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Communication problems on MLPF.

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Of course, first off, I am a bit biased as there was a topic moderation of mine I am not only not agreeing with nor can I even follow logically. But independent of whether my own disagreement gets resolved or not, all of these still stands.

It is the pinnacle of underlying issues I am seeing: Issues in the communication regarding the MLPF staff. I don't mean this in a condemning meaning. But this is going for quite some time now:

1. There should be information given to an user if any mod action was taken. I am not talking about essays. In my case, it took another one or even two posts, which also got deleted, to get a reply in the first place.

2. Not receiving answers from staff what so ever. Whether in a DM or support ticket, this has happened. Again, while essays might be nice, at least any reply would at least indicate something. Maybe a staffer is too busy with whatever, or it isn't their department, but no response at all makes the user just being confusing.

I can fully understand when a staffer is less active here for their own reasons, which are neither obliged to reveal nor to uphold to activity (at least, when it comes to my own opinion here), but in such cases there should be given a notice instead of letting the user wonder endlessly if the request was received in the first place, or if a reply at all will be coming or not.

3. For me personally, and of course I can't speak for other persons, it is not quite clear who is responsible for, who - or what - to turn to, and so on. Consolidates with 2.

Taking my own example from above, and independent of whether I would be making a fuss about it, or for simplicity's sake, let's just assume I got a warning or got banned. Now, if that happened by a sectional, go to a gmod, if it was by a gmod, go to an admin, if it was an admin...idk, go to another admin? To whom? Or someone else? Write a support ticket? Is the system working right now, which was not always the case? To my knowledge...responses to support tickets in general have been slow, or not happening at all. Or should someone write an email to disputes, or somewhere else even?

What if I want to ask staffers, or admins, in a non-public way about something, that might involve other users or is private by nature? What is the clear given way to do so? Again, I'd be forced to choose between DM a specific admin (who of those is responsible for that case then?), DMing all of them, send a support ticket I don't know whether it will go through or get a reply, write to an admin on discord, post on public nonetheless or turn to that email adress.

Are there clear answers to my questions (in#3)? I don't just mean what do you think, but also: visible on site for users?

Proposed Solutions, if you decide these are issues, for that matter:

1. & 2. short reply to the user at least.

Notices on rather inactive or not-to-be-bugged-with staffers.

3. Make a short, and again, not an essay, guideline, maybe as a graphic. Basically imagine arrows going from a problem, or issues with a problem directing on who or what to turn to (and in case of relevant, how).

While I'd be lying I am not at least a tad bit frustrated and peeved, I don't mean anything ill. This is a pretty long-term observation.

Of course, I might be alone with these.

Nor it is meant to denounce the staff in any way. I know you are putting a lot of effort and time into this platform and all of us and I am thankful for that, even though I am not agreeing on every decision (nor am I required to nor do you need my consent on any, obviously).

But me disagreeing on some doesn't mean I am not thinking you aren't good a good job overall.

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(edited)

I get what you mean this used to actually be a huge problem on this forums. The moderators and admins were almost tyrannical which is why I can say that really isnt a problem anymore.

What you experience is this distance and perhaps lack of explaining of ones decision. I believe you can send a dispute and best is to simply know a good moderator or admin talk to them if you feel like you were "wronged". The staff is just that staff, other users so you know this is an issue but the answer would be to simply know a good moderator that you could have a talk with if you feel that way. 

Then of course in regards to some certain guidelines on who to turn to I agree with you that would be good. Yet in my opinion it is best to simply talk to the moderator in personal messages. Some of the things you do say though are on the staffs responsibilities and I can not talk on their behalf only that you can think of it as them being very busy so perhaps you may just have to send again you know. 

That said you are not alone I'm sure many feel this way but like I say send PMS and resend certain things or disputes as like that should get their attention and they should give you an answer or they wouldn't be doing what they are doing.

(UwU I thought this was general discussion this post is irrelevant as feedback oh well enjoy reading my lengthy text ùwú).

Edited by Fluttershyfan94

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Your topic was moved to an area that suited it better. That’s it. There is no need to make such a big fuss over it.

We staff do what we can to answer user’s questions & resolve issues as best as we can. If a staff member doesn’t answer your question immediately or within a short timeframe, it’s not that you’re being ignored. It’s likely because we are trying to help you but may need to do so outside of the forums first, whether that means getting a second opinion or trying to figure it out ourselves. (And if we are asking for a second opinion, we obviously have to wait for that other person with that second opinion to get back to us. We all don’t live in the same time zone). We get tons and tons of support tickets sent to use on a daily basis and to get through all in one sitting is impossible. We do what we can as fast/efficiently as we can. 

We can’t go around giving a list of qualities each staff member has and which qualifications they don’t. All staff are trained in the same areas. The only areas in training that differ with staff is that some administrators are better at dealing with technical issues than others. That, and some like @Pathfinder are specially trained to work with commissions. 

We hide many posts on a regular basis and to send a detailed PM to every user we hide a post from just isn’t realistic. Sorry. We only send PMs when the post removed has caused some sort of issue or breaks a rule. I shouldn’t have had to tell you that you making off topic posts in your own thread was unnecessary. You’ve been on this site long enough to know that off-topic posts are generally a no no and that contacting a staff member directly is your best choice instead of going off in your thread.

I understand that we staff are not perfect but we truly do have the best intentions and we strive to make this place as great as we possibly can.

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22 minutes ago, Bakugou is my Man said:

Your topic was moved to an area that suited it better. That’s it. There is no need to make such a big fuss over it.

I do not want to go into detail on that subject in this topic. This topic is about something else.

If you are willing to talk about that topic, then I don't intend to do it here.

22 minutes ago, Bakugou is my Man said:

We staff do what we can to answer user’s questions & resolve issues as best as we can. If a staff member doesn’t answer your question immediately or within a short timeframe, it’s not that you’re being ignored. It’s likely because we are trying to help you but may need to do so outside of the forums first, whether that means getting a second opinion or trying to figure it out ourselves. (And if we are asking for a second opinion, we obviously have to wait for that other person with that second opinion to get back to us. We all don’t live in the same time zone). We get tons and tons of support tickets sent to use on a daily basis and to get through all in one sitting is impossible. We do what we can as fast/efficiently as we can.  

I don't mean to say you are not, but I feel it is missing on the communication part. If I get to check on my PMs, I can likely find at least 2 without any answer on the topic, neither from the one I asked or anyone else (Read this as no answer given at all). This has been like...idk, 5, 6 months? Decided to nag about that again.

For support tickets, I got one from like 4th April without a response.

Some seem to slip through.
And for those taking time - I am not saying one could expect you to answer on these instantly. But wouldn't it be recommended on replying that the issue was forwarded or someone else will have to be asked or will reply? I mean, I am not talking about 20 minutes without a reply thing, but rather days, or even weeks. (If it helps, there are browser addons that allow you to easily create text clippings)

22 minutes ago, Bakugou is my Man said:

We can’t go around giving a list of qualities each staff member has and which qualifications they don’t. All staff are trained in the same areas. The only areas in training that differ with staff is that some administrators are better at dealing with technical issues than others. That, and some like @Pathfinder are specially trained to work with commissions. 

It is not about there needs to be a clear guidance about the most detailed and extremely specific subjects - it is merely that a quick overview would provide to be pretty useful. I expect such an overview that could be easily created, for which I am willing to offer help, for that matter, could easily cover 80-95% of the support requests (or at least clearly show who to turn to).

22 minutes ago, Bakugou is my Man said:

You’ve been on this site long enough to know that off-topic posts are generally a no no and that contacting a staff member directly is your best choice instead of going off in your thread. 

This is exactly on point of this subject: Who and how?

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3. For me personally, and of course I can't speak for other persons, it is not quite clear who is responsible for, who - or what - to turn to, and so on. Consolidates with 2.

Taking my own example from above, and independent of whether I would be making a fuss about it, or for simplicity's sake, let's just assume I got a warning or got banned. Now, if that happened by a sectional, go to a gmod, if it was by a gmod, go to an admin, if it was an admin...idk, go to another admin? To whom? Or someone else? Write a support ticket? Is the system working right now, which was not always the case? To my knowledge...responses to support tickets in general have been slow, or not happening at all. Or should someone write an email to disputes, or somewhere else even?

What if I want to ask staffers, or admins, in a non-public way about something, that might involve other users or is private by nature? What is the clear given way to do so? Again, I'd be forced to choose between DM a specific admin (who of those is responsible for that case then?), DMing all of them, send a support ticket I don't know whether it will go through or get a reply, write to an admin on discord, post on public nonetheless or turn to that email adress.

Are there clear answers to my questions (in#3)? I don't just mean what do you think, but also: visible on site for users?

 

 

22 minutes ago, Bakugou is my Man said:

I understand that we staff are not perfect but we truly do have the best intentions and we strive to make this place as great as we possibly can.

I am not disagreeing on that! You (as any of the staffers or all together, not you as Venny) are not bound to be a staffer here after all, and you do all of this in your free time! I know my case I am not fine with wasn't done out of ill will but because what you think was best for the case based on your or MLPF staff's values.

I am, and I am willing to call myself butthurt over this, frustrated on my own matter for various reasons, either why it was moved in the first place, to not understanding why the same reasoning was not executed to the other topic I linked, to where it got moved and why that's an issue for me.

Damn, I am derailing again, I promised not to bring up that case in this topic and now I failed with that. I am only intending to nag you about that on DM if you are actually content about speaking it.

Edit: I mean, I am confused here, was confused on some situations especially regarding the who and how before.

Isn't that a sign that there might be an issue in communication thus?

Edit2: I mean, I am pretty forgiving and often just thinking So what, shit happens!  when something goes awry, but I experienced this as an issue that repeated itself.

Edit X: Afk sleep now. Just saying this here so you don't hit page refresh every 20 minutes to see whether I have replied to save you some frustration.

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I do not want to go into detail on that subject in this topic. This topic is about something else.

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Of course, first off, I am a bit biased as there was a topic moderation of mine I am not only not agreeing with nor can I even follow logically. 

If you don’t want attention drawn to something, don’t mention it. This seems to be why you created the topic anyway.

 

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...for that matter, could easily cover 80-95% of the support requests

You don’t understand how time consuming dealing with tickets can be. This isn’t as easy as you think. Like I said, we have tons and tons is support tickets in our possession (over 100 at times) all of different natures and varying degrees of urgency. We obviously put the serious ones before the others. With that being said, however, even getting through a dozen support tickets can take a long while. There is protocol and methods.
 

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For support tickets, I got one from like 4th April without a response.

I understand feeling frustrated that your issue hasn’t been attended to but if it really is that urgent, it would be best to contact a staff member correctly. And if you are unsure as to who to contact, always contact an administrator. Moderators are trained well in dealing with issues but an administrator will probably be the better option. If you don’t get a reply in a timely manner, you can always create a report. I’m sure you’ve noticed that reports are usually tended to a bit more quickly than support tickets.


As you know, we also have a page of guidelines here. This is obviously in an effort to discourage users from breaking rules. Not only that, but it tells users what and isn’t allowed. Therefore, if they have a post removed because they posted something NSFW, it being removed shouldn’t surprise them. This goes back to me saying that sending a PM to every user over every single action is not only not possible but also, in truth, not necessary. Many new users don’t read our rules and become shocked when a post of their has been removed or closed. We are working on a way to ensure that all new users will be exposed to the rules.

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10 hours ago, Bas said:

Notices on rather inactive or not-to-be-bugged-with staffers.

There is no automated way to do that at present. This is why I created the staff section of the "currently online" block. 

 

10 hours ago, Bas said:

2. Not receiving answers from staff what so ever. Whether in a DM or support ticket, this has happened. Again, while essays might be nice, at least any reply would at least indicate something. Maybe a staffer is too busy with whatever, or it isn't their department, but no response at all makes the user just being confusing.

I can speak to support tickets. Apparently for a while the email server for it was down. We have a lack of any dedicated tech staffer so it sat broken for some time. It was fixed but it created a mess of backlogged support tickets. 

Ultimately, people have to sit back and manage expectations on communication. In the grand scheme of things, MLPF is not life critical for any staffer (and it shouldn't be). We pop on when we can and do what we can. I can tell you from my end, I have had less and less time in the last few months to do much of anything on here because of IRL elements. I know that this is the case for most staff at the moment. I make no apologies. 

There is no KPI or any other metric designated or one that will be designated to manage communications, nor will I create one. If you are not getting a reply in a few days from one staffer, just try another. You have done this before, and I find that an acceptable solution considering the limitations of the software that the site runs on. It is also important to not be a time vampire. There is the occasional user who receives an explanation that they see as an invitation to continued 'discussion' on the matter every time they contact staff. Them you have the triage issue. Staff will usually prioritize one matter over another based on perceived importance. There is no way around that without setting up rules that make working on staff mimic a customer service job ... where you get paid. 

I think we do a reasonably decent job considering that we are a fan forum and not a consumer driven business. I appreciate your feedback though. 

 

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11 hours ago, Fluttershyfan94 said:

Then of course in regards to some certain guidelines on who to turn to I agree with you that would be good. Yet in my opinion it is best to simply talk to the moderator in personal messages. Some of the things you do say though are on the staffs responsibilities and I can not talk on their behalf only that you can think of it as them being very busy so perhaps you may just have to send again you know. 

I usually turn to the admin that is online at the moment, hoping I don't disturb (which I probably do!). That's like going to the boss' boss. However, when I do I feel there is an issue that needs quick attention (which took me 10 minutes to decide if I should tell directly in a PM/DM, or do a "report post" which I think would have given the user in question a difficult time, which I didn't want).

It also helps to have at least one moderator you are friends with, or can talk to. They know stuff. Usually more than we (default user group) think.

 

11 hours ago, Bas said:

write to an admin on discord

Forum business belong in the forum.

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13 hours ago, Bakugou is my Man said:

This seems to be why you created the topic anyway.

More of the triggering event than the (whole) background. I want to make this clear.

It was not the first time I had at least some urge to create this topic (but I resisted).

13 hours ago, Bakugou is my Man said:

You don’t understand how time consuming dealing with tickets can be. This isn’t as easy as you think. Like I said, we have tons and tons is support tickets in our possession (over 100 at times) all of different natures and varying degrees of urgency. We obviously put the serious ones before the others. With that being said, however, even getting through a dozen support tickets can take a long while. There is protocol and methods.

First off: Thanks for attending to all of these!

I am not sure you understood me correctly. I did not mean to propose all these tickets would get answered magically. My proposal was to send the requests through the proper channel, and that being visible to users.

(Edit: You prob replied regarding the not replying or taking time issue here, as I just recognize after. I was making the statement you quoted including the numbers towards regarding what I described above of here.)

13 hours ago, Bakugou is my Man said:

 always contact an administrator

I can absolutely only talk about myself here, but these are personal questions that are nagging me whenever I am confronted with that situation or statement on here, without any meant condemning:

Admin A: I talked with that person about that issue before and want to talk about it with another. And I don't want it to escalate any further.

B: Seems to be always busy with other and important stuff, I might annoy that person, keeping it distracted from urgent matters.

C: We have a not-well history together.

D: Isn't talkative much, responsive.

E: Might not be fit for that matter.

F: Super important person who only interferes with MLPF if she cannot avoid it at all.

This is the personal dilemma I usually, often or at least sometimes get into. Without meant to judge or condemn here! It is simply a problem that arises for me personally.

13 hours ago, Bakugou is my Man said:

If you don’t get a reply in a timely manner, you can always create a report. I’m sure you’ve noticed that reports are usually tended to a bit more quickly than support tickets. 

Can't I only file reports on posts?

3 hours ago, Jeric said:

There is no automated way to do that at present. This is why I created the staff section of the "currently online" block. 

Uhm, without wanting to sound dictating:
A - Wouldn't it help to write that on rather inactive staff member's profiles clearly visible? I mean, before one contacts a staff he likely opens the profile, I suppose.

B - Something like this for staff tasks or activity could help and work.

3 hours ago, Jeric said:

Ultimately, people have to sit back and manage expectations on communication. In the grand scheme of things, MLPF is not life critical for any staffer (and it shouldn't be). We pop on when we can and do what we can. I can tell you from my end, I have had less and less time in the last few months to do much of anything on here because of IRL elements. I know that this is the case for most staff at the moment. I make no apologies.  

And you are not required to do! I want to clarify my main critic is not about things taking time. It is about communication, either leaving people wondering whether the request was received in the first place, or whether it is in progress at all.

For support tickets especially I can see a possible semi-solution:


Given that they are afaik sent via email, one could simply add information to the automatically send email: Which could include something like this:

Please be patient. If we haven't replied to your request within x days/weeks, feel free to hit us up again or x days/weeks if it is especially urgent.

This would give an user the feeling they are not annoying or nagging staff if they dig up that request again.

3 hours ago, Jeric said:

There is no KPI or any other metric designated or one that will be designated to manage communications, nor will I create one. If you are not getting a reply in a few days from one staffer, just try another. You have done this before, and I find that an acceptable solution considering the limitations of the software that the site runs on. It is also important to not be a time vampire. There is the occasional user who receives an explanation that they see as an invitation to continued 'discussion' on the matter every time they contact staff. Them you have the triage issue. Staff will usually prioritize one matter over another based on perceived importance. There is no way around that without setting up rules that make working on staff mimic a customer service job ... where you get paid. 

I want to highlight I am bringing up multiple issues here in this topic. Unable to solve one doesn't conclude to unable to solve another. For the (perceived?) responsibility/competence one, a graphical chart who is to be confronted about which problem might help (or a page as linked above). I am willing to put on a template on this.

3 hours ago, Jeric said:

I think we do a reasonably decent job considering that we are a fan forum and not a consumer driven business. I appreciate your feedback though. 

Absolutely, absolutely! And I don't want to be perceived as complaining or condemning - And by the nature of such topics, that is a real danger, always. So if I come over like that, please understand that I don't mean to - it is just not easy on such subjects.

I feel it absolutely hard to give this feedback without having to fear it is taken offensively. So please keep this in mind, it isn't easy to do.

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3 hours ago, Jeric said:

We have a lack of any dedicated tech staffer

I wonder if I *could* help with that, albeit focusing on the tech aspects only. I finished a 3 year apprenticeship as a system integrator and worked half a year in customer service in a system house. I know quite some stuff and commands about Linux, and enough of about the OS in order to navigate to issues.

As an example, fixing a weird Apache internal server error.

Just putting this out as a possible offer here.

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1 minute ago, Bas said:

Given that they are afaik sent via email, one could simply add information to the automatically send email: Which could include something like this:

 

If we had a tech pony sure. That is a workable solution. 

 

I'm working on a different solution anyway. FYI, staff are not bound to engage a user perpetually. In fact, I kind of discourage it depending on the user.  Say someone makes a complaint or suggestion and someone gives the user an answer, and they have the authority to make that call, they don't have to continue the discussion. You have an answer. If you go to another staff for an answer, its usually seen as shopping and unless you were provided someone that is simply wrong, most times it is looked at unfavorably. You see how I close topics when I give an answer? Because we are a volunteer site, and because we all do have things to do, thats a great way at basically saying, "Good question, here's your answer".  Most time's I hear "Communication Issues" and it boils down to "Someone made a simple mistake" or "I did not get what I wanted".

 

Basically, continuing the conversation from that point is completely optional and I would not look poorly at any mod or admin if they ceased communication. Hopefully what I am doing with support tickets will solve the missed initial contacts, but under no circumstances is a staffer required to keep talking if they gave a definitive answer. That's not effective communication. But I have read everything in here, and as it stands we will work on the initial parts making sure support requests and general questions directed to staff or responded to by one of the staffers in authority, particularly when it comes to disputes. 

 

Beyond that, I really don't see the benefit of this thread becoming the very time vampire that an ongoing DM or chat can become. Watch for the new Forum Area soon. Closing this as addressed for now. 

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