The Tor help desk lives on rt.torproject.org, and support assistants answer questions in Arabic, English, Farsi, French, Mandarin, and Spanish. The help desk is coordinated by Lunar. If you want to know how many support requests we receive and resolve every month, see the tor-reports mailing list.
Here's how to get started as a support assistant:
- Ask the coordinator to create accounts on Request Tracker, the support XMPP server, and Pups.
- Ask the coordinator to subscribe your email address to the
- Subscribe to Tor Weekly News in order to stay in touch with what's happening in the larger community.
- Subscribe to the tor-qa mailing list in order to be notified of upcoming software releases.
- Configure an XMPP client (e.g. xmpp-client, Pidgin, Psi) to connect to the support XMPP server:
- Server / domain: auth-xmpp.torproject.org
- Port: 5222
- Server requires encryption.
- Schedule to update the calendar once a week, so everybody knows who is available.
Known issues, updated daily
The help.torproject.org page will contain a list of known issues. The idea is that support assistants and developers can check this page to get an overview of what is broken today, what was broken yesterday, what the relevant Trac tickets are, and so on.
RT and queues
Request Tracker is the ticketing system we use for the help desk. RT has been configured with the following queues; help-ar (support requests in Arabic), help (support requests in English), help-fa (support requests in Farsi), help-fr (support requests in French), help-zh (support requests in Mandarin), help-es (support requests in Spanish), and spam (we all know what this is).
An email to firstname.lastname@example.org will end up as a ticket in the help queue. To move a ticket to a different queue; open the ticket, click on Basics, select the new queue, and click Save Changes. If a ticket is clearly spam, change the status to rejected and move the ticket to the spam queue.
= Working with tickets =
To get an overview of all the tickets in the help queue (or any of the other queues), click on the name in the Quick Search box on the right. Click on a ticket to read the email from the user. If you feel that you are able to reply, click Basics, and assign the ticket to yourself first. When you are done replying to a user, change the status to resolved. RT will automatically re-open the ticket if/when the user replies.
= Dealing with support requests =
A lot of support requests are questions about where one can download Tor and why Flash and YouTube does not work. The short user manual answers some of the most frequently asked questions, and it's always good to attach a copy when replying to the user. In some cases, you will need to debug with the user, read through Trac tickets, ask #tor or #tor-dev on IRC, and search the Internet to find answers.
Asking for help
If you are unable to help the user, feel free to ask for help on the support-team-private mailing list.
We have template answers for a few commonly asked questions. They are kept in the Articles section of RT.
A dump of all templates are available by running:
git clone https://people.torproject.org/~lunar/rt-articles.git
Change notifications are sent to the
support-team-private mailing list.
Tor does not work
If Tor is unable to connect, it could be because (1) the user is doing something wrong, (2) the user needs to configure Tor to work with a proxy, (3) Tor is blocked and the user needs to use bridges, or (4) Tor is blocked and the user needs to use the Pluggable Transports Bundle (the filename of the bundle will contain pluggable-transports-browser) and obfs2 bridges (this is true for users in China, Iran, Syria, and a few other countries). Remember that some users will not be able to access pages on torproject.org, so emailing them a few mirror sites and some bridges will help a lot.
Unable to connect
Tell users to try again at each step.
- Ensure users have the latest bundle.
- Ensure their system clock is correct.
- Give away 3 classic bridges, with at least one 443.
- Tell users to use pluggable transports. Send some published obfs3 bridges.
- Ask their ISP/connection info for the record (and latter digging) and give away some unpublished bridges.
If Tor is crashing and you are unable to reproduce it, it might be due to conflicting software on his/her computer. Software known to have caused problems in the past are Kaspersky Internet Security 2012, Ad Muncher, OpenVPN, other VPN clients, and other circumvention tools.
Unable to login to one's favorite website
Try to diagnose the problem by asking the following:
- Does it work in a vanilla Firefox ESR with PBM enabled?
- Does it still work if 3rd party cookies are disabled as well?
- Does it still work if HTTPS-E is installed, too?
- Does it fix your issue if you disable PBM in the Tor Browser?
Ideally in that order (or maybe change 2) and 3)).
And fill a ticket if possible.
How to uninstalll Tor?
The Tor Browser is fully self-contained, so uninstallation is as simple as deleting the folder where it has been installed.
But that's for the Tor Browser. Users which have mistakenly installed one of the expert bundles on Windows might have a different experience. The Tor Expert Bundle must be installed as Administrator. This means right-clicking it, and selecting Run as Administrator. If the installer is not run as Administrator, the Desktop and Start menu shortcuts will be created, but Tor will not be unpacked to Program Files, so all the shortcuts will be dead. The uninstaller must also be run as administrator. If it is not run as administrator, it will not remove any of the created files.
So when users tried to install the expert bundle without Administrator privileges, you can tell them that Tor was never installed at all, and they can just delete the shortcuts that were made, or they can run the uninstaller as administrator. Either tell the user to install Tor Expert Bundle as Administrator, or tell them to install Tor Browser, depending on what their needs are.
More details on this issue can be found in #8376.
Users email the Tor help desk with a range of different questions. You are not expected to know absolutely everything, and in some cases it is OK to refer the user to our public mailing list email@example.com (for example when a user wants help installing Tor on his/her Nintendo Wii).
If you take a ticket where the user is clearly asking for help with something that is sketchy or illegal, simply reply and say that you are unable to help.
Switching to instant messaging (e.g. chat)
For some support cases, it makes more sense to have quicker interactions with the user. Inviting a user for a chat session requires generating a “token”. It will create a time-limited URL that can then be used to reach you through XMPP.
Inviting a user to chat
- Log into Pups.
- Select the Tokens tab at the top of the screen.
- Optionally fill a comment into the comment box and press Create Chat Token.
- Copy the URL provided under the Token URL column.
- Provide the URL to the user
Revoking an invitation
- Log into Pups
- Select the Tokens tab at the top of the screen.
- Click the checkbox for the token you would like to revoke under the Select column.
- Press the Revoke Selected button.
- Block the user from your xmpp client (only if the user is abusive).