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Are Users Reading Our Replies?

By Bobbye ยท 21 replies
Sep 23, 2009
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  1. I have to wonder! Many post on several different forums. I think when they get help somewhere, they don't bother to come back and let us close the thread.

    Both the Windows OS and Software & Utilities Forums are full of open questions, all with replies, but no acknowledgement of our help.

    It does tend to make one wonder sometimes if it's worth taking the time to help these anonymous users with "big" problems!

    Duplicate post in both forums mentioned.
  2. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,979   +71

    Good question. I will say that most people I deal with here get back to us when they have found a solution or the advice given has helped resolve their conflict. This is of course NOT 100%.

    For me the issue has been people failing to follow instructions after you give advice and when they post back you notice they didn't follow through on either most or none at all.
  3. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,409   +809

    It's also great when long standing members don't abide by our guidelines and post in the incorrect forum ;)

    Seriously though, I have no doubt that (a majority of) users do come back and read your replies. If not because they remember the site, then because we send instant email notifications when a response is posted to their newly created threads.
  4. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,492   +2,292

    I especially enjoy it when we solve their problems, then they come back claiming they figured it out.
  5. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,335   +36

    It is my thought that if a reader does indeed come back and read our reply, that we should know about it!

    Maybe I'm spoiled from working in the malware forum- those users couldn't use their computers until we helped them fix it! At least they usually-not always, but usually stuck with until it was done.
  6. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    Julio, would it be possible to investigate some type of email notification if the original poster has not replied after there have been comments made?

    Not sure if this is more work than necessary, but it might be a way to remind people to come back and say "Thanks that worked" or whatever to 'close' the thread out.
  7. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,409   +809

    Do you mean like a second email reminder? Like I said above, we send an instant email notification when there are new replies. Then:

    1) If the user ignores the email, we stop sending further notifications.
    2) If the user visits the thread, no matter if he posts a new reply or not, the instant notification will go out again when there are new posts made.

    This is vbulletin's default behavior.
  8. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,335   +36

    Julio, forgive me for putting words in someone else's mouth, but I think he suggesting emailing the member with question "Has your problem been resolved? Have out replies helped." Then closing the threads.

    I notice you don't close or lock the forum threads here though. Unfortunately, instead of using old threads or research, people with the "same" problem add their post to threads sometimes 3 years old. I wouldn't mind either closing and locking some of these threads.

    There is too much showing still open when you run down the list of threads> can't you close 'due to no response'? At least others would see the list of still open threads.
  9. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,409   +809

    That's not a bad idea at all. However we would have to select only the handful of forums that are 100% tech support discussion based, for example BSOD and Virus removal. The majority of the other boards are a mix of tech support with conversational topics. Either way we would have to find an add-on that mirrored that kind of functionality.

    As for closing threads, yes we do that already after 180 days in most forums, only excluding those where it makes sense not to.
  10. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,335   +36

    I don't usually frequent the BSOD forum- some I send there from Windows OS

    As for V&M> pages of open threads, some replies acknowledged, only a few going to resolving the original problem. Most never fully cleaned. Under "normal" circumstances with trained people doing the cleaning, MOST threads would be resolved in a reasonable time with a minimum of replies. Each of the completed threads should be Closed/Locked and any that have not progressed should be Closed 'due to lack of participation...' to prevent new posters from leaving their 'same' problem on old threads.

    Windows OS
    38 threads from current back 5 days.
    Two were locked because of inappropriate content.
    Only a few have 'recent posts'
    Many have just one reply which was never addressed by the member asking the original question.

    25 threads from current back through 5 days
    None were closed or locked
    10 have reply from original poster back to reply from helper
    About 5 acknowledged by original poster. Only one resolved back as far as 4 days. All still open.

    Success is a good thing and when success has been achieved by resolving the program, the threads should say 'Solved.' When there is no resolution due to lack of help or lack of return by the original, thread should be closed with comment 'due to lack of......'.
  11. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    I'm often a little wary to post when someone has a question and that is their first or 2nd post. I always wonder if I'm wasting my time because it seems often that they don't come back. Many times someone new will post, and it will be a very vague post, so it gets about 6 replies from members making suggestions based on their interpretation of the question, and then the original dude never comes back to clairify.
  12. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,335   +36

    And they are posting the same thing on multiple forums! I came across a verbatim post in the Spybot Forum earlier today while trying to identify an error. It could be on other forums too. They are not likely to hit all the forums they've posted on to say 'thanks but it's fixed.'

    Do you think it would be worth it to try for additional information first to see if they're following their post? Problem is that the members who are jumping in right away now with their take on the problem, will continue doing that.
  13. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    I was more thinking if a thread has not been replied to by the Original Poster within X days we send another email asking if they could update the thread.

    I know this is mostly a losing battle with 50% of the new users, but I think it will help bring closure to some of the issues and clear up the board a bit.
  14. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Hi, I was just reading this Topic, thought I'd comment :)

    Firstly I don't (personally) feel a second email sent is a good idea. If it was ignored the first time, the User most certainly does not want another email response.

    Secondly, lets cut to the chase on this. Julio has stated 180 days and then generally the thread is closed (excluding those where it makes sense not to)
    BUT, there's just no way in the world that someone supporting in the Malware Removal forum is going to wait 179 days, before giving their next guidance on someone who has returned at that stage.
    Obviously the Member would need to start again fresh

    So, since Bobbye supports in the Malware Removal forum, he should be given option to either:
    1. Close a Topic that has passed the use by date (possibly 5 days)
    2. Have some type of rule or guide that states, After 5 days of inactivity the topic will be closed
    Note: I selected 5 days, but Bobbye may more realistically agree to less, otherwise he and others may be bombarded with 5 day old Topics, with members saying: what next?

    So to be specific. The Malware supporters cannot wait 180 days, or be expected to abide by it
    Just like other Malware removal forums, the Malware support worker can state:
    As there has been no response from he original OP, this thread is now closed
    AND Bobbye should be the one that can do this (or PM a Mod for immediate action)

    That's how I see it
    I'd be very upset if a member came back 2 weeks later, in his Malware removal Topic, and said: What's next? :mad:

    Yes this needs attention, only for the Malware removal topics (as far as I can see)
  15. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,335   +36

    That is good kimsland. I'm having users come back after 2 or 3 weeks and expect to pick up on the malware cleaning where they left off! And it's not because their internet went down- they are off doing something else.

    I think 5 days, maybe a week is reasonable to close a thread for inactivity. And I would also like to have threads closed and locked that are 'solved'. Member are posting with their problem which is "just like what Mary Sue had" months after the original thread was started!

    I have already approached Julio about this, but will remind him of that. I'd like to see the following 2 quotes added to the 8 step thread at the beginning in the Very Important section:

    Also, close and lock threads that are 'Solved' with indication of "Solved".

    I don't care who does this, but it needs to be done. There are way too few of us helping with malware cleaning ans we need to be able to use our time the best way possible.

    Julio, I'm copying this to you since it has it spelled out and we have discussed this previously.
  16. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    You know what I think about this confusion. I think that individual sub-forums should have individual Moderators or Administrators

    Here's my idea ;)

    As stated above, Bobbye (as an example) may need to close or move or re-open a Topic in his sub-forum (Malware removal)
    Generally whilst supporting in one of these Topics, many issues can arise:
    Closing Topics:
    • Long inactivity
    • Thread Solved
    • Cr@cks k3gens etc found in logs
    • Confirmed non-genuine Windows
    • Abuse or not following repeated directions
    • Non relevancy, or change of Topic
    • Member posts in another forum
      • BTW, this issue should only be relevant as the member posts the same or contradicting Topic in another Topic at TechSpot (the relevancy of posting at other forums outside TechSpot is not relevant, and cannot be justified as closure)
    • Or at the "forum Admin" discretion (as there really can be numerous individual reasons)
    Moving Posts/Topics
    • Double Posts (ok I might be the only one that finds this annoying, but receiving multiple (commonly 3 posts in a row) should be merged, to keep the Topic continuity)
    • Unrelated Topics/Posts (This can be a post like when another member replies "email me for support" or "buy this program..." Basically "Spam" should be controlled by the "forum Admin")
    • Merging multiple Topics (just as "Double posts" above)
    Re-Opening a Topic: I feel that the person in charge of the individual subforum should have the ability to Open/Close Topics, This is because:
    • The "subforum Admin" May be the only one dealing with the Member, even via PM, where further information has been received
    • The Member may make another Topic on the same subject, again Merging Topics and possibly re-opening older Topic
    • Relevancy to an older (closed) Topic may be required such as:
      • New Information that requires further posts
      • Notes, referring readers to a new Topic by the same member
    Generally the Sub forum Support/Admin/Mod should have stronger powers/abilities in their own individual forum
    These "powers" should be granted and overseen by (lets say) Super Moderators or the TechSpot Admin (in case of dispute or argument or what have you)

    Again, I refer to Topic, in this case solely about Bobbye and the Malware removal forum
    If this works (and it can be via trial) then other forums can follow suit, as there are members that have stronger devotion to one forum in particular (ie Even the Introduce yourself forum requires a dedicated single Moderator etc)

    How's that for my idea? :)
  17. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,335   +36

    Your suggestions in the three categories are all good. The problem is that this board isn't structured enough to follow through with using them. I see the Terms of Service and Usage, along with Posting Rules violated frequently and nothing is done about it. Almost no threads are ever closed, even though the information has become obsolete.

    It also means having more 'helpers' in the Virus and Malware forum. It's too much responsibility for one person to uphold. To be honest, it's a Catch 22. Unless the forum is better controlled, I don't think the experienced people who help with cleaning are going to want to come back. And if they don't come back, it's too much work for one or two helpers.

    No one who puts serious attempt to help with cleaning is going to continue if members are allowed to give some of the bad, destructive suggestions they do. There are too many infections on systems and many require extensive programs with guidance to come close to cleaning the system.. Allowing someone who just wants to chalk up another post number to give bad advice is a serious turn off.

    On a thread today, someone told the user to have HijackThis stop an entry. I don't know what his reasoning was because he surely couldn't have looked it up>> it was for the antivirus program!

    My reference to posting on another board was specifically aimed at a copy and paste of a current malware problem, logs and all- nothing else. It's like deja vous to meet the same thread somewhere else!

    So we'll dream and maybe someday..............

    I've kept a copy of your suggestions. It would be good framework to work from if the time ever comes.
  18. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    You're right there's not enough helpers in the Malware removal forum
    This area has always been gray. But when .... (hang on I forgot his name...) lol got it, it was Howard (actually I found him HERE)
    Anyway, as that Member was also a Mod, he could then edit/open/close or whatever, as he went along
    Then Momok became a Super Mod (later labeled Mod) and he too was able to support and carry on Moderating
    But obviously one of them is long gone, and the other we don't see much of (very little of)

    So then I came along (note edit below btw) and I too was able to support and Moderate as I went along. But, I'm not Moderating now, and not only that, I tend to be in the Malware forum about 5% of the time (with respect to Bobbye and Kritius excellent support)
    So maybe that forum, requires a dedicated Mod, who also has strong Malware support ability (By the looks of it - Yes)

    But now you Bobbye have just stated that the responsibility may be too high (er hm, as you saw the kafuffle I got into) And the time and dedication needs to be quite high.
    It comes down to you Bobbye, if you complain, but have a possible option to pursue, and then decide not to take it; we are at square 1. Personally I feel you would be ideal (if such an option was available) You really are here often, and your leading the way. But what are your thoughts? No? (do note, this was just my personal idea, I have had no other conversation or authority in in this "idea" whatsoever).

    Anyway, yes the Malware removal forum requires more attention (long known)

    Regarding "Someone told a User to remove an Antivirus entry in HJT"
    I'm not sure if you were referring to me or not. But I was helping someone remove one of their two installed Antiviruses (yesterday) and the User ended up removing both (of which I thought great anyway, best to start with a fresh one downloaded)
    So I did ask a member to tick an entry to Symantec, for the reason that it was no longer required.
    Not sure if thats what you were referring to or not?
  19. WinXPert

    WinXPert TS Guru Posts: 445

    I've experienced it on other thread wherein the original poster simply put just STOPPED posting leaving the thread open ended and not knowing if the problem had been resolved. I hope poster could be polite enought to keep us informed if a suggestion/s worked or not.
  20. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,223   +163

    those are great ideas Kimsland, unfortunately they are just theory. its just the nature of the beast, especially for you guys who do the Virus/malware/software work. your going to get the most one time drive by's more than the hardware guys. too bad because you guys solve the most problems on here as far as Im concerned.
  21. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Yes it is just a "theory" idea
    I don't actually expect any change, that would just be a bonus :)
  22. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Topic Starter Posts: 16,335   +36

    Frequently they don't. And many post on multiple forums for the same problem at the same time. In fact, it's usually a copy and paste on all. This is a gross inconsideration as far as I'm concerned, but that person thinks his/her problem is the worse and demands immediate attention.

    They don't stop to think that this can cause multiple volunteers to be working on the same problem at the same time for the same person.

    Polite? No- more like self-centered.

    But there are those who make it all worthwhile> they finish with us, say thank you and move on.

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