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Community Central is Wikia's central help hub. Day in, day out, users come along seeking help with all sorts of things. Helping out can be a very strenuous work here at Wikia, especially if you don't know what you're doing. I have tried to explain how to tackle a help request in this blog.
Footnote: the title can be a bit misleading as everything given here does not exclusively apply to Community Central.
- Understand the question: One of the most basic and common mistakes you're prone to make when assisting other users is misunderstanding the question. Not everyone has a good English; not everyone knows how to express what they're thinking in a way the listener would understand. Always try to interpret what the other person is asking. You can always ask them more in detail about the issue. Make it a point to not begin working on a solution unless you are sure you fully understand the question.
- Know when to stop: This one is pretty obvious. You should always know what you're capable of helping with. Dragging the question for details will help neither side and will result only in a waste of time.
- Have a polite approach: Always be polite when answering questions. Maintaining a nice attitude while helping out will not only help resolve the issue quickly, but also leave a nice impression about Community Central as a whole on the other user, especially if they are a first-timer. Rude and sarcastic behavior will only help in driving users away.
- Help as adequately as possible: Always try to make sure that all questions that you can answer are answered. Users often have follow-up questions that often go unanswered, so make sure you answer all with what you know.
- Don't spoon-feed: A common mistake you're likely to make would be spoonfeeding the user seeking help. It is always better to walk someone through solving an issue, rather than doing it for them. This becomes especially crucial when the medium of asking the question is publicly visible. That way, when other users stumble upon the discussion, they will know how to solve the issue themselves. This does not work for scenarios when despite explaining several times, the user is unable to help themselves. It is better to do the work for them in this case.
- Redirect: When you're unable to understand a question, redirect the user to someone who you think might. If the question asked is in another language, redirect them to that language's equivalent of Community Central, or to someone you know who can communicate in that language. If you do not know the answer to a question or issue, simply redirect the user to the forum or the contact form.
- Verify yourself: When responding to questions with answers you're unsure of, recheck your answer with the help pages and other users, so that you do not go about leaving inaccurate responses.
- Don't duplicate: Avoid duplicating previously given satisfactory responses at all times. Take the time to read the question and if it has been sufficiently answered, there is no need of you to reply. Your rewording would not change the given solution. However, if you feel like something more could be added to increase the value of the given answer, feel free to add it. It is also possible that you might unintentionally end up leaving duplicate responses to a thread in situations when you don't reload the thread before posting a response. Always try to reload the thread before posting your reply to avoid duplicates. Even if you do leave a duplicate response, as general courtesy, remove it if it's the second reply and conveys exactly the same point as the first.
- Don't "caret": Posting carets (^) or similar responses ("You need to do what the user above me said!") are unnecessary and uncalled for. Their net contribution to the discussion is zero and are nothing more than unneeded extra baggage.
- Reference and provide additional links: When answering questions, always make it a point to provide reference links for further reading. This not only helps the OP, but also to anyone reading the discussion interested in reading more on the topic.
- Don't necropost: Necroposting refers to posting irrelevant replies to a thread after a long period of time. However, if you see an unanswered thread long dead for a long time and believe you can provide an appropriate answer, post your reply. This also applies if you see a thread with misinformed replies.
- Don't staple your assumptions: This generally applies when users are asking for features or requesting for a script. If someone wants to know how they can look at the most popular categories on their wiki and you do not know any way how, don't post a "I don't think that's possible" response. If anything, you could follow that thread and learn about it if it receives any answers.
- Don't post if you don't know the answer: This goes in junction with the assumptions one. If you don't know the answer to a question, don't post a reply just for the sake of posting a reply. You can redirect the question to staff, but since it's an open discussion, the best course of action would be to wait for other users to assess and respond to the question first.
- Learn to distinguish: The forums are not just a place to ask questions - they're used to give feedback, opinions or any general discussion for that matter. Learn to distinguish between legitimate questions and opinions. If someone is asking for your opinion on the color scheme of the global navbar, don't go suggesting methods to change it. If you absolutely feel like you need to, contact the user on their message wall.
- Stay in main: Always try to answer questions on the main chat, so that other users can learn something out of it. However, if the chat is being very disruptive that helping out is not possible, move to PM. This also applies when the user specifically asks for help via PM.
- Help in getting help: If you're unable to help and you know someone who might, you can ping them.
- Seek other ways to help: Knowing an answer to the issue is not the only way you can help. You can provide links to relevant help pages. Or calm the chat within your power so that the user asking for help is attended first. Or ping the mods if the situation worsens. Or redirect them to the forum. Or redirect them to the contact form. There's always something you can do to help!
Other ways to help out
- In chat, encourage users to follow the guidelines and avoid the trolls.
- User:Josephyr#Helping Out