Public Member Support vs. Private

Right now, 100% of member support is handled privately. It is the right way to do it as this protects the privacy of our members and allows members & users to ask us questions without fear of the public finding out that they asked or reported an issue.

However, that level of privacy and intimate 1:1 support has a price: Slow response for members + Increased labor load for us.

As of this morning, we’re 921 member and user email support tickets behind….and that number is climbing daily despite us throwing more labor at getting answers to member and user questions. We’re 5-6 days behind in responding to emails vs. our target of next business day response for all queries.

Idea: I wanted to float a concept that I’ve seen catching on in other venues for member/user support that might help us and our members help each other faster:

What if we offered a public version of member support that we’d make searchable so that over time, it would become a super FAQ?

Upsides/Downsides? Your thoughts?



Humm.. Just want to keep an eye on what others think. I have no opinion one way or the other at this point.

I TRUST you though. There are few out there, ‘anywhere’ who attends to business with such attention to detail as your team on EzineArticles.

BTW.. is it OK for me to thank you for my jacket? OMG! Does writing articles that get lots of views have its extra benefits or what?! Ahh that remarkable ‘attention to detail’ raises its wonderful head again. I look so darn cute in my jacket, if I do say so myself and will send a pic asap.

Thank you!!


Comment provided March 28, 2008 at 1:59 PM


Steve Hill writes:

Can you send the pic to me as well Kathy? lol

Comment provided March 28, 2008 at 3:54 PM



I hope I understand what you are asking, but here goes:

What if you posted the problem publicly, but disguised the name or email of the person complaining or reporting a problem?
YOU would know the identity, but viewers would not.
In posting the request/complaint/suggestion, There could be a choice to display or not display one’s identification.

Comment provided March 28, 2008 at 3:56 PM


Thaddeus Ferguson writes:

Sounds like a great except for the fact that the majority of people either believe there question is unique or simply dont bother looking through an FAQ to find the answer.

Although I read somewhere about this new technology that has the abiltty to read email and lead the person to answers that are similar or closely related if you get that or something similar it might work.

But if you simply have a Super FAQ where it is expected for the person to read quite a bit before even finding something close to what they are looking for I doubt if it will curtail the overflow of emails that you receive.

Comment provided March 28, 2008 at 4:54 PM


Edward Weiss writes:

I think it’s a great idea. If you’re speaking about a knoledge database, it works.

Of course everyone wants the one on one attention but if I were running this shindig, I’d probably do it.

Comment provided March 28, 2008 at 8:21 PM


Karen Cook writes:

What Patricia says….

Comment provided March 28, 2008 at 9:34 PM


Alyssa Johnson writes:


I think it’s a great idea. I have a site on too and they have the BEST set up. Their FAQ has answered every question I’ve had but one. That then got answered by another member.

I believe Google’s help area has a setup like what you’re talking about and similar to what Thaddeus was referring to. You start typing your question in and it automatically scans the keywords and shows potential forum discussions that answer your question. If you try to just post a new forum discussion, I think it even prompts to you to be sure you’ve looked in the forums first. This might slow people down and force them to hunt the FAQs.

You might take a look at both places. It’s been awhile since I’ve used Google’s so my memory may be a little fuzzy.

Good luck on this deicison!

Comment provided March 29, 2008 at 6:51 AM




With the beauty of AJAX technologies, we can watch in real-time what a member is asking in their support question and then recommend possible answers before they complete their email question.

The idea is that we would help them get a solution before they are done asking for help to solve the problem.


The chances of us implementing this is pretty slim as we also increase liabilities with a public support system.

It seems that free-based sites such as ours could even consider something like this and then fee-based members could be offered a private level of support. (we don’t have a fee-based membership level yet even though we’ve been considering it for several years now).

Comment provided March 29, 2008 at 9:37 AM


Greg writes:

I think it’s a terrific idea. Reason I believe this is that I would rather suspect article writers are also voracious readers. Make sense?

The community of members collectively could wipe away your backlog and certainly keep it manageable going forward. Each and every one of them is aspiring to be ‘the’ authority on something, aren’t they? Here’s their chance to shine.

Go for it.

Comment provided March 29, 2008 at 11:08 AM


Thomas J. Cummins writes:

Hi Chris, that sounds like a mighty idea and I have no idea why people need their comments to be private, are they so shallow that they cannot stand up for the comments that they make? This may also reduce the number of comments you receive if people know the truth will be known. OOOH I love it, go for it Chris and maybe make it an interactive system completely. That would totally reduce your workload.

A fee based membership might be the ticket to take the clowns out of the system and it could be a double edged sword too as some people are pretty needy. But you are the expert and that is why you are the best in the business, so it is all up to you really Chris.

Whichever way you shoot there will always be some who will be displeased and that is why you are a leader.

Tooraloo and a happy spring to everyone and Kathy Magnusson do we all get to see your new pic with the Jacket? hmmmm Congrats on receiving it, absolutely magical Kathy.

Comment provided March 29, 2008 at 12:56 PM


Thomas J. Cummins writes:

ps: with almost 90,000 members and counting and well umm there are only nine who took the time to write here so I think you know the answer already Chris. Good job.

Comment provided March 29, 2008 at 1:05 PM


Bryan writes:

I think this is a great idea and it coincides with the wikinomics philosophy. Mass collaboration can help provide better performance and better quality. Good luck with everything and thanks for all the support you guys already provide!

Comment provided March 30, 2008 at 8:00 PM



Hi Chris!

I’m late because I’m too busy now that I have two sites and more people are asking me to interpret their dreams for them. I teach everyone how they can do that by themselves, but many people simply want to understand the meaning of a strange dream.

However, only one dream means nothing (unless it is full of archetypes). We need a series of dreams to understand what is happening in the person’s psyche and life. I don’t want to take advantage of people’s ignorance, but on the other hand, I don’t have time to interpret so many dreams!Of course I feel that it is ridiculous to ask people to pay me to interpret only a dream for them. I would have to interpret many dreams and give them advice, etc! But this is too much complication without reason. This is why it is better for everyone to learn how to interpret their dreams alone, with the help of my ebook, instead of asking me to interpret for them one dream or two. Anyhow, this is my problem!

Now, let me think about your problem.

I cannot find a good solution for you because I keep thinking about us, the authors.
I never bother the editorial team if I don’t have a problem with an article or something else that is really unavoidable. Even if I had a big FAQ it would not solve the specific problems that make me send a message to your editors.

I don’t know what kind of messages you receive, but I believe that we, the authors, need to solve our specific problems with specific answers from the editors. Whatever you do, you have to keep this personal contact alive. It is necessary.

Comment provided March 31, 2008 at 12:05 PM



I think you answered your own question when you posed it. “It is the right way to do it as this protects the privacy of our members and allows members & users to ask us questions without fear of the public finding out that they asked or reported an issue.”

I don’t mind waiting for a personal response. I like knowing that even though I need to wait five days, a person will be at the other end of my e-mail.

I can understand your wanting to reduce overhead…don’t we all. And if that is your reasoning, go for it. But if you are worried about response time, I am one member who is happy to wait.

Comment provided March 31, 2008 at 3:45 PM


Allen Graves writes:


I think it is a good idea. Although you may only alleviate a small percentage of personal support requests, you’ll probably start seeing that number (of support requests behind) start going down and stay at a reasonable level.

Allen Graves

Comment provided April 1, 2008 at 8:44 AM



No please. Personal touch is the beauty of Ezine. It may be delayed like the coffee mug I never received! Like I am delayed joining this. But it’s personal and sweet. Keep it private, because it’s personal.

You may specify certain common problems that may not be dealt with personally discouraging us to communicate with these.

Comment provided April 1, 2008 at 9:45 AM



By the way, I noticed that the “Contact” (the Editorial Team) in the author’s page is written so lightly that we can hardly see it. I had to look for the place where I could contact them for quite a while before I discovered it in the right side of my page, near the top.

You could write it in a visible way, so that all authors could easily find a way to contact the editors, in case they need them.

I’m sure that many authors don’t know that they have this possibility in their page.

Comment provided April 1, 2008 at 11:45 AM


Louise Shaw writes:

It’s an excellent idea.

When we were putting together the Groqit web site, we realized that the best favor we could do for ourselves was build a huge set of “Q and As” by topic, and a General FAQ, and make the site searchable. Then we added a forum, and we very much want people to search for answers to their questions there before contacting us.

Humans answering the same question over and over are humans not using their time well.

Also, I think it’s just plain polite (in Forum etiquette) to look for answers first before asking. I know because I’ve seen plenty of people shoved around on forums for not doing the equivalent of RTFM before asking a question that had been addressed previously. I was astounded by one forum which was not searchable, and I asked why they passed up the opportunity to avoid repetitions of the same questions over and over.

Do it. Your members will get used to it, and new ones will both appreciate and expect it.


Comment provided April 2, 2008 at 6:48 PM



I think it is a great idea. I enjoy the information that is available for new writers on creating articles and I think this could add valuable information.

Comment provided April 2, 2008 at 9:42 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

One thing I use to do in our Franchise System, was to answer all questions posed by new people into FAQs, then I made a page for asking questions, and put the online form right under the FAQ “search feature” and noted that if you do not find the answer to your question here, fill out this form. Our questions still kept coming and were in greater detail, but the number of questions was reduced by 67% almost overnight. Well, that was my experience, I think different industry sub-sectors will yield different results, so I cannot guestimate what this will do for you.

Now then, taking this strategy to its fullest, I still allow folks from my former industry sectors to contact me and ask questions and now, I turn those questions into articles, and its great because I build lots of articles, folks can search on Google to find the answer now, which links to me and I no longer have to answer so many questions, because I can always point them to EzineArticles to read the answer, and hopefully they will read it and read other folks’ articles here too?

Think on the synergy behind such a strategy in your article creation strategy, make questions coming into your businesses titles of articles, duplicate your 1:1 to benefit the whole of humanity, and you will find that giving information, brings you your just reward; new clients!

Well, that is my philosophical comment on this concept? Let me know what you think or ask me a question and I will make another article for the World!

Comment provided April 6, 2008 at 4:11 PM


Mohi writes:

I personally think that is a great feature. Will help build user-friendly functionality of the website

Comment provided April 12, 2008 at 11:46 AM


Liz V writes:

@ Lance, I think you have a great idea there.

Comment provided March 23, 2011 at 11:26 AM


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