Version 27 (modified by runa, 8 years ago) (diff)



The Tor help desk lives on, and support assistants answer questions in English and Farsi. The help desk is managed by Runa A. Sandvik. If you want to know how many support requests we receive and resolve every month, see the tor-reports mailing list. If you have a question or need help with Tor, please email help@….

RT and queues

Request Tracker is the ticketing system we use for the help desk. RT has been configured with three queues; help (support requests in English), help-fa (support requests in Farsi), and spam (we all know what this is). More queues will be added as we start providing support in other languages.

An email to help@… 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.


If you are unable to help the user, leave a comment in RT explaining what the user wants and what you have tried so far, and assign the ticket to Runa. Open the ticket, click Comment, write a few sentences, change Owner to Runa, and click Update Ticket.

Standard answers

We have template answers for a few commonly asked questions:

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 Pyobfsproxy Tor Browser Bundle (the filename of the bundle will contain flashproxy-pyobfsproxy-bundle) 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, so emailing them a few mirror sites and some bridges will help a lot.

Random crashes

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.

Unsupported things

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 tor-talk@… (for example when a user wants help installing Tor on his/her Nintendo Wii).

Illegal things

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.

Random stuff

Simple test to see if obfs2/obfs3 bridges work

It seems that people who run obfsbridges have a tendency of shutting them down after a few weeks. This means that sometimes support people are giving out dead bridges to people. An easy way to test if an obfs2/obfs3 bridge works is to connect directly to its IP:PORT (using telnet (on Mac or Windows) or netcat (on Linux)) and see if you get a random blob of data back.

Here is an example of a functional bridge:

If you don't get that random blob, the bridge is probably dead and you should replace it with another one.

(Obviously this method just tests whether the bridge is dead, not whether it is blocked in a censoring country.)