Dedicated vendor support sub-forums?

Aibohphobia

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A topic we've been discussing internally is how to better deal with support questions (will this card fit? how long will shipping take? etc.) for really popular projects like the NCASE M1 or DAN Cases A4-SFX. The HardForum thread for the M1 for example is 610 pages currently and is super intimidating for someone new to SFF.

But with our current forum organization, either we have one really long thread in Custom Projects or allow the general/hardware sub-forums to get filled with questions about the M1 and crowd out other discussion.

So we've been considering maybe having a new section with sub-forums for individual vendors (though suggestions for alternate solutions would be greatly appreciated if you have a better idea!) to deal with this. For example, a NCASE sub-forum, a DAN Cases sub, etc.

And this could maybe be combined with/rolled into the Vendor Marketplace so vendors could both sell their project direct and sell, or just support, in the same place.

There are lots of potential issues with this, like qualification criteria, should it be a paid program, moderation, etc.

Also, we'd want to avoid splitting discussion too much, though I'm not sure how to do that or if it'd really be a problem anyway.

Thoughts? Comments?
 

iFreilicht

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I think this might be a reasonable idea. The added value proposition in my mind is already that you will be moving questions that are posted as new threads into those support forums, making it easier for the vendor to see them.

But, I can also see what @Necere is saying. And, why would anyone even post to those specific forums if they have a good (probably even better) chance of getting their question answered in the main case thread anyway? Also, who does it help to split up questions like that? Do users benefit in any way? Wouldn't it make sense to allow questions in the build thread so a question will reach all the people who have that specific case?
For me, I would benefit from this. I currently unwatched the S4 thread because there are so many questions and I'm only interested in seeing announcements about new versions of the case. But I think I'm in the minority with this use-case.

Geekhack has a vendor support forum system like this as well, but I don't know how well it works out for them.
 
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Aibohphobia

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Geekhack has a vendor support forum system like this as well, but I don't know how well it works out for them.

Thanks for pointing that out, I'll look into it. OCN has a vendor support section and the EK one seems fairly popular but then there's also an EK thread in the water cooling sub-forum so it's really just splitting the discussion. So it'll be interesting to compare other forums and see if it works well there.
 

jØrd

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I don't really have a better solution but being a front end for someone else's customer service in an official capacity as opposed to just having company's choosing to put a staffer representing their brand on the forum seems like a potentially slippery slope. Also, whilst I guess it could potentially drive traffic to the forum what kind of traffic would that be, I don't have numbers but it would be interesting to see what the conversion rate into active forum members is like for sites that have already gone down this path. There is also a question about your own brand reputability, especially if the vendor has a hard time providing what their customers would consider decent support. Conversely I suppose being associated as a support channel for a vendor w/ exemplary customer support could help w/ your own brand reputation but either way your giving up some control over it. Your reputation is, to some extent, irrevocably tied to that of the vendors w/ support sub-forums. Ultimately your an enthusiast community forum not a customer support portal. Many places that try to straddle the line between both appear to end up being piss poor at one or the other. From a technical perspective i'd also argue that an open forum is a horribad platform to try and use as a support ticketing system too. All things being equal though I really don't have a better solution, maybe it would be worth trialling it for 6 months or so w/ a couple of select vendors.

What would "support" look like, how would people demanding RMA's be handled vs say people looking for dimensions or info for modding, where would that line be drawn, how would it be enforced, would it be different depending on the vendor, etc
 
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Biowarejak

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Is there a way to put a link to the vendor's website/product/Q&A page at the top of the pages in the thread?

Might help too if vendor's frequently updated the OP to address common questions also. I think we do already have a way to hyperlink to a post # also, so that could help. I've seen some do this kind of thing already, and always appreciated it.
 
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Aibohphobia

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You mean like a sticky that shows up at the top of every page within the thread?
 

EdZ

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The Bit-Tech forums have* some dedicated vendor support subforums for various manufacturers and retailers. Discussion of builds and component choices usually takes place in the 'normal' subforum, so the vendor support subforums usually end up support forums and short question/answer threads. Stuff that would clutter up a more general forum if made as individual posts, but that would turn into a massive pile of confusion and redundancy when all shoved into a single general thread (as you see with the same "does X fit", "why not do Y?" questions that get asked over and over over in the massive case threads on HardOCP, for example).


*I'd link there, but Bit-Tech are currently doing a backend migration so everything is down at the moment.
 
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Biowarejak

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That is a very good idea! In general, maybe we should setup guidelines for how a product post should look to allow a consistent experience for the users?
Thanks! I would second that. Hypothetically it could improve the overall experience while still allowing the creators to be creative with it.
 

Aibohphobia

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maybe we should setup guidelines for how a product post should look to allow a consistent experience for the users?

That's a good idea.

Stuff that would clutter up a more general forum if made as individual posts, but that would turn into a massive pile of confusion and redundancy when all shoved into a single general thread (as you see with the same "does X fit", "why not do Y?" questions that get asked over and over over in the massive case threads on HardOCP, for example).

That's my thought too, individual question threads would be easier to search as opposed to being scattered across a long thread.

but Bit-Tech are currently doing a backend migration so everything is down at the moment.

The King vBulletin 3 is dead, long live the King XenForo!
 

Phuncz

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The Storefront
The Mall (I can't say Mall without thinking about this song)
The Black Market --> you uhm... got any sub 7L cases here ?
The Thunderdome
La Super Mercado

EDIT: whoops I was focused on the word "Vendor" and veered into the wrong direction...
 
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Phuncz

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Ah yes my mistake, I was thinking along the lines of "Vendor" and not in the lines of "Vendor Support".

So some other ideas:

The First Line
The Support Station
Help Me Obi-Wan Kenobi, You're My Only Hope
YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS

Veering off again...
 
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Aibohphobia

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Hmm, I may just leave it at "Vendor Forums" to make clear that it's a special section of the forum.

Anyway, I've got it setup now so that when creating a new thread there it auto-suggests similar threads based on the thread title. Plus there's a "Mark as Solved" button to add a Solved prefix.
 

Josh | NFC

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Lots of great thoughts here.

At the end of the day, I think people post where the action is.

I could do a hundred times better job of editing my first post to include links to interesting parts of the MINI thread.

So I don't think I would worry about implementing this.

Plus, anything that trains people to use the search feature is a good thing, right?

XD

Peace to all.
 
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