Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Project: Live Help Links

Screenshot taken in Ubuntu running GNOME deskt...Image via Wikipedia
While sitting in on Monday, I decided that adding links like that one to the Ubuntu docs would add some "Live Chat" feel to Ubuntu. I proposed the idea to the Docs Team, didn't get much in the way of negative feedback, and decided to go forward with the plan.

There are several things that need to be worked out:

  • Since throwing everyone into #ubuntu would be a bad idea, we probably need to use application-specific links
    • Are these for Ubuntu only (#ubuntu-application) or do we use the official channel?
    • Do we include support for all applications (a huge undertaking) or just default ones (easily manageable)?
  • How do we make this prominent and easy to understand?
  • Since not all applications have official support channels on Freenode, how do we handle the others?
    • Create new channels on Freenode. This answer is especially useful if we went with #ubuntu-application channels and less appropriate if we want official channels.
    • Use a service like We are depending on a third party, which is not something I want to do long term.
    • Launch Empathy. Empathy's IRC support is terrible, and it doesn't support passing irc:// URIs now.
  • How do we handle internationalization. My thought is to leave that up to the language teams. They can decide what channels to use based on whether they exist and/or are populated.
Quite obviously, I'm not the first person to think of this: there are two projects on Launchpad that are similar (but dead). They depended on GAIM, though (and that should tell you their age), while I am proposing a method which works without an installed IRC client and which works across all flavors of Ubuntu. There have been many moves to get XChat into the default install to push more live help.



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