FAQs, troubleshooting, and special projects - How can this Community help?


Many posts like this one, and below, @RyanAtSense, are necessarily calling out Sense tech/support/input in the only way we know how:

Should there be a Community virtual address(es) for the longer term tracking of things like failure-data posting? A more formalized way of flagging or capturing that info I think might go a long way in placating some of the negative experience looping threads.

Personalized feedback, especially to new users, is great but more-and-more I find myself searching for solutions/AskSense/blog/CommunityPosts to refer users to … so we can in general educate ourselves and others as to the most efficient way to deal with issues and elevate the conversation thereafter.


This is very topical. I was just thinking this as I was reading that very thread. Let me think on it and bring it up with the team.

We do have help.sense.com which is our primary repository of technical and troubleshooting knowledge. I’ve been brainstorming some ways to make it a bit more friendly. Very open to suggestions on this front.

The core question I see here is: How do we (a collective ‘we’ including primarily the Sense team but also the Community and moderators at large) do a better job of both bringing new users into the fold and answering key FAQs for existing users. As an extension, how can we best bring users into ‘special projects’ like this ongoing one around AC failures? It’s been on my mind a lot lately, but I’d absolutely love to hear from folks here.

If you don’t mind, I’m going to re-title this thread. Let me know if it’s too off base and I can name it back.


Better. Agreed.


Some thoughts:

  • It’s a subtle web UI thing, but I think the grayed-out “Help” could benefit from some graphic/design pondering. I would even venture to say that you have nicely established the bold orange thing (e.g. “Play Video”) but there is a possible typographic/color/design mode for Help/Support that will call it out more fruitfully. Maybe not all the way to “Warning Stripes” but in that realm. Excuse the warning stripes!




  • I’m personally confused (in general, not just with Sense’s implementation) by the Support/Help/Blog/Forum breakdown. I just want one thing. That said I think Sense’s treatment of the Blog link is probably how it should be done. BUT, graphically connecting “Blog” and “Help” would convey the interconnectedness for newbies.

  • AskSense hovers between Help and the Community … but it’s out of view. Where is it?

  • Drilling down into the Community vs FAQ/Help … maybe if Sense tagged/vetted some of the Community posts they could be coming up as links/solves when a user does a search at help.sense.com. Right now if you type “Community” into the search at help.sense it’s interesting what you see. “Community Names” for example! If I search “training”, none of the current 4 links reference any of the Community responses.

  • Sense is all about ML on electric panels but it’s also, for most people, integrated in the mind with the concept of a “SmartHome”. Things move in that direction. Sense talks to smartplugs. The UI gets switches and so on. As much as possible, the Help aspects should likewise feel smart. Whether that means brevity because “Sense will take care of it auto-magically” or detailed help responses from humans, at least the path to the answers should feel smart. Currently there’s a bit of a mismatch between the backend smarts and the front end.


My 2c… Sense has lots of good resources, but the challenge is that they aren’t always organized in a consistent way, or a way that makes them easy to find for a particular situation. From my experience in software product management, there are generally 3 types of questions user need help with:

  • Educate me about operation of this product - Sense blogs, plus some Ask Senses. The current organization is a bit uncurated and it is hard to find a path from the basics to more sophisticated topics. Good videos are buried in Ask Sense without any text tags to help find them.

  • Teach me all about all the ins and outs of a new feature - Sense has a consistent strategy for this one. Announcements in the forum, plus interconnected and regularly updated notes and FAQs. If I look at the whole history of smartplug integrations, the online docs are pretty good, though there are still some questions missing (what steps do I take if I want to move a smartplug to a different device), plus it is hard to see when things have changed (there have been changes to max number of smartplugs over time). As a user how do I find out that FAQ answers have been changed due to better knowledge or new features ?

  • “What do I do when …?” Or “How do I … ?” Task based questions. - Sense could probably use a dedicated section on this. The Sense support team, plus the user forum probably provide ample fodder for both the questions and the answers. In many cases a link to existing stuff offers a great answer. Ask Sense offers some great answers, but when the answers are buried in the video, they are thought to find so some curating may be necessary as well…


One more good point here… There really is a need for good curated “What do I do when … ?” Sense / community forum… Here’s a good example - “What do I do When Sense detects multiple devices as the same device ?”

I think @samwooly1 gives the winning answer in this case, but it’s buried, plus there is no easy way to for others to find this problem/solution even if @samwooly1’s answer got promoted to the top. So we really need two things to make this work better:

  1. A special place (Forum Category) to post these questions (easy to find and look up)
  2. Some Sense and community curation to push the best answer to the top. We can kind of do this today with the “Solution” checkbox, but it’s still important that Sense stand behind the best answer when there are multiple solutions (make sure the best answer is represented)

BTW - this topic could have it’s title modified to the more general question and either moved or tagged to make it visible as a “What do I do when … ?” type of answer.


Another great idea @kevin1. When I came here in the beginning, specific questions I was searching for solutions for were not easily found.
A library possibly similar to the waveform library could really help with searches and help people find answers much quicker.
The solutions are already in the forum for the most part, they are just buried or are part of another thread that may not be easily found as the title does t always reflect the full content.


Things start to lean toward a more Wiki-like help repository that gets modified by Sense and Sense moderators.

To avoid that, and in the middle ground while attempting to retain the flexibility of the Community, “Solution” doesn’t quite cut it because there are often multiple methods (and later refinements) … so users still end up reading through a lot of forked conversations.

Perhaps the process could start by formalizing the Sense-blessed Solutions (whether these come from the Community or not). As @kevin1 points out, Sense needs to stand behind the best answer … and that answer could (should) be modified over time … so this lives outside of the standard Community posting format. In the current system, that Q/A could live at help.sense.com if there were a repository there {Troubleshooting?} and then, importantly, that those Q/As have easy references for embedding in the Community postings. Squinting, I could imagine any given help.sense.com Q/A having a easy-to-spot visual tag/format indicating it’s Community-based. And visa-versa.

e.g. At help.sense.com there could be something like “Community Solutions”: Sense’s curated cull from the Community = X. Then when you go to a Community post that starts to get off track you can post “Sense recommends this X”. The same goes for consolidating AskSense and other loose ends.

I think it boils down to some tweaking of the front-end of help.sense.com to make the Community connections there-and-back a bit smoother, more rigorous & more Sense-formalized.


I think we do need to be careful about not making this Community seem like an actual substitute for Support in some cases. Certainly, some things can be solved with threads here, at help.sense.com, or blog.sense.com, but if any user data is required, it needs to go through Support. It’d be great to have a constant Support resource on the forum, but that’s not possible at this time. Thus, I’m hesitant to do anything that might cause confusion on that front, like creating Support-related users.

Great point on the homepage UI stuff. I’m going to make some suggestions to the Web team and see what I can do. I totally agree on the murky connection between Help/Blog/Community. Definitely going to work on that, hopefully in a way that doesn’t require too much Web labor, as that’s a resource that is generally pretty strapped with the main site and the Web App. But hey, I know how to search on Stack Overflow :slight_smile:

This was really just a YouTube series, unfortunately brief. But that’s a solid point and I should bring the content of these videos into these other pages.

These aren’t connected at this time. Some cursory searching of the Discourse API makes it seem like they could be though…will investigate further. In any case, I think getting Blog integrated with that search is a great first step and then getting perhaps an “approved” subforum here as well.

@kevin1 great points all around. I love the idea of elevating good responses, but not sure if leaving them in the thread is the best route forward, even if they do get marked as a solution. I’d prefer to bring the best answer into a new, Sense/me-approved thread in a locked category. But @ixu’s last point is also important —that makes the divide between community.sense and help.sense (nevermind blog.sense) pretty murky. I like the idea of a Community Solutions help section.

In short, you guys have given me an absolute ton to think about. All fantastic ideas.


The only drawback there is the load it would put on the Sense team and how that would take them away from the core goals, like improving device detection.
I would think support would have a bigger role in the things we are unable to do ourselves. When it comes down to seeing things/problems on the backend or the inner workings that we don’t ha e the access to.
Think of something like an internet or phone outage… Do you immediately call the providing company or do you ask your neighbor if theirs is out also?

This actually reminds me of something I wanted to add to the list:

A “Your Sense Monitor” Status UI (beyond what is currently at status.sense.com)
Dropout data that @kevin1 has pointed to the need for could be visible to the user, possibly even exportable. Knowing when your monitor was reset (historically) would be nice. I can imagine this might be wishful thinking, but philosophically it could help to locate support/help.sense.com. As Sense matures one can imagine a more sophisticated Support Ticket system that would refer to the Sense Monitor Status. Ticket history could live there as well.

What he’s suggesting would really just put a load on me (and maybe some on the web team, though I can manage with some good API documentation). And, probably luckily given my lackluster skills around most things code related, I have no hand in device detection or engineering improvements.