Guru - Customer Service and Support
(Page 3 of 4)
Guru has a forum called Guru Answers, which is easily accessed via the link of the same name on the top menu bar of the site. This is a pretty standard community board where Guru users can both ask and receive answers to questions. The only odd thing is how Guru “advertises” it: the company tries to portray the forum not as a place for mutual sharing of information, but rather one where contractors answer client questions. This is made clear by the main forum page for clients being entitled “Get Answers from Expert Freelancers on Guru.com”, whereas the matching freelancer site title is “Post Answers to Employer Questions on Guru.com”.
Fortunately, despite this positioning attempt, the forum really isn’t set up so that only employers ask questions and only freelancers answer them. It really is more of a general purpose community forum that is open to both types of users to ask and receive answers to queries, to give advice and to share experiences. I think Guru would be better off getting rid of those strange titles, which improperly portray how Guru Answers really seems to work.
The main part of Guru Answers contains three sub-forums. Project Research is a place to share information on specific project types, and has sub-forums that match the 17 Guru work categories. Outsourcing Advice is the forum for more generic discussions about using Guru successfully, such as how to write quality projects or proposals, negotiate prices, and so forth. Finally, the Help Desk is for questions directed to Guru itself. There are also three peer forums of Guru Answers, which are Announcements (self-explanatory), Suggestions (same, see below), and the Guru Library, which contains a pretty nice set of helpful articles.
Guru does a very good job of responding to questions posted at the Help Desk. In fact, I couldn’t find a single thread in the first page of thread links that didn’t have a reply from a Guru team member. These folks do not seem to wade in on advice or banter threads in other parts of the forum, though.
There is also a direct link to the Help Desk in the “About Guru.com” section of the site footer, which is a nice touch.
Technically, Guru Answers is pretty decent for a custom-programmed forum, though it still pales by comparison to even free general purpose forum software. Certain advanced features are supported, such as very basic markup (bold, italics, underlining), and the ability to embed or attach images. However, there are no advanced features such as thread subscriptions, and the search engine is fairly simplistic and not terribly quick. On the whole, this boardware is much more usable than the clunky Elance forum.
Finally, I should point out that given the number of users on Guru, the amount of volume on the forum is pretty small. It would be much more useful if there were more participants, and Guru should consider investing some resources in an effort in that regard.
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011
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