Some of our users seem to don’t really know how Krita (as a project) functions or not understand how User Support is done (User Support: helping users, solving their problems with Krita, hardware, use-cases, limitations of tools, misunderstanding on how some features work). That’s natural – nobody knows details before they get inside and can see for themselves.
I did get inside and I’m tempted to write that the answer to the question in the title is “Not at all”, but that’s not actually true – often you’ll get the first answer on reddit.com/r/krita within a few hours. On the other hand, the person answering you will most probably be me…
When I first came to reddit.com/r/krita, a lot of questions were left unanswered, and most of the others had an answer from Boudewijn Rempt: the lead developer. I thought that I’d prefer Krita’s main developer to develop, not answer user questions. I knew that helping Krita on the code side would be difficult because of the complexity of the code and me having little time between uni and writing my thesis, so I decided to help with user support which I could easily do in small chunks of free time. A year later, when I was hired to actually hack on Krita, I realized that now there is, again, a full-time Krita developer doing user support…
Now from all the places I am on (KDE forum, reddit, irc, krita-artists.org), reddit gets the highest number of questions. It’s hard to estimate how many help posts we get there, but let’s say it’s 5 per day. Some of them are quite easy and requires only a link from my links set and the user answer is “Thank you, it’s solved!”, but some of them requires a long investigation into what the user is doing exactly and why the feature that is supposed to be working isn’t working on their system.
On reddit, most posts are answered by me (full-time Krita developer), Snudl (volunteer) and le_becc (volunteer). Recently there is also yotzi – another full-time Krita developer, and Tusooa – ex-GSOC student, volunteer.
On the KDE forum, people helping are mostly Wolthera (full-time Krita developer), Boud (full-time developer and Krita project lead/maintainer) and Ahab (volunteer). Ahab is also great in bug triaging, does a huge amount of work in our bug reporting system. Wolthera is helping on tumblr as well.
On IRC, the helping person is nearly always a full-time developer – either me, Wolthera or Boud, sometimes someone else. On the Krita-Artists forum we don’t get that many help requests yet, so it’s hard to judge. But I did see Wolthera, Snudl and Ahab helping there already. We get quite a few questions on Steam app forum as well, and they are dealt with by Emmet or redirected to other support channels.
So to sum it up (I hope I didn’t miss anyone, if I did, I’m sorry):
- full-time developers: me, Wolthera, Boud, Yotzi (Ivan Yossi)
- volunteers: Snudl, Ahab, le_becc, Tusooa, Emmet
The thing is, our full-time developers are hired to develop Krita. I can’t say for others, but I do user support outside of my working hours. And it takes quite a lot of mental energy to be constantly available. Volunteers have a lot on their plate too – it’s just… Krita is used on 1.5 millions computers with Windows 10 alone, there is no way 8 people are going to manage all the user support that it’s needed.
I know there are also Facebook groups and Discord and other places, but there is a bit of disconnect between the core Krita developers team and people there. I think Snudl is from Discord though.
So, what about it
I believe some new people are needed in the system. I would really like to see someone who would be willing to take the burden of checking every post on reddit, making sure they get the support they need – that every post is either solved, unsolvable or waiting for user response (sometimes indefinitely, which happens much more often than you’d imagine). If there was more than one person, let’s say three of them, then every one of them would have much less to do. If there were a few other users who just check in from time to time and answer some of the questions, even just the easiest ones (basically how to use Krita, or questions solved by one of my links), that would create a situation where no one’s job is too heavy or too time-consuming.
I do believe that the existence of someone who feels responsible for the whole platform is, at least now on reddit, forum etc., quite important – because otherwise some questions might get missed, some difficult ones might not get the attention they need since there is a question just next to it that seems much easier. But “helpers-visitors” are important as well, to keep the user support maintainer sane 🙂
If any of you, dear readers, want to help in any way, or maybe even waited to engage in open source project, even specifically Krita, for a long time but never had the courage to step in, please contact me on IRC (on freenode, or https://krita.org/irc/): tiar or tiar-[any two letters], on http://reddit.com/r/krita: /u/-tiar- , or on https://krita-artists.org: tiar.
Some tips for user supporters: https://docs.krita.org/en/contributors_manual/user_support.html
My powerful list of links: