Mozilla offering limited live chat support for Firefox
Emphasis on limited so far, our reporter finds
Computerworld - Mozilla Corp. has been quietly offering live Web support for the Firefox Web browser since the beginning of the year. It is one of the open-source group's experiments in improving the user experience and woo more of them from Microsoft Corp.'s still-dominant Internet Explorer.
True to its open-source heritage, Firefox Live Chat is a valiant, all-volunteer effort. But the service remains in beta, buggy, and only available to users several hours a day during U.S. working hours.
"The hours of operation are currently very conservative," acknowledged David Tenser, who runs Mozilla's support programs, in an e-mail.
Rivaling Linux itself as most popular open-source project, Firefox has never had trouble attracting volunteers. More than 1,000 people freely contribute code, 20,000 test pre-beta versions of Firefox every night and another 500,000 test the actual betas.
But for the unglamorous job of chat-based technical support, Tenser has only been able to recruit about 20 volunteers. And during the actual 3-4 hour sessions, only about 3-5 of them are actually available answering users' questions.
"What we really need is more exposure so people can both discover how powerful this service is to users, as well as how fun it is to participate," wrote Tenser.
Officially introduced in late 2004, Firefox has been downloaded more than 400 million times. New Mozilla CEO John Lilly claims there are 150 million active users, including 50 million people that use Firefox every day.
Still, Mozilla would like to improve its retention rate, which it estimated several months ago to be less than 30%.
Mozilla already offers several other forms of user support. Those include forums and newsgroups where users can post questions, knowledge base (KB) articles they can read at their leisure, and even an Internet Relay Channel (IRC) channel aimed at developers and more advanced users needing live support.
As of early February, Live Chat volunteers had answered more than 4,100 chat requests, or about 100 a day, Tenser said. Most questions have been from users who had been unable to connect to the Web, usually due to firewall issues, Tenser said, or users having problems related to Firefox extensions.
This reporter tried out Live Chat. The first time, no volunteers were available during the scheduled time. The second time, a tech support volunteer offered a fairly general fix to one problem (remove extensions one at a time to see which one was causing AJAX-heavy sites to render improperly), while suggesting I wait for Firefox 3 to fix another (occasionally missing passwords).
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- What Datapipe customers need to know about the new PCI DSS 3.0 compliance standard This handy quick reference outlines what PCI DSS 3.0 is, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the new...
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Live Webcast Best Practices for the Hyperconverged Enterprise Network To the Age of Constant Connectivity and Information overload
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Government Agency Webifies Outdated COBOL Applications Let this CTO tell you how his agency converted 1980s-era green screens into an e-filing portal for the 100,000 cases handled each year...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the... All Applications White Papers | Webcasts