Renaming the "Support" category to "Helpdesk"

Today @lozanaross brought up that the "Support" term is perhaps misleading for some folks: some could understand it as "Support the OpenRefine project" or "Support maintenance of the tool"… They might not understand that this is a place where they can ask any questions, even very basic ones.

In the room, there seems to be enthusiasm for renaming it to "Helpdesk", which would be clearer. Should we do that?

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Do it! like yesterday! Let's not even think about it. Just last week I had to explain that to someone who emailed me.

I don't love "helpdesk" although I do understand it might make it more attractive to some I also wonder if it creates expectation? I feel instinctively that a helpdesk should be a separate thing to a support forum.

Also need to check about the email side - I'd be keen not to lose the existing email address and that is "" - renaming that to helpdesk would be disruptive.

A compromise could be to use "Support and Helpdesk" or "Helpdesk / Support" or some combo?


I share Owen's concerns about expectation setting, but perhaps that could be dealt with separately from the naming. I think an important qualifier is that this is peer support (and we need more peers to step up to provide support, besides the handful like Ben & Owen who are doing yeoman work currently).

Perhaps an expectation setting note could be added to the intro for the category. On a related topic, perhaps we could link to one of those "how to ask a question on the Internet" FAQs, or better yet, crib some of the important points from it, so we get fewer "My thing doesn't work. How do I fix it?" types of posts.

Also, the tag line used in the forum header to link to the category could be changed without having to change the name of the category. It currently says "Ask a question or start a discussion relating to using OpenRefine." Perhaps something about getting help could be added there.



For reference, this conversation started in the Improving OpenRefine contributor pathways: roles, permissions, and processes session at BarCamp. See line 51 to 78 in the pad for note regarding how user seek support.

The Category Label, Slug, and Email are three distinct variables in Discord.

So I propose for following update

  1. Category Label: Support and Helpdesk
  2. Slug: Support - no changes
  3. Email - no changes
  4. Description: Get help from the community on how to use OpenRefine and its extensions. Support is provided by volunteers
  5. Pin post: To @tfmorris's point, we can update the pinned post at the top of the category (About the Support category) to direct users to our FAQ, provide instructions on asking questions, and set expectations.
  6. Discourse Template: If we want to push things further, Discourse also provides a template post when you create a new message in a section (similar to GitHub issue template). This can be a way to reiterate those guidelines and ask for specific points (version of OpenRefine, OS ...).
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I'd prefer "Help is provided by volunteers" instead of "Support is provided by volunteers".

Also love the idea of the template post, just it make really simple however.

1-5 I'm happy with. (Also happy with suggested change by Thad of "Support is provided by volunteers" to "Help is provided by volunteers").

I think we should take a look at the template options - happy to discuss but might take a little more finessing to agree we are asking the right questions etc. Also good to incorporate Tom's suggestions of some "how to ask questions" text (maybe this is all that's needed in the template?). Maybe that needs its own thread?

This is esr's classic from 20+ years ago:

We probably want something less technical (and briefer) with an emphasis on explaining how the guidelines help people get better answers (rather than just being an arbitrary set of rules).