Being helpful when asking for help

There was a wiki page on this but posting this here to be more accessible hopefully. The FreePBX and Asterisk communities are filled with experts eager to lend a hand. To tap into that knowledge pool effectively, a well-crafted support request is key. Here’s how to make your posts stand out and get you the solutions you need:

The “Perfect Patient” Approach

Think of your forum post like describing your symptoms to a doctor. The more precise and organized your information, the quicker they can reach a diagnosis.

  • A Compelling Headline: Generic cries for “Help!” get lost in the noise. Zero in on the core issue: “Outbound Calls Fail with 403 Forbidden Error” or “Voicemail Not Sending Email Notifications” immediately signals the kind of expertise you need.
  • The Full Picture: Don’t just state what’s wrong. Explain what you intended to happen, and how the current behavior differs. Did the problem seemingly appear out of nowhere, or has it lingered since installation? Even small details can spark a lightbulb moment for someone experienced.
  • System Specs Upfront: Save everyone back-and-forth by including your FreePBX version, Asterisk version, any potentially relevant modules, and your deployment type (physical server, cloud instance, etc.).
  • Show Your Initiative:
    Did you try turning it off and back on again? Did you Google the error message? Mention any troubleshooting steps you’ve already taken to rule things out.

Mastering the Logs

Your logs are the most powerful diagnostic tools at your disposal. Learn to love them, and the community helpers will too!

  • Asterisk’s Inner Monologue: Your main Asterisk log (/var/log/asterisk/full) is where the nitty-gritty details of call flows and errors reside.

    • Grep to the Rescue: The grep command is your searchlight in the log haystack. Example: To hunt down prematurely ended calls, try grep -i 'hangup' /var/log/asterisk/full.
    • Timing is Everything: Pay close attention to timestamps around the time a problem occurs. Include those lines in your forum post, or use the Pastebin ( for large logs.
  • Don’t Forget the Frontend: If the weirdness lies in the FreePBX web interface, your browser’s developer tools hold the keys:

    • Chrome/Edge: Press F12, and focus on the “Network” tab (to see failed requests) and the “Console” tab (where errors often get logged).
    • Firefox: Press Ctrl+Shift+K (or Cmd+Option+K on Mac), the tools are very similar to Chrome.
    • A Picture’s Worth… Screenshots of any error messages in the browser are incredibly helpful when paired with logs.

The Golden Rules

  • Clarity is Kindness: A well-formatted, easy-to-read post shows consideration for those helping you.
  • Wrap code and loglines: Use backtics ```your output``` to make sure logs and code are formatted properly.
  • One Issue at a Time: Keeps answers focused and prevents confusion.
  • Patience is a Virtue: These are largely volunteer communities. Give folks time to see and respond to your question.
  • Pay it Forward: If you find a solution, mark your post as “Solved” and briefly explain what fixed it. This helps future searchers!

" * * Timing is Everything: Pay close attention to timestamps around the time a problem occurs. Include those lines in your forum post, or use the Pastebin ( for large logs."

I forgot, did I hear that the FreePBX pastebin no longer keeps pastes longer than something like 30 days? Or has that been changed back to being able to keep them permanently? I’m just thinking if someone ever comes across a thread years down the road that might be helpful, and they wouldn’t be able to see the logs anymore.

I wouldn’t rely on any pastebin for longevity. The better move here would be to copy relevant lines back to the thread. A call is going to have possibly hundreds of lines but most of that is noise. So if there is one or two lines within that entire log that give the context or clue to what happened? Those would be useful to copy back.

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Ah, that is true yeah.

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