 and E4-B4, and when people see these in person, they are blown away with how much they can do. Now, these two bot have been entered in numerous Instructables contests, the most recent was E4-B4 which was entered in a "Sci-Fi" "Tech" and "robot" contest. Waiting for results for "Sci-fi" and didn't make a finalist in the "tech" comp as there was a wide variety of different projects. Fair enough. Now, the robot comp... Was an absolute joke. Not wanting to sound like a bad loser (I really couldn't care less as I want going to enter anyway, and the prizes weren't that great in the robot comp), but the fact that I had the ONLY multi functional robot in the true sense of the word with clearly laid out instructing along with many high def photos and videos, was passed over for I think it was three 3D printers (SERIOUSLY! I mean, are 3D printers even classed as robots), an Arduino fish with a poorly laid out instuctable, and some line followers really surprised me no end. And I did a bit of searching in previous comes over the past 12 months or so, and every EZ-Robot entry I saw didn't get a look in. Maybe some people don't believe that the robots I and others made can do what we say they can do... don't have to be built or programmed by experts... or word about this great platform hasn't reached them yet or feel they don't have what it takes to make their own "smart" robot. Maybe the instuctable judges feel that the EZ-Robot platform is a "make it or program it yourself" platform. Same thing with K-9 last year. Loads of comments and emails about him, even got EZ-Robot some new customers because of him with people saying "this platform looks great. I've gotta check it out", but didn't even get a look in, in their comps that he was entered in. It seems to me that if it's a stand alone Arduino project, your sure to get picked. I show friends videos of Ardiono only "robots", and they say "that's cool. What else does it do?", and when I say "thats all it does (follow a line of avoid a wall)" that reply with "Is that it? oh, okay then". Maybe their judges should come over and have a look at the amount of work and effort that has gone in to member tutorials, forum assistance, and project showcases, and this thread of Alan's is a prime example of that.
Okay slightly off topic (sorry Alan, didn't mean to hijack), but I wanted to get that off my chest.
Anyway, I think Alan has a good idea, and maybe it could be implanted somewhere, but holy cow, DJ has a point about all of the pointers to the learn section (I didn't realise there whee so many).
Richard, I love the speech for DJ, although it does sound kinda........ familiar, lol, but works really well.
My goal in asking this was not so much providing g a way for those having an issue to have another way to solve it themselves , but giving us a tool to gather the information we need to help. There will always be users who have issues not covered in learn or who skip right to asking in the forum. The latter of those groups also tend to not know how to aks technical questions well and provide incomplete data, leading to a lot of back and forth and some frustration on the part of is trying to help. If a few people solve their own issuw when we swnd them a list of relevant clarifying questions, that is a bonus.
That being said, I think two of our questions should be "have you looked at the relevant learn section or tutorial, and what was missing from that answer"? And" have you read the faq"?
This idea came about because I was getting poor quality trouble reports from call center agents at work without even the most basic information I needed to troubleshoot (user's phone id, time of the call, whether it was a one time or continued occurance) so I put together forms to handle the five most common types of issues with required and optional fields to fill out in order to engage my team for support. While writing the forms, I noticed a similar need here.
Yeah sorry, I did ramble on a bit and went off subject slightly in my last post. If an idea comes to light for this subject, and if I can possibly help in any way... please let me know. It'll be great to get some input from some of the other regular members about this.
1) where else would links to the learn section be displayed?
2) if these less than 0.1% of users are avoiding those learn section links, what ideas do we have to ensure this new section of questions isn't avoided?
In summary, if less than 0.1% of users are avoiding all directions to the learn section, where do we place these new questions?
Or - wait i have an idea!
okay okay, i had the idea soon as i was typing this so i'll keep the above text anyway - because i'll treat this like a real verbal conversation as if we were chewing the fat over a beer.
When someone selects "require assistance" when creating a forum thread, the page will change to include drop downs for the questions that you come up with in this thread. So users will be forced to answer the questions we come up with before they can post for assistance!
So, keep going - come up with a good number of questions. I'll pick the most appropriates ones (if necessary) based on a conversation with james and analyzing his customer support zendesk report data.
This will be a good idea.
I think the approach you are alluding to is a good approach.
Here is another question for the list: have you installed the latest ARC"? (or, maybe even more appropriate, what is your ARC version nimber?)
Let's try with na to begin with and cross our fingers that it's not the option that everyone will select
I don't want people to feel intimidated to post - specifically if they're just looking for a way to join the community, even if it is in the form of questions that already have answers in the learn section.
I suspect this approach will produce awesome results