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Frank.dg

Is the Evernote forum becoming predominantly a complaints board/ substitute for Evernote support?

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Last time I tried to submit a ticket as a free user (less than a month ago) the page resulted in "Ask the community!" link to this forum...

 

 

 

The difficulty might arise, in that if people are increasingly being channeled to the forums for help and end up creating a post to present their case, this is directly putting a strain on the limited number of forum members who are inclined (and sufficiently knowledgeable) to respond with some troubleshooting or else have to repeatedly explain Evernote's new policies. It becomes more of a complaints forum than anything else (especially with the recent changes, not to mention Penultimate). 

 

This is not a very attractive proposition/ scenario for members, (whether moderators or not). Does someone at Evernote really think that the forum members can pick up all of that slack, which is increasing by the day? 

 

Added to that issues we have with spam. Elsewhere I posted, that of the 72 forum members who have the ability to hide spam... 23 are Evernote employees... leaving no more than 49 potential volunteer "moderators" to do so. That's quite a small number. 

 

There are very few members outside of the 200-300-post category who do much troubleshooting or clarification. I think it's a natural progression to want to chip in and help others... and if one does have the inclination to do so, and does so consistently, by extension, one very quickly surpasses the 300-post mark. In the big picture, considering other factors, that's a very small group of members who consistently make themselves available for hashing things out.

 

I am gob-smacked when I realize what this implies. Since the very beginning of the forums, there has been a tiny group of people who have done 90% of the heavy lifting in the forums. (I can't back that percentage up, so don't ask me to  :P

 

Here are some general statistics: 

 

  • There are 72 members who have 300+ posts (23 of which are employees)
  • There are 42 members who have 500+ posts (13 of which are employees)
  • There are 22 members who have 1000+ posts (7 of which are employees)
  • There are 12 members who have 2,000+ posts (2 of which are employees)
  • There are 7 members who have 5,000+ posts (1 of which is an employee)

You can deduce a number of things from this, the most obvious being:

  • The forums are predominantly kept alive by non-employee members
  • There is comparatively very little input from even individual employees (when comparing post numbers)
  • There are very few people, in general, giving any sort of consistent assistance/ support month in and month out

I try to help out here are there... but I am a babe when it comes to hard time put into the forums here. I am absolutely blown away that a small group of volunteer members have stuck at it for as long and as consistently as they have

 

And now to increase that "work load" by directing free users to the forums in lieu of being able to open a support ticket with Evernote on a variety of issues??... and at the same time not doing anything significant about the spammers?? Something is going to give. Evernote is assuming a lot if they think the (volunteer) forum members alone are going to keep up with new developments. The experienced (and willing) forum members form a very finite support base. And the nature of posts is shifting quite dramatically. As a result, the nature of the entire forum and what one experiences is changing "slowly" but surely. 

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Another reason (IMHO) the forum is becoming less useful for new users with routine problems,  and more experienced free users with more technical issues,  is simply the number and length of entries.  It used to be easy to say "search the forums for an answer",  or to post a link to the correct thread,  because somewhere out there would be a four- or five-post thread with a clear "press this" or "go here" fix.  Now there are thousands of threads including some long ones with several pages of various suggestions before someone has a Eureka moment,  which are seriously unfriendly to a new user trying to find a simple set of instructions.

 

Not sure what the answer is,  but I'm currently trying to post fixes rather than links and build up a database of standard responses (almost like a Knowledge Base you could say...)

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This might prompt a separate platform altogether -  a sort of hybrid of the Evernote Knowledge Base and the Evernote Forum.

 

The best fuss-free alternative I can come up with, which would be user-moderated, and consistently updated would be a web app/ platform called "Gingko"

 

Gingko is the only tree-based word processor that exists. It is sort of a hybrid between WorkFlowy and Trello - a sort of card-based outlining tool where one can branch out from Parent to children cards. They support markdown formatting and can include images. Their note locking for individual cards within a "tree" (board) that multiple users can collaborate on is phenomenal. You know who is doing what in real time. 

 

Here's a small introductory video:

 

http://youtu.be/egCKZHsICm8

 

One could look at it in 2 ways:

 

  • It could be a user-moderated Knowledge Base 
  • A clutter-free forum of sorts with some pertinent Q&A (Publicly shared document)

But it would neither seek to replace nor divert attention from either the Evernote forum or the Knowledge base. This would be one of the only ways to consistently have updated information at hand, updated by select users themselves. Evernote perhaps needs something like this... a user-moderated Knowledge Base. 

 

One would be able to browse from the broadest categories at the "trunk" of the tree to the children cards containing more and more specifics. I.E. - one starts with the various platforms/ clients:

 

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Mac
  • Windows
  • etc

From there one would branch out to the various features, use cases and technical details...

 

One really needs to tinker with it to get a feel... Here's the FAQ page, in the form of a tree: https://gingkoapp.com/faq

 

Here's a template I created for a task management system:  https://gingkoapp.com/app#42fa6c1ee741b2a8af00000e

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I hate you.  Hadn't seen this tool before.  Pretty...  want to play...  my Precious...

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But more seriously - splitting the KB into different clients means you start to suffer from the main problem of hierarchical storage - some fixes are general,  so belong in more than one branch.  It would be better,  I suggest,  to start in with a topic like Notes and the split to the various things that apply like Adding Pictures and Maximum Limits etc.  If there are any OS,  or device-specific,  or Free vs Premium issues to deal with,  they can be covered in the content.

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Personally, as someone who has spent probably way too much time on here in the past volunteering to help people out, I am far less inclined to do so in lieu of Evernote offering their support. After all, in the old days if we couldn't help a user we could direct them onto someone else who might be able to - support, or of course they could go there directly themselves.

 

Helping people is great, it's good for your soul and I like it. But I'm not going to be an unpaid first level support tech for Evernote because users don't have any other option other than the forum. I'm also not going to spend a lot of time clearing up spam and not being able to ban the spammer as we used to be able to. Under the current solution a spammer who is not explicitly banned by an Evernote staff member can return day after day.

 

By the way, I don't blame Evernote for withdrawing free support to over 90+ million people, it's completely uneconomical and I'm surprised they managed to keep it going for as long as they did.

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I hate you.  Hadn't seen this tool before.  Pretty...  want to play...  my Precious...

 

You are about to have your mind blown. I still use WorkFlowy for compact outlining... but this tool is absolutely phenomenal, Gazumped. I've only finally clicked that it is more versatile than WorkFlowy/ outliners relatively recently - specifically in the are of writing... writing anything. 

 

Although it only exists currently as a web-based app... it is optimized for mobile device browsers too. 

 

Adriano Ferrari, the developer, is a friend who I'm in contact with rather frequently. Besides this app being born out of his personal journey as a recent PhD Physics graduate, his ethos at the foundation of the app is well-placed and humbling. Many app developers would do well to follow suit.

 

You should take a look at his latest blog post, talking about a "Living tree of knowledge"... which is what got me thinking about using Gingko as a Knowledge Base: 

 

http://blog.gingkoapp.com/essays/communication-edge

 

By the way, I am not in any way suggesting Gingko app as a replacement for Evernote. They are both distinctly different kettles of fish. 

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Personally, as someone who has spent probably way too much time on here in the past volunteering to help people out, I am far less inclined to do so in lieu of Evernote offering their support. After all, in the old days if we couldn't help a user we could direct them onto someone else who might be able to - support, or of course they could go there directly themselves.

 

Helping people is great, it's good for your soul and I like it. But I'm not going to be an unpaid first level support tech for Evernote because users don't have any other option other than the forum. I'm also not going to spend a lot of time clearing up spam and not being able to ban the spammer as we used to be able to. Under the current solution a spammer who is not explicitly banned by an Evernote staff member can return day after day.

 

By the way, I don't blame Evernote for withdrawing free support to over 90+ million people, it's completely uneconomical and I'm surprised they managed to keep it going for as long as they did.

 

It's like you read my mind.

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But more seriously - splitting the KB into different clients means you start to suffer from the main problem of hierarchical storage - some fixes are general,  so belong in more than one branch.  It would be better,  I suggest,  to start in with a topic like Notes and the split to the various things that apply like Adding Pictures and Maximum Limits etc.  If there are any OS,  or device-specific,  or Free vs Premium issues to deal with,  they can be covered in the content.

 

That might be a more intuitive approach. Either way, one is able to clone a tree... and in a second tree, drag and drop cards along with their children cards, etc as you please, until you have a completely rewired setup. Also, anyone is able to clone a publicly shared tree and then edit it as they wish for their personal use. Accounts are free for up to 5 trees. Otherwise the free account is fully functional. I doubt many people would need more than 5 trees anyways.

 

A tree would, for instance, hold as much as you want to throw at it: it consists of text... and the images are linked to via "href" html links (within the markdown formatting)... and you can link to images from your Dropbox account if you wish. Simple. 

 

They enable LaTeX too... and have a variety of pretty cool export options. 

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All you need now is the Copious Free Time in which to set all this up...  I'm gonna have a more in depth play with this and get my head around the concept - the closest app I can of is Treepad which has been around for ages;  that's a two-pane window with folders (and sub-folders,  and sub-sub etc..) in the left and note content in the right.  Similar formatting and linking options,  and drag/ drop organisation.  Don't want to spend lots of time playing with a(nother) new app though unless I can dump one or more old ones in the process.  My wetware storage is getting close to its upload limit...

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But more seriously - splitting the KB into different clients means you start to suffer from the main problem of hierarchical storage - some fixes are general,  so belong in more than one branch.

Remind you of anything? Tags perhaps? :)

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But more seriously - splitting the KB into different clients means you start to suffer from the main problem of hierarchical storage - some fixes are general,  so belong in more than one branch.

Remind you of anything? Tags perhaps? :)

 

 

The great thing is that the tagging concept is easily carried over to outlining apps (such as WorkFlowy) and a tree-based word processor (Gingkoapp), given that they have search facilities. There is not really the same sort of reciprocity (not that we would necessarily want that), in that Evernote cannot handle tree-based or outline-style workflows - at least not allowing one to visualize everything on one document, whether you use WorkFlowy's "zoomable document" concept or the ability to highlight info to be focused on (and exclude extraneous info.) within a larger document. 

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Hi Frank,

 

Now you know how difficult it was for us ex evangelists to look after everyone! A few of the gang put so much effort into it, I was amazed.

 

However, it worked and worked well and included getting rid of a lot of spam. I am not sure if there is more spammers now, but more spam from the same people. I would regularly remove 10 - 20 spammers most mornings, meaning 50 -100 messages. I know the others did the same. But it was so quick to do.

 

Regards

 

Chris

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Basically I agree with Metrodon's assessment of the situation; my response is a bit different.

 

As a volunteer, I can choose to participate as little or as much in the business of the forums. To wit: I'll remove spam if I see it in my travels. And I can pick and choose what types of forum questions to deal with, and which ones I will ignore. Support questions on installation and syncing are of little interest to me, I don't deal well with them, and frankly, that's the sort of support that Evernote should provide to everyone, in my opinion. Questions like "how do I do this search?" or "how do I approach organization?" or "can I do X in the Windows client?"; those are more up my alley, and I'm more likely to try to answer those when I see them. And questions of general forum usage, too.

 

But it's all as time and inclination allow, and has been for a long time, in my case 5+ years. Evernote continues to be a good tool for my life & work, and I'm happy to do what I can to help others use it too, when I can, but I don't feel any particular obligation to do any more than that.

 

I *do* miss being able to hammer a spammer, rather than just picking off individual spams, though...

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Basically I agree with Metrodon's assessment of the situation; my response is a bit different.

 

As a volunteer, I can choose to participate as little or as much in the business of the forums. To wit: I'll remove spam if I see it in my travels. And I can pick and choose what types of forum questions to deal with, and which ones I will ignore. Support questions on installation and syncing are of little interest to me, I don't deal well with them, and frankly, that's the sort of support that Evernote should provide to everyone, in my opinion. Questions like "how do I do this search?" or "how do I approach organization?" or "can I do X in the Windows client?"; those are more up my alley, and I'm more likely to try to answer those when I see them. And questions of general forum usage, too.

 

But it's all as time and inclination allow, and has been for a long time, in my case 5+ years. Evernote continues to be a good tool for my life & work, and I'm happy to do what I can to help others use it too, when I can, but I don't feel any particular obligation to do any more than that.

 

I *do* miss being able to hammer a spammer, rather than just picking off individual spams, though...

I feel very much the same. Questions like "why did my data get deleted" are not great forum fodder, but questions of that ilk (not necessarily about data loss in particular) are a growing portion of what we are seeing here. It has really interfered with my desire to participate in more subjective discussions about how to use evernote. 

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What's wrong with a forum in which members help other members with Evernote issues?  And why should that concern those who have no questions or complaints to post? Excuse me for being blunt but what do you care? Isn't Evernote support only available to paying customers?

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What's wrong with a forum in which members help other members with Evernote issues?  And why should that concern those who have no questions or complaints to post? Excuse me for being blunt but what do you care? Isn't Evernote support only available to paying customers?

I don't think anyone is complaining about a forum in which members help one another. The complaint is that there is a growing number of users who come here needing some legitimate technical support that their fellow users just can't offer, or which would be onerous for fellow users to offer. If fellow users run out of ideas for helping a free user, then there is little recourse except to hope that staff (who do a reasonably good job of keeping up with these forums) see the post and step in. 

 

While premium users can contact support, and fellow users can direct premium users to support if peer support runs out of steam, free users have no such option in a direct sense. 

 

Most of us are here precisely because we like to help others, have a passion for Evernote, and often have slightly-above-average level of experience with it. However it is disheartening to find more and more issues that really aren't manageable by fellow users.

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The forum support problem is greatly complicated by a totally ineffective forum Search tool.  Sometimes a general Google search will work, but often not.

 

So when a user comes here with a problem, even if they do use Search, they are not likely to find a fix.

 

And, since the "Evernote Discussion" forum is at  the top, a lot of users with platform specific issues just go to it, and don't identify their platform.

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I feel very much the same. Questions like "why did my data get deleted" are not great forum fodder, but questions of that ilk (not necessarily about data loss in particular) are a growing portion of what we are seeing here. It has really interfered with my desire to participate in more subjective discussions about how to use evernote. 

It's certainly not anything that I usually care to tackle, unless it's a user mistake/misunderstanding that can be corrected; I think that data integrity is critical to Evernote's mainline business and reputation, and that being so, I feel that they should be prepared to handle those cases, even for free users. If that's the case, then I'm happy to point them to a way to report it, but usually not much more.

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Last time I tried to submit a ticket as a free user (less than a month ago) the page resulted in "Ask the community!" link to this forum...

 
Wow.  Where does the above sit on the business ethics scale relative to technical issues with the product?  It is highly questionable to dump those technical issues on the "community" (really just not right IMHO).  So I know where I might might tip the scales.
 
As stated multiple times above, the power of the forums should be users helping users leverage the tool.  Not continually mopping the floor whilst the leak goes unattended.  If it's broke, fix it.  
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I used to be one of those volunteer evangelists, and I spent a lot of time wrestling with spam, trying to help users, and working to foster a sense of community here. It was enjoyable to be a small, semi official/unofficial part of Evernote, and I miss those days, even though it could be quite time-consuming.

With the abolishment of free customer support, evangelists, and some of our anti-spam tools, things have changed a lot. I'd say that Evernote's forum is in a process of transition and it may well work out really well in the future. Time will tell, and I'd urge people to give it a shot, stick around, and try to help out if they can.

As for me, I have pretty strong opinions on the matter, all of which were expressed vociferously in public and private last summer when the changes occurred. I won't rehash all of that. The forum is what it is now, and I doubt it'll be going back to the old days. Like, ever.

I try to focus the limited time and energy I have to spare on helping folks, and avoid (sometimes unsuccessfully) getting pulled into other stuff. I have drastically reduced my investment of time and energy here, and I won't be chasing the spammers around anymore, so I am afraid I cannot be counted on for that. If someone wants to purchase better Internet speeds for me, I might reconsider :)

Anyhow, I think we saw in the past some of the exciting potential that Evernote had as a service and this forum had as a community. I hope that potential can be realized in the future.

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What's wrong with a forum in which members help other members with Evernote issues?  And why should that concern those who have no questions or complaints to post? Excuse me for being blunt but what do you care? Isn't Evernote support only available to paying customers?

 

Evernote isn't always so great for paying customers.  I had a premium account for years.  I dropped it because EN hasn't worked properly for over two years and at one point a particularly candid CS person acknowledged that the error I was getting simply wasn't high on the list or priorities.  Meanwhile, EN announces a new app or some ridiculously overpriced piece of merch every month.  Work on the core product.

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