Is It You or Us?

September 20, 2017 By gizadev

When the website isn't working, how can you tell for sure whether it's just you, or it's actually broken?

Clues that the issue is NOT on the website's end:

  1. All other users can use the feature.
  2. Another feature is down for everyone, but the one you're accessing is up for everyone.
  3. You are not on our website, but accessing a 3rd party tool.
  4. Nothing works for you - logging in, clicking things, using 3rd party sites we link to... etc.
  5. We can log in as you and do the thing you're unable to do, and provide a screenshot as "you" doing that.
  6. You've been banned for too many attempted/failed logins.

When it's likely our issue:

  1. Everyone else is experiencing the same issue (not some/different issue).
  2. You are logged into our site, and not on a 3rd party tool when the issue occurs.

Support has some limits. Even if:

  • you're not having trouble on other websites
  • you had the same problem before
  • you're extremely technically savvy
  • you tried multiple browsers (sometimes that isn't the issue)

Ultimately, website support stops once the website is working as intended for everyone else but you. Once you're the only one with a specific issue, it's not a support issue anymore. That's true even if everyone else is experiencing a completely different issue (e.g. you can't play any videos at all, but everyone else can play all videos except one).

Support, to be effective, must be dispassionate about giving bad news. "It's you, not us." is not something anyone likes to hear. But 90% of the time, it's you, not us. And we have to give that verdict when testing shows there is no other possible conclusion. At that point, your local technical support person (for your life/home/office) must determine what issue you're having.

A note on 3rd party tools like youtube or chat: They do break. We get demands to "fix them or else". We have to choose "else", because we have zero control over those tools. There's no unwillingness, just 100% inability. For chat, there are 3 alternatives that the host can choose from, in case one goes down (that's military grade triple redundancy). For youtube. if they have a temporary glitch, it just has to be; it's like losing the power grid for us, it's an act beyond our control; we can't "fix" it.