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.
- I don’t intend to do M2M forever and I don’t wish to set myself up to moderate forums regarding it indefinitely.
- Regarding moderation, I wouldn’t be able to moderate it during the day.
- Bandwidth is not free, but people don’t like to see ads either.
- 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?