If you have ever had to contact DiscountASP.NET support, you may have noticed that there are certain issues that will result in a response asking you to check the forum for an answer. The first reaction of a lot of people when they receive a response like that is something along the lines of, “Hey, why are you blowing me off!” (often expressed in more colorful language). That reaction is understandable. For a lot of hosts that would be a blow off.
We don’t consider it to be a deflection though, because we take a lot of pride in the quality of our forum. You might have seen that quality yourself if you have searched Google for something related to .NET, SQL, DNS, etc., and the first links listed are threads in our forum! That tells you that we’re dealing with some technical and often unique stuff in there. The level of questions always amazes me, and the answers even more so. There are some really smart people posting in there, and you can benefit from their brainpower, research and mistakes very easily.
Forum regulars include many members of our staff, from tech support all the way up to the CTO. “Hey, wait a minute,” I hear some of you asking, “why didn’t tech support just answer my question in the helpdesk if they are only going to turn around and answer it in the forum?”
There are a couple of answers. First, the support staff cannot troubleshoot customer code or applications. They can’t alter files or otherwise make any changes to customer data. That rule is in place to protect both us and you. It is a thin line between troubleshooting and development work at times, and we cannot cross over into that territory.
But in the forum, if you can post relevant bits of code or configuration, you are likely to get some suggestions. If they don’t work, hey, everyone tries again, and eventually your problem is solved. It’s not a grand and official proclamation from THE COMPANY that doing A, B and C will fix your problem (though they do have some of those answers up their sleeves as well). In the forum, more than two people can join in, and that increases your odds of finding a successful resolution.
The second reason we might point you to the forum is because a helpdesk ticket benefits only one person, but a forum post can benefit hundreds of people. Of course we don’t take that concept so far that we send people to the forum for issues support can assist with. But for a lot of common issues, sending someone to the forum opens their eyes to the wealth of information there. And maybe the next time they have a question they will search the forum and find an answer much more quickly than they could have with a support ticket.
But again, all of this doesn’t mean that every support ticket ends with a trip to the forum. Not at all. We answer about 100,000 helpdesk tickets every year, as opposed to about 10,000 posts in our forum. So we answer a lot of questions in the helpdesk. But we like to think of the forum (and the Knowledge Base!) as an extension of the helpdesk.