[sclug] Community Support

Alex Butcher lug at assursys.co.uk
Thu Jun 3 08:58:54 UTC 2010

Martin's pretty much written the post I'd have written. However, I have a
few comments (inline)...

On Thu, 3 Jun 2010, Martin Summers wrote:

> I would guess my main reasons would be:-
> 1) Helping someone out with a problem often helps me learn something new: As
> technical support plays a big part of my professional career, being able to
> use those skills for something a bit different does help you learn it very
> well. Often the person you are trying to help can teach you a thing or two
> about the area in which the problem occurs (.. and that's the bit that does
> not often happen so often if you are doing tech. support professionally...)

Yup, I think you only really understand things when you have to explain or
teach them to someone else.

I also object to the inefficiency of watching someone work something out
from first principles when you yourself have struggled already and can guide
them and warn them of (potential) blind alleys.

> 2) Social interaction and a different balance: Usually, when someone is
> asking help for "free", the way in which people interact is a lot more
> friendly and probably a better "ideal" tech.support  and user relationship
> than the "professional" world of tech support. (i.e your customer base is
> getting  tech. support from you because they are paying your company for it,
> and that can lead to a lot of  non-technical issues why the technical
> problem is apparent)
> This is not always true, but with the free stuff, you can always walk
> away....its on your own terms.

Yeah, it's nice to be able to be honest and to say "yeah, that's broken,
don't do that" rather than "we're not aware of any problems with that; can
you try backing up and reinstalling?"

Likewise, as Martin says, being able to say "Look, you've had my best
advice. If you choose to ignore it or can't follow it, I'll leave you to

> 3) Technical pride - In my humble opinion, I think techies/engineers have a
> lot of pride when it comes to fixing problems or finding solutions to
> engineer their way around something. I think for this to work well, there
> has to be other people who observe that the help occurred.

Yup; it's a bit like a pub quiz. The questions have to be interesting at
some level, though.  Hence sometimes-observed geek traits of solving the
problem in the most complicated way possible (which I try to avoid, unless
there's real value for the questioner in doing so) and diverting the
conversation into interesting nooks and crannies once the problem's been
solved (which I enjoy doing).

> That's my 2 pence worth !
> -Martin Summers

Best Regards,

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