Answer Support Questions | How to contribute

Answer Support Questions

It's easy to get started answering support questions. Don't worry, you don't have to be a Thunderbird expert to make a difference. Most questions are already answered by a Knowledge Base article and you can just post a link. If you have questions about the support process, just ask us in the Contributors forum or in the #tb-support-crew IRC channel.

Below are some tips on becoming a question-answering pro.

Finding questions

Please use the Get Satisfaction topics list to find users in need. Pay special attention to topics that have no replies or where the last poster wasn't another contributor. If you're on Mac or Linux, watch out for users on the same OS; they may have questions that Windows users wouldn't be able to answer.

Finding answers

Rather than trying to figure out the user's problem by yourself every time, first search to see if it's come up before. Try to use the Knowledge Base articles before anything else. These articles have been quality reviewed and have info for all supported systems. Remember, you're not only helping the person who's asking the question, you're helping people who read the thread in the future.

If the Knowledge Base doesn't have your answers, you can use any other source you want. Some good ones:

If you find yourself using external resources, consider adding their information to an existing article or proposing a new article – see How the Knowledge Base works TB. Because this site is the first line of Thunderbird support and a Knowledge Base search is the first thing most users will do, having the info in a Knowledge Base article will let the user find the info more easily by themselves.

Doing investigation

If you can't find previous cases of the issue happening, here are some tips on figuring out the problem yourself.

  • Consider the user's OS and Thunderbird version.
  • Take a look at the user's extensions and plugins. In particular, watch for the ActiveX plugin (which causes all sorts of problems) and duplicate instances of other plugins.
  • Try to isolate the cause of the problem.
    • Does the problem happen on your computer or on another email account? This is useful for determining whether it's a problem with the user's set up or with Thunderbird or a mail provider in general.
    • Does the problem happen when security software is temporarily disabled?
    • Does the problem happen in Safe Mode TB?
    • Does the problem happen in a new profile?

Again, if you find out the solution, consider adding it to the Knowledge Base.

Posting replies

  • Be nice. It's not your job to defend yourself, others, or even Thunderbird or Mozilla. Users may just be venting because their problems are frustrating. The best thing to do is to help the user get his or her answer. If you feel that a post has crossed the line, report it to a moderator.
  • Make a judgment on a user's experience based on their posts. For example, not all users know how to get to about:config. When in doubt, err on the side of explaining more.
  • Look at what OS the user is using and cater your reply to that. For example, Linux users won't have a C:\Program Files and Mac users may not be able to right-click.

Following up

The answers you give may not be correct, or the user may have some follow up questions for you. In either case, it's useful to both you and the user that your conversation continues.

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