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I'm quite interested in this, so will read further and figure out if I could help at all :-) cheers, Privatemusings 01:41, 16 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Great, do you have expertise in programming? Cacycle 15:10, 18 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Would like to help with coding, too. My PHP knowledge is a bit rusty, but I will do my very best :-) --Frank Schulenburg 14:44, 19 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

General way to start[edit]

My current ideas about this project are as follows:

  • Net SmartIRC IRC client library for PHP for interaction with a IRC server
  • Cross-domain approach, to allow cross-wiki help and to make testing easier
    • Cross-domain push/pull using "dynamic script element src loading" method, either using own code or code from webchat2
  • Database backend (mySQL, SQLite) to store messages (probably scales better than text file-based approach)
  • Help window should open in a separate modal (always in forground) browser window
  • Help window should reload previous conversation after (e.g. accidentally) being closed

What do you guys think? Cacycle 15:09, 18 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Yes, Net SmartIRC was also my favorite from the moment you found it. I also like the idea of storing messages in a database -- it will be of great need for us to evaluate the pilot in terms of what were the most often asked questions (and also with regard to quality control). Do you think this will be difficult to build a first version that enables communication between a client browser window and an IRC channel? I had a look at the Net SmartIRC library and it seems like it contains most of what we need… --Frank Schulenburg 14:42, 19 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I am still waiting for my toolserver account and will be a bit busy in real life and with other projects these weeks, but it is definitely on my list and I am pretty sure that we as a team will get a running system in time for your project. For simply saving the communications and to evaluate them it would be better to dump to a text file, the database is just an easy tool to buffer and manage the posts short-term for program use. Cacycle 19:18, 20 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]


Is LiveHelp intended to replace the existing #wikipedia-en-help (freenode) or supplement it? -- OlEnglish 02:54, 4 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Hi OlEnglish, LiveHelp is very much experimental. As part of the Public Policy Initiative we are aiming at finding the most efficient way to support new users. LiveHelp is one of the different options we're exploring; another option is to support new users with a mentoring program (like the one on the German Wikipedia). Finally, it will be up to the community to decide – we can just document the outcome and make a recommendation. --Frank Schulenburg 17:05, 5 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
The technical aspects are the least of the concerns - viz. the connection mechanism. The bigger questions are, how will you determine who can provide help (without introducing excess bureaucracy) to ensure a reasonable quality-standard but without discouraging potential helpers; how you will avoid problems of trolling, and indeed well-intentioned but misguided advice.
Before coding, would it not be worthwhile looking at how the existing support network operates, and considering the issues faced by people including OlEnglish and myself, every day, as we try to help users over IRC? Chzz 20:39, 5 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Chzz and OlEnglish, we want help from people like you who have experience in this area to figure out how to make online help better. LiveHelp is certainly not intended to replace #wikipedia-en-help, which I've been studying lately and which works well in many respects (although it might make sense to apply the proposed technology to it further down the road). At least as we'd like to use it for the Public Policy Initiative, the idea is to provide more focused (and more easily accessible) help to a focused audience of students who are assigned to edit Wikipedia. So LiveHelp would be used by the participants in the Wikipedia Online Ambassadors program that is starting up (which I hope many of the #wikipedia-en-help regulars like you two will be interested in joining and helping to shape), and at first at least, will be limited to those articles that the students are working on. If it works well, maybe it's something that could be linked from every edit page or something, but that's just an idea.
Your bigger questions are good ones, Chzz. The short answer is that we'll be inviting people to apply to become Online Ambassadors, and do things like mentor specific students on-wiki and help groups of them via IRC or other media. So people who have a reasonable record of being helpful and friendly with newbies will be accepted.--Sage Ross 15:17, 10 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

(/me does slight obligatory grumble about this being on outreachWiki much nicer in my opinion to have it on a wiki more accessed by community) While I share some of the things OlEnglish and Chzz were talking about I do think this is something important we want to look at. I've talked about something very similar with a few people over the past month and think at some point in the (hopefully not to distant future) it would be a good thing to try and integrate some with a reorganized Volunteer Response Team (whether its OTRS or a replacement collection of stuff etc). Jamesofur 10:01, 11 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

James, this certainly could use some coordination. I think you are aware, "mentor specific students on-wiki and help groups of them via IRC" is an excellent summary of what I have personally done for about 15+ hours a day for considerable chunks of the past 2 years. Chzz 20:07, 13 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Obviously, I'll admit I am not totally sold that this would be the best thing for the PPI. In many ways I think leveraging the existing base and tools for IRC would end up being more useful in the short run for them and us and that creating a new system (where both sets of users are figuring it out) may not be the right thing. My biggest interest was that the system itself could be very useful. My example was OTRS where I think parts would have to be more private because of the nature of the discussions in questions as you know. I also however think there are parts of OTRS that could be opened to a wider segment of the community to better server the users with small questions. Especially with questions about editing or quick article issues, fast response makes everything better (more likely they will edit, less vandalism staying up etc), and a wider community can help do that. Jamesofur 09:28, 14 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Two ideas and a concern[edit]

If this is used (what to do about spam users?), perhaps there should be a function that helpers can use to open a page on the helpees computer. Perhaps it automatically prefixes "Wikipedia:" to stop abuse. Rather than "HelpBill: See WP:CITE for how.", the helper can type "HelpBill: !open cite" and then "HelpBill: See the page I just opened for you." Secondly, perhaps this can be used to contact people live? As in the editors. If this functionality is used, it shouldn't be too hard to initiate a conversation with a logged in user - "User:Example Can you please stop this edit war." The how to can be a semi guarded or user protected to stop abuse. A930913 20:38, 20 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

on IRC, HelpMeBot (currently running in #wikimedia-outreach on freenode) converts these (for instance, WP:CITE resolves properly. Interwiki links and language versions work, too. That could be used for a slightly lower-tech version of your suggestion. -Pete (talk) 02:49, 15 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Started programming[edit]

I have finally started programming this application. Sorry fo the delay. The toolserver guys ignored my requests for a toolserver account so I have now rented my own server. Please email me for details. 07:27, 12 January 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Who are you? Mono 02:15, 27 January 2011 (UTC)[reply]


How about other users? WHat if they address bill? And who to decide who help whom? --Tyw7 (talk) 00:47, 15 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Hi Tyw7, The basic idea is to set up a technical framework within which helpers could organize their efforts. So, your observations are right on: it's important to present a simple and clear experience to the newbie, and not have them navigate a whole host of experienced Wikipedians talking at them all at once. But the solution envisioned here is that the helpers would work together to prevent that happening; they could interact in the IRC room, without distracting the newbie, and determine "Bill's going to help this guy, the rest of us will hang back." Exactly *how* they make those decisions, need not be prescribed in the technical specs; but it's assumed *that* they would come up with an effective way of doing so.
Make sense? -Pete (talk) 00:56, 15 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Comparison to IRC[edit]

Sonia showed me this and I had a couple comments, comparing this to the existing IRC-based system.

Advantages over IRC:

  • Increasingly deployed and shown effective in customer support organizations.
  • Simpler interface, no confusion due to responses intended for other users.
  • Helps eliminate nonresponse by helpers due to diffusion of responsibility.

Disadvantages over IRC:

  • Unlike customer support employees, who are all trained to solve the same set of basic problems, even the best Wikipedians are frequently specialized and best able to answer questions in only a few areas. If a user raises a question they cannot answer, they will be forced to transfer them to another helper. In IRC on the other hand, helpers can lurk until they see a question that they believe they are suited to answering, then "jump in."
  • #wikipedia-en-help is not strictly a help channel - helpers meet and network through it, leading to future collaborations.

One interesting hybrid solution I came up with is for helpers to log onto both the LiveHelp system and IRC simultaneously, and to redirect helpees to IRC when they don't know the answer, then everyone tries to help them. If this happened infrequently enough, multiple-helpee situations would occur only rarely. Dcoetzee (talk) 01:55, 4 June 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Using Spark[edit]

Why not do what Mozilla does with Firefox support and use Spark, a free, cross-platform chat client that includes canned responses and queuing? There also seems to be a web version, and something like this would have far more advantages over the current IRC system yet be easier to implement/manage than a whole new extension? Fetchcomms (talk) 03:13, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]