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"What's wrong with people" - On the subject of support for services
Hello everyone,

I was reading another support topic on the forum today and again the big question popped up in my mind. I have been asking this question myself several times whenever I have seen so many of the support topics here and on other sites.

Why and how is it that people cannot be bothered to provide some basic but crucial information? Like why don't they bother to provide the used OS? AND WHY do all of them basically ignore support guidelines (where it might even be mentioned to include the OS and other information)? This second question is just a cherry on the cake. At FreeVPS we made some clear support guidelines to be able to provide proper, accurate and fast support. No one absolutely bothered to follow them (excluding people here that actually always opened proper support topics already since day one).

This basic information are very much necessary. They improve how support is given. The quality of provided support and solution does kind of depend on them, too.

Example: If there is some kind of issue with a package installation (e.g. SSH) and no OS information is provided but simply the package manager output. Now the package manager as can be seen there is apt. Without the OS though this information is not really helpful. There are so many OSs using apt as their package manager. And in this very specific example that bases on a real support topic here, the user has been using Ubuntu (information was provided in a later post after it was asked for). So after that, the error message from the package manager + OS has lead to an instant reason for the issue and a solution after only a few minutes of research.

That's the thing I'm talking about. If the user had initially provided the OS already... I wouldn't need to ask for this information and could have already found a (possible) reason and (maybe) the right solution.

There is also other information that can be helpful (depending on the case though). And I had run ins with users... where I asked for this information and the user kept evading my request... Guess what! It took several days and many replies until the issue was solved because they simply couldn't provide the requested information and kept telling me something totally different is the issue. In the end... I end up actually looking into the issue on there server MYSELF and in 99% of the case IT IS EXACTLY as I thought it was.

If people think that I or others do this just as a hobby and with little knowledge... Well, I don't. It's my profession and I know from real life experience and hard work that this crucial information can be a game changer. Honestly I can't stand people who open tickets sometimes and provide little information or open oneliner topics without any information at all. I'm thinkful for all posted error messages though. Stuff like "I can't start <service name> on my server" is NOT HELPFUL!

So I ask myself the big (overall) question: What's wrong with the people?

I've stopped asking that question a long time ago @Hidden Refuge, but it is still irritating. Particularly when you can see the person hasn't gone to any effort to explain the problem properly and to provide all of the information. I guess they don't think along the same lines as you do.

Do you think it would help if I put the Guidelines for creating a support request on top of each thread that is being created? Like what are the most essential information you need? If we can put it in only a few lines, possibly it could be helpful? As I find the same people unable to read Guidelines beyond the first line. If at all.
Thank you to Post4VPS and VirMach for my VPS 9!  I'm finally up and running again after the upgrade to KVM.
Thank you for responding to this topic @deanhills.

Well, unfortunately, I think that this might work out as well as sticky topics with guidelines did. I mean this serious. This could be seen and sometimes still can be seen very well in the advertising forums where such a information box has already been implemented.

Just saying. Anyway. It's just a bit sad to see this everytime.
Sadly most people don't read the guidelines.

I guess an ideal way is that we create a custom form for users to fill in each necessary field when they start the thread.

Something like when they register a new forum account, they cannot proceed unless they provide all critical information.

(10-12-2019, 02:43 PM)Hidden Refuge Wrote:  Thank you for responding to this topic @deanhills.

Well, unfortunately, I think that this might work out as well as sticky topics with guidelines did. I mean this serious. This could be seen and sometimes still can be seen very well in the advertising forums where such a information box has already been implemented.

Just saying. Anyway. It's just a bit sad to see this everytime.
Do you have a specific sticky topic in mind? I checked but didn't find one I thought was comprehensive - this one is more like a framework for where to post and what not to post - possibly the one you had in mind is not up and running after the Forum was closed - or I missed it?:

What are the most important points you'd like to see covered in a sticky "guidelines" for submitting support requests?
Thank you to Post4VPS and VirMach for my VPS 9!  I'm finally up and running again after the upgrade to KVM.

Thanks for your reply, bud. That's actually something that could work, in one or another way, much better than sticky guideline threads or information boxes above the threads.

Of course it is much harder to implement compared to a thread or information box.


The topic you linked was one of these topics where we previously tried to make clear how to properly request support for the provided service / VPS. There was also a different one which however got removed later. It was actually a bigger and well written topic (much more detailed) but I don't even remember what the reason for removal was. I wasn't active as staff when it was removed.

The most important things - quick at hand (imho):
- Which VPS from here the user has (I know about the profile thing but it seems sometimes people don't update it or it is out of date? When I ask them they tell me a different VPS than their profile says.)
- The used OS and its architecture
- What exactly was done before the error/issue occured (by that I don't mean things such as "I installed package xyz" - that's not enough information. A bit more detail.)
- Screenshots or a different copy of the error message(s)
- What steps have been already taken to solve the issues (possibly here also provide links to solutions you already tried to help us avoid reposting the very same not working solutions).

No one liners saying "this or that doesn't work" or similar stuff.

Optionally (probably asked too much) it would be great if people would post links to guides they followed when they ran into the issues they report. Often I experience that people used guides to set things up... and these guides are actually a great help to retrace what has been done on the system and what could have gone wrong. They help to reproduce the issue. That's optional though because not everyone uses guides for every case probably.

Who knows but actually I might be asking for too much already. In real life experience always shows that support tickets are pain to deal with. However here we can at least expect that we all are the same group of users "VPS administrators and operaters" and not two really different separate groups (e.g. normal end user vs IT system administrator). We might be on different levels with our knowledge but we're still dealing with the same tasks and material.

People simply should be more detailed. That's all I'm trying to say. For example the last case I helped with was a good example. Link here.

phpMyAdmin was installed via a package manager and removed incorrectly. The attempt to reinstall it via the package manager failed therefore. Previous personal experience taught me that doing something manually such as removing things on things installed through packager managers can mess things up really bad. Fortunately OP was very cooperative and we could resolve all issues within less than 2 hours.
I know I do not provide support, but maybe if you introduce a template that users can follow it might be able to get more information about the situation before the case is started. I didn't really know how to explain my situation well, nor did I know that I kind of needed to tell previous things that have happened on my VPS that lead up to that problem, but if there were a template with questions such as:
"What are you currently experiencing?"
"What errors do you receive, if any?"
"What have you tried to resolve the problem, if you can?"
"What were you doing before this happened?"

These might help...but then again, I missed the stickied Support Format topic that was in the VPS Support, so perhaps make that a requirement for all threads.
Thank you Post4VPS and BladeNode for VPS 6

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