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How can I help you?
July 14, 2006 @ 09:03:39

There's one simple fact in programming - coders love to code. They enjoy getting into the code, getting their hands dirty, and working through the problems to get everything working. After that, however, things can kind of slack off, especially in the area of support. Some projects don't even have documentation to help out with the installation. So, how can you, as a developer, be better about helping your users? Read on in this new A/R/T article (from Stefan Koopmanschap) for a few ideas.

You work on a nice piece of open source software, alone or in a team. You can handle all you want by yourself. You plan everything, determine which features should be included, and of course you support your users. No problem. Until the moment comes that your software actually becomes popular. Popular enough to bring in a lot of new users. They all have questions regarding your software.

Instead of developing all the new features that you thought of, you find yourself more and more answering questions of users. From those questions, you get even more ideas, for instance on how to improve user interaction. But you have no time to work on those ideas anymore. Clearly, you have a need to offer more structured support.

He makes several suggestions of steps to take to a higher level of service to your users, including adding more people to your team and using other technologies (email, IRC, etc) to your advantage. Think about how many projects have channels over on the Freenode IRC network...

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