Collaborative Network Troubleshooting

Despite rapid adoption of networked computing in the home, home networking setup and maintenance tasks are extremely difficult for many people. Recently, the Human-Computer Interaction research community has had an emerging interest in studying the user experience (e.g. usability problems) associated with networked computing and AV equipment in the home. However, this community has little empirical data about the help-seeking practices of people who are experiencing trouble setting up or fixing their networked equipment. We are collecting data about help-seeking by (1) automatically analyzing the content and context of popular online help forums and (2) conducting a set of focus groups about help-seeking practices. Through this research, we are discovering which aspects of home network setup and maintenance householders find most troubling, as well as how they seek help to resolve these problems.


  1. Sarita Yardi and Erika S. Poole, “Please Help! Patterns of Participation in Online Technical Support Discussion Boards.” In Communities&Technologies 2009, State College, PA, USA, June 25–27, 2009.

  2. Erika S. Poole, W. Keith Edwards, and Lawrence Jarvis., “The Home Network as a Sociotechnical System: Understanding the Challenges of Remote Home Network Problem Diagnosis.” In the Journal of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work special issue on CSCW, Technology, and Diagnostic Work

  3. Jeremy Goecks, W. Keith Edwards, and Elizabeth D. Mynatt. “Challenges in Supporting End-User Privacy and Security Management with Social Navigation” In Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2009). Mountain View, CA. July 15–17, 2009.

  4. Rebecca E. Grinter, W. Keith Edwards, Marshini Chetty, Erika Shehan Poole, Ja-Young Sung, Andy Crabtree, Peter Tolmie, Tom Rodden, Chris Greenhalgh, and Steve Benford., “The Ins and Outs of Home Networking: The Case for Useful and Usable Home Networking,” In ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, ACM Press.

  5. Erika S. Poole, M. Chetty, T. Morgan, B. E. Grinter, W. K. Edwards., “Computer Help at Home:Methods and Motivations for Informal Technical Support.” In CHI ‘09: Proceedings of the 27th international conference on Human factors in computing systems, April 2009.