Image of the glider from the Game of Life by John Conway
Skip to content

Why XMPP Part 5- Official Online Dedicated Support

Sometimes, when evaluating a Free and Open Source project, we get all caught up in the technical details, and forget about what really drives consumers to any product- support. Nothing is more important to a user, than being able to turn to someone if they have questions, and get the support they need. It could be the best product in the world, but if there is no one to turn to when the times get rough, chances are, that they won't be using or consuming the product much longer. Of course, there are other factors, but my point, and argument, is that support is the Big Daddy.

So, with that said, who do you turn to when the MSN servers go down? What if you are having login problems or can't get your roster to pull up? What happens when your instant messaging account is getting bombarded with spam? Question after question, users are faced with this often. And who do they turn to? Does MSN have a support channel that you can turn to if you're having troubles? Does AIM? ICQ? Yahoo!? XMPP does, and it rocks!

First off, before I continue, I realize that this is not a unique aspect about XMPP or Jabber. Many Free and Open Source Software solutions have active and willing-to-help communities. Even proprietary solutions have support channels. However, I find it ironic that Jabber seems to be the only IM service with a decent support backbone. Specifically, http://www.jabber.org. The rest of the IM services lack this considerably, and as such, are losing members.

So, let's look at these support solutions. Let's take my example that I had today. I requested SSL certificates from www.xmpp.net to install on my Jabber server. I requested them a few days ago. During the process, I received the SSL key and the SSL certificate request, but not the certificate itself. I was told during the process, that it would take up to 6 hours to receive the cert. Well, 3 days later, I'm wondering what happened. I turned looking for support.

I had a few options available to me, which readily apparend, and easy to execute. I could add Peter Saint-Andre to my Jabber roster, leader of the XMPP Federation, and ask him directly, send him an email, or join a MUC (multi-user chat) on jabber.org, and see if they had any ideas. Well, I chose to add St. Peter to my roster, and ask him directly. He was more than willing to find out what had happened to my certificate, and get the matter taken care of straight away. The support was incredible! I received my certificate, installed it to my server, and am now one satisfied consumer.

Sure. There are toll-free numbers to call, trying to get an issue resolved. They are famous and litter the phone lines. But who wants to talk to a robot or push buttons all day? I certainly have better things to do with my time then waste it talking to outsourced help, only to regurgitate everything again to an actual representative 10 minutes later. Online support, especially IRC or MUC is far superior to toll-free numbers and automated messages. Just ask anyone in #xmlounge on irc.xmission.com how effective online support is.

Now, is this the case for every Jabber provider- say GMail? Not necessarily. I'm not that ignorant. However, is this NOT the case for every legacy/proprietary provider? It is, and that's my point. Community is much more powerful than any mega-corporation out there. Always has. Always will be. And it should be priority #1 for any user to turn to a provider that has *great* support options. Again, jabber.org is one supch provider. There are many others.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. erik using Firefox 2.0.0.6 on Windows XP | August 3, 2007 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    "So, with that said, who do you turn to when the MSN servers go down?"

    They don't. They are distributed on several continents, and several data centers, multi-way replicating and whatnot. They have went down for couple times but after each incident they have seriously developed their infrastructure to eliminate the whole problem class.

    "What if you are having login problems or can’t get your roster to pull up?"

    I have no idea, I have never had that or heard anyone having that happen, at least while using decently updated clients.

    "What happens when your instant messaging account is getting bombarded with spam?"

    I've got couple spam messages, the spammers seem to get banned nowadays more or less automated, I guess they have some automatic filter systems in place. Even the newest trend, chinese sweat shop spam, seems to be handled pretty well. (Most of the spam you get on MSN is from those, little chinese kids using copy&paste, because the bots get banned nearly instantly.)

    "Question after question, users are faced with this often. And who do they turn to? Does MSN have a support channel that you can turn to if you’re having troubles?"

    Most of the MSN users never have any questions after questions. Some do though, as they have not administrated their systems in any sane way and they have broken their applications. I've discussed once with some MS folks and it really seems the #1 reason they are not providing certain type of support is that the bulk of their users is so stupid it is just simply counter-productive for them.

  2. Peter Saint-Andre using Firefox 2.0.0.6 on Mac OS | August 9, 2007 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Happy to be of service! ;-)

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

Switch to our mobile site