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[YAY] Making existing help pages easier to find?

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Torley Linden

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I won't mince words, and I know it's human to feel this way: IT SUCKS WHEN HELP EXISTS AND YOU CAN'T FIND IT. You search, it doesn't turn up. You manually browse, you attack the darkness, still doesn't come out. You're all like "Double-you-tee-eff!!!!!" until a helpful fellow Resident points out that there's a broken link that was blocking you, or something else which should be ridiculously easy to fix. But that helpful Resi also understandably gives an exasperated sigh on the inside, because they have to manually do this each time someone has the same problem — and it's a hot problem!

facepalm_cat.jpg

If only a Linden knew and did something about it.

That's what this is about, since Resident Enlightenment (good gosh, what is that?) is one of my so-called "key responsibilities".

Let's talk real, not theory. Leading off from my recent post specifically about the Scripting Library, you know I love folding multiple steps into one, removing slop and waste so you get what you expect. Or better.

And often, putting useful instructions in front prevents much wasted time later. That's why I'm on a rampage — a help rampage — to connect the dots.

For example, I often encourage Resis (endearing abbreviation for "Residents") to check out the help pages on the Second Life Wiki (linked to from the Support Portal) and to search and contribute. But as followup, I found myself tediously typing out the same instructions time and time again — I paused myself and dealt with the root, by updating the wiki's own navigation links and pages.

The wiki now has a revised, friendly About & Help page, and it'd be swell if you took a sec to have a look.

Among numerous other "little things that make a big difference", I've also (for now) highlighted the wiki's search box in yellow to give it emphasis. This, in response to the many "How do I search?" I get. Seem obvious? Don't laugh, we were all new once. Also, astutes may be wondering 'Why's there a Go and Search button?" See that previous link.

Okay too much words for now so a picture.

What wiki.secondlife.com looks like on 2010-10-25 - Second Life Wiki_1288023447946

My wiki co-showrunners (listed on that About & Help page, of course) are working on further goodness.

Still can't find something you've seen before? Let me know the specifics in the comments and I'll research.

Now, onto the forums...

These might not have proper "stickies" (why?) and Featured Content has been buggy, but as a "something far better than nothing", I can certainly add a widget box which makes super-useful threads more visible, as seen in the Scripting Library. (I can change font size later, this is all subject to adaptation and removing unneeded redundancy.)

blogs.secondlife.com Scripting Library on 2010-10-25 - Second Life Blogs: Channel: Scripting Library_1288024370734

Do you have a nomination for an ultra-useful forum thread that you're frustrated having to bump up for newcomers? Let me know in the comments.

To set expectations, I'm only including what's broadly useful (which sadly, disqualifies lolcats, altho they're broadly memeful) and in some cases, it may be better to have a single link to a page collecting useful links, as is the case with the earlier Scripting Library example. But I don't know that until I hear from you.

Also, for the purposes of this post, I'm focusing on the (1) wiki and (2) forums, but I'd still like to hear about "help breakers" that are flat-out wrong or confusing on our official secondlife.com properties and in the Viewer. Like the fact we do support 64-bit Windows 7.

I'm done now. But I'll be back in the comments, promise.

400px-End_of_line.jpg

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Good thing, that help rampage! Connecting the dots ru13Z!

 

Also, for the purposes of this post, I'm focusing on the (1) wiki and  (2) forums, but I'd still like to hear about "help breakers" that are  flat-out wrong or confusing on our official secondlife.com properties  and in the Viewer.

Links on the wiki is something that we (the residents) can fix ourselves most of the time. (We could always, if we were given the possibility to edit a draft version of all pages we aren't allowed to change directly. Why aren't we given that? The needed mediawiki extension is already installed and used on some sites.)

So it'd be good if Lindens could have a look at links and instructions that the community cannot correct itself. Like in automatically sent emails, see e.g. this question about failed emails.

 

 You're all like "Double-you-tee-eff!!!!!" until 

I prefer the NATO alphabet expansion of that abbrevation.

 


Okay too much words for now so a picture.

What wiki.secondlife.com looks like on 2010-10-25 - Second Life Wiki_1288023447946

But ... the picture is full of words, too.

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Great to see more work towards making Help easier! While i don't have any threads to recommend, I did have an oft-mentioned idea that would help in a small way.

"Live Chat" link in the Help drop-down menu here on the website/Dashboard. Mentioned many times before, i think we've heard "good idea, we'll look into it" from the Linden side, so it may be in the process of being implemented. Figured i'd include it here though, just to be thorough.


End Of Li... er, Until after now

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Kadah: Torley's blog "I'd still like to hear about "help breakers" that are flat-out wrong or confusing on our official secondlife.com properties and in the Viewer."
Like when we file tickets and they remain untouched for months and counting?
Tank: no, thats "intended behavior"
Kadah: oic

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Scripting Library could use another link...Other Wiki, Library, and Editor Resources which I've been maintaining in the Featured Discussions for people to add resources to the thread (and I've been updating the OP with them).... I could actually add the current content into there, or leave it be.

I'd think something like this for Texturing would be nice (Chosen Few will probably volunteer to help with that).... Building might be another one in dire need... Chosen or perhaps Rolig Loon might want to undertake that.

several of us know how to manipulate featured content to add things... unfortunately I don't think anyone can remove things (perhaps a linden?) which would allow us to do similar for things like discussion view (which keeps original post titles, and shows original authors and reply count.

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I sometimes get the impression that Torley, Guy and Philip are the only people working at Linden Lab. I have visions of a converted warehouse in the outskirts of San Francisco, rows of empty workbenches with flickering screens and Torley in his swivel-chair rolling across the floor from keyboard to keyboard, laughing and talking to himself as he manages the entire public relations side of the company. Off in the distance, I see Guy in a corner near the stairs, single-handedly managing the Main Grid. Philip pops in from time to time, plunks himself down at a random desk, does a 12-hour shift of frantic programming then collapses in an old army hammock stretched between two rusting water pipes. Now and again, the occasional semi-retired Linden empties the wastepaper baskets and passes a mop over the floor. High on the wall, Max Headroom babbles from an antique plasma screen.

Thank you Torley for staying in touch. Some of us residents are collecting used clothes and canned goods to send you guys in appreciation for holding Second Life together. We love you.

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Great news for us newbies!!!  

 

PS.   I am sure it would take a lot of time,  but ....  I have to mention that,  some of the help items show screen prints of the old browsers, etc - and the same options are not available in V2.  Maybe something can be added / updated to include that?  

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Great work Torley (as ever!)

I can't think of any threads that deserve to be 'sticky' off the top of my head, but If I do think of any i'll be sure to let you know.

One thing that does come to mind though is that there are certain questions that I see asked regularly in SL Answers and I wonder if it would be possible to have a 'Answers to commonly asked questions' somewhere on the SL Answers main page?

It could perhaps link to a wiki page with the answers to the top 10 most asked questions.

Off the top of my head, the questions I see asked the most are:

1. Why does it continually say I can't log in until xxxx time? (The 'ghosting' issue on which Marigold is the expert: http://blogs.secondlife.com/message/424221)

2. How do I use search on the blogs and forums?

3. How do I list items for sale on the marketplace?

4. How do I shop on the marketplace?

5. Why did I not get my premium sign-up bonus? (I'm going to write a macro that pastes the answer "45 days!" it gets asked so often! )

6. What is the policy on sharing IMs? (Causes a fair bit of drama and debate this one!)

7. Will my graphics card handle SL?

8. how can I reduce lag?

9. How do I access adult content?

and ummmmm ....

10. How do I get pregnant?! (or, Help! I got pregnant and didn't mean to!)   

P.S. I still haven't forgot my promise to do my part and get involved with wiki editing and I will get to it, I promise (again! ). I've just been pre-occupied with some clever new ideas i'm working on in-world (but that's a secret ... for now!)

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Good job Torley. But the fact remains that Support Tickets simply don't get answered by LL. Support Tickets are usually filed when residents *really* need help, often with very urgent issues. But nobody at the Lab answers and tickets remain 'New' for months.

This huge lack of support seems to me a bit more important than easy-to-find help pages. I do appreciate your work Torley, really, but please stir something up at the Lab so that out Support Tickets get answered again.

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Paulo, you may want to read this blog post as it pertains to what you're asking for:

Making Strides to Improve our Customer Support Services

There are some Linden comments further down which go into a bit of detail on what they're talking about, including working on support times and what they mean by "self-help" (it's not just reading material).   Torley doesn't work on resolving tickets or in Live Chat, but he can help condense the breadth of the available self-help material so that we have, and can find, the appropriate information. Which is what this is about, working together to make it all easier.

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Help sections and forum links need to be scaled back away from main SL website page maybe to the bottom of the page its getting to a state where its bordering on information overload Ive tryed to get people to check out SL but the feedback I usually get is the website makes this platform look far to deep and complicated but I have to keep pointing out its simple just download the viewer and off you go.  Forget all the links to this and links to that just learn by using the viewer and stay out of the forums link or you head will explode with garbage of other users thoughts of the day, some usfull info there but useless chatter muddys the waters. Like if anyone needed help inworld and i was pulling my hair out trying to explain how its done I would finish the by saying HIT F1 thats help.

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@Boroondas "can" and "done" are different, and more Residents would help if they were taught how. I often find opportunities to not just correct broken links, but go beyond that and compile useful pages, that in turn inspire others to contribute. Like Limits.

Which extension? I'll research.

I may know who to ask about those "Age verification" emails, but you're right, that points out room for more + better "HEY LINDENS FIX THIS LINK" feedback methods. If you don't know who to contact, that's frustrating.

Also, sometimes I'm full of irony.

@Cybin That's on my to-do list to advocate for, then. Thanks! UPDATE: I'm not seeing that link, have a pic?

@Deltango Some of us do a lot of communicating so other Lindens can get real work done.

@Void Suggest that to Cerise for the top table in this thread? She's got a good gateway going.

@Blondie You're right, that's under Documentation Team's domain to update. I've updated some old Viewer references as I find them, but it'll take broader help for bigger things to happen, and a major upgrade is planned.

@Suella I don't know how to see the most popular searches on blogs.secondlife.com — I can cross-check some data with Google Analytics, but your observations are helpful.

I've long felt we need a visible Google Custom Search that searches all relevant Second Life resources. It's annoying to have to use all these little specific search engines and not find what you're looking for. (Which led me to make this post.)

ONE SIMPLE SEARCH FTW.

@Paulo What Cybin said, but I'm aware if there's broken links in support emails (see above), I'd like to get those fixed. Please always give actionable specifics so I may continue on my... help rampage.

@JubJub I'm taking that to our web/marketing peeps, thanks. UPDATE: It's on the schedule to be removed.

@Darren I do agree about the "hit F1" part.

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Suella, thanks! That's exactly what i was talking about.. i went back and read my comment and realized it wasn't very clear. It sounded like i was talking about an existing link, when what i meant was "the link, which doesn't exist".

Torley, just like Suella illustrated. Currently, you have to click through a time or two to find the link to Live Chat, while just about any other basic support usage has a link from the Help drop-down, chat does not. So, when you said "Where? I don't see it?", that's expected behaviour.

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Which extension? I'll research.

Extension:FlaggedRevs (See Special:Version > Installed extensions)

I think you've used that quite heavily in the past, so I guessed you'd know it. Would be nice if all pages were either editable by everyone (logged in) or had an editable-by-everyone draft version. (Of course, there should also be some Lindens and/or linden-trusted volunteers checking the drafts and accepting/rejecting those changes on a regular basis.)


but go beyond that and compile useful pages, that in turn inspire others to contribute. Like Limits.

Which is very helpful, indeed. It gives some structure that others can add to. Btw., I remember that article to have used the Flagged Revisions, too, but it doesn't seem to anymore.


Also, sometimes I'm full of irony.

You're kidding, aren't you? A Second Life user full of irony? A Linden, even? And of all Lindens, you? Naaaahhhh, I don't fall for that. Neva! Like XKCD noted (about a different and NSFW topic): "The web is freaky, but it can't begin to have everything."

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Something no one has mentioned so far is the "whole-universe-on-a single-page" design fault. Since the days of Plato and Aristotle, it has been known that human beings organize information hierarchically in terms of categories: sets and subsets, classes and sub-classes, general to specific.

For example: LivingOrganism->Plant->Tree->OakTree->WhiteOakTree.

For some reason, many web designers are unable to think in terms of categories and therefore put every scrap of information on one page. Without structure, such websites are functionally useless.

Even after some thought, SL Marketplace has got it wrong at times. No one thinks of Mainland or Private Islands as the highest-level category; they think of Land as the highest-level category with Mainland and Private Islands as sub categories. Much confusion results when people scan the list alphabetically for 'Land' because 'Land' is nowhere to be found. Only savvy residents have the wit to understand: "Ahh, there is Mainland and...okay, down there is Private Islands; weird, but I get it now." The noob goes out of his mind looking for 'Land'.

The same problem plagues the help pages. One gets flashburn when visiting help because about a terabyte of information is crammed onto the top page. It's simply impossible to read it or make sense of it. Therefore, I strongly suggest Linden Lab hire someone who is capable or organizing information hierarchically. Present only high-level concepts on the first page then build a tree structure down to more detailed information based on subcategories. I think you will find that human beings respond positively to such a structure.

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ONE SIMPLE SEARCH FTW.

Absolutely!

I have a sneaking suspicion that 90% of questions LL get sent by support ticket are already answered somewhere. The problem is that its not always easy to find - it could be in the Wiki, in SL Answers, or in some other sub-forum. If there were 'one simple search' it could well reduce the support ticket load.

I'll take a stab at this one as I think I know what Cybin is getting at:


@Cybin That's on my to-do list to advocate for, then. Thanks! UPDATE: I'm not seeing that link, have a pic?

I think what Cybin is referring to is the link to live chat that we currently only see from the 'submit a case' page here:

download.jpg

I think Cybin is saying it would be good to have it somewhere on the help menu here:

download%20%281%29.jpg

I'm not sure if it's only premium members who actually see that link? If so I guess it might be an issue making sure that the 'live chat' menu option only appears on the menu for premium members.

Please correct me if I've got any of this wrong thouh Cybin

ETA: Pics are too large! Clicking on them pops them out to see what I mean though (as I'm sure you know Torley!)

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@Deltango While I'm not suggesting "whole universe on a single page, closely related topics would provide context without feeling overwhelming. What tends to happen is, as a wiki page grows larger, parts of it get split into sub-pages. If there are particular help pages that should be divided, let me know those URLs.

I agree about your well-articulated merits of sensible hierarchy — and to complement that, also note the distinction between "browsing" and "searching". When someone doesn't want to dig through a lot of links (common scenario: they have a problem, are frustrated, and want an answer FAST), they search, and if search functions as expected, their requested info is at the top or near that.

We do have other organizational tools (navboxes, categories) that can be used as-needed, and organization also depends on the target audience. I periodically check our backend stats for most-searched terms on wiki.secondlife.com , to see if there are any hot ones that aren't bringing up the right pages. Trawling the forums and seeing "I can't find an answer to this!" also gives indication.

Re: Marketplace category suggestions, please do add to https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/WEB-2896

@Boroondas We still use FlaggedRevs for the Knowledge Base. Most pages *are* editable by any logged-in Resident, with the notable exception of Linden Lab Official: namespace ones and some pages put on temporary lock (which I try to indicate in page history when I do it). If there are some erroneous pages that should be editable, paste URLs.

@Cybin and @Suella Thanks for explaining, I often find that... well, if I can't find it, what an even harder time Resis must have. OK, gonna bring this inconsistency to support + webdevs, since you can "Submit a Ticket" on both.

UPDATE: Thanks to a support guru for the following info... the "Live Chat" link inconsistency isn't easy to fix, and here's why: while the overall secondlife.com recognizes whether you're logged in OR out, it doesn't have the same specific, account type recognition as the Support Portal (there's different underlying tech involved, but we visually theme them to look cohesive). Since "Live Chat" is only available to certain account types (like Premium), given that limitation, it's misleading to show that link to all logged-in Residents.

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Torley, i think that was the reason given back when my voice held a little more weight, too. Although, honestly, i'm not sure why it couldn't just be added with "Live Chat" in a bigger/more prominent font on the "button" with the paranthetical part in a smaller font, but part of the same button. As such (well, without the font differences):

        Live Chat
(Premium/Concierge)

The current behaviour could be used as leverage instead of an obstacle. Or, making a molehill out of a mountain.

As in, Basic accounts would be brought to the default self-help page instead (A note could be made on that page, "Used the Live Chat link? Find out more about Premium accounts here!", as/with a link to Premium FAQ), while Premium/Concierge would flow right through. It also infers the answer to "What support options do I have as a Basic account?".

So, while it may not be able to be implemented for specific accounts, it can be used both as intended and as additional information/marketing at the same time.


Edit: Basic accounts being brought to the self-help page (well, explanation of and links to, that is) is the current behaviour. I double-checked to be sure.

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@Cybin I totally hear what you're writing. But, what you suggest could also cause further problems, like non-Premium/Concierge Resis clicking a "Live Chat" link that sends them to the self-help "fallback" page, and being confused and heaping "this is broken" tickets on top of that.

However, I resound with your notion of making it clear what support your account type has, and I already forwarded this thread to be considered by the Lindens who work on the Support Portal.

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Torley Linden..

I have to say even tho I do not agree with a lot what Linden Labs have done concerning their customer service. I have to say, that for the past 2 years I been on SL your YouTube tutorials as well as helpful tips from there have been a GREAT help.

I am glad to see that you are continuing to be very helpful when it comes to finding questions and answers when something "bugs" us.

And yes Live Chat is only for Premium accounts. I already posted my thoughts on the Making Stride thread.

But I digress.

Your tutorials have always been helpful. And surprisingly enough, I met someone who has been in Game for 3 years and I was able to help them thanks to your subject matter on YouTube "how to mute an object" That has been a great help when dealing with the tummy talkers.

I can understand why some people would like to know what their prim babies are thinking in the womb, but when at a club setting, I find that very distasteful. But since you shown Me how to mute the "tummy talkers" I been enjoying the clubs allot more.

But the only issue I really have against Linden Labs is that it was after i was scammed out of 950L, after have submitted a trouble ticket, a bug report and an abuse report, I was given a link that said sorry but your SOL.. singed LL...even tho my dashboard showed the transaction on my side, LL still claims that I am SOL.

But that is another subject matter.

Thanks again for all the work you have done in the past and all the work you will continue to do. Its because of your easy to follow tutorials I am able to enjoy Second Life more-so than trying to figure out what in the world I am doing wrong.

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