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Helping vs. providing whole solutions

Hi all,  I've been trying to focus on answering questions on community more often in past months and I have one theme to discuss as you might thought about it too (I hope answerers group is a good place to start:)). I simply want to know other answerers opinion about it, so feel free to comment.

The root of my thought is in the type of questions. I can often distinguish between "help me to move forward with my problem" and "analyze and design the whole solution for my problem".

I think we all will agree that first case is ok. But what do you think about second case?
I'm talking about questions like "I need to prepare reports for my management"


Sometimes my first thought is to switch to another question but then I'm sorry for the person who is in trouble and I want to help. But as people who are answering such questions have often almost no knowledge of Atlassian products, it is really hard to understand theirs needs. Without correct glossary (issue, workflow, field configuration, report...) they are not able to discribe their problem.

Now I'm thinking what is a correct way of help in these situations. Should I post the questioner some studying materials? Should I plan some call with him?
What is your opinion about it? How do you behave in these situations?

Thanks for the comments in advance :)

4 comments

Peter Jessen Community Leader Jul 01, 2020

Hi @Martin Bayer _MoroSystems_ s_r_o__ ,

I agree with you on the first vs second type of question. When someone presents any question in the Jira Align area, my first thought is "Do I understand what is being asked?"

Quite often I can't understand the question because it is too generic and doesn't provide enough specifics on the ask. When this happens I ask additional questions of the person for clarity. If they respond, which isn't always the case, I'll provide them additional answers, including links to specific Align help articles (there is no Align training available publicly yet).

At some point it is a simple matter of needing to pay a professional/expert to solve for their ask. This is often the case with Jira Align implementation questions. When it appears this is the case I point them back to their implementation team or Jira Align admin. I recommend you consider pointing them to an internal expert to get additional answers after you've provided what you can.

Regards,
Peter

Like Tanya C likes this

Thank you @Peter Jessen for new perspective :)

I would say this is a fine line to walk. If you are a parent I think you can relate it a bit to raising children. I'm not saying people asking questions are childish. I'm just saying there are some parallels. When it comes to my children they often ask me questions. Like ... always ... non-stop. Below is pretty much my system for helping them with questions. As much as I can I try and teach them to fish. Based on my knowledge of them I have to judge which step below I should start on.

  1. Point them in a direction and let them find the answer
    • If they are not getting it I will either re-point or move to step 2
  2. Give them hints at the answer and challenge them to stretch themselves to get the answer.
    • If the are not getting it I will either provide more hints or move to step 3
  3. If the question is just beyond their ability to find the answer I will give the answer straight out.
    • If they are not getting it then maybe they are not at a point that they can understand the answer and I kindly let them know that I cannot explain it to them in a way that they can understand.

When it comes to answering questions on the community I take a similar approach. You can often times tell the experience level of a user by how they write their question.

If they confuse space permissions and page restriction, call different branches in the page tree spaces, or just use all the wrong terminology you can often times assume that your are dealing with a beginner. Telling them to "read the manual" will not help. It will turn them off. In cases like that I will often times start at step 3. However, answering questions on the community is not my full time job. If the thread has grown to 20 back-and-forth posts I might find it is time to gracefully bow out of the conversation and accept that I cannot help them. It's not that they cannot be helped but I may not be the right person to help them.

If the user seems to have a bit more knowledge I will often times try and start at step 1 or 2 depending upon if I feel like starting at step 1 will take too much of my time.

As with most anything in life these are not hard and fast rules that I follow. Each situation requires a bit of judgement, but in general this is the approach I use with anyone in life that I am teaching. I would prefer to train people to catch fish so that they in turn can train people to catch fish and I am not the sole person doing the training.

@Davin Studer  thank you for your point of view. I have children too and you're right, there are parallels. The true is that sometimes it makes sense to help more people than to get stuck on one theme

Kathy Hart Community Leader Jul 02, 2020

To some extent I think it depends on the question, of course. If they just ask "where is this command" or "how do you make Jira do this one thing", I would normally just answer it. I am fairly experienced now and still occasionally can't find a setting that I know exists, especially with all the changes that have been made lately on the Cloud version. 

However, when someone asks something so broad as "how do I use Align" or "what reports can I make for my management" then I totally agree with @Davin Studer You simply can't answer that sort of thing on the community, nor should you. The best thing you can do for someone with that kind of question is point them to resources. 

Couple all this with the fact that you frequently don't know if the person has Admin permissions or not, and you may send them searching for something they don't have access to. 

If the person continues to stay engaged on the question and responds to answers, then give them as much help as you feel you can give and have time for. But the more generic the question, the more I feel that pointing them in the right direction to relevant resources is the more correct option. 

@Kathy Hart  thank you for your post. Yeah, sending links to resources is great way how to check whether the person is really willing to do something (at least learn something new).

Whilst fully agreeing with all the comments above. There is one special case I would like to mention which is where you see that the person asking the question has just joined the Atlassian Community. 

In these instances I make a point of welcoming them to the community and do the very best I can to 
a) phrase the question in a style that others will recognise within the Atlassian Community 

b) provide them with a direct answer 

and where possible 

c) provide them with direct links to where to read up on the solution/function/feature/etc

Many new joiners are not even aware of the not so subtle differences between Cloud and On Premise (and some confuse Jira and Confluence!) so this is something where I try to cover answers for both platforms. 

 

Great question to get folks thinking.

 

Phill

Like Tanya C likes this

@Phill Fox  thank you for post, it's true that when I was new in Atlassian Community, one thing which made me to get back was patience of some answerers (not to my questions), but thanks to it, the whole community environment looks friendly

Iago Docando Community Leader Jul 05, 2020

Well... I think it's fair to say that everyone here is ok with helping someone to move forward with any problem they might encounter, even if it is just remotely related to any atlassian product. Sometimes a user can ask about jira because he dont' know any better and genuinely thinks that's where his problem lays but the actual problem might be something like his intranet configuration. No harm in letting them know that and even guide them to the best of your habilities if you have the time to do it (normally pointing them in the right direction so they can find documentation about their actual problem is enough).

As for the second case... "analize and design the whole solution" I don't think people really ask for that, except maybe for a couple times where someone thinks this forum is the official support for the Atlassian product they have purchased. And only in very few of those have I seen people "demanding" the exact answer. What I do if I detect one of this is kindly point them what this forum where they have asked the question is, I explain them that almost everyone here is just a volunteer wanting to help peers around, and I copy/paste the support link so they can create a proprer ticket with support.

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