25 January 2008

FixYa Fixes the Real-Life Support Hole

Although free software has a reputation for patchy documentation and non-existent support, that's not really true at all: there's buckets of stuff out there, usually written by extremely knowledgeable people, and lots of enthusiasts ready to advise. What *is* true, is that everyday consumer devices haven't had anything like that deep, community-generated online support.

FixYa asks: why not?

FixYa was founded by a frustrated consumer who noticed that most manufacturers of gadgets, electronics and consumer products were not providing adequate technical support through their web sites, despite these products becoming more and more technologically advanced. Whether it was a digital camera, printer, or laptop - manufacturers were not allocating the necessary resources to meet customers' increased demand for technical support, troubleshooting, and easy access to product manuals. It was from this lack of easy-to-access technical information and product support that the FixYa online technical support community was formed.

FixYa is now the largest online source for free technical advice on gadgets, electronic equipment and consumer products. FixYa users can quickly and easily post technical questions for Experts in the FixYa troubleshooting forums - seeking solutions for problems or advice/instructions on proper usage of a product. Users can also upgrade to Premium Assistance to get fast, guaranteed technical assistance from Top Experts - via posting or Live Chat.

The power of FixYa stems from the unique, community-generated content found in the FixYa troubleshooting forums. Technical problems and solutions posted on FixYa are based on users' real life experiences, rather than the hypothetical scenarios presented in product manufacturers' FAQs. And through FixYa's unique rating system, problem solutions are continually refined, with the goal of offering users the most helpful and accurate technical support information possible for any consumer product.

Sounds like a classic open source/open content/user-generated business model. But the cynic in me said that it was doubtless deeply flawed by wickedly appropriating all that content for itself. Nope:

All content, either text, pictures, or graphics, on the site that has been contributed by users is designated as Open Content. All such content may be copied, reproduced, distributed, republished, downloaded, displayed, posted or transmitted as long as (1) it is not displayed on a commercial site (except on message boards) or used for commercial purposes, (2) prominent attribution is given to FixYa, and (3) attribution is given to the original author(s) as listed on FixYa.com. If the original author is listed as "Anonymous" on FixYa.com, attribution to the author is not required.

FixYa maintains a compilation copyright on its user-submitted content. This user-submitted content may by reproduced in part for non-commercial purposes as described in the paragraph above, but may not be reproduced as a whole through any medium without the express permission of FixYa.com.

My only criticism would be that "Open Content" is rather vague here. Maybe it would be better to use the cc-by-nc licence, which seems to fit the bill.

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