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8 Krypton

What if we opened up the Support Forums (read-only) to the whole internet?

We've been toying with an idea, something we've wanted to do for a long time, but could not with the old platform.

Now that we are on ECN, we could loosen up the permissions required to view our Support Forums content.  For example, we could make all the Forums legible to all users, but only allow registered Powerlink users the right to create new messages or threads.

Why would we want to do this?

  1. Well, all the content would be searchable to Google.  If you've ever run a search for a VMWare issue, you can see what we mean - many of the results come from their communities.   This would draw in new users who don't go to Powerlink every day to do their troubleshooting.
  2. Also, RSS feeds would no longer require authentication.  You could catch up on a thread without logging in, and only need to log in if you wanted to reply.

But there are some concerns:

  • you, as our users, would no longer be posting to a secluded space, but somewhere the whole world could see it
  • content you'd previously written on this assumption would suddenly no longer be hidden

What do you think?  I know many of you want to do this, and I know some of you aren't so sure.

Are there ways to do this that would make you comfortable?

What are your specific concerns?

Are some spaces, like the Coffee Break, better left "behind the curtain"?  (This would be my suggestion.)

Thanks,

Erich

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8 Krypton

Re: What if we opened up the Support Forums (read-only) to the whole internet?

i just wanted to comment that about 2 years ago we had a discussion where some members wanted to force other members to use their real name. I was against that because of privacy issues in case these forums were ever go public.  Hmmm ..it's like i knew ?

Probably not a big deal but in hardware forums we often refer to documentation that's available on PowerLink so unless people viewing specific threads have full PowerLink accounts it will be worthless to them and they won't be able to say anything about that either. VMware documentation is available to the whole world.

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8 Krypton

Re: What if we opened up the Support Forums (read-only) to the whole internet?

That's a really interesting point.  Not only are our manuals "behind the wall" but so are our knowledgebase solutions and some other things like White Papers.

Do you think that this would make the overall experience too much of a tease ("here's some info, but for more you need to be a customer") and therefore not worth it?  Or would it create enough interest for those users to subsequently login through Powerlink?

We should have easy access to as much info as possible, but we don't want to open the door into a negative Support Forum experience.

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8 Krypton

Re: What if we opened up the Support Forums (read-only) to the whole internet?

tease is a good word. Why not open the whole thing up ? Except maybe for software download section ? I think this piecemeal  approach would be frustrating to outside users who either do not have a current support contract (yet are still running EMC gear) or don't want to login just to glance at some document.
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8 Krypton

Re: What if we opened up the Support Forums (read-only) to the whole internet?

Erich,

Having information searchable by Google and other engines is incredibly important.

There's way too much information to casually browse, so seach becomes the efficient way to find relevant content.

When people are looking for information, a good portion of them will try a global search engine as their very first step.

  • Having Support Forums content featured prominently in the results would be good for the member or visitor, and good exposure for our forums and the community as a whole.

I had a conversation with the manager of a developer network from another company.

  • He mentioned that their analysis showed close to 90% of all the page hits were referred from search engines.
  • People were not actively "going" to his forum, they were "winding up" there (happily) by using a link in the search results.

So, I believe it's all about getting the information out there, and making it as easy to discover as possible.

Thanks for raising this topic.

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8 Krypton

Re: What if we opened up the Support Forums (read-only) to the whole internet?

I have to admit that my first reaction to this is negative. Try as I might though I can't quite pin down why I feel vaguely uncomfortable about this.

On the surface it seems reasonable to open up the content (Read Only) to the public. They are not getting any proprietary information, and they still have to be customers with Powerlink accounts to get to the good stuff and participate. Realistically, anyone who is concerned about previously written content becoming public should probably review their personal criteria for what to post. I'm sure there are circumstances I have not considered which would make that statement seem harsh, but in general...

So, in the end (although I will continue to think about it)I think that opening up the Forums on a limited basis is a reasonable move. It seems to be good for the public, good for the Forums Community, good for EMC...   I'm still trying to figure out why it doesn't sit just right, but since I can't put my finger on it I can't really fight it rationally

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8 Krypton

Re: What if we opened up the Support Forums (read-only) to the whole internet?

EMC has prided itself on doing a lot on behalf of  the Customer requiring Support, and doing it well. But the World has changed. So has our product offering.

Customers want and in many cases need to help themselves more and more. The technologies and cultural changes brought and facilitated by Social Media and Web 2.0 has moved the goal posts. It's happened and is continuing to happen so fast that it's seems hard to keep up with. It is to some degree a cultural shift for some. But it's one worth doing. Customers expect to have easy access to technical information.

But as stated from previous posters, we should not appear to be opening up content to have another gate shut in front of people seeking information.

We need to ensure we strike the right balance of access in favour of our customers and partners.

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8 Krypton

Re: What if we opened up the Support Forums (read-only) to the whole internet?

From my perspective (Support) I would be for opening the forums/documentation/knowledgebase content to the web, it would be invaluable for case-deflection from the support center, remove alot of the repeated cases we get for reletively simple issues, leaving more complex cases for the Support Center to deal with.

Imagine the cost-saving for EMC if they could remove the 'noise' of low severity, documentation/procedural cases that customers open today.

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8 Krypton

Re: What if we opened up the Support Forums (read-only) to the whole internet?

"Noise", Conor?

Do you realize that was your "outside voice"? *lol*

Just kidding though. I know exactly what you mean and I'm willing to bet you're right on the reduction of easier calls. Of course that could negatively impact your time-to-resolve statistics too 🙂

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8 Krypton

Re: What if we opened up the Support Forums (read-only) to the whole internet?

Hi,

I definitely see the advantage of having the Forums searchable/reachable from Google, no doubt about that.

The "tease" part is something that have to be evaluated, but I don't think that this will become a major problem.

What's concerning me personally is the fact that the Forums, and all the 10.000s of replies, now are getting public to simply everyone.

I do also remember the discussion we had a couple of years ago, about using "real" names, and I've liked the idea of "knowing" the people

I'm communicating with.

Is there any possibility to keep the poster identiy hidden, as long as you access the threads from the outside?

That would definitely be sufficient to me.

Regards

Jørg

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