Answering questions on the Support Forum
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.
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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 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.
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.
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:
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. 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.
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, Firefox for Android or Firefox OS questions will need different answers than typical 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 TB
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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).
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 things other than Mozilla support as defined above will be directed to an alternative discussion place (ex: mozillaZine) if appropriate.
User rants, complaints etc. about issues that are not in our power to solve (ie. development decisions) will be treated as offtopics and directed to an alternative discussion place.
- Mark as offtopic by typing offtopic in the text box under TAGS on the right-hand side and clicking the button. (Click on TAGS if you don't see the text entry box).
- Add a reply that the forum is for the questions related to the products listed on the main support page only and that we do not provide support for that particular product.
- if possible, provide a helpful link or suggestion (For instance, a Windows or Mozillazine article or forum).
- Report to moderator by clicking "Report Abuse" so that the thread can be locked.