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Posted Saturday, August 17, 2013 11:59 AM


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Post #1485509
Posted Saturday, August 17, 2013 3:30 PM


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...but it takes participation and rational, reasonable debate, not childish exaggerated complaints and insults. We want to influence and convince, not upset and anger.


I'm thinking that needs to become a two way street with software and hardware vendors as well as service providers. People pay big bucks for that stuff and, especially when things don't work as advertised or the advertising for certain features is misleading, people are naturally going to be upset when things go bump in the night.

Then there's the "fine print" rule. I recently ran into a problem with two features of some very expensive software that advertised certain advantages because of the features only to find an exception buried almost as casual note in a seemingly unrelated chapter that rendered these rather expensive features virtually useless. One of the features has been fixed in the next release but there's no retrofit for people who bought the current version of the software just to get the feature. Instead, those people have to pay even more to get the next version.

It's nice to say that "rational, reasonable debate" should be used instead of "childish exaggerated complaints and insults", but people shouldn't have to convince vendors to do the right thing. Complaints about something not working, even if it only seems logical that they should work, is anything but childish. The insults come when the vendor or service provider has built up so much technical debt in their product that they can't possibly please everyone and elect to please virtually no one by continuing with their interrnal plans instead of taking a step back for a moment.

You also have to consider what a "childish insult" is or is not. If you're on the receiving end of poor product, especially product that was working very well and has been changed for the worse, then the given insults aren't going to seem so childish. In fact, since many vendors and providers simply don't listen, sometimes you have to insult the hell out of them just to get their attention or to get them over the "management direction" hump.

Vendors need to start producing products that have a whole lot less bugs and it shouldn't take even a profesional "mob" to convince them. They also need to go back and fix things in previous versions instead of punishing customers for being loyal.


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Post #1485526
Posted Monday, August 19, 2013 4:24 AM
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You are right on point. Insults and anger never succeed in achieving an objective. One must keep a cool head in order to get what one wants. Great observation!

-Russ
Post #1485717
Posted Monday, August 19, 2013 6:58 AM
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Unfortunately, some companies respond only when the community uproar is so strong they fear its effect on their reputation and sales. Insults (childish or otherwise) are not an essential part of the uproar. They are a normal response to the frustration caused by bad software, but normal is not best, and often counterproductive.

Pressure can be brought to bear without resorting to insults. Marshalling the evidence of the unreasonableness of the situation and the badness of the software - forcefully and often - may be unpleasant for the hearers, but it needn't be nasty.

People in general should be treated respectfully, just because they're people. When we are pleasantly surprised by respectful treatment from people we expected to be abusive, we feel motivated to help. When we receive abuse, we feel motivated to stop listening and to refuse help.
Post #1485781
Posted Monday, August 19, 2013 7:10 AM


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It must be daunting for a software vendor like Microsoft or Oracle to sort through thousands of bug reports and suggested feature requests. I do think that ISV or shareware software vendors should provide some form of system whereby users can vote for new features or bug fixes.

Regarding shareware specifically, where some users pay more than others, and a large percentage (perhaps most in some cases) don't pay at all, the votes should be weiged based on how much the user has paid into the project. For example, it could something like one dollar one vote, as opposed to one user one vote. One could think of paying users as sort of like shareholders of your sofware, even if you don't setup a legal corporate shareholder model. I think makes a lot of sense, because not only would it tend to increase revenue, but would streamline the process of how project tasks are prioritized.
Post #1485788
Posted Monday, August 19, 2013 7:59 AM
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I agree completely with Jeff's observation about the "fine print" rule. Unfortunately, software today is governed by the fine print, exclusions, excuses, legal technicalities, disclaimers of suitability of fitness for a particular purpose and unstated omissions. We pay a lot of money for some of the software we use and expect it to work well. When problems are found and loss occurs, the companies point to "terms and conditions". We don't want excuses; we want the software to work properly.

When companies collect information to the point where it becomes intrusive, we used to call it "stalking". Now it's called "terms and conditions". When we "buy" software, we sometimes later discover that we're really only "renting" it and have to pay more money. We used to call false product claims "fraudulent advertising" but now we call it "terms and conditions".

I agree that things need to be addressed honestly, but the "terms and conditions", excuses, legal word parsing and lack of actual support are some of the reasons why people exaggerate problems and blow things out of proportion. Microsoft and Oracle have huge and complex products. While companies definitely have to prioritize bug fixes, I feel they should also stand behind their products more, stop making excuses and write software that works.

Myself, I try to focus on making software that works and leave the politics, excuses and other garbage at the door.



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Post #1485823
Posted Monday, August 19, 2013 8:08 AM


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phickey (8/19/2013)
Unfortunately, some companies respond only when the community uproar is so strong they fear its effect on their reputation and sales.


The ONLY reason companies respond to user feedback is when they fear it's impact on sales. That's why, without being "childish", it never hurts to firmly let the vendor know you are unhappy with their product - to the point where you will take your money elsewhere.

I usually start with technical support for a complaint, in hopes that something can be done to fix the software. If this doesn't work, I move next not to the technical supervisor, but to the sales force. They tend to translate dissatisfaction more quickly into lost sales than do technical people. I have found this to be an effective strategy for getting changes made - unless one is dealing with Microsoft.


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Post #1485829
Posted Monday, August 19, 2013 8:11 AM
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Thomas Abraham (8/19/2013)
[quote]phickey (8/19/2013)
I usually start with technical support for a complaint, in hopes that something can be done to fix the software. If this doesn't work, I move next not to the technical supervisor, but to the sales force. They tend to translate dissatisfaction more quickly into lost sales than do technical people.

That does sound like an interesting strategy. Instead of dealing with the excuses, you cut right to the chase and deal with people who equate sales and money with their job. I may have to try this the next time. Thanks.



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Post #1485831
Posted Monday, August 19, 2013 8:12 AM


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And another view, somehow timed to come out with mine: http://blogs.lessthandot.com/index.php/ITProfessionals/ProfessionalDevelopment/microsoft-isn-t-the-devil






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Post #1485832
Posted Monday, August 19, 2013 8:20 AM


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Its' interesting that those that have posted here so far are of the view on what the software company should do for me. I read Steve's article and took away the opposite viewpoint: am I giving the software company a fair shake of what I expect.

I often see this with computer users in general, but find it most interesting with developers. A tool or package or website or mobile app doesn't do what you expect, and you think the face-less company must not have half a brain. All developers have been in product/project meetings, determining features, discussing how to implement them, throwing things in, throwing things out, prioritizing. Yet when we are users of software products, and it does not do what we expect, or we cannot extend a feature to do something similar but for our use, some of us think the product is broken. Some of us cannot empathize with the developers of that product, recognize they had design decisions and tradeoffs, and probably did the best that they could (even if it would not be what you would do in same or similar situation).

I try, when working with a tool or package or website or mobile app, to understand their point of what the product is supposed to do, and can it work for at least part of my need. Can I extend it, or work around it, to get my solution done. Sure, there will be some bugs, but I'm sure some of the reported bugs are just a failure of the user to understand how it works, and the failure of the user to understand their situation or scenario is slightly different.

I believe Steve's point was to have some empathy for the other side when you use a tool or package or website or mobile app. The other side of the server has real people, just like you (and probably griping about your product).




Mark
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