Missing Notes



  • A ticket just came through our issue tracking system assigned to me; it relates to one of our dashboards, and it says "comments/notes section is blank".

    Let me back up: we have a dashboard that tracks our company's production.  It has a page showing how we're doing company-wide, and also a separate page for each site.  Each site's page has a section where users can enter notes - so for example, if a machine has a lot of downtime a user can enter a note of why (repairs, cleanup, operator took an extra-long coffee break, machines achieved self-awareness and organized an uprising, or whatever), and anyone viewing the dashboard will have an explanation for the performance loss.  And since the site dashboards only show data relevant over the last 30 days, the notes section similarly only shows notes from the last 30 days.

    The ticket says that the "comments/notes section is blank".  First, I check the dashboard - the user who submitted the ticket was correct, there are no notes.  Maybe the dashboard is having trouble connecting to the database?  Highly unlikely, but I suppose it's possible.  But as I'm clicking around the dashboard, I notice that other sites have notes.  So clearly it's connecting to the database just fine.  And by now you're probably having the same suspicions that I had.  Annoyed, I decide to take a quick peek in the database, as it keeps the history of all notes entered in.  I track down the table, filter for the site I want, and... lo and behold, nobody has been entering notes for that site since October.

    So yes, it seems that if you want the dashboard to show user comments, users must actually submit comments.



  •  That's an easy fix, though. Just post a comment that there are no comments on that dashboard. Ticket closed, resolution: fixed.



  • frist!

    should do the trick



  • Seriously though, make the system display a message saying there aren't any comments/notes, when applicable.



  • @Zecc said:

    Seriously though, make the system display a message saying there aren't any comments/notes, when applicable.
     

    Something like "this note intentionally left blank"?



  • Is it possible for the user to retrieve data from earlier dates or is the 30 days view the default and only one view possible?

    And, yes, an entry like "No data/notes younger than 30 days available" would make sense.



  • Maybe the user's grown accustomed to seeing websites that are always saying, "Be the first to comment on this $thing!"



  •  I swear some times you guys come up with the dumbest solutions.

    Obviously you should sabotage the  relevant machine.



  • @DOA said:

    I swear some times you guys come up with the dumbest solutions.

    Have a special comment along the lines of "No comments have been submitted for this area", one for each section. Have a database job run nightly that sets the date of those comments to 29 days before the current date if there are no recent user comments in that area, or 31 days before the current date if there are recent user comments.



  • Like everyone else has pointed out, this isn't necessarily a WTF. The user may be confused on how the notes system works; the correct course, if it's possible for you to implement it, is to have the notes section return a message saying "No notes have been entered in the last N days for Website Y", so that they get a positive confirmation that nothing is there, as well as the reason why nothing is there. They could think that the connection is broken because SOMETHING should have showed up, or they might think that it's broken because they entered a note 2 months ago and don't see it now.



  • If people are expected to add notes, make the notes field mandatory? At least you'll guanrantee a steady stream of homerow mash comments.

     

    asdfj

    sldkjh

    sklisdlkjzdshdsal dlfkjh



  • @dhromed said:

    If people are expected to add notes, make the notes field mandatory? At least you'll guanrantee a steady stream of homerow mash comments.

     

    asdfj

    sldkjh

    sklisdlkjzdshdsal dlfkjh

    Or they could just install Akismet.




  • Lots of replies to this I see, and it sounds like a lot of people have a similar idea: print a message saying "No comments added in the last 30 days" or whatever.  I agree that would be a good solution and will see that it be added.  However, it seems there were some details I didn't make clear:

    Each site has multiple machines, all experiencing regular periods of downtime due to maintenance/cleanup/breaks/etc.  I'd estimate that any given site dashboard has at least one note added every day, sometimes more than one in a single day.  Notes aren't something that occur infrequently - they are added to the dashboard every day.  So it is unusual that no new notes would be added in 30 days - this would imply that the site was performing at 100% efficiency.

    The problem is that the users simply weren't using the system.  They were asking where the notes were, when they gave no notes to begin with.  If the dashboard had a message saying "No comments added in the last 30 days", they probably would have complained anyway since, again, no new notes in 30 days is extremely unusual.

    Of course I should point out that the other WTF (TRWTF?) is that when users [i]do[/i] enter notes, they are apparently useless most of the time - seriously, if Management regularly checked notes in order to answer questions about performance losses (which was the whole point of notes), even a week of silence would have had them complaining.  But one site stopped entering notes for a whole month before anyone noticed.



  • @DOA said:

    Obviously you should sabotage the  relevant machine.
    I like this plan.  Sabotage it, someone will add a comment ("20 minutes downtime on machine X-2: had to repair after mechanical failure due to stapler lodged in conveyor belt"), and the comments section won't be blank anymore.



  • @Rhywden said:

    Is it possible for the user to retrieve data from earlier dates or is the 30 days view the default and only one view possible?
    The last 30 days view is the only view possible for the users.  Prior comments do persist in the database, so we can get at them if we need to (such as in this case - to verify the date of the last note added).  But the purpose of the notes is to inform the metrics displayed on the dashboard, which only report the last 30 days.



  • Perhaps, you could simply put the last comments entry, with the date/timestamp of course, in the display, instead of saying "no comments since <date/timestamp>"

    That is, give some context to the previous comment even if there are no comments in the past N days.

    Sorry if this is a helpful comment and not at all humorous or ironic.



  • @boog said:

    The problem is that the users simply weren't using the system.  They were asking where the notes were, when they gave no notes to begin with.  If the dashboard had a message saying "No comments added in the last 30 days", they probably would have complained anyway since, again, no new notes in 30 days is extremely unusual.

     

    Instead of a message saying "No comments added in the last 30 days," how about one that says, "No comments added in the last 24 hours?"  It's technically true.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

     This reminds me of the Monday morning ritual my project managers and customer advocates put me through.

    "HELP! EMERGENCY PRIORITY 1 TICKET! DROP EVERYTHING! Nothing processed this weekend and there are no files on the drop site!"

    "This is because the customer didn't transmit a file this weekend."



  • @boog said:

    Each site has multiple machines, all experiencing regular periods of downtime due to maintenance/cleanup/breaks/etc.  I'd estimate that any given site dashboard has at least one note added every day, sometimes more than one in a single day.  Notes aren't something that occur infrequently - they are added to the dashboard every day. 
     

    Would it be possible to replace the free text field with a drop down box containing as many of the common reasons as possible?  You could then make it mandatory without having any "asdfasdf" or "." entries.  Another advantage would be that you could get some meaningful* metrics as you'd only be dealing with a finite list of reasons and not whatever someone chose to type on the day.

    It may take a bit of effort to define the list but it may prove to be wortwhile.

    *Depending how much people care about putting in the correct / most appropriate reason.



  • @RTapeLoadingError said:

    Would it be possible to replace the free text field with a drop down box containing as many of the common reasons as possible?
    Funny you should mention that, and we can do better still:

    I have been working on a similar dashboard (different series of products).  It turns out the databases I'm querying all store a downtime reason code (from a set) that the operator selects in the application [i]as they are working on the machine[/i].  In other words, if someone is already entering this stuff once, and it's in the database, why not pull it automatically?  We can still allow user comments in rare cases (as needed).

    I actually didn't develop the dashboard mentioned above so I don't know for sure, but I would be surprised if it didn't have something similar.



  • Ah yes, an Eye Dee Ten Tee Error.

     Just yesterday, I got a ticket for the Document Management System I maintain wondering where a specific document was. Found the document in the system recycle bin - audit trail showed that the user wondering where the document was had put it there.



  • That reminds me of one I had recently. I was investigating a query from a member who hadn't received the latest edition of a newsletter. Turned out it was because he'd unsubscribed from it.


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