Responsiveness is a big thing. If a user post once or twice and no one answers, what's the use of posting again? Typically, when other users don't know the answer to the question asked, they don't answer. And some time later, an answer will [might] come from an Autodesk person. Often too late. Even if it's responded to with a "We're looking into it...", it would provide verification of being heard.
You could give the "Super Users" the ability to flag a post for Autodesk attention, but then that's gifting the Super Users with a responsibility.
I think it would be a better idea to have a setup that sends an electric shock to the Autodesk personnel if a post goes without being answered. Or a certain number of views and no replies.
No response is definitely a pretty big motivation killer for our new users. We've been *trying* to be more pro-active about making sure questions don't go indefinitely without an answers, but it's a process. As for an electric shock and how effective it would be... I sit in the middle of a bunch of the support folks. I don't think I could deal with constant yelping and screaming from electric shocks. I think we'll stick to e-mails.
I like your idea about giving super users some types of access though, but that of course comes with a level responsibility as you pointed out. What other types of super user access could you see being beneficial to the community? Think big if you want!
My biggest issue so far has been the inclusion of forum posts as part of the Autodesk Knowlege Base. I don't know how much control you have over the greater Autodesk.com website, but when I perform a search in the top right hand box, I want to search Autodesk and not the forums. I at least want the option not to include forum posts so that I can weed out all the questions and only get answers. I don't know how many times I have searched for an actual Autodesk KB article and my search results have all been forums.autodesk.com results. When I want to point a user to an official answer, this becomes difficult to do.
The forum search itself is great if we can only get people to use it more. I have countless responses on identical topics daily. Usually, a new registered user comes in, asks a common question, gets answered, then leaves and never comes back again. That's fine, but it would have been better if the user would have searched for the answer, found it, and maybe came back again because their answer was easily found. Nobody registers for Google, yet we go there to find out answers daily. How much do you contribute to Googles search engine? I don't.
I don't know what kind of special rights would benefit me. I do use the Report Inappropriate Content a lot for spam, personal information, and piracy. But beyond that, I don't necessarily know that I need special rights. I do wish I could edit any of my posts at any time. Sometimes facts change and being able to update old information might be beneficial. Edited posts show edited. Perhaps a *reason* box would be beneficial as well as an option to read original post?
Response time is a slippery slope for Autodesk contributors. Typically this is a peer support forum. As more Autodesk members have participated, I think there is a growing perception that Autodesk should be answering and supporting more than they do. I try to reiterate the fact that support is offered thru Resellers and Subscription support and this forum is simply a bunch of colleagues here helping each other. I've always held that free support has no value, it only creates expectation. Although participation by Autodesk has been helpful, I've also seen an increase in angry posts and reposts demanding an answer. Such demands are unwarranted. Unfortunately, I have the option to ignore it whereas Autodesk is creating the responsibility to resolve it. I think it is a fair balance right now.
It's certainly been refreshing to be asked for our opinions. Many of us have been on here for years. We shake our sticks and yell to get off our lawns!
One of the things I miss the most from the nntp days is the ability to read messages off-line. While this isn't as big of an issue as it once was for me (I now have a stable internet connection at home and work, which wasn't the case until recently). But knowing I downloaded the headers, plus any messages I did read or respond to, and could then go back and search through those messages while I was experiencing down time, or while travelling, was a huge plus.
As for keeping new users around and/or getting them to participate more, that's a tough one. I, like others have stated, enjoy helping others. So my participation is based nearly 100% on that. If all I used the forums for was to ask questions and get answers, I think the only way to ensure I'd be back would be for me to get prompt, accurate, responses. To help facilitate that, if your database has got each of us power users sorted into areas of expertise (based on past responses and Solutions/Kudos ?), perhaps a message to a few that match the content of the question being asked would help to get a quicker response.
I'm sure it's posted somewhere already, but a reminder to users of posts with no repsonses that they should be sure to clearly describe the issue they want help with may help. I can't count how many times I've read a post and thought, "Ok, they are saying something doesn't work right...what version? What entity? What were they doing? What were they trying to do?" Sometimes I will just ask them, other times, if I just don't have a lot of time, I'll decide to let someone else figure it out. If there are still no responses when I do get some time, then I will try to remember to go back and ask them about it.
The issue that I keep running into is that the solution to a problem often involves attaching a drawing, but one that has the full solution is often too large for the attachment limits of the forum. I would appreciate it if solution providers had a larger attachment limit than regular posters.
Another gripe that I've just run into again.
Composing a post to answer a question properly can take a long time, especially if I am going back and forth to AutoCAD to research the solution, or building a drawing to explain myself. What happens is that I get to the end of my epistle - hit the Post button and get an error message that my login has apparently timed out. If I try to go back all of my work is frick'n gone and I've just wasted my time. The forums need some sort of protection for situations like this, maybe an autosave function or something similar.
I suggest a heavier use of graphics to give it a more modern feel. Animated transitions, larger fonts to help the hard of hearing, and graphic assistants to help out those of us too clueless to use the place properly. You can hardly call this a state-of-the-art web experience without a big friendly anthropomorphic kitten that uses your PC speakers to purr at you and say things like, "It looks like you're trying to ask why your file dialog boxes have been replaced by command line prompts. Are you sure you want to do this and face potential ridicule or would you prefer to take a punt on the search facility instead?"
Have a good read through the oldest couple of pages in this section to see what pushed away a whole bunch of value-adding people, including long-term Autodesk experts. It didn't help that the Lithium disaster followed only a couple of years after the Jive disaster. Here are some comments I made about both disasters:
It's like a shattered vase. You can glue it back together so it looks about the same, but it will never be the same again. Especially if you've dropped it twice.
Looking at it from a more positive perspective, those early complaint posts point out a lot of usability issues that indicate areas of potential improvement. Some have been addressed properly, others partially, others not at all. Sort those out (which will probably involve ditching Lithium) and you can try to gradually build things up again. In the meantime, send me swag.
Ok, I apologize for how long this response is going to get but just going to group it all together!
TravisNave - Totally with you on the search. The defense I know I'll get back if changes are suggested is that if you search for something on Autodesk.com, then change it the selection to 'Support Related Only', and then change your "Source" you can filter by Blog, Knowledgebase, etc. (That also requires knowing what each resource offers you, huh?) I take it something a lot more user friendly and especially NEW user friendly would be appreciated?
As for support's involvement in answering questions, I've noticed the same occurence. The more we get involved, the higher the bar gets. To some extent, we're trying to be really careful and not force our best external users (that would be you folks) out as well by leaving nothing to answer, so it's a very unusual balance to try to keep. Someone had suggested making a "Autodesk Approved Answer" button or something just so users know that we are making sure accuracy is key around here, so what do you think? Is that something we should consider in the future?
Pendean - That's a tough one to fix since a third of the users want it in a new window, a third want it in a new tab, and the final third want it in the same window. Sounds like we just need some options!
Jeff_M - I like your suggestion on using power users as a database of sorts. I just don't want to overwhelm anyone or make you feel like this is your responsibility. Your participation in these forums is entirely voluntary (and very appreciated), so I'm always worried we'll lose a few of you if we make it seem more mandatory. Maybe it would be an opt in type of thing. Definitely something to explore. And yes, I do have a pretty good idea of what the area of expertise is for about the top 150 people overall, so it wouldn't be too hard!
I've been thinking about how to actually get a message out to browsers and new members, and that might be where I'm getting stumped. I was thinking it would be really beneficial to do a 'How to get the most from Autodesk Forums' type of thing (post, video, etc.) and briefly go over searching, how to write a clear question, and some of the features that will help you get involved. Question is - where do you put something like that?
SBoon - I love your idea of giving top users a bigger attachment limit. That is a great idea! Let me find out if it's possible, and I'll get back to you on it.
As for posts dissapearing thanks to errors, I hate that as well. Does it happen often? Only when you leave it alone for awhile or is it during quicker posts too? I'll gladly get our contacts in the technology behind the forum involved, but they'll want details. Send me a PM or e-mail.
Steve_Johnson - Looks like I have some reading to do today, so thank you. For a moment there I thought you were being serious, until I got to the anthropomorphic kitten. Guess I'm slow with sarcasm today!
All I can promise is to try to prevent the "vase" from being dropped again. I'd like to see an improvment in UI so it's easier to find what you're looking for and useful features aren't buried, but no - I don't want animations, flashy graphics, or big fonts either!
Oh, and as I've told others, swag is impossible to come by. Still looking.
Thank you everyone for your input! Please feel free to keep adding in more and I hope to hear from some new people as well.
Regarding pendean's request:
"I'd like fixes to some annoying options, like defaulting links to open in a new window..."
Would it be possible to outright remove the "Target" pull-down from the Insert/edit Link dialog and put it into My Settings instead? That way it would be consistent with whatever each user wants, rather than what the author dictates.