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While its come up on meta before, I'm wondering if allowing companies to have 'Official' support accounts would be a good idea. Unlike SO, most of SU's scope is hardware (which is often a black box) and compiled software, which even if its open source, we're unlikely to tear apart and fix.

While I love that someone from the company is watching SU, and is attempting to help solve the situation, with situations like this, can we actually work out some way where these folks are recognised, and hopefully we'll have some way where solutions are fed back into the site from them?

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    > is attempting to help solve the situation — I disagree with that. The answer doesn't help at all, at least not at the moment. Pointing to the generic support site and sending the device into repair is an answer you could give to almost any question. – slhck Jul 27 '12 at 9:26
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    Obviously the first step would be that they post awesome answers, which in most cases they don't. If only we had a way to explain that answering questions on SU is a very good thing for their customers – Ivo Flipse Jul 27 '12 at 9:26
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    The problem is that their contributions don't seem to have any value. "Contact us" isn't exactly a good answer for SU. Sounds a lot like what a "social media expert" would recommend for companies regarding Twitter. – Daniel Beck Jul 27 '12 at 9:27
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    I don't think they'd be willing to contribute their KB articles to SU (losing control, losing centralized management, etc.), so I don't see how having an official [Manufacturer] account will help, except for linking support articles. And we don't particularly like link-only answers for the same reasons they'd probably love them. – Daniel Beck Jul 27 '12 at 9:29
  • Related. – Daniel Beck Jul 27 '12 at 9:39
  • Perhaps someone should explain them about Creative Commons then, since they would be able to reuse the material even if we went rogue. I just wish that they would show us the same love as their own forums, which won't happen without some form of mediation between SU and the companies – Ivo Flipse Jul 27 '12 at 9:41
  • @IvoFlipse As Creative Commons mostly assigns rights to content recipients, how is it not (possibly) against the interests of the content-providing companies? Saying "Yeah, we don't claim ownership to everything you post, only a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide license to do whatever we want with your content, even if you delete it afterwards" isn't exactly a great argument. – Daniel Beck Aug 9 '12 at 15:43
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is attempting to help solve the situation

To repeat from the comment: I disagree with that. The answer doesn't help at all, at least not at the moment. Pointing to the generic support site and sending the device into repair is an answer you could give to almost any question.

can we actually work out some way where these folks are recognised?

If you're a representative from a company, just go ahead, register an account, put your affiliation into the profile, and then start posting answers, like everyone else does. And as long as users manage to know how the system works, we probably don't need to care whether they're official representatives or not. The end goal is to give great answers and help solve problems.


The big issue I see is that for bigger companies—or in general, those who have no idea how this site works—, they probably won't care about the fact that:

  • we don't want signatures
  • we dislike answers that consist just of a link to their support article
  • we like them to respond to their posts
  • they should participate in the community (for example by voting)

Having an "official" account wouldn't help if they won't play by these rules, and if a company really wants to help out here and make use of Super User, then there's nothing stopping them from doing so, even now.

You'll find many developers of smaller applications here, and on Stack Overflow, and they will know how to use the Stack sites properly, because they have personal interest in their tools – something you probably can't say about … let's say an NVIDIA support person.

That all being said, it's probably not us who have to make the first step here. I'm sure we'd highly appreciate any kind of official support from vendors if (and only if) they play it right.

  • Well then the challenge is: how do we convince companies that its worth their time and effort to play right? – Ivo Flipse Jul 27 '12 at 9:42
  • In my idealistic world, that should already be common sense. But do you think there's a way Stack Exchange, Inc. could approach the companies that we've seen posting here and ask whether they would like to cooperate? – slhck Jul 27 '12 at 9:46
  • Technically, even we as moderators are allowed to reach out, but I have no idea whom to reach out to. But yes, I think the team could definitely help here – Ivo Flipse Jul 27 '12 at 9:58
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    In the example of the Nvidia rep in the aforementioned post, his email's on his profile. We could contact him directly. A good example of companies participating "right" would be Sarah Price on WebApps, who's a community manager for google and seems to understand this internet thing. – nhinkle Jul 27 '12 at 16:44
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    @nhinkle DANG! That list of accepted answers for Sarah is quite impressive. – James Mertz Jul 27 '12 at 17:29
  • I don't know that it is JUST Sarah Price that understands the interwebs. I mean, I'm sure Google is aware of her providing answers. – Everett Aug 6 '12 at 12:13
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A little icon next to their username would work as a form of recognition, but slhck brings up a good point. I think the best solution for "official" accounts would be to

  1. Prove their affiliation: this would be through an official email address, an employee ID, anything that verifies they are who they say there are. This would require human intervention.
  2. They would have to have individual accounts (not one support account, but accounts per person)
  3. They would not be allowed to simply post links to support pages. They would have to actually post well thought out answers and potential solutions.
  4. They would be required to follow up on their answers if necessary.

And there are probably other things that would be good requirements for them, but I can't think of them at the moment. Feel free to add new ones.

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