Frequently Asked Questions

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Q. How do system problem reports work?

The most important thing to know about system problem reports is that if you're encountering a system problem and you think we don't already know about it, we want you to report it. Providing a reliable, high-quality service is really important to us, and system problem reports are an invaluable way for us to find out about subtler problems that can be hard for us to automatically detect.

The second most important thing to know about system problem reports is that if you submit one, you won't get an answer. System problem reports are essentially a one-way channel of communication. They are a free way for you to provide information about system problems to us, not vice versa. A decent rule of thumb is that if there's a question in your system problem report, or if you're expecting any response more thorough than "Thank you for your report," you're probably not reporting a system problem.

System problem reports are only one tool in the toolbox of options we provide for you to contact us. Like most tools, they are not appropriate for every situation. Also like most tools, in order to get good results, it's important for you to make sure that it's not only the right tool for the job, but also that you use it correctly. And like most tools, if you use it in the wrong situation, or use it improperly, the outcome will be bad, if not downright painful. Members occasionally torture themselves with a system problem report because it's the wrong tool for the job but they insist on using it anyway; we hate to see that.

Reporting a system problem is serious business, like pulling a fire alarm. We understand that mistakes happen, but our system does evaluate your past system problem reports when determining whether to allow you to report new system problems as well as what priority to give them. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to investigate the situation to the best of your ability before reporting a system problem. There are distinct "boy who cried wolf" consequences for people who repeatedly misuse the feature.

Once you submit a system problem report, we will typically receive and investigate it very quickly. Although our stated response is "as soon as possible," many system problem reports are closed within a few minutes of being created. But we do invest the time necessary to check out the report, so it may take longer.

After we've finished investigating the report and doing whatever we need to do, if anything, we'll close the report and you'll receive an auto-response. It will not satisfy your curiosity, and it will never answer any questions or provide guidance about actions you should take. To understand why this is, please see this FAQ entry.

That's pretty much that. Once we've closed the report, it's closed. You can't reply to it and we can't respond further or in more detail. If you want or need more information, you'll have to use one of our member support options to get it, such as paid support or the forum.

In all cases, we recommend following our troubleshooting tips before opening a system problem report, and writing a system problem report that shows you did so. The best system problem reports do these two things:

  1. Clearly describe the problem, including all relevant information.
  2. Demonstrate that the definition of a system problem has been met, or, if you can't be sure, at least show that you know the definition and reasonably believe it fits.

Making sure you cover both of those will help to ensure you get the quickest, most accurate, and most helpful resolution of your system problem report.