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If your client has a problem with a site, send them here and ask for details (supportdetails.com)
377 points by msacca on Jan 29, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 54 comments

Would be smarter, less effort and maybe remove or change the spam vector if the process were this (myself being the developer):

1. Visit site. Enter my email address and maybe client name. It gives me a unique URL (supportdetails.com/jasd9s89ajd698/ or optionally support.mybusiness.com/clientname).

2. I email that to the client and tell them to click the link. [Risk of training them to click strange links...]

3. They visit the page and get a Thanks message. It automatically sends me all the info I need.

Burden on the client is lowered. First time I saw this site or similar (been around for years) I wondered about quickly building an alternative that offered white labeling and the above process instead. Easy weekend project for someone, I imagine.

Have a look down on the right hand side. You can already create a link that has the form prepopulated. It rook me ages to find and I've been using this site for a long time.

I came here to suggest exporting via giving the user a unique url that anyone can go to, but your way is far far better for a layperson. Visiting a link is about as foolproof as it could be.

Could be implemented as freemium, too, by charging for more than 7 uses a week to the same email address.

And then a secret mode where, heading to the URL, a cat shows up on screen and appears to examine you through the display, measures up the browser window, tries to look up at the browser chrome, punches something into a calculator, etc. Cat Technical Support.

That's absolutely adorable. Anybody want to make this with HTML5?

It'd be a viral winner (puppy mode vs cat mode!), but how often do people really need this sort of function? And when they have the problem, how many people just email the client "What browser are you using?" (initiating that "Is it Windows?" conversation) rather than Google "best way to get support information from my nutbag client"?

Cat mode sounds immature, but MailChimp gets by.

Is there another common process where by technical people need to collect information from internet battlers?

"What browser are you using?" is probably one of the most commonly used methods, and also the most pointless question that one could ask of a non-tech-savvy client. You're bound to get replies like "I'm using Google" or "What's a browser?"

A "cat mode" that gets widely noticed could help many of us deal with clueless clients. Make the cat follow laser pointers and mutter lolcode while it collects every possible piece of information about the client's system. Really, anything to make it more viral would contribute to the Greater Good (tm) and more than compensate for immaturity.

Even something as simple as a browser-specific tuturial for clearing the cache would be immensely helpful. For example, Dropbox customizes its download & installation tutorial for each user's browser. It's really helpful.

I see this site being used heavily for phone support, and in that case your method - although perfect for email - won't hold up.

What'd be great is a a-z0-9 unique code that's presented on each load. Then the user would only need to read me that code, I could go to the site and enter that, and immediately see all the details that were stored for that user.

You can send a URL by text, you can view email on your phone - not sure how the method fails for phone support?

I think the parent to your comment has it right; getting a transcription of an arbitrary long alphanum code right over the phone can be tedious.

I just spammed some guys by using this site. You may want to at least do a CAPTCHA. You or your ISP may receive complaints or get blacklisted if you're not careful.

Update: I also forged/made-up the from email address. Could have fun on an open wifi network with this. I suggest you stop, and think about all the ways this could be abused (and how you can prevent that) before proceeding.

Update2: The eamil "from header" actually has the forged address in it so if the recipient victim replies, the reply goes to the sender victim. Nice. The real culprit is clearly identified though:


Received: from heroku.com (unknown [])

Update3: Sergey Brin is about to send an email to Zuck ;) just kidding.

Yes, email headers are not authenticated. Yes, mail filtering software accounts for this. Open wi-fi has nothing to do with it.

> Open wi-fi has nothing to do with it.

You should really serve the site in HTTPS.

Hey everyone. Taylor from Imulus here. I'm the front-end developer leading up Support Details.

Thanks for all of the positive and constructive comments. We're really excited to take Support Details to the next level, and based on your comments, I think our ideas on the right track. As of late, we've been focusing on the accuracy and speed of the site (see http://imulus.com/blog/bryce/javascript/support-details-on-r...), but now that we've got that nailed down, we're excited to start rolling out some new features.

As an agency focused on client work, we've struggled in the past to make time for our own products, but we're set on making them a priority this year, so thanks again for the positive comments to encourage us to move forward.

The site seems very fast, so good job. Without being able to see a non-obscured application.js, the javascript gurus here can't be of much help. The cloudfront is doing a good job with the caching, but you could shave off 10 HTTP requests by doing a sprite of the background images (just like you did with sprite.png, although the download.gif could be moved in there too.)

I love seeing developers raise their hand on HN and say "I did this!" And kudos to you the project so far!

You should seriously consider licensing this out to people. I would definitely pay 5 bucks a month to get this embedded on my own site. Either let them embed the script and you handle the data, or host a subdomain of their choosing, like "support.(their domain).com" because I'm sure a lot of people prefer to keep their customers within their own site. Makes customers feel much safer.

Yeah, I would pay for this as well if you offered a white label service.

Might want to look at Browserhawk, they have been offering this for quite some time. Sample report for your browser: http://browserhawk.com/showbrow.aspx

No affiliation, but I know some folks who have used their service and were happy with it.

Edit: P.S. should have mentioned that they historically have been an ASP[.NET] oriented product, an important detail I forgot about.

browserhawk said [in the site banner area] "Your browser: Firefox 1.5 (WinXP) | Screen: 1024 x 768 | Flash: 8 | Cookies: Enabled [more]" when I first arrived. That's about as wrong as is possible. I'm assuming that is some default info - but that seems rather poor design. It does get it right but then goes back to the wrong info again on other pages. SupportDetails has always worked for me in the past.

In my case it says I'm in AU (Australia)? when I'm in Uruguay.

It did get the browser and OS version right.

Thanks for that. I'll have to check it out.

Is this your site?

I like the concept, but one suggestion. The rounded rectangles with the computers specs look like buttons. The onhover effect doesnt help either. I tried clicking for 5-10 secs before realizing they werent buttons.

yes, removing the gradient and :hover CSS would probably clear that up.

Would love to see this go one step further. I can't get people to read details back to me or they want to read every single word very slowly from the top of the page. I want to use this to send them an email with a clickable link, they click, and I get an email back with all of these details -- nothing lost in translation. Network information would be great, too.

Not sure if they added this now, but there is a send e-mail form at the top of the page that just does this.

Also, looks like its all the standard info that can be detected in general. More specific things like n/w info might be harder to get.

Can't get people to read the right details on a page, eh? So you probably missed the link on the right side, that shows you how to do this - fill in the form completely... all they need to do is press the Send button:


My suggestion would be as follows: 1. Partner registers a callback URL with you, gets an api_key and a shared secret in return.

2. When partner sends a user to your site, they make a call to http://supportdetails.com/<api_key>?data=<random base64 string>

3. You collect details, and make a POST to the <callback_url> with all the information (including <random base64 string>) as JSON or XML and signed using a HMAC of the data with the shared secret

4. Partner verifies signature and then accepts the data. The <random base64 string> could contain information that the partner can use to identify the user/store session info, etc.

This protects your partners from fake submissions, if they care about that sort of thing.

I am definitely missing something here. So, this is what I understand - users can send the client side info to webmasters. But how do I get to know that email id? Ain't that the only reason why services like UserVoice or WebEngage exist? All these services automatically capture the client side info (most of the info that is presented on SupportDetails) everytime someone submits a feedback on their corresponding websites.

Disclaimer: I co-founded WebEngage (http://webengage.com). And here's a shamless plug - WebEngage not only provides you all this client side info, it also captures a screenshot of the current page (on your website) the visitor is on.

A branded landing page makes sense. IE. I sign up with my company email, you give me a /url123 page, I forward that to my customers/users. They see it and simply fill their email and click "Send".

Doesn't work for my email account either. It would be a great thing to package up as a .js file to offer in support forms as something auto uploaded in a hidden part of the form.

Nice idea.

Why do you include the IP address? This seems like the only bit of personal, identifying information, as opposed to information that could affect the rendering of a site.

You seem to parse any version of Linux as an unknown OS with version "Linux", rather than the OS "Linux" with an unknown version.

You should include the full browser User-Agent string, not just the parsed-out bits; among other things, that provides the version of Gecko or WebKit, not just the version of the browser UI.

I see what you're getting at, but it'd be pretty useful to have IP address so you can grep your error logs with it (or whatever)

Also, if it's a datacenter/regional issue


* Speed testing and connectivity testing.

* Throw in reverse DNS data for getting info on their ISP.

* Add ad-blocker detection.

* Add silverlight detection.

Add adblocker detection. Bonus points because that means you also get to sell ads.

If they had adblocker and pop-up blocker detection, I might join the others in saying I'd pay for it :)

I'd also like antivirus detection (for example Avast doesn't like one of our apps) and a pony :)

Export as PDF option might be a bit sketchy. You can inject whatever you want into the URL and it'll end up in the PDF. Not sure if it's sanitized (I am not familiar with the PDF file format) but if not, this could lead to exploitation.

Of course it wouldn't be on a grand scale necessarily, but as they say in several contexts, "a hole is a hole."

All of this is easy to auto-detect in Javascript that you can have on your support submit form--so this page is not that useful.

What is KILLER useful is http://showmewhatswrong.com. Instant screencasts from users of what is going wrong.

I don't get it. Wouldn't all this information be collected by any half decent support software?

You should also send the HTML5 features supported by the browser via modernizr or something. Very easy to implement on your end and will be a huge timesaver in debugging javascript.

You need a one-click (flash based unfortunately) copy and paste to put that into a text format for forums/blogs.

Just list each line in plain-text.

It would be awesome, to be able, to start a Browserling session with your clients setup, to track down problems.

It would be nice if the Browser size would be automatically changed on the resizing of the browser.!


What use cause does the item 'color depth' cover?

I'd imagine people who work in design or graphics? Sending a spec to a client might look different on their machine due to inferior hardware....

Simple and extremely useful. I want to see more web apps/sites/projects like this.

Flash version would be helpful, as would screen size. (At least in our case)

this is exactly what I need to debug a problem of some users in some versions of windows with our html5 video player, very good idea that solves a painful problem, keep it up!

Would be cool if Rapportive sent this info automagically.

Doesn't work. I get this: Your email address is invalid. Please try again. My email is on gmail

Weird - it worked fine for my gmail account.

Did you include "+token" in your address?


This is what happens after 20 hours non-stop coding. Because 1st box begins with Your Name and 2nd box with Your ... my brain thought that it's my second name.

This is the biggest problem with using placeholder values to label fields, especially in this case where they disappear as soon as you focus on the box.

Placeholders as an alternative to field labels is an anti-pattern.

The first box is your name, second is your email, third box is the recipients email.

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