You can help other members of the free software community quickly and with little effort by answering support questions in Launchpad Answers.
Anyone can answer any question in Launchpad. However, if you're keen to help out on an on-going basis, you can make sure you stay up to date with new questions by becoming an answer contact.
As an answer contact, you have two main jobs:
- reviewing new questions
- creating stock answers to frequently asked questions.
You or anyone else can volunteer to become an answer contact for a project. All you have to do is click the Set answer contact link on a project or distro's Answers overview page. If you're the admin of a team, you can also set that team to be an answer contact.
Important: when you become an answer contact, you're asking Launchpad to send you an email each time someone asks a question about that project or distro. If you make one of your teams an answer contact, you're subscribing each member to also receive that email. You should gain each member's permission before you make the team an answer contact.
Volunteering to be an answer contact is the easy bit. While Launchpad provides the mechanism to offer help to people, each project can choose for themselves how they deal with user support queries.
To find out about any such conventions, you should get in touch with one or two of the other answer contacts. Visit any of the project's Answers pages and expand the answer contacts box, in the left-hand column, for a full list.
Responding to new questions
Once you're an answer contact, Launchpad will email you each time someone posts a new question to your chosen project or distribution.
You can also see a list of questions awaiting an answer by using the Open filter towards the top of the page.
Handling frequently asked questions
Every free software project has questions that crop up regularly.
If you're an answer contact for a project, you can create a library of stock answers to the project's frequently asked questions.
Answering a question with an existing FAQ
When you answer a question, you can choose to use an existing FAQ answer. This saves you from typing an answer that has already been given by one of the project's answer contacts.
Step 1: Visit the open questions page for the project you're interested in. For example: https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu
Step 2: Click Open in the menu, then select a question from the list.
Step 3: Click This is a FAQ in the menu.
This is a FAQ
Step 4: Launchpad will search for any existing FAQ answers that appear to be relevant. If you see a relevant answer, select the radio button beside. Otherwise, you can enter your own search terms to look for other FAQ answers that may be useful to the original questioner.
Note: If you can't find a relevant answer but think that the question should be considered a FAQ, skip to the next section Creating a new FAQ.
Step 5: You can send a message to the questioner to explain why you're sending them a link to a FAQ. Launchpad automatically enters a generic message in the Answer Message text-box, which you can customise.
Step 6: When you're ready to send the FAQ to the questioner, click the Link FAQ button. A link to the FAQ and your message will then appear as an answer, alongside any other answers, to the question.
Creating a new FAQ
Continues from after step 4 in the section above.
Note: Although any user can answer a question with an existing FAQ answer, only answer contacts for the project can create a new FAQ answer.
Step 5: If you can't find a suitable FAQ answer, click create a new FAQ in the page's introductory text.
Create a new FAQ
Step 6: Specify relevant keywords to improve the chances of your FAQ being found in searches.
Step 7: Enter the text of your FAQ answer. You should make sure that your answer is accurate and complete as it will be used as the canonical answer to this problem. Alternatively, enter a simple explanation and a link to an external page where the reader can find more details (for example, if the complete answer is contained in the project's wiki or documentation).
Step 8: When you are happy with your answer text, optionally customise the Answer Message, then click the Create and Link button to add your FAQ to Launchpad and send it to the questioner.
As an answer contact, you'll receive quite a bit of email from Launchpad. To help you deal with this email, Launchpad uses special headers to help you filter incoming messages.
The X-Launchpad-Message-Rationale header appears in all email that Launchpad sends you. This tells you why Launchpad sent you the email, which is particularly useful if you want to find the quickest way to stop that type of email.
X-Launchpad-Message-Rationale: Answer Contact (Launchpad itself)
Emails from Launchpad Answers have the X-Launchpad-Question header, which is made up of:
Product: the project that the question is about.
Status: open, needs info, answered, solved, invalid or expired - more question statuses.
Assignee: the person assigned to work on the question, if any.
Priority: always set to normal.
Language: the language the questioner chose when asking their question.
Here's an example:
X-Launchpad-Question: product=launchpad; status=Open; assignee=None; priority=Normal; language=en
Different projects favour different ways of planning future releases and organising chunks of work. Blueprint is Launchpad's light-touch specification tracker that makes it easy to organise and follow future work.