Official Technical Support Forums

I want to drum up discussion about the Official Technical Support Forums locking out regular members from posting.

I like the concept of experts answering questions, but can IFI define their criteria for experts (i.e. IFI employees, trusted users …) ?

Would there be a process for granting expert status to certain users ?

OPINION
I feel that some of the most active posters on the Forums will provide very detailed answers with a faster response time than IFI employees. As VEX grows, the # of questions will grow rapidly and the community can assist IFI by providing expert opinions.

Although I agree with everything you say, there is a certain finality associated with getting an answer from an IFI employee, even if it takes longer that it would if others answered it.

Maybe the official forum could be locked, and users recommended to post in an “expert” forum - that way questions could be first answered by the select group you refer to. If needed, the question could be bumped up to the official forum by one of these experts. This way, the experts could act as a filter for IFI.

If this were to go through, I think users should be able to access a small personal description/resume for each expert, to see his/her qualifications. With regard to selection, I would leave it up to IFI to pick “expert” members.

  • John

This becomes a matter of End User Training…

If you look at Official VEX Technical Support. there are two forums, Ask the Experts and UNOFFICIAL Answers.

In “Ask the Experts”, only the “Experts” and the person that started the Thread can post, where as anyone can post to messages in the “UNOFFICIAL Answers”
Forum.

If the End User of the Vex, knows to check Both Forums for answers, then both the Official and Un-Official answers will be avaliable…

Agreed. I think there are a few minor issues with this workflow:

  1. It is more effort to reply to a question in the Unofficial Answers forum, because you have to copy the question text and manually add the quote tags, and get the subject right, etc. It would be much more convenient if the "Experts forum allowed us to reply to a post, but just redirected it to the Unofficial Answers forum (for non-IFI replies). As you say, the O.P. needs to know to look there, though.

  2. I suspect many new members don’t realize their posts to the Experts forum can’t be replied to by the community at-large. Perhaps the “Ask the Experts” forum could be renamed to reenforce that answer posts are restricted to IFI staff only. Yes, I know this is spelled out in a couple places already, but it still seems to be unclear to some.

I don’t think this is a big deal, but I suspect it is a source of confusion for some new members.

Cheers,

  • Dean

I agree with Quazar. I remember my first post on this forum was about a micro controller that had a solder bridge. My dad trusted the IFI employee more than a regular user. In fact, he asked me if it was an official employee that responded.

I guess it depends on what the topic of the post was if its like game rules and your a robotics team then you want concrete answers not a lot of speculation. But when it comes to something like hardware/software and other non competition related problems I think it should be opened to Senior Members and Experts. Experts give good answers but forum members could go indepth and expand on the answer that were given.

So if a person posted something like this an expert could answer and then open the post to Senior Members.

Workflow… I just break out laughing when I see that word… I can’t help it…

Agreed!! The UNOFFICIAL Answers forum is a better place to Post, rather than doing the same Posting in the General Forum or Technical Discussion forums, and I do have a few examples of that… (e.g. Responding to Mr_Robotron on “Moding the online code”, Responding to “Robokid123” on Thread “Microcontroller”, ect… )

Maybe different categories of Posters, that have a Different Banner at the Top of the Message, placed automatically.

Especially for new users… When they are still trying to get a feel of where everything is, and then when something is not working correctly, on the Weekend, when John V-Neun is napping in his easy chair, neglecting the noobs… Just a slumbering away, oblivious to the plight, of the overwhelmed, lost in the tangle of Forums, feeling the crushing weight of despair, rushing inward, pressing them down, to the brink of… :wink:

Easy answer. Two or more forums for two or more purposes. Use the specific forum for its specific needs.

I think making some people “experts” off of post count is not at all a good idea. There are many people who post a lot and don’t have a clue. There are people who don’t post much and have a better idea than most because they experiment and follow threads instead of trolling around in a forum to raise their post count. Things would get out of hand, and as established before the official IFI employees can answer better than almost all of us. If you wanna post a reply, copy, paste, and make a new thread in the appropriate forum. Why make a whole rerouting system when its so easy already?

Some thoughts:

[LIST]
*]We like having a “VEX Staff” answered section. This will not go away. Everyone likes to be able to get “official” answers.
*]Whether or not we add some additional functionality later to create some “VEX Experts” is TBD.
*]We think that there was some confusion about the forums brought on by the naming. I played with the naming a bit, and I think it is much clearer now.
*]The “Official” tech support forum was kind of buried in the forum hierchy. I’ve moved it up to try to make it more obvious. I’ve also changed the nature of the “Unofficial Answers” forum a bit. Basically – when a user logs onto the forum for tech support they can decide whether they want to ask a question of the VEX Staff or of the community. I tried to make this choice as obvious as possible.
[/LIST]
What does everyone think of the new layout?

-John

WOW, It is like someone rearranged my Living Room…

It might take some getting use to…

Much easier to access. It really can’t get more obvious than it is now.

I like the new wording and re-organization of threads.

The overall number of threads is still a bit overwhelming to a new user. Would it be possible to collapse the Competitions, FAQ and website support threads by default?

When a new user arrives to the site, they will get first glance at where to ask a question. If they want more detailed threads, they can expand the collapsed threads to discover more threads on FAQs, website support and competition related material.