The Eiffel Tower Is in London. EDIT: I Mean Paris. EDIT: Improving User Support

If you went on Wikipedia and saw this on the page you would wonder “Why don’t they just fix the page to say where it is instead of leaving the wrong location on the page?” And then you would fix it. But for some reason when it comes to people asking questions on the internet this kind of thing is a problem, especially when getting technical help. I love reading two pages of information only to get to the end to see an “EDIT: Oh actually what I want to do is something completely different!”

It’s no secret that I am not a fan of out of date crap on the internet, especially when it breaks people’s computers. And it’s more frustrating when you can’t fix it, like old garbage on blogs.

Part of this work involves keeping information on our resources up to date, removing junk, and general housekeeping. I’m going to concentrate on how we do this on Ask Ubuntu, but it applies for any resource you might be using, so apply as needed.

Other than answering questions, one of best things you can do to improve the quality of the site is to get information out of the user. This is hard.

The single most effective thing you can do here is to show the person how to get the information they need and then add it to their question. This is crucially important, and is the difference between an unanswerable “Wireless doesn’t work” and a highly detailed workaround that has a decent chance of working for someone. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t; but when it does work, you have an opportunity to help a person out. A good edit can make all the difference:

How can I help fix this?

The first thing you can do is look at the list of incoming questions over the next week and when you see one that is vague and incomplete, fix it! You can do this by clicking on this link.

And adding some detail. After you submit it it gets tossed in the review queue:

Now in this case this person still doesn’t give us enough information, so we can likely leave a comment asking for some, however the question is now much more specific, and will at least be more relevant in search results.

Janitorial Work made fun!

One of the nice things the Stack Exchange folks did was make reviewing actually kind of fun, like a video game. Once you’ve got 125 reputation you unlock the review link in your profile:

After 80 edits you earn the Strunk and White badge for your effort and you can join me and the 48 other users who make continual improvements to the site.

After you earn that badge you start earning progress towards the highly coveted Copy Editor and Electorate badges. One for improving content, and the other for voting to ensure good content floats to the top:

These last two badges are not easy, they take a good deal of effort to earn, but it’s worth it. I’ve been using linux for most of my adult life, and I still learn something new every single day just by formatting and editing content. It’s my first answer when someone asks “How do I learn more about Ubuntu”? Spend a week fixing up incoming content and organizing and you’ll be an expert in no time.

How can I get started?

We’ve assembled some places where you can start submitting fixes right away. Perhaps a post needs a screenshot or some formatting help. Maybe the person doesn’t natively speak English and needs their grammar fixed up.

Can you add any links to official documentation to existing answers? Can you add links to software recommendations? Links to for references? Crosslinking to other posts that might help the next person learn more?

We have tons of content that can always be improved, feel free to dig in, and if you need help Ask on Meta for guidance. Good luck!