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How far is too far when helping people?

Liam Green Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

Hi all

As I continue stumbling through my Community journey I find myself asking the above.  In many ways the answer is 'you can't go too far' - but given that this is, for the majority, a voluntary community where people donate their time to provide answers, is that really true?

I don't want to get overly philosophical here - as I have a genuine dilemma.  I'm trying not to give too much away to protect anonymity, but I do need to just ask an outright question I suppose.

"I've been asked to set up a call so that the asker can share screen and I can help them to solve the problem - is this going above what would be considered expected in the Community?  Personally, I think it is - how do I best direct the asker to a more appropriate place for assistance?"

I know there are a lot of posts on here, so I'm going to shamelessly tag a few people in to see if they can assist me.  If I haven't tagged you, don't be offended.  If I have tagged you, don't feel obliged - it's only because I've seen your name a lot in the Community: @Monique vdB @Nic Brough _Adaptavist_ @Jack Brickey @Jimmy Seddon @John Funk 

Thanks in advance

16 comments

Depends on the circumstances but yes, it's reasonable to say that's too far. If that's the case, I wouldn't feel bad referring them to Atlassian support. Their support team is really responsive, and there's a clear escalation path to Atlassian's product teams when gaps are identified.

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

Thanks @Stephen Sayler 

I hadn't thought about it from an escalation angle

Totally agree with responses.  It's out of scope of the intent of the Community, and ain't nobody got time for that! ;) 

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Sounds like they need to pay for Atlassian support - my take is no way. I just had an amazing screen share meeting with Atlassian, well worth the money.

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

I've reached out to support a couple of times - but never had a sharescreen.  Good to know how useful they are

Hi @Liam Green ,

A free screen-sharing session seems too much.

I work for an Atlassian Platinum partner, and we have paid maintenance services, where qualified, certified Jira experts sell their services and help customers on calls.

So, to me, doing this for free means spoling the market and raising potential customers' expectations, leading them to expect such help for free. It's one thing to offer a short tip here and there on the forum when somebody is stuck, but it's an entierly different thing to solve their problem for them on call. Somebody delivers value, and the receiving party pays for it, that's how it goes.

Also, I think it's disrespectful to expect somebody to devote their personal time for free, for an on-call help. I wouldn't feel right asking for this on an online forum (for free).

It's just my personal take on this, not my employer's official opinion, but something tells me they would agree.

Regards,
Radek Cichocki

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

Hi Radek

I think that's a very valid point - there are a lot of very talented people offering these services and it does go beyond simply asking for tips and tricks

Joe Pitt Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

I think there are two kinds of people; 1. People who have tried to find an answer but can't. Some times this is because they find the documentation confusing or because Jira doesn't work the way they expect (want) it to. 2. People who don't even look for an answer in the documents or forum and it is a quick way for them to get help. I'm inclined to help group 1 and just point group 2 to the documentation 

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

Hi Joe

I find it very frustrating when people ask a question and although I know nothing about it I find the answer within seconds on Google.

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Bill Bailey Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

Yes, there used to be that link, "let me google that for you" that would open a link to google and type their search into it.

Now, in some cases, they may not know what the correct terminology is, and there I will help.

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John Funk Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

Hi Liam,

I agree with the others - I think it is probably going too far. It's really up to you though if you want to go that extra mile with the user, in my opinion. But you definitely should not feel obliged to do that. You can share as many screenshots as you want, but at some point you just have to let them go. 

I also think that referring them to Atlassian Support is the best route. 

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

Thanks John

I think you get a feel for these things - sometimes I'll do a lot of back and forth on an answer but it feels like I'm guiding / suggesting and the asker is doing all the work.  Other times it feels like people are almost expectant that you will solve the issue for them.

On this one I just wanted to put the feelers out and see what other people thought - I shall go with my gut though,

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It's too far. There's helping people out, and doing their job for them. Do the former.

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

Thanks David - your advice is very to the point, always appreciated.

Jimmy Seddon Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

First of all, @Liam Green thank you for posting this discussion here.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are a number of others that have or are wondering the same question, and this is a great type of question to try and crowd-source an answer to.

I agree with all the other amazing answers here.  I believe that someone is taking advantage of the kindness of a fellow community member.

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 19, 2020

Thanks for the response Jimmy, I thought the same but wanted to see what the wider Community thought

Tom Lister Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

Hi @Liam Green 

@screen sharing session is about too far for me. I haven’t got the time for that and as mentioned Atlassian are great if you have a problem that needs solving.

if I’m petsonslly interested in the solution or ude the same plugins I may dig in and look at JQL , groovy etc.

I’ve learnt not to be someones google slave!

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 19, 2020

Thanks Tom, I'm usually the same if I think the JQL is interesting or useful to me

On the other hand, why Atlassian can't produce tutorial and sandbox to help its customer? By doing this, the experienced community helper can point to the tutorial for a probable solution.  

There are quite a bit of documents from Altassian, but they're like man pages.  I never heard of people who learn how to use a certain command from man pages, it's more a reference for experience people to have quick look up.

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Bill Bailey Community Leader Oct 16, 2020

Yes, a bridge too far. I have also had the experience where people argue with me about my answer or somehow expect me to change how Confluence works. If you don't like the answer, just ignore it, don't argue with me about "how it should be." ;-)

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 19, 2020

Very true Bill!

@Liam Green Agreed with pretty much every comment above - the community support is to be limited to the comments shared, here. Any additional help should come from Atlassian Support or a partner, in my opinion.

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 19, 2020

Thanks Trevan

Is the 'asker' is your Manager, you just do it and keep your job. These are tough times. Just do as you have been asked.

You may choose to show them how easy it is but for now just do it and keep getting paid.

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 19, 2020

Hi PJ

No, the 'asker' isn't my manager - but I agree in these times you just do what you're asked

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Simple answer: do as much as YOU see fit and allways on your terms. Never mind anyone's demands and offer those asking for help your best effort (within the time you're able to spare to help the community).

There are pople who may ask for this sort of things just because they think this support comes with the product, they might also think they're making demands directly to atlassian support. If you detect this toxic behaviour be clear about who you are and what you're willing to do for your community partner (not your customer). Also point him to the real atlassian support channel in case he wants to follow that route. If he gets it great, if not... let him rant in peace. No sweating about those.

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 19, 2020

Thanks Iago - I think it's really important to remind people sometimes that Community members are not Atlassian support!

That being said... If you feel like sharing your screen by all means go ahead and do it. If you both live in the same city and want to discuss it over a couple of beers go ahead and do it :)

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 19, 2020

In this particular instance we weren't on the same continent!  But I agree that a beer always makes things easier 

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Jack Brickey Community Leader Oct 19, 2020

We have all been here in the beginning. I did a screen share once and likely would not do so again only because I am not “Atlassian Support”. If I was say at Summit or maybe a virtual ACE event then it might make sense. TBH, there have been a number of posts I have worked on that would have gone quicker with a screen share but those are few. I also believe, as a Community Leader, we need to maintain a clear line of separation from Atlassian so that our input and opinions don’t become misconstrued as “Atlassian’s answer/view”.

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Community leader is just a tag that lets people know you're somehow more involved as other users in the community scene and also that you are likely to know what you're talking about so your answers will make sense most of the time :) (as far as our answers in this forum go... it also has its outside-the-forum perks, of course)

We have the unmistakeable ATLASSIAN TEAM tag for those employed by atlassian.

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 19, 2020

Thanks for the opinion Jack - I agree that in some settings it might work or be appropriate

I agree with many of the posts above... but might I offer a slightly different angle?

I do think it is rather bold to ask for someone's most valuable asset (time!); HOWEVER, we're living in an unprecedented time of communication and collaboration. And considering the current state of the world, virtual meetings and virtual networking is evolving. I've attended 5 online summits/video conferences this year. Most recently Spiceworks' Spiceworld attempted to virtualize their networking component (which is one of the best things about these events!).  It had some success... I met some interesting folks, and joined a couple of online communities because of it. 

As a lifelong gamer, I've met, collaborated, video chatted, forum'd, and streamed with countless strangers online. It's not rare to hit up an expert/master player <insert game name here> in the game's discord/slack channel to ask for tips and, yes, even for their time to coach you / help out.

I've most recently experienced a slack community that would help each other by answering questions and meeting to study for an AWS exam. Joining the community wasn't technically free (it came with purchasing the study course), but the time invested by other members was given... not paid employees. 

So in summary, although it is rather a bold ask, fortune favors the bold, no?  ;) 

Too much is when you say too much.  If I have the time, the interest, and I feel I might be the one person that can help, I would do it.   If I feel it's too much, or they aren't putting in the effort to find their own answers, or think I'm being taken advantage of, I would politely decline and let them know I've provided all the information/answers that I can.  <shrug> No harm, no foul. 

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Liam Green Community Leader Oct 19, 2020

Very interesting angle Rosa - and I fully agree that nothing ventured, nothing gained.

As an update, I did politely decline in this situation - but I'm not at all put off in continuing to engage with the Community

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Hana Kučerová Community Leader Dec 20, 2020

Hi @Liam Green ,

thank you very much for this post. It happened to me for the first time this week (I was contacted via LinkedIn and asked to do a call about some question I was trying to help with here on the community). I felt like it is too much, but I wasn't sure. I'm glad I have so many opinions here. It definitely helped me!

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Liam Green Community Leader Dec 21, 2020

Hi @Hana Kučerová 

I'm glad the opinions helped, I felt exactly the same!

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