Forums Posting Guidelines
For the best results, please read and understand the following guidelines before posting an issue.
We acknowledge GedSite: Reporting Issues by John Cardinal for many of these ideas.
- If you contact us and ask for help, please follow the first expert's advice, and be wary of input from others.
The challenges associated with resolving an issue are mostly related to communication. We need to understand the issue, and to understand several details about your use of the program and your computer. We will guide you through the process of providing us with that information because we cannot gather it ourselves. If you are following advice from other people, you will often make changes that are unnecessary, and unnecessary or not, the changes corrupt our understanding of the details. Making changes that we do not request creates a moving target.
- Keep your message as short as possible, but no shorter.
Omit background material such as why you are using the program. Omit genealogical details unless they are directly related to the issue.
Do not include extensive computer details such as the specific version of Windows you are using, the amount of memory in your PC, etc. If those details are relevant to the problem, we will ask you about them.
Always include the information described in the Specific Advice section.
- Do not uninstall/reinstall anything to try and solve the problem.
There are some issues that are solved by a reinstall, and if a reinstall is the right solution, we will let you know.
- Avoid the trap of trying solutions before you know the cause.
We understand the desire to get past an issue quickly, but throwing solutions at the wall until one sticks will often delay diagnosing and solving the issue properly. Worse still, irrelevant changes may introduce issues that are not discovered until later.
We understand that end users may not have the technical knowledge to diagnose a problem properly, but may want to try solving problems themselves anyway. If you try making changes to solve (or get around) a problem, make sure you undo changes that don't help, and keep track of the changes you have made in case we ask you about them.
Once you contact us, do not try any further experiments. As described below, do not make any changes or take other actions unless we specifically ask you to do so.
- Include the name and version of what you are using.
There are several programs and plugins, and it is important for us to know which one you are using.
- Report one issue at a time.
As mentioned above, solving an issue efficiently depends primarily on good communication. Adding several issues to a single thread makes it difficult to keep them separated, and steps taken to solve one issue might affect another issue.
It's usually best to choose the first issue you encountered if you are reporting unexpected or unwelcome output.
- Describe the change(s) you made.
If you did not knowingly make any changes that you expected to affect the results, say so.
If you made some big changes, such as installing the program on a new computer, or switching from one genealogy program to another, include that information in your message. Do not go into great detail; just mention the change. If the change might be relevant to the issue, we will ask for more details about it.
- Describe the output (or response) you expected.
People sometimes assume that the desired outcome is obvious. It often isn't, especially to someone who is not in the same room with you.
- Describe the output (or response) you got.
It's very helpful to understand the actual output (or response). It's surprising how often people report that they tried something and "it didn't work", but do not describe what did happen. Include screenshots where appropriate.
If you expected a change, but there was none, please state that explicitly.
- If we ask you any questions, please answer them.
We often add numbered questions to our responses. It is very important to answer each question. We follow a problem resolution method where we ask questions whose answers will reduce the set of possible causes. The relevance of our questions may not be apparent to you, but remember, we know how the program works.
If you do not answer our specific questions, you delay finding the solution.
- If we ask you to choose a single data item and answer one or more questions about it, do exactly that.
When the output is not correct for multiple people (or events, etc.), it's usually best to choose a single item and focus on it: details about one item are far more useful than generalizations about several items. Resist the urge to describe several items in detail, whether there are differences between them or not. Describe a single item, as requested.
- Do not make any changes or take other actions unless we specifically ask you to do so.
People often decide on their own to make changes based on cues they take from our question(s). Resist the urge to do so! When we are gathering information, it's important not to change anything unless we request you to do so. If you make changes that we do not request, then we have to reset our understanding of the situation, and answers you provided previously may be invalidated by the changes you made.