Support helpers should be on the IRC channel for the times they have signed up for. When multiple helpers are available They should alternate helping new end users to spread the support load around.
- Helpers should be mode +v when working their shift. Helpers should mode -v when their shift is over or if they are idle. This may allow users to note who to ask questions of. (optional/down the road perhaps)
- Helpers should try and point end users to official Fedora documentation. Failing that, they should point to fedorasolved or fedoramobile. Other sites can be used, but should be carefully reviewed first.
- Helpers should try and gather information from the end user via pastebin links and questions and try and help solve the end users question. Where possible they should also try and teach the user where to look to solve other questions down the road.
- Helpers should remain on topic when there are users asking questions. Off topic conversation should be done in #fedora-social or other channels.
- Helpers should channel users to other support channels when they don't know the answer or are unable to find it out. Either other IRC channels specific to a area (#selinux, #fedora-kde) Mailing lists or forums.
- Helpers should try and empower users to file bugs when they run into them, as well as doing quick searches to point end users to already filed bugs about their specific problem. Helpers can use bugzilla quick search bars in firefox or the like for this.
- Helpers should point users at Open Source/Free software wherever possible, but shouldn't Judge users who decide to use something else.
- Helpers should try and be consistent about the message they give users. Where in doubt a discussion should be made between the pool of helpers to provide a unified message about a specific topic.
- Helpers should be elevated from the pool of users on the channel. They should be (self) nominated and approved by a majority vote of the operators of the channel.
How to Respond to Users
Users in #fedora are, more often than not, newcomers to the FOSS culture and Fedora. Their exposure to IRC helpers is many times their first exposure to people in the free software community. It is incumbent upon IRC helpers to be a positive force. Almost every potential contributor starts out as a user -- be welcoming and gracious.
- Practice the same method used by a surgeon -- do no harm, and advise the user on a course of action that makes minimal changes to effect a fix.
- If you find yourself losing patience, excuse yourself by apologizing and saying you have to attend to something else. It's OK to step away for a few minutes until you feel you're ready to help again. Better that the channel go understaffed for that time than for the general atmosphere to decline.
- If you feel you've hit a wall and can't help a specific user any further, ask another helper or operator to assist you.
- Be complete in your answers, even when things are busy. When you send a link, follow it up with encouragement.
- SUBSTANDARD: user123: http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Foo
- BETTER: user123: Try this link, http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Foo -- and if that doesn't answer your questions, or if you get stuck on any of the steps, let us know
- Avoid making assumptions about the background of a user you're helping. Typing and grammar skills may have an effect on the ability to communicate clearly, but they are not by themselves a good measure of a person. Be patient and encouraging, and ask the user politely and non-judgementally to restate anything you have trouble understanding.