How does the Helpdesk function?
Club Log is run as a free service, and is dependent upon volunteers who give their time freely. These volunteers are committed to making the service work well, both in terms of developing the software but also providing assistance via the Helpdesk.
Club Log has a user base of around 40,000 users, and if each of those users were to email for help just once a decade, we'll need to handle 4,000 tickets per year, which is about 11 every day. We only have a very, very small pool of volunteers (around three).
Most of our Helpdesk correspondence is very amiable and courteous. We appreciate that solving problems or addressing issues can be frustrating (especially when computers are involved) but even so, we usually manage to resolve each ticket with friendly support on both sides. We take pride in being methodical and thorough in the way we approach tickets, fixing any issues and helping out with the myriad range of problems that arise in the normal course of each day.
The problem of abuse in large user populations
In any large population of people, there are some who are prone to aggressive or disruptive behaviour, and sadly, we see our share of this on the Helpdesk, as you would expect.
On a reasonably regular basis, we have to deal with users who disregard normal courtesy, and treat Club Log staff very badly. The most common triggers seem to be dissatisfaction about FCC or DXCC regulations, remote operating rules, or faults in an ADIF presented to Club Log which users insist we resolve for them. Over-bearing behaviour about matters which are simply a fact of law, or are out of our control, are especially toxic when combined with a sense of entitlement. If a great sum of money had been paid to use Club Log, this might be expected, but Club Log is entirely free. The full breadth of bad behaviour we see is bewildering, and these are just general pointers about what goes wrong.
In simple terms, we have to protect our volunteers from this tiny minority of users, in order to keep the Helpdesk open and functioning for the majority. Volunteers won't stay around if they have to deal with abuse. Because of this, we have a set of rules that first and foremost put the choice in the hands of the volunteer.
Club Log's policy on abuse
- We are volunteers. We do not accept the burden of answering users' tickets unconditionally.
- If a Helpdesk ticket is opened and the tone is frustrated or annoyed, we will always do our best to help. We understand the nature of these situations and we are happy to do what we can. We set the threshold as high as we reasonably can, because simple frustration is not abuse.
- If responses become aggressive, angry, accusatory, intolerant, rude or personal, are clearly worded to cause insult, annoyance, anxiety or simply to provoke argument, then our volunteers have the right to stop replying, without further explanation or any other response.
- If a user is persistent or vexatious in abusing the Helpdesk, then further messages from them may be blocked without notice.
- If a user is being especially problematic to the Helpdesk, or disruptive to Club Log as a whole, their account may be deleted and their callsign may be blacklisted in order to protect both the volunteers and the service itself from further misuse.
How serious a problem is this?
It is a very low-level problem of a few emails from month to month. The level of abuse seen on our Helpdesk is nothing unusual or unexpected in view of the size of our user base, but these incidents have a disproportionate effect on volunteers, so we must keep the problem under control. The abuse policy is our safety net, and a reminder to anyone thinking about abuse to please, treat volunteers with proper respect and patience. They will do everything they can for you, but you must not abuse them.
I think you're ignoring me! What did I do wrong?
If the abuse policy doesn't sound like it's anything you would have broken, but you're not getting replies to emails sent to the Helpdesk, it's very likely your emails aren't arriving here. Don't panic, you can open a Helpdesk ticket directly instead! You don't need to login to the Helpdesk to do this. Just go to this page to open your ticket: