Last updated February 10, 2012.
Want to help others out? Fabulous! Whatever your skill level, you can give back to the Drupal community by sharing what you know with other users who need support. User support relies on contributions from everyone!
Places to Offer Support
- The Support Forums are a great place to start, and it's where most user support takes place. You can keep track of the latest posts by clicking the recent posts link in the navigation bar.
- Find like-minded people in Groups.Drupal.org. The Groups directory can help you find people in your local or regional area, or a group of others using your favorite theme or module, or working in your field (e.g. education, e-commerce, etc).
- There is a Support Mailing List. Feel free to subscribe and help out!
- View a list of active support requests in the bug tracker.
- If you prefer real-time chat, #drupal-support on irc.freenode.net is the place to be. The Drupal community is very active on IRC. Learn to use Drupal's IRC channels.
- See also the list of language-specific communities if you want to help out in giving support in other languages.
User Support Advice
- Patience is a virtue. Remember that Drupal has a challenging learning curve, and sometimes people need some hand-holding. If you're an impatient person, you might want to consider helping out in other areas instead.
- Tell people how you found the answers, such as linking to documentation page or contributing one to documentation.
- Be collaborative and thorough. If you are dealing with a new user, your response will be their first impression of the community and will affect their own behavior in the future.
- It is likely you will run into users who are simply exasperated and frustrated and may use emotional language. Avoid returning a similar reaction. Remain positive! If they offer actual examples/issues/problems, focus on those practical things to work towards a solution. If they are only venting, then best to ignore it.
- If someone sounds terse or rude, it may be that English is their second language, they may be inexperienced with typing, or are unable to type in long sentences. It's best to assume good faith and want to avoid conflict.
- Use diminishing replies in heated situations. By ensuring your response is always shorter than the one you're responding to, you can de-escalate the communication.
More tips for providing support
- Use links to commonly used references and resources to save yourself time typing the same answers over and over. This also reinforces the use of the Handbook.
- Copy and paste common responses you find yourself repeating into a text file for copying and pasting into forum responses.
- Select your favorite links and add them as 'bookmarks' in your browser's sidebar for easy access.
Examples of common situations and suggested links
- User is running into trouble with first site and tight deadline. Advise user to use test sites, and follow best practices http://drupal.org/best-practices
- User doesn't know what 'taxonomy' means. Refer new users to the 'glossary' for Drupal at Terminology http://drupal.org/node/937
- User writes a post saying "I hate Drupal, X module did Y." Ignore the emotional expression and advise user on how to Report a problem http://drupal.org/node/314185
- User posts a forum post with 'HELP ME NOW'. Advise user on how to form good questions and use the forum http://drupal.org/forum-posting, or talk with the community http://drupal.org/node/314178
- User says something is broken, and it sounds like a bug. Refer people for processes to isolate problems and troubleshoot prior to posting an issue in the Troubleshooting FAQ http://drupal.org/Troubleshooting-FAQ
- User has identified a bug. Advise user how to report a bug effectively http://drupal.org/node/19279
Examples are useful. When we have a site that uses a specific feature, we can use the site as a live example of something that works, explaining how we implemented the feature. Examples are not so useful if they contain complicated mixtures of modules and features that bury the one you are trying to explain.
People will read your comments long after you have written them. If you provide an example in a forum post then change the example site so that the site is no longer an example, please update your comments to reflect the change.
http://drupal.org/node/325051 is an example of an example based on drupal.org, guaranteeing the poster can view the example.
Remember to use example.com as the domain name for theoretical examples. example.com is a domain name reserved for use in examples. http://example.com/ goes nowhere. You do not create wasteful network traffic when people select http://example.com/.
Foster thinking. Even if it's not a question you see go by fifty times a day... don't answer it with a direct fix (unless the person is a known non-vamp, or it's a real puzzler). Answer with questions to spur (and guide) thought. If the Help Vampire resists thinking or complains, give them the URL for the Resources page and withhold further assistance.
Reward self-help and helping others. Thank people who ask intelligent questions and do research first, and people who make an effort to help others. Tell them they're a credit to the community. Be especially generous with praise and emoticons for those who are actively reforming their ways. Help is a trickle-down economy.
-- from Help Vampires: A Spotter's Guide by Amy Hoy.