Wattie
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:11 pm

davidcoton wrote: Wattie, I am probably misunderstanding you -- that may be my ignorance or it may be your presentation.

But my summary of your presentation is this:
1) I see a problem with managing the information collected here about Pi issues. (Agreed)
2) I think I know an MBA approach to solving it. But I can't explain it to you. (If you can't explain it, I begin to doubt that you understand it)
3) I haven't analysed the problem. Will you do that for me? I'll sit back and manage it. (Hardly a way to inspire technical people)
4) When we've analysed it, I'll use my mystical best practise process to solve it. (No comment)
5) When I've solved it, you can implement the solution.
6) Oh, you're not interested in playing my game, I'm off.
Yeah probably, and as long as you're not trolling me I'll try and go at it again. But first, why do you think I am a great communicator, or even good enough to get to the point straight away?

1) Thanks for that
2) Where did you get MBA from?
3) I have analysed the problem over and over again. Maybe read my reply above and you might change your mind.
4) It's not mystical, but then that speaks volumes.
5) I've made an open offer to commit. If you missed it, I'll repeat it here. If this has traction, I'll take it, but I'm not a programmer.
6) It's not a game. I'll admit to being frustrated, but I thought Heater had had enough. ITIL was getting in the way, and we resolved that. I hope. Also, do you see people who want to throw their hat in? No, me neither. It's still a discussion, but everybody needs to know when is a good time to go on hold. It's the weekend, let's have a pint.

The thing about the kids was to do with the negativity and proposed and inferred violence early in the thread.

I'll try and ignore advice about what I need to do, and stick to what is logical.

What's yours?

jamesh
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:17 pm

Just butting in to say - we are keeping an eye on this thread, if it starts to get personally insulting, it goes.

Please keep to the actual point, which is (I think) how do we present RPi knowledge to ensure it helps the greatest number of people with the minimal amount of pain.
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Wattie
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:24 pm

Pithagoros wrote:
Wattie wrote:It's fascinating to watch technical people who rely on computers push back against what they see as control rather than something to remove their frustration.
You see it that way, but that's not how it looks from the other side of the glass. Nothing to do with control.
You're probably right I do see it that way, but I don't see any glass. I just changed my perspective.

Wait, I'm confused. Is it control or isn't it? Or is that the point? Or isn't it? :D

Wattie
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:26 pm

jamesh wrote:Just butting in to say - we are keeping an eye on this thread, if it starts to get personally insulting, it goes.

Please keep to the actual point, which is (I think) how do we present RPi knowledge to ensure it helps the greatest number of people with the minimal amount of pain.
Thanks James - I was getting nervous too.

More succinctly put than I could manage.

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rurwin
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:52 pm

Re squeals, pain, bandage etc.

How do you propose to implement that system with zero training budget and no access control on the database? As soon as you implement a help-desk with paid empoyees you have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and created a bottle-neck that means no question gets answered in less than 24 hours.

This forum is a major resource that works well in 98% of cases. If we want to fix the 2% that it fails then we need to leverage that strength into the new service. Even if we managed to provide a new service for those 2% it would need to use the same operatives with the same database (currently mostly in their heads) or it will only benefit from 2% of the available data and be substandard.

That's the question you need to address: not how do we build a help-desk, but how do we provide simple, authoritative communication to those that need it while keeping the case-load within managable limits and how do we ensure that it has comprehensive knowledge of best engineering practise and all reported issues, including those that do not pass through it, while ensuring that it remains current and correct.

It has been said that there are maybe 50 people who regularly answer non-FAQ questions on here, but any given question will only ever be answered by one or two of them because their areas of knowledge are all different. You will not find me answering questions about the Pi camera or TFT or a huge number of other topics. Using volunters like this works because it utilises massive in-depth knowledge in large numbers so that the load on any individual is small. None of them have the time or inclination to become an expert on some area just because someone has asked a question. The existance of a tool that would allow them to do so is irrelevent.
Wattie wrote: I have analysed the problem over and over again.
Then please let us know what your conclusions were. Who is affected, what percentage of queries, what types of issue, what information would have resolved the issue, etc.

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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 2:05 pm

Wattie wrote:I would like to discuss the type of issues we see, whether there is a pattern, the type of solutions we see, whether there is a pattern, whether there is a simple tool to to make things easier, how much value there is in analysing the root cause, and If there was any enthusiasm in doing something about it.
Many thanks; that clarifies things for me. I am all for best practice, continual improvement, but don't have the time or desire to get involved in the creation of mechanisms and systems which control all that. I look forward to seeing what proposals you and others who may become involved come up with.

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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 2:07 pm

DougieLawson wrote:
karrika wrote: This is an amazing collection of people and knowledge. I wish our helpdesk at work would have something like this for our customers.
I really think it boils down to a small collection of folks (fewer than 50) with a deep interest in the software and/or hardware who are answering most of the questions.
I'm with you (and for sure i'm not in the 50 lol), but you have to admit that in this forum the will to help isn't missing even in the new arrivals.

BUT
The big problem is the constant repetition, because the search function is so badly broken and newbie users don't have the ability to define good keyword strings for a search engine.
no, it's not the search function. is the search attitude of newbies. In other places (i.e. xda-developers forum) the (partial) solution was: newbies can't post in a big part of the forum. This probably can work, but it's a little "taleban". The "open" forum will try to teach newbies how to move, and after they'll have helped some other newbies (linking solutions or providing them) they can achieve the upper level.
Really, taleban :)
I post on here because it's something entirely different from my day job.
I think this can be a quite common situation. I've nothing to do with IT in my career, but this relaxes me a lot :)

Wattie
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 2:23 pm

rurwin, I was making working assumptions, and of course this is better if there is low hanging fruit. You just gave a 98% success rate which would take millions to compete with. It actually takes away four pages of subjectivity and demonstrates that it's not worth putting the effort into improving. I normally work with tackling success rates way lower than that, and I'm not pushing any professional services. Maybe I got carried away with enthusiasm.

I still think it would be interesting to know the top 3 this and thats, and patterns. Oh, and how to do something quicker the second time around. I'm sorry if I came across as smug, but I've had the wind knocked out of me now.

I just realised it was rude of me not to answer your question though. The last place I worked at (I was not the manager of the help desk, nor the service desk, but the principles still apply) targets were 80% approval, measured by closed issues and satisfaction survey. Since there was always a bow-wave of open "squeals" it was measured on a monthly basis by volume. This was being gamed by supporters by opening up many issues for one user. The satisfaction was skewed because people already avoided the supporters and wouldn't even spend the time to fill in a survey. There was a service level agreement, which was measured by how many times and how severely it was breached. Not applicable here, except interesting to show speed of response, and accuracy, ie. did they have to do things twice, how quickly could things be closed were there any things which regularly came back to haunt the group. The SLA breach target was <15%, but again that was gamed, because being a commercial organisation pay and bonuses relied on the figure. When you make a target the incentive, suddenly the target gets hit instead of the work. I always thought 15% was appalling, but it was defended to the death because the director's children's Christmas presents depended on it. There were a ton of ready made, and some more interesting analyses which come down to critical success factors and KPIs, which nobody should be bothered with here.Once you get past the 90th percentile, the exponential effort become far more obvious, and it takes real sponsorship and determination to get better. My experience is shared with others, the willpower goes, people move on and entropy sets in.

Out of 3000 customers, there were 2000 squeals a month and about 500 service requests, rising to 4000 squeals when rolling out Win7. Types of issue really was everything which distracted from the main business, which was everything except buying Christmas presents. The first solution to be registered, and always the most popular was re-ghost the machine - equivalent to download a new SD image. The most successful fix, but the one that left the customer unhappy was replace the machine. It takes a month for any user to get their personal computer back the way liked it. That was the source of the most sad faces on the survey. Also it lead to avoidance of the support group and reliance on an underground favour bartering system.

All this is moot, because what I was suggesting was a quicker route to the knowledge, based on a statistic of 1, me, and subjective observation of others. I really was not suggesting any of this (the above) should be adopted. Just a way of getting out of the "jeepers not this again" syndrome.

Staffing the solution side in a commercial venture is not difficult, since logically it should reduce repeating answers, and there were already people freed up through that. Of course the work expanded because people were free to inflate the numbers. Here, solutions are provided by volunteers, so I have no solution for that except that it would be a challenge to overcome. But now, there is no case for it.

One of the more interesting things which has a parallel for the foundation, I think was when 3000 "customers" were migrated from, in this case, Windows XP to Windows 7. I've since seen it go for 100 times that many. It was late, and the challenge was to do it with as little disturbance as possible to the customer base, measured by the squeals. Well, the noise doubled. Twice as many calls and complaints every month for the life of the roll-out, and then for a couple of months afterwards. Worldwide. <end of parallel here> But the satisfaction levels remained the same, and the service levels were rock steady at just under 15% breached. So we knew things were being gamed. The boss was too chicken to mention it though, and the rollout team had a party, because there was a bigger throughput of issues, which meant more Christmas presents.

Previous company was similar - the more issues, the more powerful the support group. Forget trying to go smart and fix things before they hit the customer - the customer is part of the cycle. 80% functional is good enough and we can handle the rest through support. We build our business that way. They had a specific tolerance for failure, sponsored by the CEO, all the way down. Some of the community will almost definitely use their software. Trouble is nobody ever measured the 80%

It's just a case of picking up some lessons, and knowing what it's useful to know. If it can get quicker and more accurate then great. If it can't ...<shrug>

For those wondering why I keep editing, it's because I keep seeing possible ambiguities in what I wrote, or I didn't answer a question. OK I'll stop now.
Last edited by Wattie on Fri Jan 22, 2016 4:42 pm, edited 5 times in total.

hippy
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 3:03 pm

I think there could be some benefit in analysing how well the forum is doing and if there are patterns even though it seems to be doing remarkably well. Most questions do seem to be "this doesn't work!!!", "try this", "great, thanks", but others may point to where improvements could be had.

In particular the frequent questions on how to set-up static IP addresses, where the Pi Store is, where the full board schematics are, running Android, X86 code and full Windows 10, and a few cases where a minority of people seem to have problems others have also experienced but most seem to have had no problems at all.

Though contributors may assess the forum to be performing well it does not mean those seeking help will always see it that way. Without feedback and assessing that it's hard to tell how well it is actually doing.

I don't think there are systemic problems with the forum except for the occasional evidence of tedium in answering the same question yet again and a sometimes overly defensive posture; asking why a poster wants something rather than answering the question they had. That often seems to be the by rote response to anyone asking for schematics.

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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 7:39 pm

OK, as we are discussing the problems of getting the right information to the right place, let's look at a typical, everyday example as has arrived recently:

"I have a Pi 2 B and have installed Ubuntu Mate , I'm impressed . I'm using a old TV via HDMI good picture , but no sound also no sound through the 3.5mm jack .
My knowledge of using command lines is near zero I know the fix means using command . So would someone be so kind as give me a step by step account of what I need to do .
regards , Poloenfield."


How do we help poor Poloenfield with any formalized help desk system, or capability maturity model or whatever?

Cannot be done. One has to engage Poloenfield in a person to person discussion.

I am not the man for Poloenfield's case. I'm tempted to say: Don't use Ubuntu, it is just Debain broken in interesting ways, use Raspbian. Get a new TV. What's with the 3.5mm jack when HDMI has sound? Google some tutorials about Linux and its command line shells. Etc, etc..

All of which probably comes over as impolite and unhelpful. Which would not be my intention.

What to do ?
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 8:26 pm

Heater wrote: Cannot be done. One has to engage Poloenfield in a person to person discussion.

I am not the man for Poloenfield's case. I'm tempted to say: Don't use Ubuntu, it is just Debain broken in interesting ways, use Raspbian. Get a new TV. What's with the 3.5mm jack when HDMI has sound? Google some tutorials about Linux and its command line shells. Etc, etc..

All of which probably comes over as impolite and unhelpful. Which would not be my intention.

What to do ?
In a helpdesk scenario, if there is no knowledgebase available to first line, then it will be pushed to second line.
Second line will work through the problem with the caller, and solve it. The details of the call resolution should be added to the call diary (but it will probably some succint shorthand) and the call closed.

If the call resolution is correctly recorded, and the metadata properly set up, and the call management software search function is any good then the resolution is available for lookup by first line when there is another similar incident and also for reporting and analysis.

Sometimes this actually does work.....

(I've left out stuff about prioritisation)

BUT:

The caller with the problem is using a supported configuration, and hasn't applied any out of cover hack. The second line chap will have been chosen by first line perhaps for some known skill with the problem, and he will be able to attempt to reproduce the problem on his/her own local configuration - because he is working with supported configs.
If the caller is working with out of support versions or any unsupported third party stuff then the helpdesk can call all bets off, the t&cs of support will mean there is no obligation to help. In practice they might have a stab at it anyway.
Last edited by Pithagoros on Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Heater
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 8:59 pm

Great. Who is this vast army of first line responders? Who are the second line that they refer everything to? And so on.

All of which was not really my point. Many people don't need a quick solution to a problem. They need a mentor to inspire and lead the way.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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karrika
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:06 pm

I have just spent 48+ hours trying to get help from a help desk of a very large organisation. I know exactly what is wrong. I know exactly what they need to do because I found a bug in their database logic. But I cannot get in touch with anybody capable of doing what needs to be done.

There is TONs of useless FAQs, the system tries to give me automated solutions that are completely wrong. I have to fill in dozens of forms to be able to report my problem. I can only talk to a computer program - never a human being.

I know where this organisation could stick its computer assisted help systems.

So here I am, fighting a help desk for the entire week end...

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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:11 pm

Heater wrote:Great. Who is this vast army of first line responders? Who are the second line that they refer everything to? And so on.

All of which was not really my point. Many people don't need a quick solution to a problem. They need a mentor to inspire and lead the way.
I'm not suggesting that any of that stuff would be useful here, just loosely illustrating how these things are sometimes organised and how they are normally bounded in a way that the Raspberry Pi community is definitely not.
And even in their element, it's not often that the discipline exists to make it work well.

If I was going to help poloenfield, then I would have to set up a Pi2B with ubuntu mate and see if I can reproduce the problem. What is needed here is another forum user who runs an Ubuntu Mate pi, but as far as I can see there is not even a forum for that OS on here at least.

Wattie
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:24 pm

Heater wrote:OK, as we are discussing the problems of getting the right information to the right place, let's look at a typical, everyday example as has arrived recently:

"I have a Pi 2 B and have installed Ubuntu Mate , I'm impressed . I'm using a old TV via HDMI good picture , but no sound also no sound through the 3.5mm jack .
My knowledge of using command lines is near zero I know the fix means using command . So would someone be so kind as give me a step by step account of what I need to do .
regards , Poloenfield."


How do we help poor Poloenfield with any formalized help desk system, or capability maturity model or whatever?

Cannot be done. One has to engage Poloenfield in a person to person discussion.

I am not the man for Poloenfield's case. I'm tempted to say: Don't use Ubuntu, it is just Debain broken in interesting ways, use Raspbian. Get a new TV. What's with the 3.5mm jack when HDMI has sound? Google some tutorials about Linux and its command line shells. Etc, etc..

All of which probably comes over as impolite and unhelpful. Which would not be my intention.

What to do ?
I wrote a load and then saw Pithagoros' concise answer.

I would only add that you make an effort to match what you were asked with what others have seen and whether you have seen a useful answer in the past, which is exactly what about 50 people do very well without an established system here. Even professional helpdesk staff use google a lot of the time. Matching issues with observations and known fixes is all it boils down to. 100 most painful squeals connected to 100 most useful answers is an admirable target for anyone.

First and second line is for big operations who do triage, it even goes to third and fourth line, but that is very rare.

I think the impossible problem you describe probably has a close approximation somewhere. An expert would be able to close in on the cause quite quickly, but firstly you need to judge whether it's worth it. Many commercial concerns have no choice, it's part of their service package. They are usually sent on regular top-up politeness workshops, because it can be a soul-sucking task :mrgreen: Taking your example, I can pretty quickly get to a B2 sound solution - HDMI or jack plug, but I have no experience with Ubuntu Mate. Might be worth working for a couple of hours to replicate it, but how much kudos will I get? Professionals get paid to do it. I suppose everyone has their threshold.

Sounds like karrika is trying to work with a helpdesk who prioritise their own issues over their customers'. Lots of people come out with what they think are great improvements to their systems without the customer in mind. Sorry to hear it, and good luck. Don't forget to fill out the customer satisfaction survey, if they are big, they are probably certified for something, which means they are obliged to take feedback and demonstrate they take it seriously to keep their certification Their QA and audit functions will be interested if you want to give them some reciprocal pain. :twisted:
Last edited by Wattie on Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Pithagoros
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:29 pm

Wattie wrote:
First and second line is for big operations who do triage, it even goes to third and fourth line, but that is very rare.
Third and fourth line are often network admins, DBAs and developers who are not primarily support personnel.
It can also go back to original makers of hardware, software and drivers.

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karrika
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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:50 pm

Wattie wrote:Don't forget to fill out the customer satisfaction survey, if they are big, they are probably certified for something, which means they are obliged to take feedback and demonstrate they take it seriously to keep their certification Their QA and audit functions will be interested if you want to give them some reciprocal pain. :twisted:
We are all ISO9001 certified at least. This incident is my problem - we did not have a proper way to handle these kind of errors. It does not help anyone if I start blaming others.

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Re: Managing knowledge

Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:12 pm

karrika wrote:We are all ISO9001 certified at least. This incident is my problem - we did not have a proper way to handle these kind of errors. It does not help anyone if I start blaming others.
The incident might be your problem but the nightmare help-desk is not. Honest feedback never hurts; it took me 20 years to be happy to see a bug report, but I got there in the end. Every complaint is an opportunity to do better. if I want to buy stuff on Amazon I don't bother to read positive feedback; that's all just fulsome praise. I read the negative feedback because that tells me stuff I need to know. It's the same with customer feedback; the pats on the back are nice to have but they don't achieve anything. The complaints give you a chance to improve the product.
In my last job the documentation team included a customer survey in the back of the printed manual. Can you guess how many customers returned them? Not one in over ten years.

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Re: Managing knowledge

Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:27 am

Thanks for the thoughts about this matter.

The helpdesk actually did what I wanted them to do at Sunday night around 8 PM.

Fortunately my customers were also quality conscious and had a way to handle lack of critical services. So no harm was done.

And I did file a customer complaint and wrote a feedback in a way that cannot be bypassed in upcoming auditions. Thanks rurwin.

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Re: Managing knowledge

Tue Jan 26, 2016 11:33 pm

While not trying to be negative, some of the key features about how this forum works have been mentioned.

* We are generally dealing with people who don't even know enough to explain what has happened. I don't think that trying to introduce any sort of formal application for help has any chance of being successful, as the users will just see this as bureaucratic and obstructive. At the moment there is a sufficient number of people monitoring the forum to respond quickly with a series of questions that coax out sufficient information to identify what the problem is. An expert may not see these as quality answers, but they usually cover what needs to be done for the user.

* Trying to tag the posts with key words is going to seem bureaucratic to those providing the answers; most would be categorised as "unrealistic or ill thought out dreams" (no answer possible), or "abandoned without sufficient information".

* Many of the responses do point to a small number of sticky posts or Foundation pages, not because the responder is lazy, but because that is the best place to look for an answer. As part of the problem is the lack of knowledge for a lot of the posters, it seems appropriate to hope that the poster can find and understand the solution themselves, even if we do show them where that answer is.

* Perhaps more people should be encouraged to read "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", the article (or one of) about how open source software can harness the power of the multitude of users who only have a loose common interest, not a tight common working framework. If a direction is being followed that few people support, it will whither in favour of directions that do have support.

* This knowledge library does exist; it has been created as articles on the main Foundation site (Documentation, Resources, etc.), supplemented by Sticky posts. Although a wiki might be a good tool for collecting good knowledge, it also collects bad knowledge or bad behaviour. There needs to be some level of guidance over the direction the knowledge library takes, but that needs to be inclusive and to encourage participation, not restrictive control. A current issue with the support available to users is things being out of date. Those articles under the influence of Pi users (not private blogs) need to be checked regularly (when anything changes). When that change is significant, the article needs to be 'forked' with the old way and the new way solutions being available (and an easy way for users to know which one applies to them) - consider systemd and python 2 / 3.

Although maintaining the knowledge is substantial work, it should not be done by a small number of people. The popularity of the Pi has created a huge number of users, and an inclusive way of tackling all the checks and updates should ensure that the number of people working on the knowledge library is sufficiently high for it not to be a burden on anyone.

It is easy to make a judgement that something is too much work to make it happen. Without ruling anything out, we should see if people can be encouraged to check and expand articles on the Foundation pages, and to write new ones that replace the sticky posts. That checking is done by many people every week as they start to use their new Pi to do interesting things; we just need to gather feedback and keep track of when 'experienced testers' make those checks.

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Re: Managing knowledge

Wed Jan 27, 2016 12:43 am

There's also a lot of valuable material posted by forum users (Howtows etc., posts about software packages written or provided by members of the community and much more) which is not as easily accessible as stickies, because the forum is ordered by date (default). You have to know what you are looking for or use the search function.
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Re: Managing knowledge

Wed Jan 27, 2016 1:46 am

Wattie wrote:Under no circumstances am I suggesting people are not doing a good job.
I don't think there are jobs here. The mods aren't being paid. (I don't think) You should always be grateful when someone takes the time to answer a question.

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Re: Managing knowledge

Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:54 am

leiptrstormr wrote:
Wattie wrote:Under no circumstances am I suggesting people are not doing a good job.
I don't think there are jobs here. The mods aren't being paid. (I don't think) You should always be grateful when someone takes the time to answer a question.
The forum is 100% voluntary. The moderators are volunteers (and best of luck for the crud they have to deal with), the folks posting answers are volunteers. The only folks who are paid and regularly venture into the forum are Liz and Clive from the RPF (and their content is always welcome). I even saw a reply from some guy called Eben Upton on a forum thread yesterday.
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Wattie
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Re: Managing knowledge

Wed Jan 27, 2016 5:49 pm

leiptrstormr wrote:
Wattie wrote:Under no circumstances am I suggesting people are not doing a good job.
I don't think there are jobs here. The mods aren't being paid. (I don't think) You should always be grateful when someone takes the time to answer a question.
Something lost in translation here. job <> paid employment.

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PeterO
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Re: Managing knowledge

Wed Jan 27, 2016 6:02 pm

Wattie wrote: Something lost in translation here. job <> paid employment.
You think there may be a language problem then you use some obscure syntax from languages that most posters will have never come across. You need to thing more before you type !

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