RT for helplines

I am considering adapting RT to manage an email helpline. Not a
technical helpline, but a crisis / mental health / support helpline.

Volunteer helplines don’t have the funding for a fancy commercial
solution, and of all the free/OSS possibilities I have researched, RT is
the best fit by far. It’s not an exact fit, though.

I would like your opinions on whether there is more suitable software
than RT, and whether RT can be customised for my needs without rewriting
a significant fraction of the code.

Here are some details specific to the situation: instead of the
issue/ticket being central, the whole thing revolves around the actual
email conversation.

Conversations will never be closed (except in very tragic
circumstances).

  • This won’t be a problem if I map each email to a separate ticket,
    resolved by sending a single reply.

Responses must be approved before being sent.

  • I’m guessing I can suppress any emails when the reply is created, and
    raise an approval ticket instead. Approval will send off the email. (The
    goal is to have the reply seen by two people, so responses can’t be
    approved by the same person who created the response.)

I need to track some user metadata. Can I add custom fields to users?

Confidentiality. Ideally, I would like to hide contact details such as
the requestor email address.

  • I can think of a couple of ways to do this. Removing data from the
    UI, or creating dummy users. This may make searching difficult.

I need to link new conversations with past conversations from the same
person. This one should be easy.

Emails should be answered in FIFO order.

I may need to simplify the interface and terminology. Helpline
volunteers will include total technophobes.

Can anyone see any major flaws in my plan? How significantly will this
diverge from the standard RT?

Many thanks

David Barnard

David,

I think RT could do what you want. Some aspects would be harder than others
though. Custom fields can be applied to user accounts so that is easy.

Hiding the email address could be difficult. There a lot of places in the
interface where the email could appear. It would take some custom
development to hide the email but it could be done.

Approving correspondence would also be difficult but could be done with
custom software modifications.

-ToddOn 1/12/08, David Barnard david@didactylos.net wrote:

I am considering adapting RT to manage an email helpline. Not a
technical helpline, but a crisis / mental health / support helpline.

Volunteer helplines don’t have the funding for a fancy commercial
solution, and of all the free/OSS possibilities I have researched, RT is
the best fit by far. It’s not an exact fit, though.

I would like your opinions on whether there is more suitable software
than RT, and whether RT can be customised for my needs without rewriting
a significant fraction of the code.

Here are some details specific to the situation: instead of the
issue/ticket being central, the whole thing revolves around the actual
email conversation.

Conversations will never be closed (except in very tragic
circumstances).

  • This won’t be a problem if I map each email to a separate ticket,
    resolved by sending a single reply.

Responses must be approved before being sent.

  • I’m guessing I can suppress any emails when the reply is created, and
    raise an approval ticket instead. Approval will send off the email. (The
    goal is to have the reply seen by two people, so responses can’t be
    approved by the same person who created the response.)

I need to track some user metadata. Can I add custom fields to users?

Confidentiality. Ideally, I would like to hide contact details such as
the requestor email address.

  • I can think of a couple of ways to do this. Removing data from the
    UI, or creating dummy users. This may make searching difficult.

I need to link new conversations with past conversations from the same
person. This one should be easy.

Emails should be answered in FIFO order.

I may need to simplify the interface and terminology. Helpline
volunteers will include total technophobes.

Can anyone see any major flaws in my plan? How significantly will this
diverge from the standard RT?

Many thanks

David Barnard


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Approving correspondence would also be difficult but could be done with
custom software modifications.

One trick there is just to only let the folks you want to approve
"comment" and add a simple “send this comment as a reply” customization.