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Community - The meaning of Support?

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Hi all,Ever wonder what Community means? IMHO, it means people coming together to help one another in a common cause.If you download programs of any sort, you will no doubt have to obtain support for some of them from time to time. I know I do.Now what does that require?Well, normally it requires you to register for umpteen number of forums, sites, or even email support when a product does not have a forum.Count up how many forums you have registered for just to get a few questions answered. You should not have to do this, IMHO.I don't feel a person should be required to only ask questions at a certain place. And I certainly don't feel a person should be ridiculed for asking questions here, no matter what the question if it involves a product.After browsing these forums, I have seen numerous responses to questions along the lines of.EX: "why are you posting here, go to xyz's site, register for their forums and ask the question there. How dare you ask a support question here"orEX: "If you had only contacted xyz by email, we would have helped you out"Many of you may have seen these posts. Maybe some are posts asking a question that can be answered without the hassle of a person having to register at 20 different forums.Maybe, just maybe for products without forums, there are more than one person who has the same question but was in fear to ask.IMHO, this is a community that all questions should be welcomed for support whether another forum exists or not.Now maybe not every question can be answered here, but nonetheless, shouldn't these members not be ridiculed for asking a question?When a product has no forum, sometimes multiple numbers of persons can be helped by seeing a question answered here.I've always given back by helping in areas I am familiar with. More so in the past than recently, due to other responsibilities. And whether a product had a forum somewhere else or not, I've tried for the most part to answer the question, provide the link to an answer, or point the person in the right direction.So in the spirit of the coming New Year, I will try to help others here with questions on products whether they have support forums somewhere else or not. And that to me is Community.BTW - For those that feel certain questions should only be asked in a specific product support forum. Microsoft has boards too, but no one seems to say go ask your question there, so why should anyone be expected to do that when a product has something to do with simming. MS Board http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/expertz...blic.simulators And that is my feeling on community.Best Regards,Joe

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1) most times problems with a specific product are mentioned here (outside the support forums for that product) either the person asking or others use that as an opportunity to start a flamewar against that product or its producer.Avsim doesn't want that, this is supposed to be a friendly place.2) the official support forums is where the product designers and producers hang out as well as users. Your chances of getting a useful answer there are far greater.

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JW, I don't disagree with your statement, however, when certain developers start demanding that we lock or delete threads and suggest that we force users to go to their forum for assistance, that is where we draw the line. Users are free to post where they like, including the AVSIM forums. If the question can't be answered by users here, then redirecting them to the "official" support forum might be warranted. But, demanding that we lock threads by vendors is not going to happen.

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I know Tom. I was just stating why it's often more prudent to post in specific forums rather than generic ones and why in generic ones there's a good chance to get your post removed or locked (after abuse that will likely not be yours).

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Too true.. and I am getting to the point where I think we should ban those who are constantly in the midst of or provoking that bashing. Zero tolerance and all that... including vendors if necessary.

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Hi Joe,While I agree in spirit and principle with what you've written, and indeed even offer answer questions here and elsewhere, even for a "competitor's product,":) there's one thing that you may be overlooking...Typically, when someone asks a question about a payware product, the best source for a timely, correct answer would be in that company's forum, assuming that they have one.Considering the plethora of flightsim websites, forums and newsgroups, do you really think that it would even be possible for any group of developers - freeware or payware - to monitor every single forum or newsgroup to answer questions?On any given day, we receive upwards of 40 email support questions from folks, all of whom must be answered individually. This takes "someone" away from development work on their project for however long it takes to provide a reply.In some cases, we've even invited people to call us (at their expense, of course!) in an effort to provide "real time" support.I happen to be one of those who suggest that folks utilize the developer's forums, but I typically answer their specific question at the same time, in the same message. ;)

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You said:"Typically, when someone asks a question about a payware product, the best source for a timely, correct answer would be in that company's forum, assuming that they have one."Whether it is the best source is an opinion, as I've seen people get bashed on developers sites for asking questions as well. (I saw one today on a different site) It is A CHOICE, and should not be the ONLY choice. And this is not meant to only encompass payware developers.But since you mention it, Microsoft is a payware developer, just like yours, no difference. They sell stuff. Yet, I don't see too many posts here or otherwise demanding people go directly to MS for support. Why should any developer free or pay be able to do that to a consumer, and demand they go somewhere else or highly stress that they do. Why should we allow any developer pay or free to do that. Not many developers demand that of their clients, yet in our hobby it is seen as ok by some. I disagree with that, and I think it is wrong.You said:"Considering the plethora of flightsim websites, forums and newsgroups, do you really think that it would even be possible for any group of developers - freeware or payware - to monitor every single forum or newsgroup to answer questions?"They should not have to, nor should they try. MS doesn't. If someone has a question, they should feel free to ask it anywhere. Eventually, if they do not find the answer, maybe they will take the time and register at umpteen forums to get answers to their numerous programs. But I don't see too many questions unanswered here, so why not commend the members that do answer the questions instead of seeing the poster condemned as is the practice now exhibited from time to time.But me, I have faith in the users here, sometimes more than anyone else, because they may have the same question, or know the answer without the hassle of multiple site registrations. That is what makes Avsim a Community, when I or others can ask any question about flight simming, find very good advice given by members here, and it's all located at one place. Pretty convenient for me, and I have the opinion it's quite convenient for others too.At least it used to be that way. Now we have people answering questions with "go to xyz site and ask it there". And sometimes, I even wonder if the person who knows it might know the answer but feels only support questions can be asked at one place.Well, I guess know one should ever ask a question about MSFS 2004 then and people can just lead them to the MS site instead.But I don't think so, as long as I can help a bit, I will, and I will encourage others to do the same.Regards,Joe

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Hi Joe,your intentions are very honorable but, I hate to say it, you're losing ground: for every post you spend announcing your future good deeds (never failing to denounce the actions of others), three or more posts have been placed by members of this happy community that actually helped someone with a question.Quick, or you'll be missing the boat :-spacecraft Happy Holidays!Cheers, Holger

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The best reason to send people to one specific forum to look for answers is that, the majority of the time, the answer is already there.Example: some hardware I bought didn't work properly in FS (and FS only - it was fine in Fly.). I found a manufacturer-specific support forum, did a quick search there and the answer was in front of me. I did a search on an FS site at the same time and found a thread that pointed to the exact site my answer had come from, after people had suggested everything up to and including rebuilding the entire PC!!! (The problem was a slider setting).I've been doing computer support since the early 80s and, throughout that time, the most common phrase I have heard is "Look in the manual, the answer is in there on page (n)". The second is "well had you asked the right people in the first place, you wouldn't be in this mess now". The latter is to people who have asked a question of someone and have been given duff information.FS is no different in that respect to DOS. If you ask ten people, ten people will often suggest ten different things to try, one of them may be right, but often one or more of the others will make things worse. If you had asked the question to the people who made the product in the first place and not an unrelated forum, the chances are they would give you one answer - the one that works.Equally well, in the case of DOS, you never asked MS anything, because they would send a bill for considerable amounts of money along with their answer. Therefore, you had to ask questions like that on open forums where experienced developers and users posted.I think there's a place for both, but dedicated forums are by far less likely to give duff information. :-)Cheers,Ian P.

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Joe, We provide support, and support forums for our products because any company worth it's salt should do so.We are alway's amused that folks who have not built a product and have no knowledge of a products inner workings would offer to answer support questions in the stead of the builder.:+ Why consider going to Ford for support on your Chevy??? Why would someone who has NO KNOWLEDGE of a particular product be a better source of support than the BUILDER of the product??The argument that you can provide unathorized support for other peoples products in public forums like these simply does not hold water.

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Hi Ron,Thanks for responding. :-)You said:"We provide support, and support forums for our products because any company worth it's salt should do so."And that is a noble thing to do Ron, no problems here. I wish more did provide that Option to give a consumer a Choice. You should be commended for that. :-) But that should not be the ONLY choice, IMHO.You said:"We are alway's amused that folks who have not built a product and have no knowledge of a products inner workings would offer to answer support questions in the stead of the builder."hmmmm, I wonder who "We Is?" You may find it amusing, but I think anyone who honestly tries to answer any question raised here or anywhere else should be COMMENDED for at least trying to help. That is why Avsim is successful, IMHO, and why it is a Community, IMHO. I work on my own BMW 525 when it needs something fixed, and I've never built one, should I not be allowed to. I've also given others advice on their BMW, an dreceived same advice from them. And none of them ever built one either that I know of. I get my questions answered not from BMW, but from, guess who, yep, other BMW Owners in forums that work just like this one. And I don't see BMW in those forums demanding, or ridiculing poeple for asking questions. That would be ridiculous. Ever change a belt on a gas Clothes Dryer, or do you just call service? I have and I've never built a dryer, but guess what it isn't that hard. Ever change the ignitor in a Gas Grill, Gas Furnace, or Gas Dryer. I've diagnosed and replaced all three, and I've never gone to a course in my life on any of those products. And yes, I've given advice to others on these same issues, and helped them fix theirs. They are pretty easy too. You said:"Why consider going to Ford for support on your Chevy???"Do you think every Ford owner takes their Ford to the dealer for service?Do you think they should HAVE TO? That's silly, IMHO to expect anyone or REQUIRE anyone to do that. Should people be required to get their oil changed only at the dealers for whatever they want to charge.You said:"Why would someone who has NO KNOWLEDGE of a particular product be a better source of support than the BUILDER of the product??"Why would someone assume that no one can answer a question except for at a developers forum. Where did you go for your Windows XP Questions? Microsft? Or another site for tips, tweaks, whatever. Why would you assume people have no knowledge. I think great credit should be given to the members here who exhibit their knowledge every time they answer a support question. Don't you?Did you PATCH your MSFS2004?Did you PATCH your WinXP with SP2, if apllicable?If yes, where did you first find out about those items.Did MS ever bother to notify its users of a Patch for MSFS2004? I don't think so, and they certainly got my info when I registered it. Relying on any developer as the SOLE resource for support would require you to log in every single day just in case you missed something.Here, people can get a question answered by USERS who are Knowledgable on many products and very often do provide the correct answer, or lead that person to the answer. You said:"The argument that you can provide unathorized support for other peoples products in public forums like these simply does not hold water.""Unauthorized Support", Says who?It's called an opinion and is protected by law, Ron. And as a resident of the State of California, that type of speech is protected in the California State Constitution as well as The Constitution of The United States of America. People can try to help out anyone they want here, or anywhere else for that matter. Does your EULA have a statemnet in it backed by LEGAL precedant that requires its users to ONLY seek support or face liability or legal action by your company? Are you suggesting that people who answer questions need to be Authorized by your company before they answer? I hope not, as that would be a very slippery slope, IMHO.Perhaps you would like to rephrase that statement.And the ones who answer the questions most of the time are people who OWN THE EXACT SAME PRODUCT, and why would that be so wrong to do, as that is what makes it a Community Ron. And that is the water. :-)It sounds like a potential "support monopoly goal", IMHO.If it were not for Avsim, I would not have known about the Patch for FS9. And that is Community.One more question Ron.Wasn't it the community members at this site and maybe others that helped you at some point to get where you are selling aircraft for a program that you likely did not create, MSFS9, but benefit from? And isn't that a good thing. I think it is.I don't think many people paid to learn the skills to create and then sell add-on aircraft. I think they they may have just learned it from the benefit of others at some point. And that is a Good thing too.And lest you think I do not support Payware, you would be wrong on that, as would anyone else that thinks that. I own add-ons for MSFS2004, and when appropriate I've commended payware developers, including MS for their work, as well as others. I've got a few posts here, so it should not be too difficult to find my supportive payware posts. I found them ok. :-)And as for making things. Yeah I've done that too. I've made some, and been beta testers on others. Besides, others contribute in different ways which is their own choice.This is a community because of its members who freely help each other, no matter the question, no matter the product. Hardware, Video Cards, Sims, why should an add-on for MSFS9 be any different than any other product here. They are the same, IMHO. Someone is selling something, or providing it as freeware, and someone else needs help with it. Take Care,Joe

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Ian,I think all developers should have their own forums, and yes those that do should be commended. :-)But I don't think anyone is entitled to a Hypothetical Support Monopoly.But that is the feeling I get sometimes and it is not just here. I see it at other places too.We all most likely have been in need and obtained advice not from the seller, but from USERS, who do have experience.I teach Rock Climbing, Bouldering, Rappeling, and Belaying, and then others I've taught give tips to still others that same day.I don't run around saying no, only I can give tips on rappelling. I encourage them to learn as well, since they are the USERS.And sometimes they figure out things on their own as USERS. They clmb a face, find a new hold, and give that advice Freely to the next person climbing. Hey try that crevice there. A user gives advice to someone else that may not know where that particular crevice is.I just feel all users should have a choice on where to get support, and if they choose NOT TO go to the developers site, whether Microsoft or some other site, they should not need to.I use Black Diamond, and Petzl gear. And buy Gear from REI. But REI didn't show me how to lay protection on a rock face with triple redundency, other users did though, or I figured it out on my own.Thanks for posting,Regards,Joe

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Some problems with this approach:-Our developers now have to monitor multiple forums to help people. This means instead of developing new products and fixing old ones, they are reading multiple message boards instead. -(my personal pet peeve) Many people do not even bother to search the support forums for addons. They just ask the same questions over and over again, meanwhile a simple search of a forum would have produced an answer. It would be quicker and easier just to search. So often we see the same questions posted over and over again, often using the exact same thread title. -Using the official support forum gives us a knowedgebase and a useful way to track issues. Having issues posted all over means that it makes it that much more difficult to look at them all at once. Anyone who has done any kind of programming support can tell you that it really helps to not just look at each problem in a vacuum, but all at once to look for patterns and trends. I see your point, but when you need support, why not go the most direct route to the person who can help? We have the somewhat unique ability to communicate directly with the various programmers of addons (try getting a discussion going with any other game developer, it is certainly a rare thing). Personally, I have had wonderful experiences with support by going through the support forums. Most of the time I received a reply within hours of posting the issue.

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Joe,"We is our team of hard working, skilled people" The statements stand. Neither you or anyone else outside our organization are "authorized to offer official support for our products". Without a doubt the community members do indeed "help each other" and each truly helpful member is to be commended:-)>>"Unauthorized Support", Says who?<< I say you "are not authorized to provide support for products from our organization"You are of course free to express your opinion in these United States and we are thankful for that right. Please do not confuse freedom of speech with the right to speak for others or their organizations:-) The difficulty of not "going to the source" FIRST is that many folks are misled and confused over "unathorized" help given by "helpful individuals" who have no knowledge of the product in question.

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