A call comes in via the Audacity forum. An Audacity user is in trouble and needs our help…
“Audacity crashed when splitting a stereo track to mono. Please help me Audacity Forum, you’re my only hope.”
That was 12 years ago. I was a young Audacity user on Windows XP, and I’d fallen foul of a bug in Audacity 1.3.4. Fortunately there was a workaround, and within 2 days I had the answer and was up and running again.
A lot has changed over those 12 years. The Audacity forum has grown from a few dozen users and a few hundred posts, to a thriving community with over 130,000 members and close to 300,000 posts. Response times have fallen from a couple of days, to typically a couple of hours, thanks to the hard working volunteers that spend many hours each day helping their fellow Audacity users.
From the professionalism and fast response to support requests, many users assume that Audacity HQ is a bustling command center with dozens of software developers and support staff like the picture above. The truth is somewhat different. Kozikowski, one of the longest serving forum helpers and self proclaimed curmudgeon, imagines Audacity HQ to be more like…
The Audacity Team is indeed much smaller than many imagine – a small group of enthusiastic volunteers around the world, working together to provide the most widely used multi-track audio editor in the world. There is actually no headquarters, no physical building, no command center, but a group of individuals, spread across three continents, working in small studies, bedrooms or at kitchen tables, providing a level of support that is rightly the envy of commercial competitors.
The main part of the help forum is divided, by operating system, in three sections: Windows, with over 17,000 topics, Mac OS, with over 4,000, and Gnu/Linux with over 1000 topics. These three forum boards are the first port of call if you need help using Audacity.
In addition, there are more specialist boards that cater for common special interest groups, such as audiobook producers, music makers, educationalists and teachers, and programmers. The full list of boards is found on the forum index page.
The range of questions and discussions about Audacity is vast. Of course there are many common questions about “how do I do …”. Many of the common questions already have answers in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the Audacity manual. The documentation does indeed carry answers to most of the common questions, though the forum crew are well aware that for a novice user it may not always be easy to find the information that you need. No need to worry, the forum crew are there to help and point you in the right direction.
The Audacity forum also sees a wide range of unusual, sometimes highly specialized questions. We have seen zoologists and marine biologists asking about analyzing audio recordings of animals, physicists interested in analyzing signals, statisticians wanting to visualize big data, electronic hobbyists using Audacity to record infra-red remote control, and many others. Although the forum crew may not be specialist in the particular field, the crew’s knowledge and experience using Audacity usually solves even the trickiest of problems.
A small selection of some of the more unusual forum topics:
- Using Audacity to measure the speed of an air gun pellet.
- Record/transmit infra-red remote control messages with Audacity.
- Using Audacity to Find Origin of Sounds (SONAR).
- Analyzing hydrophone recordings (marine biology research of Orcinus orca).
Whether you are a casual user of Audacity, or a highly experienced audio expert, all users are very welcome to join us on the forum. Whether you are looking for advice on a simple problem, or wish to learn about some of Audacity’s more advanced features, report a bug, or perhaps you want to share your experience of audio editing, or offer help to other Audacity users, all are welcome.
Audacity’s headquarters could be described as a virtual place in cyberspace, and the Audacity forum is very much the community hub for the many millions of Audacity users around the world. On behalf of the crew of the Audacity forum, we look forward to meeting you there.