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Thanks for calling out my numbers reference. ;) I meant that the
generated URLs ran out and nobody knew who to ask for new ones, and when
we did ask people who thought they knew, none were generated.
We may try some sort of FormMail--it depends on whether development
okays a third-party solution. It's like unions, I tell you! Then again,
I don't want to be notified each time a user submits a "I just don't get
it. Make it clearer" answer to our "why or why not."
Thanks for the links, Geoff.
Regarding MS feedback, I'm willing to bet that Tom J is right. They
probably create a list and take a random sampling and the topics with
the most "No" answers and work on improving those. Or at least that's
how I'd do it. :)
Regarding Rick S's comment about the audience...we don't really measure
our new, six-person "call center" right now so I'm not concerned with
metrics. What we want is to avoid the call, which is a help issue, not a
Thanks to all!
9625 West 76th St. Ste. 150
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Stacia Marlett wondered: <<We're going to revamp our feedback system for
our online help. Currently we assign a URL to a button at the bottom of
each help topic. Clicking the button opens a new window with a bunch of
questions and a Submit button. Then someone else in our group puts the
feedback in a spreadsheet.>>
Sounds like a solution that's ripe for automation. Any reason you
couldn't replace this with a forms-based approach? The simplest solution
(i.e., least progamming) is to use something like FormMail (or a similar
CGI script) that e-mails you the results of filling in the form as ASCII
text that you can easily import into a spreadsheet or database.
You can certainly get far more sophisticated than that if your pet geeks
are interested in playing with new toys; it should be possible to
directly stock the database, eliminating the manual import step, without
much work. That's way beyond my expertise, but I've read about it being
done and I'm sure someone here can provide specific details.
<<We've gotten very little feedback over the course of a year with our
online help system.>>
This is hardly surprising. If your product's users are typical, many
(perhaps the majority) aren't using your online help system at all (they
play around until they figure it out, or call their favorite geek and
beg for help), and most of the others can't be bothered to provide
feedback either because they're too busy or because they don't believe
you do anything with the feedback. If you can't provide strong incentive
to use the system and provide feedback, this won't change.
<<Plus, we've abandoned the unique URL in most recent help topics
because we ran out of numbers (to tack onto the end of the URL) and
nobody seemed to know how to get more.>>
What, you mean the universe finally ran out of numbers? I always
secretly suspected this would happen some day. I only hope that the end,
when it comes, comes quickly. <gdrlh>
OK, as non-sarcastically as I can possibly muster while still giggling
over the possibility of running out of numbes: So long as you have a
finite number of help topics, you cannot possibly run out of numbered
HTML pages. All HTML pages become the following:
"www.example.com/feedback/helpIDnumber.html". Problem solved!
If you mean that you've got so many help topics that you've exceeded the
number of bits allocated to assigning Help IDs, I can't help you, other
than to suggest that the usual solution is to break the help system up
into sufficiently small chunks that you no longer run out of help IDs.
<<This method was way too much work. We also recognize that our feedback
form was way too long.>>
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