Answering questions on the Support Forum

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

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

Finding questions

Use the support forum questions list, either for all products or for a specific product forum, to find users who need help. The All Products questions list includes all Mozilla products where users can ask a support question. If you want to limit the list of questions to a specific product, you can select it from the Support Forum home page.

Pay special attention to threads that have no replies or where the last poster wasn't another regular contributor (top 10 and top 25 contributors are reported below their usernames).

If you're answering questions about Firefox or Thunderbird and you're on Mac OS or Linux, watch out for users on the same operating system; 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 information 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.

To link to a Knowledge Base support article, put the article name within double brackets. [[Troubleshoot Firefox issues using Safe Mode]] becomes Troubleshoot Firefox issues using Safe Mode.

Tip: You can use the "Insert a link..." tool in the forum reply box to find and post links to support articles. You can also post one of the available common forum responses using the forum reply box "Common responses" tool.

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

To link to a URL (web address), put it within single square brackets, with a space separating the URL from the text. [ Download Firefox] becomes Download Firefox.

If you find yourself using external resources, consider adding their information to an existing article or proposing a new article – see About the Knowledge Base. Because this site is the first line of Mozilla support and a Knowledge Base search is the first thing most users will do, having the information 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. Note: If you need more help investigating Firefox issues, see the Firefox Support troubleshooting guide.

  • Consider the user's operating system and version of Firefox or Thunderbird.
  • Please look carefully at the product. For example, questions about Firefox for Android or Firefox for iOS will need different answers than Firefox desktop questions.
  • Take a look at the user's extensions and plugins. In particular, watch for outdated plugins, and extensions that are known to cause problems.
  • Try to isolate the cause of the problem.
    • Does the problem happen on your computer? This is useful for determining whether it's a problem with the user's setup.
    • Does the problem happen in Firefox or Thunderbird Safe Mode? See Troubleshoot Firefox issues using Safe Mode and Safe Mode Thunderbird
    • Does the problem happen when security software is temporarily disabled?
    • For Firefox issues, does the problem happen in Internet Explorer or another browser? If so, it's a problem on the system, not Firefox.
  • In case of crashes, see Helping with crashes.

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 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 by using the "Report Abuse" link.
  • 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 tailor 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.
  • For problems appearing after a Firefox update, try first to solve the issue. In case there are no solutions, provide a link to the previous version, if the user insists, and add a warning below the link stating that the version is insecure and can potentially compromise the confidentiality, integrity or availability of personal information.

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. You are subscribed to threads by default, meaning that you will get e-mail notifications whenever someone replies. You may also find the list of threads you posted in useful.

Getting help

If you get stuck on a difficult support question, you can escalate it to the Helpdesk by adding the "escalate" tag. See the Escalation Guidelines for details. You can also use the Support Forum Contributors Advanced Troubleshooting forum to discuss difficult questions you've escalated or to see if other contributors are able to help.

Duplicate questions

If you find that the same user has asked the same question in two or more recent threads:

  • Add a reply to the duplicate thread, tell the user that his question is a duplicate of one he recently asked, and include a link to the original thread.
  • Report to a moderator by clicking "Report Abuse" so that the thread can be locked.
  • Moderators: Lock the duplicate thread after adding a reply (do not simply edit the user's post).

Off-topic questions

As a general rule we should only offer support for the products listed on the Ask a Question page at the time the thread is opened. Everything else should be considered offtopic (please see Forum rules and guidelines).

Users who post about topics other than Mozilla support as defined above will be directed to an alternative discussion place (such as the Off-Topic forum) if appropriate.

User discussion, complaints or rants about issues that are not in our power to solve, such as Mozilla development decisions, will be treated as offtopic and directed to an alternative discussion place (such as Mozilla Discourse, one of the Mozilla forums or mozillaZine).

Thunderbird users can submit feature requests or other Thunderbird feedback in the support forum as the feedback process is Firefox-only. These posts are NOT offtopic.
  • Mark as offtopic by typing offtopic in the text box under TAGS on the right-hand side and clicking the Add button. (Click on TAGS if you don't see the text entry box).
  • Add a reply that the forum is for helping users with support questions about products listed on the main support page only and that we do not provide support for other products or issues.
  • If possible, provide a helpful link or suggestion (For instance, a Windows or Mozillazine article or forum).
  • Report to a moderator by clicking "Report Abuse" so that the thread can be locked.

For Contributor Quality Training Participants: Go to Chapter 3 here