Make a game of it for the users, have a bot which reports the user stats (which users can auth via privmsg/ctcp password).
edit: a bot which reports stats on a request basis only, and privmgs all interactions with other users! no channel spam!
However, I think the cool part is that it's not text.
Personally I've find it to be really helpful when I'm stuck just to talk through the problem with somebody else. Often just the act of vocalizing dislodges the log jam.
Got my next product idea: mashup of SAM and Eliza as a developer help line
Hence the rubber duck debugging method:
As I said on the site I owe a lot of our success to the generous spirit of the open source community and wanted to give a little back.
If you're interested in volunteering to take calls:
Shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You should absolutely, totally, utterly figure out a way to charge for this service.
A voice on the other hand is more personal, synchronous and on-demand. I think there's value there and that it's possible to charge for that additional value.
Props to these guys for doing it for free! I hope it works out for you.
One thought: you currently suggest that the experts who volunteer get paid for their support. As an alternative model, you might consider providing credits for priority support. In other words: experts answer the easier questions so support staff don't have to, and then those experts get priority access to ask trickier questions and/or bug reports. Developers really want to interact with those experts anyway, without opening themselves up to handholding-level support questions, so everybody wins.
As an aside, you may also want to make it more clear why your service works better than existing croudsourced support, such as community forums. I think you can tell a pretty compelling story there: less effort to maintain the community resources (since you do the work for them) and phone support rather than forums/lists/etc. The idea of talking to an expert on the phone often seems far more appealing than sending off a mail or a forum post, at least for certain types of questions.
But ... you have to admit that it's a wide-open target for parody: picture the earnest young Rails beginner calling (from Chennai, of course) and getting DHH. From there it slides into some kind of ChatRoulette nightmare involving DHH, _why, Zed ("fuck this shit! Just use Python"), a werewolf, ...
How do you bridge the code-to-voice gap; that is, someone calling in with a question about coding and you have to describe something that requires a lot of code syntax. Do you pass that off to some sort of e-mail type discussion or screen-sharing process, anything like that?
This seems like it could be a great consulting-style opportunity, but also an awesome way to get new developers over the stumbling blocks they experience commonly when picking up new languages.
My curiosity on this stems from past experience, doing phone-based coding or tech support to family or friends - it has always been a major challenge for me to verbally describe some more complex tasks, and 9 times out of 10 I find myself saying, "you know what - I'll just swing by and show you, it'll be a lot easier and faster for the both of us". (I am not a very good auditory learner/processor - I need tactile or visual assistance, and teach others better using the same methods.)
Obviously, some questions you're going to need to work through the code, so we can always move the conversation to text.
So far lots of the calls have been about documentation and best practices which are pretty easy to talk through.
What do you suggest for non-US volunteers (and callers, although I suspect that is harder to solve, at least for free)?
Chap: Recording calls with skype forum post: http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=477581
I love the idea of sharing recorded calls to help more people.
I'm guessing you're browser is automatically creating a link to that phone number and using some default stylesheet. What browser are you seeing that?
I have it installed at home, will try it and then get back to you. Maybe some phones do that as well?.
People used to tout Rails as being stupid easy to use. I.e. http://www.amedias.org/img/java_vs_rails_books.jpg
So, just how complex has Rails become? What are the difficulties people run into?
This is ridiculously awesome. I think your reply did not contribute much of use to the conversation, and I think that's why you got downvoted (wasn't me, I can't downvote).
No one expects free phone-based tech support for an open-source project.
That's true, but there are various reasons for that, one being that it's rarely needed. Now, offering it despite any demonstrated need is an interesting experiment, but it also suggests that the typical paths for learning and support are lacking.
I think your reply did not contribute much of use to the conversation, and I think that's why you got downvoted
I asked a question with an unflattering (albeit realistic) supposition.