How Elastic Bolsters Community Support with Discourse Automation

How Elastic Bolsters Community Support with Discourse Automation

The Elastic community has been around for longer than the company itself and includes users, contributors, and customers of Elasticsearch and the Elastic Stack products which are available as “free and open” as well as paid offerings. As a continually growing community, there are always new members joining and looking for answers to the technical issues they run into.

As the most active part of their broader community, their Discourse site Discuss the Elastic Stack is often where users begin their journey, whether they are directed there from the Elastic website or find their way after uncovering similar content on various web search engines.  

While these new users often have questions that others have already been asked and answered, eventually they may need to take the next step of asking a question themselves. Some people are understandably hesitant to ask their first questions in public and the Community team at Elastic urges all users to post questions publicly to allow others to help provide solutions and to build the broader community knowledge base.

However this can still lead to new users sending private messages asking for assistance as they may feel their question isn’t suitable for a public topic, or they may feel embarrassed in asking what they think is a silly question. This leads to a lot of PMs that refer users back to posting a public topic for their issue.

In an effort to bring greater consistency to how the team responds to these personal message requests for technical support, the Elastic team recently collaborated with us at Discourse to allow team members to set up auto-responders to new personal messages.

Mark Walkom, Community Lead at Elastic, reached out to Discourse to share some ideas about how we might help them solve this problem.

“I really appreciate how the Discourse team responds to requests like these. It’s always a thoughtful answer, even if it’s ultimately a ‘no’, and that makes it easy to plan things out on our end.”

After some discussion with the team, everyone agreed that the best path forward would be to enhance the Discourse Automation plugin, which would allow the Elastic team to add their own script to respond to personal messages like these. The feature was added shortly thereafter and the team started using it right away.

“The people who are using it appreciate not having to send the same response again and again, and in cases where it is a subject that needs personal discussion we are still able to continue the conversation.

“Most importantly, after getting a nudge, people are asking their questions in public where everyone can see, provide help and learn from each other.”