Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
crispinb

(Archived) Suggestion: reduced noise user feedback/suggestion system

Recommended Posts

It's painfully obvious when reading the forums here that real feedback is swamped with noise. You know the kind of thing. A suggestion for a change or addition to Evernote is offered. A fan of Evernote replies explaining how the OP doesn't really need what they think they need, and it would be impossible for the harried Evernote developers to implement anyway. The OP replies to say that the fan doesn't understand anything, and the changed/new feature is so trivially easy to implement that the developers could do the whole thing over a quick coffee. And that if it isn't done by COB tomorrow, the OP will quit their Premium subscription, or if they're not a paying customer, they'll foreswear themselves or any part of their multitudinous extended family ever ponying up (some part of this post will inevitably be in all caps). The fan will reply with a lit crit of the OP's posts, explaining how the approach amounts to blackmail, and how dare they .... etc. Etc. Et bloody cetera. It's inefficient (useful discussions and feedback get lost amongst the *****) and boring.

How about setting up something like Uservoice or Dropbox's votebox (https://www.dropbox.com/votebox) where people just offer suggestions and vote on them? I've been an active participant in Mendeley's uservoice forum (http://feedback.mendeley.com/forums/494 ... y-feedback), and there's much less of this silliness. You could still leave the forums up for those who want something more free-wheeling.

Or if you don't want to set up something elaborate (and possibly expensive), how about providing one heavily-moderated forum here, where the rules explicitly disallow comments on posters' motivations, threats to quit, ease of development etc; allowing only short posts on features and problems. Rigorously apply the rules, deleting childish posts without mercy.

Implementing something along one of these lines would, I am sure, result in Dave Engberg and others coming away with a much clearer and less jaundiced overview of the real practical feedback on offer. And it would allow those of us not interested in personal venting to be heard amongst the noise.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for the feedback.

I'm a bit wary about having to check and manage another feedback system ... there are some good ones out there like GetSatisfaction, but fragmentation can get confusing. I also don't find numeric voting totals to be too terribly helpful for decision-making. I know that the ~1% of people who use Linux on the desktop would all love to see Evernote on Linux, without needing to have them organize a campaign to come click the "vote" button to tell us so. I.e. that's a waste of those people's time, since I already know that they'd be happy to see Evernote on Linux. And I really don't want to have to hear that the "Evernote on Linux" feature has 99,999 votes, so why are we fixing this crashing bug on the Mac today, which only has 2? :-)

Moderation is a very interesting question. A lot of very smart people advocate for very aggressive moderation to keep the signal ratio high. E.g. Edward Tufte, information design luminary:

http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and ... _id=0000fT

We've been doing very light moderation ... I only delete spam and duplicate posts, and only lock posts when users start flaming other users.

I think you're right that a more aggressive moderation policy could improve the overall usability of the forums for everyone. That's a bit tough to do once the community already exists, since that leads to hyperbolic language about Stalinist censorship, etc.

I think that a single "moderated" forum sounds interesting, but this might not help due to platform fragmentation. I.e. 70% of the posts would be for platforms that you don't use. Mirroring the whole forum tree with a "moderated" tree would be navigationally confusing for new users.

I think that we're able to filter down to a useful level of feedback from the forum today, but I'd definitely be interested in other opinions on moderation. I.e. are there consistent moderation changes that long-time forum users would think would be appropriate?

E.g.:

Delete all "+1", "bump" and "Me too" posts

Lock threads more aggressively if repetitive or negative

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post

This is a User forum (says so right up at the top), and the users are important -- their feedback, defect reports, answering questions, all that sort of thing. But this is also an Evernote forum, and ultimately the standards you impose (currently pretty loose and reasonable) are up to you. It's your house, and we the users need to respect that.

I'd vote for light moderation only, if I had a vote. First: moderation takes time that could probably be better spent elsewhere, and it takes judgment. Obvious flaming posts should be deleted, and the thread locked (and maybe warnings issued, behind the scenes?). The vast majority of posts never go there, fortunately -- and I don't see this as a huge problem. Negativity is sometimes a fine line though; I try to keep positive, but sometimes lapse into sarcasm. Is it negative? Maybe a bit. Is it inappropriate? I'm not sure where the line is (it is ultimately your forum), so that's where the judgement comes in. And sometimes posts that turn negative have good information in them.

I guess it comes down to this: the forum works well for me, as currently run. '+1's and 'bumps', unless accompanied by some startlingly new information, are obvious noise and could be deleted without making me shed a tear. But I just roll my eyes and move on, biting my tongue (or trying). I feel that you all seem to have a good handle on what's appropriate.

One thing: if moderation takes too much time, it is possible to nominate well-respected and knowledgeable, non-Evernote members to help out. Where I work, we have this arrangement (it's a pretty busy forum, even more than this one). It seems to work well for the most part, with the occasional glitch. You have to be careful, though (and we see this occasionally here now): non-Evernote do not and cannot, and cannot be seen to speak for the company in terms of design, philosophy, policy, etc., unless its disclaimered explicitly. That's gotta come from you folks.

~Jeff

Share this post


Link to post

Evernote is doing a great job of keeping the users informed - blog, podcast, user forums.

Personally, I find the open free-wheeling comments to be informative. Not only does it bring out both sides of the issue, it also helps us understand why a development is launched or put to the side. It is obvious that Evernote is used by a huge variety of people all over the world.

I enjoyed the discussions on various languages and the implementation process.

And even though I did not think it should be made a priority, the suggestion to develop an Arabic version with text from right-to-left was enlightening, especially considering the huge number of people who use Arabic on a daily basis. I certainly was not aware that Arabic was the official language of 26 countries, the third most after English and French.

So keep it coming. I think this sort of exchange is what attracts readers. Dave does a great job of controlling the trolls. If the forum is relegated to a sterile collection of basic tech questions & answers, I believe the readership will decline.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

By the way, a couple acronym translations (I had to look these up)

OP - Original Poster

COB tomorrow - Close of Business tomorrow

Share this post


Link to post
It's painfully obvious when reading the forums here that real feedback is swamped with noise. You know the kind of thing. A suggestion for a change or addition to Evernote is offered. A fan of Evernote replies explaining how the OP doesn't really need what they think they need, and it would be impossible for the harried Evernote developers to implement anyway. The OP replies to say that the fan doesn't understand anything, and the changed/new feature is so trivially easy to implement that the developers could do the whole thing over a quick coffee. And that if it isn't done by COB tomorrow, the OP will quit their Premium subscription, or if they're not a paying customer, they'll foreswear themselves or any part of their multitudinous extended family ever ponying up (some part of this post will inevitably be in all caps). The fan will reply with a lit crit of the OP's posts, explaining how the approach amounts to blackmail, and how dare they .... etc. Etc. Et bloody cetera. It's inefficient (useful discussions and feedback get lost amongst the *****) and boring.

Personally, I'd LOVE a reduction in the posts that tend to be derogatory in nature b/c EN should include ___ & it's stupid it doesn't already & how the H... hard is it to implement anyway? Or the "I WAS going to go premium until..." or the "I will cancel my premium account unless...", "I will upgrade to premium if you allow a three month subscription instead of monthly/annually", etc. Unfortunately, IMO, that's a result of someone's personality. Yes, it's rude to go to the store, check out & be nasty to the clerk b/c you are having a bad day. But it's not illegal. Nor is it illegal for the person behind you to call you an unflattering name as you walk out the door. But, for the most part, you cannot ban someone from a store b/c they are rude. Message boards are similar. Posts often (but not always) are a reflection of the poster's personality. Combine that with the fact that most people don't visit a software message board unless they are already having a problem & there you go. As far as more strict moderation, too much moderation & EN would be accused by some as being overly controlling & deleting/moderating posts that are not flattering to their product or company. I have to hand it to Dave...

We've been doing very light moderation ... I only delete spam and duplicate posts, and only lock posts when users start flaming other users.

...is very true. There are even a couple of "Evernote alternative" threads around here. He doesn't lock or delete those, unless they evolve into flames. If you have a beef with EN, fine. But be polite, respectful & don't "assume" something is easy to do. Only those intricately involved with EN know for certain if something is easy or not. Or maybe it's easy but there's another reason they are choosing to not implement it.

As Jeff mentioned, this is a user's board. The advantage of that is there are many existing/advanced users who can help fill the gap so EN (IE Dave) doesn't have to keep answering the same questions over & over or on weekends or holidays. (How do I backup my EN database? Why doesn't the Windows client highlight the search word in PDFs? What is that arrow on the left side of my Windows client? etc.) It's also helpful for the OP, since on weekends or holidays, a user may post a reply before Dave gets the chance. (The guy does deserve some time off, ya know?)

'+1's and 'bumps', unless accompanied by some startlingly new information, are obvious noise and could be deleted without making me shed a tear. But I just roll my eyes and move on, biting my tongue (or trying).

I also find those annoying, although I suppose they do serve a purpose, assuming EN can determine they are posted by different users, rather than a handful of users creating & using multiple logins.

And I agree that Dave does a great job here. He responds to many, many posts & has always been patient & polite.

And...if you find a particular user annoying...you can add them to your "foe list" & you will not see their posts.

Share this post


Link to post

Add a forum called "Common Questions & Complaints".

Over time a few common issues have arisen: where is my tape? where are my 2.2 super cats? why can't I link to notes? why don't you search inside Word? etc.

Start those threads in the new subforum and merge new posts/threads into those topics. Some of those will become very long threads: a bit like hyperfocused subforums but that's OK. I visit forums where you have those 100+ pages threads :)

Getting rid of the fragmentation of these discussions will help. And if you spot highly dedicated people active in those threads you can ask one of them to moderate the thread: give you a heads-up when it gets hot somewhere, maintain a sticky first post with links & answers, etc.

ps: originally I wanted to suggest to merge the new thread into pinned ones but then you end up with each forum having a bunch of (semi)negative threads pinned to the top.

Share this post


Link to post
Add a forum called "Common Questions & Complaints".

Over time a few common issues have arisen: where is my tape? where are my 2.2 super cats? why can't I link to notes? why don't you search inside Word? etc.

I think a FAQ or Knowledge base would be good. I don't know how labor intensive they would be. Maybe that's something that could be farmed out to a few users. (I would help.) But I'm not sure that would address the issues in the OP.

Share this post


Link to post

The FAQ idea was bandied about way back in the 2.2 days; I recall spending time working on it. See viewtopic.php?f=10&t=4990. I'm not sure if the end result was worth all the labour we put into it.

Share this post


Link to post

Dave: I take your point about possible problems with a voting system. The illusion of democracy could come back to bite you! (I'd happily vote for a totally free Terabyte or two).

There's a subtler attraction to voting systems for me, which is that they don't allow votes against a feature or comment. In practise this seems to hugely decrease pointless debate/argumentation. If you don't want a feature (or you think the suggestion dumb) you just don't vote for it, you don't appear in the thread. Also as the real 'meat' is the vote, there seems to be less verbiage amongst proponents: they vote, and if they have details to add, they write something.

As for moderation, I think it would be pretty hard to start clamping down on a lightly-moderated system that's already in place, which is why I suggested a parallel forum. But I can see the problems with that too.

I guess ultimately you must have a good sense of whether or not the forum is giving you the feedback you need with reasonable efficiency.

Share this post


Link to post

But, for the most part, you cannot ban someone from a store b/c they are rude. Message boards are similar.

They can be similar, but they don't have to be. I think the quality of feedback/conversation on forums etc is pretty much in proportion to the degree of moderation. I can even see this in individual boards where the moderation fluctuates due to time constraints: the tougher the moderation (so long as it's applied consistently), the better things work. Evernote's forums aren't anywhere near the worst end of the spectrum, but they're much noisier than the best. And I'm not sure that rudeness is the biggest problem. I'd rather have a short and extremely rude message than a polite but lengthy and pointless one, burying the purpose of the thread behind acres of meaningless text for its own sake.

And I agree that Dave does a great job here. He responds to many, many posts & has always been patient & polite.

True. And because of that this forum does produce a rare sense of two-way communication with users.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for all of the considered feedback.

I do think that the general level of discussion and civility is ok, compared to the average forum I've seen in the past. We'll leave the moderation where it's at for now, but I'll probably be a little quicker to request politeness and close threads when they start to go off the rails.

Part of this tends to come from frustrated users choosing their words poorly, leading to sharp replies from other users (e.g. defending Evernote). I need to make it more clear that we really do value even negative feedback, even when not phrased constructively. I'm sure I'm not the only one who can recall a time when I inappropriately vented my frustration at someone involved with support/service somewhere, so it's only fair to give a little latitude to others in the same boat. I care a lot more about people wasting other user's time (by reposting, flaming, etc.) than disparaging Evernote, since that sort of stuff makes the forums a less useful tool for self-help.

Our current FAQ situation is a bit disappointing, but I'm going to give a few months for our new head of Technical Communications (Brett Kelly) to get up to speed and start reorganizing our self-help materials before doing anything drastic. I'll revisit this with him in a while and see how it could be improved.

I'm not completely sure about the right solution for voting/liking ... that requires some more thought.

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Our current FAQ situation is a bit disappointing, but I'm going to give a few months

Good luck - EverNote is so slick (and complicated) that to have a well organized faq manual will be difficult.

Share this post


Link to post

I wasn't really thinking about a FAQ either. More a place where new posts discussing the very same issue (yet again) get merged with the thread already discussing that issue.

- I need more notebooks

- I need subnotebooks

- I want my tape view back

- I want my timeline back

- Tags should inherit

- I want CTRL SHIFT T mass tagging operations back

- I wans 2.2's automatic/filtered tags back

- etc.

That would cover most of the noise. Now when 2 people come in the 3.5 forum and post about financially ruining Evernote unless and until EN implements subnotebooks, you merge those two with the "I need more subnotebooks" thread: 1 thread vs 2 or 3 :)

Share this post


Link to post
I wasn't really thinking about a FAQ either. More a place where new posts discussing the very same issue (yet again) get merged with the thread already discussing that issue.

- I need more notebooks

- I need subnotebooks

- I want my tape view back

- I want my timeline back

- Tags should inherit

- I want CTRL SHIFT T mass tagging operations back

- I wans 2.2's automatic/filtered tags back

- etc.

That would cover most of the noise. Now when 2 people come in the 3.5 forum and post about financially ruining Evernote unless and until EN implements subnotebooks, you merge those two with the "I need more subnotebooks" thread: 1 thread vs 2 or 3 :)

Why not sticky the hot topics so they stay at the top and even folks who don't search can stumble upon them?

Share this post


Link to post

I see Dave's point in questioning the usefulness of a voting/liking system, but I would not simply put it aside for good.

I believe that, if a voting system was to be made, we should use each user registered EN account for voting. This way, EN guys would know valuable information like:

- 70% of yearly premium users want the X feature, but just 10% of free users want it

- 65% of ex-premium users voted for the Y feature in the exact time they stopped paying EN (EN may be losing money for this)

- 90% of free users want a Z feature (EN could implement it and making this a Premium-Only feature)

And, for the EN users, I believe it's very satisfying to be able to say something and know that EN is seeing it, at least as a number. I always see myself almost sending a "+1" post, just to tell others I agree with them and vote for the feature. (even knowing the "polemical" status of this kind of post)

Share this post


Link to post

Forget my past comments about keeping it simple. Let's go whole hog with the voting system.

I favor a system where the Premium users (the one's paying for this program) get double votes.

And to incentivize users to keep using Evernote, there should be a sliding scale based on time.

Here is my simple voting program. I am sure other Evernote forum members will be able to address any imperfections.

Number of votes for Free Users / Premium Users

Newbie (12 months) - 1.00 / 2.00

1st year anniversary - 1.25 / 2.63

2nd year anniversary - 1.50 / 3.30

3rd year anniversary - 1.75 / 4.03

4th year anniversary - 2.00 / 4.80

As you can see the voting power for long-time users increases. And the Premium User's vote increases at a faster rate over time than the Free User. There is a Cost-of-Money factor added into the equation to compensate for the loss of the Premium User's money.

Maybe we could add a small vote-increase factor for the users who have seen their efficiencies curtailed due to the lack of correct formatting (bullets, outlines) and the devastating missing URL link issue. And a negative vote factor to penalize everyone who simply replies with a "+"

To paraphrase other forum posters, I am 100% positive that the Evernote programmers could easily create this very simple addition to the forums (in just a few man-months). And if they refuse to create it, then I will strongly consider telling my friends to avoid using the program.

And in case you are wondering - yes, Glenmorangie 18 Single Malt Scotch is a mighty fine drink on a rainy Monday evening.

Share this post


Link to post
To paraphrase other forum posters, I am 100% positive that the Evernote programmers could easily create this very simple addition to the forums (in just a few man-months). And if they refuse to create it, then I will strongly consider telling my friends to avoid using the program.

:lol::lol::lol:

And in case you are wondering - yes, Glenmorangie 18 Single Malt Scotch is a mighty fine drink on a rainy Monday evening.

I'm a cheap box wine gal, myself.

[/noise]

Share this post


Link to post

Found this thread thanks to burgers-n-fries.

*kindly nod his way*

- - -

Thanks to all posting here for revealing the complexity of implementing this worthy forums/feedback functionality as well as possible.

One Question:

So for now then, and to be most in sync with how things are done here currently, when wanting to post a "New Feature Request" so that it is seen/valued/recorded/considered/etc., shall i just drill-down into whatever applicable Forum Section (eg: Evernote User Forums: Mac) and create a new topic?

Thanks

-D

Share this post


Link to post
Found this thread thanks to burgers-n-fries.

*kindly nod his way*

"Her' way. B)

One Question:

So for now then, and to be most in sync with how things are done here currently, when wanting to post a "New Feature Request" so that it is seen/valued/recorded/considered/etc., shall i just drill-down into whatever applicable Forum Section (eg: Evernote User Forums: Mac) and create a new topic?

Yes, that's just exactly right, and best for all concerned. All posts are read by Evernote staff, and sometimes they respond. Off-topic posts may get moved to the appropriate forum, too.

~Jeff

Share this post


Link to post

Yes, we read every post, and appreciate the feedback.

We reply as much as we can, but there are only a few dozen of us and almost 4 million of you, so we can't always give detailed point-by-point analysis of every suggestion on the community forum.

Speaking of which:

post-8171-1319060672_thumb.png

I win!

Share this post


Link to post

[attachment=0]Screen shot 2010-08-10 at 5.14.44 PM.png[/attachment]

I win!

Wow! For those of you who may not know, posting 10,000 forum messages is not actually Dave Engberg's full-time job at Evernote. He's also the CTO.

Thanks, Dave!

Share this post


Link to post
Wow! For those of you who may not know, posting 10,000 forum messages is not actually Dave Engberg's full-time job at Evernote. He's also the CTO.

Thanks, Dave!

YAY!!!!

(Throws confetti)

Indeed, thanks, Dave!

PUDDING CUPS FOR EVERYONE!!!

Share this post


Link to post

Hey, that's awesome, Dave. Anyone who says that Evernote doesn't listen, well, just isn't listening. We have a user in our company forums who has close to 10,000 posts (yes, he's retired), but nobody on our staff is anywhere near. Congratulations, and thanks.

~Jeff

Share this post


Link to post

We used to have pudding cups in our fridge, but it looks like now it's just some mysterious Japanese gelatin+fruit cups.

Now I want pudding.

Share this post


Link to post

and please make sure it's pudding and not flavored yogurt...

~Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Now I want pudding.

Now you've done it. I'll bet that by the end of the week you have over 200 pudding cups in a variety of flavors. The good thing that since they're not really food they'll never go bad. (Headed out to the grocery store right now.) :(

Share this post


Link to post
I think that we're able to filter down to a useful level of feedback from the forum today, but I'd definitely be interested in other opinions on moderation. I.e. are there consistent moderation changes that long-time forum users would think would be appropriate?

E.g.:

Delete all "+1", "bump" and "Me too" posts

Lock threads more aggressively if repetitive or negative

I guess it comes down to this: the forum works well for me, as currently run. '+1's and 'bumps', unless accompanied by some startlingly new information, are obvious noise and could be deleted without making me shed a tear. But I just roll my eyes and move on, biting my tongue (or trying). I feel that you all seem to have a good handle on what's appropriate.

Dave and Jeff,

You both seem to believe that the "+1", "bump" and "Me too" posts are noise.

I am curious to know why you believe that since you have no other way of knowing how many people would like the request.

If only one person posts a feature request and those who agree with the need do not make a post so indicating, how do you know how widespread the need is?

There are also a lot of posts (that in essence are repeats posted elsewhere) arguing against a suggestion or feature request. It seems that most of these posts come from the same very small group of people. I find these repeative posts to be a very high level of noise and often distract the discussion from the primary topic. I'm suprised that neither of you had any comment of these type of posts since they typically take up a lot more of thread space than a simple "+1".

One suggestion I have is to make better use of sticky threads.

For example, when new updates are make for either Alpha, Beta, or Released clients the same questions get repeated many times in different threads as people are trying to learn how to use the new update before the official documentation is released. Why not start a sticky thread to allow everyone to contribute to tips on how to use the new or changed features?

Share this post


Link to post
I guess it comes down to this: the forum works well for me, as currently run. '+1's and 'bumps', unless accompanied by some startlingly new information, are obvious noise and could be deleted without making me shed a tear.

Dave and Jeff,

You both seem to believe that the "+1", "bump" and "Me too" posts are noise.

What Dave believes is independent of what I believe; he has access to a lot more user information than just appears on the forums. I've highlighted the part of my quote that you seem to have missed. By the way, it's 'bumps' that really bug me, as they're often done by the original poster because they didn't get a response or don't think that anyone reads their post. I call this obvious noise, and if they went away, I wouldn't miss them.

If only one person posts a feature request and those who agree with the need do not make a post so indicating, how do you know how widespread the need is?

Consider: if there are ~5 million Evernote users, what is the actual value of a +1 vote? How about 2 votes? Forum users are somewhat self-selected, and so placing a high price on votes doesn't seem like it mirrors actual desire (or perceived need) for particular features among the total population of users.

There are also a lot of posts (that in essence are repeats posted elsewhere) arguing against a suggestion or feature request. It seems that most of these posts come from the same very small group of people. I find these repeative posts to be a very high level of noise and often distract the discussion from the primary topic. I'm suprised that neither of you had any comment of these type of posts since they typically take up a lot more of thread space than a simple "+1".

I don't care for repetitive argumentation either, but that's not so clear-cut as +1s and bumps. I try to avoid adding to these types of discussions (but I'm not perfect). Depending on the situation, sometimes I and others just post a link to other relevant discussions and leave it at that, though sometimes it's just as short to write a simple explanation so I do that instead, if that seems reasonable.

One suggestion I have is to make better use of sticky threads.

For example, when new updates are make for either Alpha, Beta, or Released clients the same questions get repeated many times in different threads as people are trying to learn how to use the new update before the official documentation is released. Why not start a sticky thread to allow everyone to contribute to tips on how to use the new or changed features?

I don't question that a Tips forum, with sticky notes, etc. wouldn't be useful. I just don't like +1 or bump posts. I don't like lima beans either. On the other hand, I add my own kind of noise to the forums: in-jokes, whimsical comments, occasional lapses into argumentation, etc. Maybe I should be censored too. *shrug*

~Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Consider: if there are ~5 million Evernote users, what is the actual value of a +1 vote? How about 2 votes? Forum users are somewhat self-selected, and so placing a high price on votes doesn't seem like it mirrors actual desire (or perceived need) for particular features among the total population of users.

Hey Jeff,

Point well made.

So, if there is no voting system, and forum votes are of no value or indication of what the overall users need, how does EN get a sense of what is really important to a significant number of their users?

Conversely, then why should anyone ever argue against a request or feature since they are only one voice out of 5M?

I guess this is really a question for Dave or someone from EN.

Share this post


Link to post
So, if there is no voting system, and forum votes are of no value or indication of what the overall users need, how does EN get a sense of what is really important to a significant number of their users?

Dave has posted on the other sources where they get a sense of what users use and what they want. I couldn't find it with a cursory search attempt, sorry.

Conversely, then why should anyone ever argue against a request or feature since they are only one voice out of 5M?

Evernote is not immune to user suggestions, particularly those that are well thought out and explained clearly. And they value them. My own feeling is that +1s and bumps are neither of these, so they're worth a lot less to me.

I guess this is really a question for Dave or someone from EN.

Ultimately. I always feel like this is their house and their rules, and I'm just a guest here. If they don't like people jumping up and down on their couches, then I try to refrain. I think it's to Evernote's credit that they seem to maintain a light hand of moderation here.

~Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Ultimately. I always feel like this is their house and their rules, and I'm just a guest here.

Excellent analogy.

Share this post


Link to post
Ultimately. I always feel like this is their house and their rules, and I'm just a guest here.

I certainly agree with that.

I also think we should not be rude to guests in their house. :)

Even if someone posts something that we think is stupid, there is no need to imply that they are stupid or an idiot, because we really don't know. There is always a way to politely suggest they need to take some other course of action, like searching the forums before asking a question.

Share this post


Link to post

We have lots of ways to gather one-way feedback and ideas from users (including tech support, Twitter, meet-ups, blogs, etc.). We have weekly meetings to assimilate and discuss all of the different feedback we get from all of these channels, which includes new problem reports, ideas, suggestions, etc.

The forum is unique in that it's the one place for our 4.9 million users to discuss problems, solutions, ideas, etc. with each other rather than just talking at Evernote.

Empty posts that just say "bump" or "+1" make the forum less useful for other users, since the sorted lists of active topics gets gummed up with threads with no new information/ideas/etc. Trying to use the forum to vote at Evernote makes it a much less helpful place for your fellow users.

I.e. it's not that these empty posts bother us, but rather that they waste the time of everyone else.

A more aggressively moderated forum would make sure that every post listed includes actual new content so that the community of users would have a higher ratio of "signal" when they come to skim the forums.

Share this post


Link to post

Some forum applications have a "like" button that users can use. It makes it easy for the company to gauge the user input (with whatever weight they may wish to place on it), and let new readers know which posts have been assigned value by other readers, without cluttering the board and the users' email inboxes. [This would be a good place to mention that having a preview of the text (or all of the text) of the post included in the email alerts might be appreciated by some as a nice enhancement of the forum interface.]

I participate actively in a good number of technical forums, and very few of the companies take the time to mine the threads for FAQ development. In fact, I think early on, developers realized that publishing a user forum was a way to push off some (usually a great deal) of the responsibility for documentation onto the power users and mavens. Now, I don't think that is a bad thing at all, as there is much richness to be gained from studying the experiences of others, and there's no way for a developer to anticipate every possible user configuration and applied permutation for a product. (There is also something to be said for the community experience... Shout out, everyone!) However, I believe that there is mutual benefit to be had by both developer and user in paying attention to creating a comprehensive FAQ based in great part on the forum content—and my position is that the developer should do this work. I'm no prognosticator, but I would hazard a guess that Dave's rate of posting (total posts now approaching 12,000) would slow, and that the user experience (especially among noobs, who stand to benefit most from a good FAQ) would be smoother and more rewarding. This should translate into less attrition.

I should show some appreciation for the decent manual and quick-start videos you guys have produced. Ron's tips are helpful too. But there is so much that can't fit into a user guide, especially where questions arise which probe ENs limitations.

Finally, as to the value of the vote of one or two people out of 5 million—first, only a small subset of users participate on any forum, and most of them are lurkers. Taking an example from the world of politics, I understand that government officials do consider a tally of opinions they receive on an issue from a very small number of constituents who bother to call or write to them, and I've heard some officials say that they are basing their decisions in great part on that input.

Share this post


Link to post
Finally, as to the value of the vote of one or two people out of 5 million—first, only a small subset of users participate on any forum, and most of them are lurkers. Taking an example from the world of politics, I understand that government officials do consider a tally of opinions they receive on an issue from a very small number of constituents who bother to call or write to them, and I've heard some officials say that they are basing their decisions in great part on that input.

But the real proof of the pudding is in the voting booth. Just as the real proof to EN is not just this message board but their blog, Facebook page, etc and ultimately how many users download, regularly use & then upgrade to premium.

Share this post


Link to post

Did someone say, "pudding"?

Yes, the key to success is premium user.

How ironic, the "noise" generated in this thread!

Share this post


Link to post
Some forum applications have a "like" button that users can use. It makes it easy for the company to gauge the user input (with whatever weight they may wish to place on it), and let new readers know which posts have been assigned value by other readers, without cluttering the board and the users' email inboxes

I really appreciate it when forums provide a "like" button or similar. I realise it's not of earth shattering importance, but it gives users a means of expressing their support for an idea or appreciation of someone's input that saves the forum getting so clogged up with replies saying things like "+1", "thanks", "nice idea" or "me too!". I think there is a value to the users in that they feel like they are able to express themselves without annoying other users - I frequently get the urge to write things like "+1" but generally resist or write something with more detail of my particular use case so that I've given more constructive information than just expressing the fact that I agree. However, the urge to say "me too!" is a valid one and deleting these posts can result in users feeling like their views aren't being listened too, so providing them with an alternative, e.g. a "like" button, means they can express their opinion without creating unnecessary noise. The fact that users like me resist the temptation to express their support for an idea unless we have something new to add means that Evernote never really gets an accurate gauge of the popularity of an idea amongst forum users (in theory, the better the original poster expresses the idea, the less likely others are to add their opinion as we don't have anything additional to contribute), but clicking "like" is easy and doesn't irritate others. Also, since it isn't an "official" voting system, it doesn't provide as much false hope to users who expect their "votes" to translate into features.

The like button on other forums often generates a tally on the user's profile, which gives some recognition to users who are particularly helpful or who express viewpoints shared by many other users. This in itself could provide useful information to the EN team as a high "like" score would indicate that that user is highly respected by other users, or holds opinions shared by many others, and is therefore probably someone worth listening to (I suppose you could use a ratio of forum posts to "like" score in order to distinguish between those who are just very active on the forum and those who are quieter but always have something of value to contribute).

I understand the point that even having 20 people on the forum expressing support for an idea isn't necessarily an indicator of what the entire population of users feel, but then surely that is also the case with any other means of gathering this information? Whether this info is gathered via technical support requests, meetups, twitter, whatever, it is always a smallish self-selecting body of users who are not necessarily representative of the entire population. However, I would strongly suspect that the forum population is more representative than the people who attend meetups (I love Evernote, but surely this sample is largely comprised of people who are maybe just a little too obsessed? ;) ), or who communicate with you via twitter (I still rarely use twitter, and neither do most people I know!) - yes I realise using myself as a benchmark here isn't the most scientifically rigourous way to assess the representativeness of any of these channels of communication, but I think that if someone like me (a tech-savvy, long time devoted user, who spends a lot of time in front of a computer, reads blogs, isn't afraid to express their opinion, and tends to be an early adopter of things that don't cost too much!) doesn't even use them then it's fairly unlikely that people who are none of these things do. Forums are a concept that most users are fairly familiar with, and it is the main means of communication and support listed on your website, so it would be reasonable to assume that it is probably the most open and obvious means of expression that users have available to them & has the most representative user base of any channel of communication. The opinions of its users therefore should be given some weight.

There is always going to be a certain group of users whose views are rarely taken into account, the ones who simply use the software but rarely have any interaction with your company unless they have a serious technical support issue, but there's not much you can do about this as they aren't the kind of people who are likely to answer surveys or participate in other kinds of user research either. My husband is one of these people; he is an heavy user of technology, but rarely uses online forums, doesn't even read the help file for most things, never subscribes to newsletters, doesn't respond to survey requests, and although he uses twitter much more than I do, he generally uses it only for news rather than as a means of communicating with others. There's not much you can do about these people, and can therefore only extrapolate from the opinions of contributors to forums, twitter, blogs etc.

Share this post


Link to post
...it is always a smallish self-selecting body of users who are not necessarily representative of the entire population. However, I would strongly suspect that the forum population is more representative than the people who attend meetups (I love Evernote, but surely this sample is largely comprised of people who are maybe just a little too obsessed? ;) )

Hey, I resemble that remark... :) (gratuitous and characteristically off-topic Three Stooges reference)

OK, so a 'like' button would probably be fine, particularly if it didn't mark the thread as having a new post. The "+1's" of this world mark the thread as having a new post, which some mildly obsessive types (not namin' names) must then read... ...and then be disappointed or annoyed that there's actually no new input. At least I've never posted a "-1" (I have had the urge), but if 'like' goes in, I feel that 'dislike' ought to go with it. Maybe 'meh', for that matter. I'm not sure whether any of this is supported in the forum software.

Lately, I've come to like the StackOverflow model -- seems great for answering questions, though I'm not sure how it works for making suggestions and feature requests. On the whole, though, I think that this forum works pretty well as it is.

~Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Hey, I resemble that remark... :) (gratuitous and characteristically off-topic Three Stooges reference)

OK, so a 'like' button would probably be fine, particularly if it didn't mark the thread as having a new post. The "+1's" of this world mark the thread as having a new post, which some mildly obsessive types (not namin' names) must then read... ...and then be disappointed or annoyed that there's actually no new input. At least I've never posted a "-1" (I have had the urge), but if 'like' goes in, I feel that 'dislike' ought to go with it. Maybe 'meh', for that matter. I'm not sure whether any of this is supported in the forum software.

Lately, I've come to like the StackOverflow model -- seems great for answering questions, though I'm not sure how it works for making suggestions and feature requests. On the whole, though, I think that this forum works pretty well as it is.

~Jeff

He he, I wanted to "like" that reply!! I especially like the idea of a "meh" button :)

Share this post


Link to post
He he, I wanted to "like" that reply!! I especially like the idea of a "meh" button :D

At least you didn't want to use 'Meh' on it. :)

~Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...