I've been browsing the FrameMaker forums recently and I notice that the first two posts to more than 80% of the FrameMaker General Discussions threads are:
At some further point, there may also be a request for the OS, Acrobat [Pro] version in use..
Just a suggestion to streamline the process: in the Post New Thread in [insert Forum name as appropriate] dialog, have a reminder / checklist Window that prompts the poster to provide this basic information, with links to show where to find it. For example:
Adobe is a sophisticated software manufacturer -- maybe this could be demonstrated to advantage in the User Forums.
There are several "Before You Post" reminders to include this sort of info, but people don't seem to notice them. The forum software isn't from Adobe, they converted to a third-party provider a couple of years ago.
There are several "Before You Post" reminders to include this sort of info, but people don't seem to notice them.
One wonders if many of the seekers sailing in here are qualified to write anything, since they seem unable to read (not just posting hints, but the questions and suggestions from thread responders).
That snark aside, if one jumps right into the FM General Discussion thread (and the Start a Discussion link), there are no obvious hints for posting on view. I was unable to quickly discover if the Jive software supports "Sticky" topics, commonly used for posting hints on other fora.
The forum software isn't from Adobe, they converted to a third-party provider a couple of years ago.
And it's worth noting that Search does work on Jive's own user forum, so the problem here is likely a local configuration issue, or some failure of the presumed periodic search indexing.
If search worked, it would dramatically reduce the number of redundant questions, and would likely improve the odds of getting the necessary platform details when a new question arose (because search would turn up enough similar threads, with "platform please", that sentient seekers might catch a clue to contribute that data).
Well, I'd agree with the comments about the non-functioning search, but the real point I'm trying to make is about Usability.
In another life I wrote technical documentation for software manufacturers, and I've also been the manager for a large government computer centre. In both these gigs I would estimate that 90% of the gripes came from people reading documentation but not understanding it. Put another way; what we wrote reflected our universe, but the readers inhabited another universe that barely intersected ours.
Case in point -- anyone who has used 'home' editions of Windows just fires up the computer and gets the Welcome screen. They may have to choose between user names James and Josephine, but that's it for logging in. But get one of these 'experienced' users on a domain and they have to press Ctrl - Alt - Del to start the Login process. The simultaneous three-key-press is so foreign to these user's experience set that Microsoft have to have a pop-up diagram to aid users if they flub it, because this is such an atypical task to perform on a keyboard. Even so, about 25% of our help desk calls were from people who, until we sent someone to actually 'do' the key-press in front of them, simply didn't 'get' it.
In my present position as CEO of a Healthcare provider I have to ensure that healthcare professionals enjoy using our IT systems, can rely on them rather than lebenty-leben Post-It Notes stuck around the screen bezel, and don't feel that the IT infrastructure is 'getting in the way' of them meeting patient's needs.
To do this we run extensive Usability sessions in the design, construction and delivery phases of our IT systems. As our gold standard we use the Internet Banking processes of some major banks (because nothing steams people more than feeling that an IT system is getting between them and their money). In general, these systems work well because:
That's good design. Makes no assumptions, Your World Is My World.
The 'chatter' about problem / version / OS / other products arises because the FrameMaker Forum users (and, I'm betting many users in other Adobe Forums) are not 'getting' the Forum structure. No good snarking about dumb users, just make it work the way users want it to. If each Forum post contains the problem / version / OS / other products info in a structured form, then searches (when they work) will become much more relevant -- which is what we all want to achieve in the first place.
PS -- I see that the Forum spelling checker software doesn't recognize FrameMaker -- but offers up Fragmental & Rainmaker...
And it's worth noting that Search does work on Jive's own user forum ...
Another thing that does indeed work on the internet - tracking.
I'm now seeing banner ads for Jive when I visit other (non-Adobe) sites.
I even have Flash turned off entirely. I presume this resulted from visiting
Jive, but it could also have resulted from just typing the word here.
Privacy - we used to know what that was.
It would be feasable to insert radio buttions in the reply form, forcing the contributor to at least select the general FM version and OS. This would also serve as reminder to add other data that might be of interest.
But considering how long it takes Adobe or their partners to fix the search function I doubt that we will live long enough to see the implementation of feature request.
But I don't want to force people to make choices. I want the Forum software (as should any 'reasonable' software) to work with the users, not against them.
To expand on my last point, if a newby's first post is to the FrameMaker General Discussion sub-forum then they should be treated as a New Customer. If some form of auto-discovery widget is enabled (with the user's explicit permission) then much data can be elicited automatically. Installation programs do this all the time and typically collect: locale / browser / processor type / OS & patch status / video card / video driver / RAM / hard disk / paging file size. We can refer to this as the new user's base-line environment.
While not universally true, it is a fair assumption that all subsequent posts from this user will be from the same computer, so the base-line environment will remain the same until the user notifies (or the Forum widget detects) a new environment. This means that each new topic the user posts can contain a summary of their base-line environment to both inform would-be helpers (!) and become part of the searchable data so that all users (and perchance, Adobe) could look for some commonality in user experiences. Think of the dire problems experienced by anyone with Type 1 fonts and Microsoft Office 10 installed as an example...
Equally, it should be optional (depending on the user's level of permissions) to discover the installed Adobe software together with version/patch levels -- it's not difficult. In effect the Forum widget could create a job ticket for the user. If there are other relevant data required, the user could be prompted about where to look for it and how to extract it.
Overall the whole Forum (and support) experience still seems mired in the 1980's -- a case of 'this is our sandbox, and you'll have to adapt to how WE see the world.' Guess what, things have changed...
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