Yesterday, Today on the Cloudflare Community
A fast paced look at Cloudflare Community activity, a deep dive into the hot issues from yesterday -- and related CommunityTips and tutorials. Featuring an interactive troubleshooting session led by a Community MVP.
Original Airdate: November 20, 2020
Welcome to Yesterday Today on the Cloudflare Community. I'm your host, Tim Cloonan.
The Cloudflare Community is a free service available at community .Cloudflare.com, and it's for all Cloudflare customers, regardless of plan type or skill level.
If you'd like to know more about the Cloudflare Community, join us on Fridays for a new edition of Yesterday Today.
And today, we're happy that you joined us for a live, solved show.
Each week on Yesterday Today, we start by looking at a summary of popular topics and site traffic from last week with this Community Day and the Community Traffic Report, starting at 10 a.m.
That's followed by a review of top community issues from last week, the ever-informative Using the Community tip, occasional interviews with community MVPs, Cloudflare employees, and partners.
And every week, we feature In Class with Cloudflare, where we learn a few things from the community and put them into a Yesterday Today Community tip.
Before we get started today, let me invite you to join the show by submitting your questions to livestudio at Cloudflare.tv, or just hit the email to the show button on Cloudflare.tv.
Turning to the traffic report, overall community traffic was down versus the prior week.
Nonetheless, new posts were up significantly, and new topics were up dramatically over the prior week.
From this, we understand that last week, fewer people visited the community, but nonetheless, the visitor spent a little more time talking about a lot more different topics.
Driving this increase in the number of conversations were customers joining the community.
Membership was relatively flat week over week last week, but remains up for the year.
As a reminder, the Cloudflare community is for all Cloudflare customers.
Join the community to seek advice and insight about getting started with Cloudflare, using Cloudflare, and solving issues if they arise.
Join today and get advice and insight for tomorrow.
For this community day last week, the top three searches on the community were regarding AOP, that's our recently announced automatic platform optimization for WordPress that we had announced, the 524 timeout error that we see come up fairly frequently on the community, and a search for Google Analytics.
Typically, these searches are related to why does Google Analytics show different analytics numbers than the traffic of my analytics tab on my dashboard?
And typically, the answer to this is that they're counting different things.
If you'd like the detailed answer, we invite you to search for Google Analytics on the Cloudflare community.
We had a tie for the most popular category for discussion on the community last week between security category with questions about WAF and DDoS attacks leading the discussion.
That was tied with the DNS and network category with discussions about setting name servers and creating DNS records leading that category.
Our third most popular area for discussion last week was in the performance category with questions about cache setting leading the discussion.
If you're a fan of the show, you know that each week we take an in -depth look at some aspect of using Cloudflare.
We've talked about DNS, we've talked about security, we've talked about performance, but this week we're going to stick to that format, kind of.
We're going to be talking about questions that were sent to customer support, and we'll focus on why those questions we better focus to the community and not to support.
Why is that the case? Under certain circumstances, you need to contact support.
Today, you can think things like 2FA reset, billing questions, or closing your account.
You need to contact support. But many of the questions that customers bring up have already been talked about on the community or on this show.
Using the community, your question could be answered more quickly, potentially before you even need to ask it.
Today, we're actually going to prove that.
For example, if you're new to Cloudflare and you're unsure to where to begin, start with the Diagnostic Center test in the Cloudflare Welcome Center.
Get familiar with the Learning Center, and finally, consult tutorials as you configure your Cloudflare account.
Do this before asking your question on the Cloudflare community in order to ask a better question.
When you ask the community, ask the community before you ask support because, again, you'll probably solve the question a little bit more quickly.
We'll quantify exactly how much more quickly in just a bit.
We have a great community staffed with a lot of Cloudflare team members and our amazing contributors.
The community answers questions quickly and efficiently.
Your question may have actually already been asked and answered.
Get started today. Just visit community.Cloudflare .com.
We have a handful of examples of questions that are best suited for the community.
Unfortunately, the people that asked these questions lost a lot of valuable time and expended a lot of excess effort trying to find an answer.
Today, we're going to answer some of those questions that were sent in to support, but we're going to do it today on the community, on this show.
Our first question today, it's regarding an error 1020.
The customer asked, I still keep getting 1020 error message.
When I had friends try to reach the site using a computer located in Florida and one in Pennsylvania, they got through.
This question was asked on November 12th, and actually the very, very same day, they received a reply indicating that they were not the zone owner, which is true.
On the 13th, they asked the same question and on the 14th, received a reply that indicated, when you're visiting a site protected by Cloudflare, error 1020 access denied indicates you violated a firewall rule.
When this happens, you see the access denied error and your request is blocked by the filter-based firewall rule on the site.
If you're the site owner, you can find which request was blocked in the firewall events page under the events menu.
However, you indicated that you're visiting the site.
In that case, you need to contact the site owner and let them know that you received the access denied error and ask them to check their firewall rules to see if that was accurate.
Only the site owner of the site that you're visiting can tell you why you're unable to access the site.
Contacting support will not result in an answer as we do not have control of the site, of the decisions the site owner made to block you.
Okay, so that's our first question and that's the answer that the customer received.
Now, let's figure out how much effort was expended.
To test this, we're going to see if the question should have been asked to customer support or if the community, and the test we're going to use is response time and effort.
Time is money, and more importantly, it's the only asset that we will never ever be able to get more of, so we need to spend it wisely.
Let's compare. The original question came into the community on November 9th at 8.14 in the morning.
They received the correct reply on November 10th at 10.38 in the morning. They asked the same question five more times, so let's be fair.
We're going to use the 8.14 on the 9th and the 10.38 on the 10th to measure this one.
Actually, a lot more time was wasted than what that's going to indicate, but we'll talk about that.
That's 26 hours and 24 minutes to a correct reply, but actually, given the number of times that the question was asked, it was 10 days of frustration to receive the same answer to the same question.
Let's compare that to the community.
I see if I search for a 10.20 error, and we're going to copy that text.
We're going to initiate a new search. It asks me to search here and test in the diagnostic center, so I'm going to say I've got a 10 .20 error, and let's see what happens.
I get a lot of results when I sort by relevance.
One of them is this 10.20 access denied community tip. Community tips are always a great place to start, so I click the community tip, and it tells me that if I'm visiting a site protected by Cloudflare, the 10.20 says that I violated a firewall rule.
That took me about 15 seconds, and the community wins. 15 seconds is a whole lot less than the 10 days that the customer was waiting.
Customer asked, I'm seeing a unique problem with websites hosted via Cloudflare on a Google Cloud server.
There are a few sites that we host on the server for clients, and I see that the sites that are using Cloudflare take a very long route to the server.
This slows down the website load time for the site owners and for their customers.
When we check the routing, it appears that you're routing it through a faraway server, which increases the minimum latency to every request.
Can you please help fix this routing?
That's actually a fairly common question that we see on the community, and the customer asked this to the community at 10.06 p.m.
on November 9th.
They also asked support the exact same question six minutes later. So now we have a real race, but the community has a six-minute head start to solve this question.
13 hours and 46 minutes later, the correct answer was posted on the community at November 10th at 11.46 a.m.
From ask to answer, that took 13 hours and 46 minutes on the community.
Support responded around the same time, indicating that the correct answer had already been posted in the community.
I guess technically support was a little bit faster than community because we had a head start, but let's dig a little bit deeper and find out if we can solve this in less than 13 hours and 46 minutes on this show.
I certainly hope so, otherwise the Cloudflare TV team is going to be not very happy with us.
So the customer is asking, why don't I reach the closest data center?
So let's ask the community that question.
If we go into the community and I say, why don't I reach the closest data center to me in search, I actually come up with a tutorial that says, why won't I reach the closest data center?
This is fantastic. The tutorials are a great place to start and it helps to understand questions.
When I see that, I see that I learned that Cloudflare is an anycast network.
When you're routed, it is determined by the peering with the ISPs.
The shortest geographic path isn't always the path that is possible due to the peering agreements.
So now I have a basic understanding of why this happened.
It's not an anomaly, it's actually to be expected.
That's pretty much what the customer was told on the community.
With paid plans, there are options to control routing, but for this customer, we just found the answer in about a minute.
That's a 13 hour and 45 minute time savings for community.
So far, in case you're counting, it's taken 40 hours and six minutes to get answers to two questions when we asked them to support, and about one minute and 15 seconds to find the answer on community.
Unfortunately, not all of the questions that have been asked have been answered.
So we're going to actually work through some of those.
Hopefully, we'll be talking about your ticket.
So this is our third question. Our customer writes, the website is at my registrar slash hosting provider.
I have the A record listed in Cloudflare DNS, but this is not propagating, and the website's redirecting to a registrar's generic homepage.
When I say the A record's not propagating DNS, I do a DNS trace and the domain comes back with a Cloudflare IP, and that's from Whois.
So a couple of thoughts. Whois isn't necessarily always the greatest source to find this information.
Sometimes a dig will be a little bit better, but given that this information says that they found these Cloudflare IPs, that kind of sounds like Cloudflare's active on the site.
Okay. So the customer asked this question on November 9th at 1047 in the morning, and it was posted on the community asking for a reply.
It was posted to support asking for a reply.
Unfortunately, the questions not surfaced on the community, so I can't really share a whole lot of the specific details, but I did investigate this question, and I visited the domain that was listed by the customer, and I was directed to the page in question where I pretty quickly learned that the domain had actually been suspended by the host.
How was I able to determine this?
This is a fairly sophisticated piece of information. Well, the first clue was the banner that said this site is suspended.
The second clue was the redirect to a suspended domain page.
Now, we see this question come up where a domain has expired, hosting has expired, or simply there's a lack of a bill payment for a hosting provider that's caused the site to redirect to one of these providers' pages.
It's a fairly common issue that we see, and the community is very, very quick to be able to respond and point out what the error message is that people are seeing.
I suspect that the reason that the customer wasn't able to determine that their site was suspended was that they automatically assumed that they were hitting a Cloudflare error page when their host name was actually even listed on the page, and they pointed the question towards the wrong place to find an answer.
It's an easy question to answer for folks, and let's say we see it pretty commonly on the community.
Nonetheless, because of the way this worked out, we're going to chalk up another 10 days or 240 hours waiting for an answer that was asked in the wrong direction.
Okay, this is actually kind of fun.
It's also a tad bit depressing because we're finding that we can find answers a lot more quickly using one source than we can with the other, but let's continue.
One more question, number four. The customer asked this on November 5th.
I can't add my domain www.example .com. I tried with another www.example.es, and I had the same problem.
They're impossible to add to the platform. The customer was asked to share this question with the community when they sent it into customer support.
I can't tell if they've actually done that or not, but I went ahead and I looked at this problem a little bit.
On the community, I went and I searched for failed to search, failed to look up registrar and hosting information, so I go to the community.
I say I want to look, I want to search for failed to host registrar and hosting information, so I'm going to copy that text, and we're actually going to go up and initiate a new search.
Now, before I do that, I want to actually add the hashtag community tip.
What I'm asking the system to do is I'm asking it to only return community things that are tagged with community tip that have that text, and sure enough, I come up with a tip titled failed to look up registrar and hosting information.
It's the exact same error message that gets presented, which is the norm for the community tips.
So, let's go into the community tip and see if we can figure out an answer.
So, I'm told why I have the error.
I'm given a bit of a background on the error, and I'm told exactly what I should do is if I should try again later, if it still fails, then I need to contact support, or I can go through and I can actually try to figure this out myself with some of the quick fix ideas.
As I scroll through the quick fix ideas, I realize that most of these don't really apply to the situation that we saw the customer talk about, except for this one.
This is rather interesting. You're trying to add https example.com, and you should just add example.com, or you're trying to add www.example.com, and you should add example.com instead.
All right, so this is actually quite fascinating because we actually were able to find the answer.
It took about another minute to figure out.
At this point, it's probably pretty conclusive.
If you're not dealing with 2FA or billing questions, asking the community is a lot faster than asking support, and if we go through and we add another few hundred hours to the tally that we're making, it's not going to make a whole lot more sense.
Across four questions, we've seen that the community can deliver the answers nearly faster than you can formulate the questions.
I think there are other takeaways from this as well.
Searching on the community is simply less effort, especially if you adhere to the search tips that are built into the community, and you take advantage of the diagnostic tools that are available to you.
I'll give a couple of examples. If we go to the community, and we actually begin to search, we see that the Cloudflare status is up front and center.
This is important because it's typical, and if you have a problem, being able to check the Cloudflare status is going to tell you if it's a network problem or if it's a problem with your specific site, and it's really the place that you should start first to get some sort of troubleshooting idea for what you're trying to understand.
It also tells you how performant the Cloudflare network is by specific location, so you can determine if there was an issue in your specific area.
Community tips are structured around problems and solutions, so we're taking a look at what the issues are that customers face or whether the best practices are set up, and we're putting out a set of quick fix ideas or quick configuration ideas that you can go through and get productive quickly.
Tutorials are simply fantastic. Tutorials are where you go when you want to learn how to use a specific feature of Cloudflare.
They're also a nice double check. I like to use them for something that I know, but something that I know not so well, so it's a way for me to be reminded of specific things that I may have forgotten to set when I was working with the specific feature.
The Cloudflare Help Center is where you actually go to file a ticket to speak to customer support, but it's also where the help documentation lives that is really the source of all truth as you're working with Cloudflare.
And finally, our Learning Center. We have a lot of people that are new to Cloudflare, and the Learning Center provides a basic amount of information both on the Internet as well as on setting up websites.
It's the background information that we all need as we begin to work with Cloudflare as a tool for our site.
If you're a developer, you probably want to hang out at the Cloudflare Developer Center where we talk a lot about using workers for your sites.
The Diagnostic Center is exactly like what it sounds like.
It is where you go when you want to figure out what problem you're having.
This is critical because diagnosing the actual issue helps to be able to solve it.
If we don't diagnose the problem, then we're simply taking steps, but we're not really sure if we're taking steps towards resolution.
The Diagnostic Center is actually going to analyze your site, it's going to provide a bit of information, a bit of feedback, and it's going to make you more informed as you post and ask a question.
You can say, I received this error in the Diagnostic Center that indicates that my certificate's expired.
Now all of a sudden you know that you need to ask in the security category, you need to ask about an expired certificate, whatever it may be.
The Diagnostic Center is the tool that gives you the feedback that you need in order to be able to formulate the right question.
If you're new to Cloudflare, we advise you hit the Welcome Center.
The Cloudflare Welcome Center is the place you can go that'll give you all the basic information for how you set up your Cloudflare account.
These diagnostic tools work in conjunction with the people that are on the Cloudflare community.
People that are on the Cloudflare community are there to help you.
They're there to help you answer questions that you may have about your site.
As you go through and search, it's encouraging me to search here and it's also encouraging me to test in the Diagnostic Center.
If I start to look at some of the options that are available, it says don't wait for a reply.
Search for community tip in the error to find a message.
So that's interesting. Let's try that.
Let's try community tip. Okay, let's try that.
Community tip. And one of the errors that we saw and we see quite frequently is 524.
We saw that earlier today on the show.
So let's look at 524. I have a tip that talks about the helpful links, the banner ads that are on the site.
I have a link to a catalog of all of the published tips.
I have a link to the catalog of all of the 500 error tips and I have fixing a 524 timeout error.
So that's kind of interesting. What I've done is simply by adding the hashtag of community tip, I'm actually able to filter my results to tips that actually work and help me to resolve my problem by the same token.
If I look at hashtag tutorial, and I say 1020, all of a sudden I start to get tutorials that fall into this same range as well.
What is interesting here is that I'm actually able to limit the results I get in order to get results that are more pertinent to what I want to know.
Let's look at some other examples.
So the hashtag symbol that we're using here applies to the categories that you see listed there, DNS, getting started, security and performance, etc.
But it also applies to freeform tags that you actually add, like community tip or tutorial.
So now you can limit your search to either a specific set of posts, tutorials, or a specific category like DNS and network.
So you get more specific responses or more germane responses to the question that you're actually asking.
That's relatively important because it helps you to be able to formulate a better question.
One of the other examples that we like to share is expert tips.
Now, we know that expert tips are a result of the information that's been put into the community.
These are questions that have been asked and answered. And these answers, the ones that are tagged with the community, with the expert tip tag, are actually the ones that simply nail it.
It is the right answer to the question. So let's look at this one, for example, expert tip on compliance.
So this is one that I have actually shared, which it's talking about all of the resources for compliance that you can get to from Cloudflare.
And it's a way for you very, very quickly to get to our compliance resources.
That's pretty nice. That's a nice expert tip.
Not a question that comes up frequently on the community, but it is a question that comes up a half a dozen times in a year.
There's also expert tips that show demos.
There's actually an expert tip on the managed rule set, which is quite interesting.
So the customer asked this question, and the answer they received was from one of the Cloudflare staff members that's an engineer on the firewall team.
And they were able to actually provide expert insight and expert information about why this specific question was coming up to this specific question.
So we encourage you to look for hashtag expert tip, hashtag community tip, hashtag tutorials as you refine your answers.
We encourage you to look at the learning center and the tutorials so that you can ask better questions.
But the reality of it is, is when you're in the community, you can simply ask a question.
So you can post a new topic and you can ask questions of the community.
It's best to make the question as specific as possible, include the troubleshooting steps that you've already taken, and include the results that you're actually seeing.
With this, the community can help you to be able to help yourself a little bit more efficiently.
Now, we've talked a lot about the issues that ought to be sent into community, and we've talked about the times when the issues ought to be sent into support.
And again, if the question is related to billing, if it's 2FA or account access, then you need to ask the question to the customer support.
There really is no margin in asking the question to the community first.
However, with things like a 1020 error, Google Analytics, the 524 errors that we're seeing, the automatic platform optimization questions that have come up, you can get an answer a lot more quickly on the community than you can going through customer support.
So this is why we encourage you to join the community so that you can contribute answers and help other Cloudflare users.
Or more importantly, you can even simply just lurk on the community and find answers without actually being a member of the community.
It's quite a statement to the power of the community when we look and we know that there are over a hundred thousand customers that are in the community waiting to answer questions for you.
Within Cloudflare, we're something under a couple thousand people at this point.
So there are 50 times more people in the community there to answer questions for you than there are at all of Cloudflare.
If you look at Cloudflare customer support, the numbers become even quite a bit more dramatic.
So you have people on your side when you're in the community and you have a lot of resources that are available in that there are customers that use WooCommerce that customer support may not be familiar with how to set up WooCommerce.
There are customers that use the same hosting provider that you use and customer support may not be familiar with it.
So that's why we encourage you to check out the community before you contact customer support because we're going to help you to find the answers as quickly as we possibly can and we're going to help to find those answers for all of the people at Cloudflare.
Thank you for joining yesterday today on the Cloudflare community.
I'm your host, Tim Clunan.
I'm going to see you next time for another edition of Yesterday Today. And until then, we'll see you in the Cloudflare community.
Thank you and have a good day.