Frequently asked questions about the help forums

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the help forums. You can find more FAQs here.

Before you join

What are the help forums?
Who should participate in the forums?
Do you charge for your service?
Wait, I thought this was a forum? Where’s the discussion?
What’s the difference between the help forums and blog comments?
I’m already signed up as a commenter for your blog. Can I participate in the comments with the same username, too?
What’s Xenforo?
What kind of information do I have to give when I sign up?
I signed up but didn’t get a verification email – now what?

On the forums

What should I post?
Where am I allowed to post?
Is there information I should not post?
What’s a private conversation, and what rules apply to it?
What do these titles mean?
How do I become a forum advocate?
What are the standards for your advocates?
My case is a lost cause. Will you still help me?
What are the forum rules of conduct?
Another forum participant is being rude. How do I report that person?
I started a forum thread and am having second thoughts. How do I get it removed?

Leaving the forums

What happens when I get reported?
Can I get expelled from the forum? If so, how?
I want to leave the forum and I want you to delete all my threads. Will you do that?
Can advocates lose their titles? If so, what happens to them?
I’ve been kicked off the forum. How do I get back?


BEFORE YOU JOIN

What are the help forums?

Elliott’s help forums are a place where consumers can go to get assistance. We have a team of resident advocates who can help connect you with the right information to assist with your consumer problem.

Who should participate in the forums?

Anyone with a consumer question or problem is welcome.

Do you charge for your service?

No.

Wait, I thought this was a forum? Where’s the discussion?

This is not a discussion forum. If you’re coming here looking for a lively debate, you might be disappointed. We’re here to assist, not argue.

Although you might find that our advocates occasionally disagree with one another, they are not part of a debating society. Our arguments are brief and they always serve a purpose: to help you, the customer, find the best advice available. If an advocate feels the forum question needs more information, or some of the advice could be improved, you will see posts with differing opinions in a thread.

What’s the difference between the help forums and blog comments?

The blog comments and forums are hosted by separate platforms and require separate registration. They also serve different functions. Blog comments allow readers to comment and add helpful information to a story. Our forums are meant to assist consumers with a question in real time. Their main purpose is not to host a debate, but to solve problems.

Here’s more information on our comments.

I’m already signed up as a commenter for your blog. Can I participate in the blog comments with the same username, too?

No, but the signup process is fast and painless. You can probably use the same username, and we would encourage you to do so.

What’s Xenforo?

Xenforo is the forum platform we currently use. Here’s more information about Xenforo.

What kind of information do I have to give when I sign up?

Our signup requirements are minimal. We need a name and email address. All other information is completely optional.

I signed up but didn’t get a verification email – now what?

Please check your spam folder. If a verification email isn’t there, please send an email to our senior lead advocate, Grant Ritchie. He’ll make sure you can complete the registration process and create a post, or comment on others’ threads.

ON THE FORUMS

What should I post?

Any consumer problem or question is fair game.

Where am I allowed to post?

You can post in any open forum. However, we strongly suggest you post a question in the forum most closely related to your topic. In other words, please don’t post a car repair question in the cell phone forum. It probably won’t get answered quickly.

Is there information I should not post?

Please do not post any personal information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers and home phone numbers. This information will be deleted by our moderators for your own protection. Remember, anyone can see the information — it’s an open forum.

What’s a private conversation, and what rules apply to it?

You can initiate a private conversation with an individual or a group of users using the “start a new conversation” button. These conversations are not seen by other forum members, but they are not private. A user with administrative-level access can view these threads.

We apply the same standards to these conversations as we do to any other communication within the forum ecosystem. A private conversation is also flaggable by copying a moderator on the conversation.

If you want to have a truly private conversation, we suggest using email.

What do these titles mean?

Consumer

Our users — the people who come to us for help — are called consumers. They are readers who have suggestions, need assistance, or haven’t been helped through regular customer service channels.

Advocate

Advocates are consumers who have distinguished themselves with their knowledge of an industry and their willingness to help others. They are nominated by a group of peers. They must show proficiency in their areas of expertise and demonstrate compassion and a willingness to help. These volunteers are expected to adhere to our advocate code of conduct.

Lead advocate

A lead advocate is a supervisory-level advocate. Lead advocates are responsible for creating and maintaining their assigned subforums, updating company contact files, and enforcing our code of conduct. They are also responsible for ensuring that each reader question is answered promptly and politely by their team members.

Senior lead advocate

A senior lead advocate is responsible for keeping the site running smoothly and ensuring that the lead advocates have the resources they need to manage their advocate teams.

Administrator

An administrator has the ability to create and delete forums and subforms, move threads and ban members. This person is the final arbiter for any disputes arising between members.

How do I become a forum advocate?

Advocates are normally nominated by the other advocates from among our forum participants. If you are interested in becoming an advocate, you can also contact our senior lead advocate, Grant Ritchie, directly.

What are the standards for your advocates?

We want to be known for our politeness and promptness. People expect a real-time answer to their question, and a well-trained team of advocates can provide a fast answer.

Our advocates are here to help.

Our focus is on the positive: how to get a “yes” from a company, how to fix the issue, how to make things better for everyone. We do this by connecting consumers to information that can help them achieve their goals, and ours. We do it by encouraging them and guiding them to a solution.

Our advocates are strongly discouraged from doing any of the following:

✓ Telling a consumer they have “no case” because the terms and conditions say so. We’d rather let the terms and conditions, or the company, speak for themselves.

✓ Scolding them for not reading the fine print. By the time they get to us, they usually know they’ve done wrong. They’re not coming to us for punishment, but help.

✓ Chastising them for failing to buy a different product or forgetting to purchase insurance. Any recommendations along those lines should be done in a constructive and helpful — and above all, polite — manner.

If you see an advocate who is not behaving as they should, let us know. We’ll take appropriate actions to discipline or de-stripe them, if necessary. And that’s especially true for anyone with a “lead” or “senior” advocate title.

My case is a lost cause. Will you still help me?

Our advocates are here to give you hope and encouragement, to the extent they can. For more information on how we advocate cases, please see our frequently asked questions about advocacy.

What are the forum rules of conduct?

They are the same as our comments rules.

Another forum participant is being rude. How do I report that person?

Click on the “report” icon in the comment and fill out the form. It will be forwarded to our moderation team for review.

I started a forum thread and am having second thoughts. How do I get it removed?

We don’t delete threads. Please don’t post something unless you are willing to have it reside in a public forum.

LEAVING THE FORUMS

What happens when I get reported?

Your post will be reviewed by our team of senior advocates. If you have violated our commenting policy, you may face disciplinary action.

Can I get expelled from the forum? If so, how?

Yes, if the violation is serious or you have repeatedly violated our commenting policies, you could be expelled. Your account might also be “discouraged” which means it will be partially disabled.

I want to leave the forum and I want you to delete all my threads. Will you do that?

No.

Can advocates lose their titles? If so, what happens to them?

Yes, although it’s rare, it is possible for our advocates to violate our comment policies. They are destriped, which means they lose their advocate title. They are still considered members of the community in good standing, unless they are banned or discouraged.

I’ve been kicked off the forum. How do I get back?

We believe in second chances. When you’re ready to come back, please send our senior lead advocate, Grant Ritchie, an email. He’ll help you through the re-introduction process.