If anyone is interested in this idea, feel free to pick it up and run with it, I no longer have the time.
I propose a team to work in the "Testimonials and Experiences" section specifically to deal with frustrated posters and attempt to placate their concerns and where possible keep them in the Ubuntu Community.
The Ubuntu Forums Experience Team has been formed to deal with unhappy Ubuntu users who have posted in the Testimonials and Experiences section of the forums. This team is aimed at catching users who feel they wish to leave Ubuntu out of frustration but who's issues may have been readily solvable.
The Ubuntu Forums currently have a section titled "Testimonials and Experiences", the description of which is "What have been your experiences with Ubuntu? Post them here.".
Posts in this section are often negative and are typically responded to in a negative way.
I have been responding in a focussed, non-defensive manner and attempting to clarify what the issue is. I have seen positive responses from the original posters and have concluded that on many occasions these are simply frustrated users who have not seen all the support avenues and become disillusioned. I firmly believe that a team of responders who have a defined set of procedures and responses can prevent this and I also feel that if a team is responding in such a fashion it will encourage others to follow suit and avoid the negative responses that are common from our own community.
The advantage to the community is that we can catch users who have slipped through the support system and prevent where possible both their leaving the community and prevent the negative opinion of Ubuntu that they are then likely to pass on.
A real example:
Oregonbob has had a frustrating experience upgrading from Intrepid to Jaunty and reading his later posts it would appear that he has difficulty (probably as a result of inaccessible documentation) in carrying out some tasks, such as enabling codecs, so is unwilling to start all over again.
The first three responses are non-constructive but understandable given the OP's initial tone and are not intentionally unhelpful but they will come across as such to the OP. On stepping back from this and responding politely in a fashion that reassures the OP that his post is being taken seriously we receive a calmer and much more detailed response which can then be directed properly.
Jim has had difficulty getting a TV card to work and has gone to Google to search. The first couple of results direct to a question on the forums. Jim posts but gets no response and unaware of other support routes such as HUC becomes frustrated.
After trying for several days Jim gives up and out of frustration and a lack of understanding of how Linux drivers are provided posts a short entry to the testimonials section which says: "Ubuntu has been a nightmare, I can't get it to work and I can in Windows. Ubuntu sucks.". A considered reply, ignoring the last comment asks what he can't get working, finds its a common card and directs him how to download the correct firmware.
Jim returns to work after a weekend watching TV on his PC and tells his colleagues of the experience he has had - that the community really listens.
This specification makes the following assumptions:
- That identifying as a member of a specialist team instils a feeling of response in the OP.
- That enough members can catch enough posts. I believe this is possible with only a few members.
- That other members of the community will follow suit if they see positive reponses coming from the OP after Experience Team intervention.
- A strong communication between moderators and the team so that particularly unhelpful and insulting responses can be removed quickly.
The forum already has the implementable structure to allow teams. I propose a team wiki page and mailing list to define and discuss procedures and generate common responses to common queries.
The details of implementation are to be decided after consultation and approval from the Forum Council.
I propose a six month test cycle to confirm that the new team is effectively keeping members.