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Would You Use a New Made2Manage Forum?

I started this blog to help people learn more about M2M, SQL, and Crystal Reports. The reason was simple; I had to learn this stuff the hard way, by myself and essentially in a vacuum. I wanted to help anyone who found themselves in the same situation.

Since then, I’ve had a couple of people ask me, “Dave, when are you going to host a forum for M2M users?” Well, I’ve been reluctant to do so for a few reasons.

  1. I don’t intend to do M2M forever and I don’t wish to set myself up to moderate forums regarding it indefinitely.
  2. Regarding moderation, I wouldn’t be able to moderate it during the day.
  3. Bandwidth is not free, but people don’t like to see ads either.
  4. Most importantly, I’m not sure there is enough demand for it.

However, the current options are not very successful either. Let’s examine them a moment:

M2M’s own forum. I look at the Administrator’s board fairly regularly. However, the interface is from the early 90’s with frames and the functionality is counter intuitive as well. Therefore, it is hardly used. I’d estimate that they receive less than one post per day.

In fact, I’d bet money that Consona doesn’t read their own forums either. If you look in the “Company Setup/Maintenance” forum, you’ll see the second recent post at the top entitled “Remove Permissions from ALL of Us…” In that post another forum member suggests that the original poster delete all records from the UTSEC table. UTSEC contains the list of current M2M screens and deleting anything from it would be catastrophic. If someone from M2M was paying attention, they’d remove that statement immediately. Did I mention that the dangerous advice has been there for nearly eight months?

Another disadvantage is you must be on M2M support to use the forum. With the current economic climate, many companies just can’t afford support fees.

I realize that economic times are tough, and that maintaining a decent forum costs money. However, if the M2M forums were free and being used, calls to support would drop dramatically. In the long run, I think it would save money for Consona.

The Los Angeles Area Made2Manage User Group. This is a Google Group for users in the LA Area, and some of them use it since dropping M2M Support. This is a free service and the group members are very helpful, but the group still doesn’t have a lot of traffic anyway. Also, I don’t care for Google Groups (list groups in general) because of the way they process messages. Comments accumulate and get re-sent over and over again. For example, if Milton posts a question about the Purchasing screen the message goes out to the subscribers. If Sally responds, her message includes both hers and Milton’s. After three more people reply to his question, the messages get longer and longer and the signal to noise ratio becomes intolerable. However, I would like to mention again, that the users are good people and I’ve received assistance from several of them.

I’ll end this post with a poll. If someone creates and maintains a modern forum site for M2M and related technologies, how often would you participate?

How often would you participate?

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11 comments to Would You Use a New Made2Manage Forum?

  • I’m going to go with “Once every week or two” because it’s really a hard question to answer. I know that I wouldn’t use it every day, though I may actually use it more than once per week. But realistically, how often I used it would be entirely dependent on how much participation it had. If only 2 people are using it then it’s essentially worthless. If we have several users, then it’s got potential to be used on a daily basis.

    I do not know how strong your following is right now on the blog, but I think it would be a while before the forums took off enough for the cost of hosting it to become an issue. As I’ve not done it myself though, I could be completely wrong.

    I suggest you go ahead and give it a shot and find out what kind of interest shows up and how many people make an honest effort to use it. If you find that it’s rarely being used then you can either keep it up there just to have it, or you can dump it all together. If you find out that it’s a hit then you can either look at adding advertising if necessary, or you can make whatever other type of judgement you need to at that point.

    I’m not the primary M2M person where I work, so you will not see me on the forums daily until, at the very least, the .NET version is released. At that point my activity would probably increase, but until then it would be minimal from my end.

  • rk

    I know for a fact that I would use an unofficial M2M forum quite a bit. The ‘official’ forums are a ghost town mainly because all the accounts tie directly to your corporate account; that’s not exactly an environment that fosters the kinds of dialog typically associated with M2M. Maybe I’m alone in that opinion, but that’s a major reason why *I* don’t use the officials. That, and feature-wise they’re nothing short of Byzantine – literally, I clicked a link and it was from Diocletian, wondering how to set up multi-facilities.

    I am willing to help as much as I can, wherever I can, as soon as I can.

  • Andrew

    I agree with rk about the M2M forums. They are a waste of time. However, I answered once every week or two because I would go there whenever I needed help. It may sound dickish, but in all honesty, I probably would not go there to help others.

  • scott

    I had a couple of M2M representatives on site a few weeks age. While they were here I discussed the forum and its issues with them. They said they would take my concerns to the appropriate people and agreed that something should be done to increase the amount of trafic. That being said I have not seen any changes since then.

  • Stephen

    Official or unofficial, what we really need is a forum that everyone uses, not just small pockets here and there. The value is in the active userbase, not just in the content that exists.

  • Pat

    There is a M2M group on LinkedIn, just checked and there are 110 members
    I believe some of the issue is most companies have downsized and there is just not enough time in the day to check on boards, and join discussion strings.
    I was actually on the M2M user board when we suggested a hosted forum. (Yes M2M actually asked users across the country to come in and “help” them with setting company direction !)
    I agree with Stephen-we need a forum. I believe it would be in M2M’s interest to revamp their “old forum” to be more current.
    My problem is our company has stopped paying maintenance (that’s another separate story) and we are no longer allowed on the user to user board.
    The fact is since M2M went private and Jeff Tognoni stepped in the focus is to make lots of money and expand services and value for Consona but not increase the value to the user community

  • Stephen

    I know this is a stale topic, but I’ve seen elsewhere, unless the vendor actively participates in their forums, there really isn’t much value without members who are willing to spend time helping. This is probably the biggest reason (aside from the god-awful site design) that the official boards are so inactive.

    Some of the most active user forums I’ve seen usually have some sort of incentive to being active contributors. For example, the user forums for Untangle have some consultants who provide a lot of great help, and it drives a lot of leads towards them because they have a demonstrated expertise, plus their business contact info is on every message.

    For M2M, I don’t really see that being the case, since I specifically know of only two active consultants in the LA users group on Google, and a one or two other ex-Consona. The rest of us are just plain users.

  • [...] I urge everyone in M2M to use and support it, as I think it is a service that has been sorely lacking. [...]

  • I checked out the M2M Talk and you are correct it is lacking in participation. I posted an answer and a question.
    My question got 10 views and no replies.

  • MarkE

    I like this idea but it looks as if the last post was December 2010. I’m having trouble with one of our barcode servers. It keeps listing “not on polling list” next to what should be an active work center. Currently I do not have M2M support and hate to spend 25K just to get this issue resolved. I would appreciate any help anyone could provide.

  • MarkE, I’m sorry but I’m not your guy for bar coding issues. Someone did create an independent M2M forum which you could try.

    http://m2mtalk.46.forumer.com

    It’s worth a shot. Good luck.

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