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Please begin with an informative title:

helpdesk clippy

Greetings, Cranky Users! I thought today, we might have a look at the magnificent new-ish Helpdesk that has replaced the old bug report and tech support forms. This diary is rather picture-heavy, since I used a lot of screen captures, so if your computer will choke on that, I apologize and urge you to check it out for yourself. The link is the gray "Help" at the very top right of every screen in Daily Kos. You don't have to be logged in or even have an account at Daily Kos to use it (or else how could they help people whose problem is they can't log in?) Let's samba below the squiggle for more.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

So, when you click the little gray Help I mentioned, you see a screen like this. Before you open a new "discussion", you might want to browse existing discussions, or use the search box, to see if anyone else is having the same issue. If you just want to know how to do something, you can check the Knowledge Base's articles. In the lower half of the screen, you can see any open discussions you've participated in, as I have in that one by Julie Gulden, and below that, it shows you some recent discussions on the left, and some recent articles in the knowledge base on the right.

Now, let's say you want to start a new discussion. When you click the Start a discussion button, you get a form like this one. At the very top, above the dropdown I have expanded here, is a little checkbox. If it's too small for you, the text reads, "This is a private discussion, don't let the public see it." If you check the box, your discussion will be seen only by the developers, and will not be listed for users like the discussions we saw listed on the home page. The downside of that is, in this system, where regular users can join an open discussion, a user may have an answer for you before a developer sees your post. But, if your issue is sensitive in any way, it's good to be able to keep it private. Then, as you can see, you can classify your discussion as a problem (x doesn't work), question (how do I do x?), or suggestion (it would be nice if we could...). The subject line and the big box for your message are pretty self-explanatory. Notice that you can attach a file, such as a screen shot illustrating your problem. Notice also that, at the very bottom, it asks you a simple question to make sure you're not some sort of automated thingy. You'll see this throughout the helpdesk, wherever you can make a response (and may I say how very glad I am not to have to decipher one of those damned illegible words in the squiggly type?) When you're done, click the Create button on the lower right, cut off in this image. And there you are!

Here's the Browse discussions screen.

You can select among the three categories we noted on the add screen. Let's click, say, Problems.

The "title" in the list is actually the subject line that we saw in the Start a discussion screen. You can see that it's worthwhile to use a subject line that accurately describes your issue, because that's how people who might have a suggestion, or the same problem, can find you. The next columns show which discussions have and have not been resolved by developers, how many replies (not necessarily commenters) there are, and who commented last. Note that, just above the list on the right, there's a button to bring you to the Start a discussion page.

Here's an example of an open discussion, one that gives a good idea of how the group discussion feature can help. User r2did2 opens a new discussion and reports a problem with ads covering the topmost comments in a diary. elfling responds for the development staff, asking for more information about the ads. Other users with the same problem arrive, and have screen shots to attach. This helps the developers figure out what the issue is. I'm not reproducing the entire thread here, but eventually elfling reports that they are now able to reproduce the problem and have a help ticket open with Google about it. When the problem gets resolved, elfling will close the ticket. Meanwhile, everyone who "subscribes" to the discussion gets an email whenever there's a new comment in the thread. How do you subscribe? See that button Subscribe to Updates under the 7 people watching at the upper right? Those 7 are not literally watching right now -- they are the subscribers. If you contribute to the discussion, you are subscribed by default, but that same button becomes an Unsubscribe from Updates button for you, so you don't need to follow it if you don't want to get the messages. But if you care to know what's happening with the issue, it's helpful not to have to remember to check back all the time. And you can subscribe to any discussion that interests you, even if you have no comment to make.

Let's look at the Knowledge Base screen now. When you're looking for how to do something, and you suspect it's documented, the knowledge base is a good place to start. It's not extensive yet, but there's good information here, with links to diaries and the FAQ where they can augment the article. There's a thoughtful piece, for instance, directed at people with older machines and/or dialup or other slow connections. And, here's the beginning of one about using images:

So that's the quick tour, my Cranky friends. I recommend you go there and poke around on your own. You can't hurt anything! And there's interesting stuff you might not have imagined (including some unfortunately good examples of what not to do, like, entitle your issue "Police Brutality" when what you want is to know why you can't post a comment.)

As always, please use the comments to chat about your issues with the site, ask and answer questions, post silly pictures, or possibly kvell about this extremely good news. And be excellent to each other!


☀ For more stuff sort of like this, the Cranky Users group.

☀ For lots of official detail about the site and its workings, the DK4 FAQ (frequently-asked questions).  The main Daily Kos FAQ is still here.

☀ For help with bugs and technical problems, the fabulous new HELP DESK! You can search for others who have already reported the same issue, post the issue yourself, submit it privately, or even answer questions posted by other users. And, you can check out the "knowledge base" for information both general and specific.

☀ You can still use the contact form to get a response about site problems of a non-technical nature (such as issues with rules and banning/reinstatement). Please select an appropriate radio button when filling out the form.

☀ For immediate catharsis, complain in a Cranky Users thread. These threads are regularly scanned by kos and developers, but it's not a guaranteed way to bring an issue to the attention of these folks. But sometimes you just need some sympathy from other cranky people! (And sometimes, other cranky people have advice that can help you.)

Our thanks to kos, the development team, and the Dkosopedia contributors for their vigorous efforts to deliver a site that works well and to help us know how to work it!

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Cranky Users on Fri Nov 18, 2011 at 12:22 PM PST.

Also republished by KosBusters!, J Town, and Welcome New Users.

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