TSF BIOS

This page will help you navigate our docs and interfaces in any situation.
It will only be of interest to TSF members. Here's how you become one.

1. Getting started

Answering Questions is our constitution. Come back to it anytime you're in doubt.

  1. Our creed and goals
  2. I don't know the answer
  3. User wants to chat
  4. User has real life problems
  5. User is insulting me

The TSupport client is your rifle.
Learn all its features, and use an up to date template file.

1a. Asking teammates for help

Never hesitate to ask for help in your local TSF group. But remember: Not everyone in your group uses the same support account and speaks the same languages as you. When you want to ask something:

  1. Write a summary of the user‘s question in one message (don’t copy-paste, be brief)
  2. Always use English (there are team members in your group who don't speak your language)
  3. Always include the entire footer from the question (all hashtags)

1b. Coming back from the dead

If you notice that you haven't answered any questions lately, go read the Coming and Going manual.

2. Tracing your progress

You can check our TSF Panel to see your stats and how you compare against other TSF members. You can also add a little TSF Bio in the panel, so that others know more about you, what you like, what you do, what devices you have and what languages you can speak.

3. Basic questions

You should be able to handle these easily. Here's where you find information:

  1. FAQ
  2. Tips & Tricks Trello
  3. App comparison table
  4. Screenshots (wiki)
  5. Answer templates (wiki)
  6. Articles about Telegram in the media

Whenever you learn something that was not in the docs,
make sure that this new info finds its way into the docs!

4. Bug reports

Search our trello boards before you do anything. In most cases, you will find all the info right away. Ask in your local group if anything is not clear. Use the TSF Chat for testing things on devices you don't have.

  1. Reporting bugs from Answering Questions
  2. Bug Handling Manual
  3. Investigating Bugs
  4. Issues disambiguation board on Trello

5. User suggestions

Search trello boards first. It could be a bug, a feature or a known suggestion. Discuss in local groups if new suggestions need to be added, then add the suggestion to the board. Don‘t do this if you’re not sure. And remember that not all suggestions need to be added to the board. Use common sense and the feature philosophy.

  1. Handling user suggestions from Answering Questions
  2. Feature philosophy
  3. Suggestions Trello board (about)

Read the About section of the Suggestions Board before you add anything.

6. Projects and suggestions for the TSF

The Telegram Support Force is full of brilliant and creative people, and there are many more useful things that can be done besides answering questions. If you‘re interested in doing more, check out the TSF Projects board where you’ll find a list of currently active projects initiated by our TSF members. Find one to your liking or just sign up to be notified when something that requires your skills is going on.

The list of projects is not very long for now, but we're working on adding more. If you have an idea for a project, see this card.

If you have other suggestions and ideas for the general workings of the TSF, our templates, and interfaces, don't hesitate to contact Markus about it. Oh, and: Rude frescoes. If you have no idea what this last thing was about, read on to the end of this document.

WARNING: If you‘ve just joined the TSF and are still figuring out what’s going on, we‘d suggest not to get too involved with things like side projects. It’s a better idea to first get comfortable with answering user questions before you spread out.

7. Security questions

Stick to the FAQ in case of ordinary users. Always consult Markus (unless the matter is fully covered in the Bestiary). If Markus is not available at the moment, ask in your local group. Don‘t be afraid to tell an advanced user that you are not a specialist — you don’t have to be.

  1. Ask users for the source of their doubts, most likely you'll get a link
  2. The Features & Tricks board has a Bestiary section, look there for known articles
  3. Advanced FAQ
  4. Advanced concerns and questions should be mailed to security@telegram.org

To use trello search for links, remove the http(s):// part. E.g.:

Trello search is not perfect for links even this way, so may be a good idea to take a personal look at the Bestiary if the search doesn't return anything. New links for problems that are covered in the Bestiary should be added to the relevant cards.

8. New language requests

Anyone can use the Translation platform to suggest improvements to our current translations — or create their own custom language packs and translate Telegram into any language.

  1. Translations instructions in the FAQ
  2. Translations section

9. Join support force requests

Don't give our manifesto to just anybody. Try to see if the user is reasonable. If not, you can tell them that finding how to join us is the first test.

10. Media requests

Show them the FAQ and the press page — it has our contacts. Then tell Markus about the request. Never promise anything. Be extra careful when handling questions from journalists. If it‘s something related to simple Telegram features, reply – but make sure they understand that you’ve volunteered to help users in support and are not a spokesperson for Telegram.

If it's anything more complicated, e.g.:

  • Touches on any sensitive subjects like encryption, privacy, moderation, etc. in any way
  • Contains a list of questions

=> Do not engage. Post in your local group and alert Markus instead.

11. Legal stuff

You as our volunteers are not trained in legal matters, so it's safer to do nothing at all, should you encounter any kind of legal requests. Lawyers know how to reach us. So simply ignore those messages, do not open, do not reply, do not worry. We'll handle everything.

12. Secret words

By the way, when reading our manuals, you will sometimes notice words that are definitely out of place. For example, a text may at some point say something like Bionic sycophants out of the blue – only in real life the strange words won't be highlighted in italics. If you find such words in our manuals, talk to @Gladosbot and send her the /sendsecret command (without parameters). The bot will ask you for the secret words you‘ve found and respond if you’ve entered them correctly.

Try this now with the secret words you‘ve just found in the paragraph above – and keep your eyes opened for more of them in other documents. Please don’t neglect this! Secret words help us understand whether or not you are up to date on our docs in a friendly way.

13. Spam-related requests

Some users will complain that they were unfairly limited to only sending messages to their mutual contacts. We at the TSF do not have the tools to handle such requests, but our friendly @spambot is always ready to help them – and it speaks many different languages, including those that we don't. Feel free to send the spambot template to such users. If they keep insisting that you do something about their situation, it is OK to ignore them.

Some users will have you believe that somebody reported them ‘for fun’ or ‘by mistake’, but the reality is usually very different. We have a dedicated team of moderators that process every report aided by sophisticated algorithms, so it is not easy to get limited by mistake. Naturally, both humans and algorithms can err, but the @spambot has all the tools necessary for filing an appeal.

And remember: the vast, absolute majority of Telegram users never get reported at all, most reports are declined, and most of the people that do get limited never even notice it. They can talk to anyone they‘ve talked to before, they can reply to any messages other people send them, and the initial limitation lasts for only a short period of time. Most likely, you wouldn’t notice if we limited your account for a week or even a month.

Learn more about our antispam systems on Trello »

14. Abuse requests

The Telegram Support Force is an organization of volunteers that exists to help Telegram users find their way around the apps; you, our volunteers, are not qualified to solve cases involving illegal content — and neither am I (Markus). It is not an issue of trust, rather consider this:

  1. We would like our volunteers to be safe from possible legal consequences in case of misunderstandings and incorrectly handled cases.
  2. Exposure to certain materials can result in life-long mental scarring, so we want to leave this to professionals that choose to handle such materials for a living.

For these good reasons the Telegram abuse department is completely separate from the TSF and is staffed by professionals and not volunteers. It is their job to deal with any public content and abuse-related disputes. Please tell users to write to abuse@telegram.org and include all the details and links — or use the built-in report buttons in our apps.

Please note: spam@telegram.org is NOT used for complaints about spam. More info

15. Stick to the BIOS

This is where you go whenever you‘re not sure of what to do next. If you don’t find your answer in the BIOS, tell Markus about it. It's important to keep this document up to date.


TSF manuals