IPS discovers support community can actually be useful after 20 years

Tracy Perry

Opinionated asshat
Joined
May 25, 2013
Messages
5,183
Times change, utility changes, etc. and while Ive got literally no idea how IPS runs their support, it may be reasonable to assume internal tickets were a more affordable, better on the support team, higher quality response solution at least for most of that time.
And a push towards "premium" support. Guaranteed that the only way you could get your question answered by a developer was to have a current license to submit a ticket, no official support ever provided in the "support" forum.
In fact, if you notice above
The downside to this model was that we committed a cardinal sin, and actively avoided giving support in the community in an attempt to raise income from premium support. As our pricing models changed over time, this aversion to using our own community to support customers remained.
fully supports my statement.

I know of at least two other packages that the developers provide direct assistance in their support forums, and have for years. For more complicated issues you have tickets to resort to.
And to top it off, unless they've recently implemented it, IPS removed Sphinx and was going to implement ES, but that was years ago and I don't know if they finally implemented it or not. I rarely went over to the support site since it was basically useless for getting any help. Now that I'm no longer running any sites (other than my WP one) I don't really keep up with XF or IPS.
 

Ryan Ashbrook

IPS Developer
Joined
Jan 26, 2004
Messages
3,556
And to top it off, unless they've recently implemented it, IPS removed Sphinx and was going to implement ES, but that was years ago and I don't know if they finally implemented it or not.
We’ve had ElasticSearch support for years now.
 
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Tracy Perry

Opinionated asshat
Joined
May 25, 2013
Messages
5,183
We’ve had ElasticSearch support for years now.
Good to know. I know that after Sphinx was removed there was a lengthy period of time that it was talked about but that was all that was done, simply talked about. I honestly didn't see it in the version I had, and my license expired 10/2018. Of course I didn't look to closely for it at that time either as the site really wasn't busy and didn't need it. As I said, I pretty much avoided the support forum as it was basically useless for any support at that time. About the only thing I'd do is swing by the Marketplace.
 

Oldsmoboi

Fan
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
738
My site has been with IPS for nearly the entirety of those 20 years. They do great work, but they are very much the poster child for the quote "They always get it right... after they've tried everything else". My issues with IPS are entirely cultural. They are very much the walled castle on the hill. They say they listen to their customers, but I suspect it is only the big enterprise customers that get any actual response. We small hobbyist/semi-pro sites, even when speaking in large numbers don't get attention paid. It takes pitchforks and torches for us little people to be heard and our concerns addressed. And we usually have different needs than enterprise customers.

That said, for the past 2 or 3 years, I've needed nearly nothing from them. Their goal of being the Apple of forum/community software that "just runs" has largely been achieved. Sure, you can't customize a lick of it because the moment you do any issue you have, no matter how unrelated, will be blamed on that customization. But leave it stock with a few mature plug-ins and you'll be fine. The only time I visit their site now is if Jordon posts something because he's got good humor and he's new to IPS so he doesn't have the old, walled castle mindset that the rest of the crew seems to have and genuinely wants to help. That he's pretty to look at doesn't hurt either.
 

dtdesign

WoltLab Developer
Joined
Nov 13, 2012
Messages
596
They say they listen to their customers, but I suspect it is only the big enterprise customers that get any actual response. We small hobbyist/semi-pro sites, even when speaking in large numbers don't get attention paid. It takes pitchforks and torches for us little people to be heard and our concerns addressed. And we usually have different needs than enterprise customers.
Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with IPS, Inc. and have no insight into what they are actually doing behind the curtains.

Being part of this industry for well over a decade, there are a few things I would like to share:
  • Support forums are heavily biased.
    • At best a single digit percentage of your customers ever participate in these forums.
    • Customers usually first reach out to these forums because the have a problem, so again, this heavily skews your audience.
    • Specialized communities such as TAZ "suffer" from the same bias to some degree.
  • Suggestions arise to tackle a very specific problem.
    • Everyone has their own view on how things should work and most important, what is important for their own community.
    • Not all solutions are created equal, your unique proposition might work, but there may be way better approaches to the problem. Just because an idea gets dismissed does not mean it is inherently wrong.
    • Workforce is expensive. One has to make decisions down the road, especially when there is a much greater vision.
  • Big customers have way less impact than one might think.
    • First and foremost, for most enterprise customers a forum is nothing but a tool. They are more concerned about the reliability and the overall customization to match their corporate identity.
    • As a developer you have many different sources of input and while conversations with big customers happen, a lot of the input comes from the average customer. However, more often than not this happens behind closed doors, for example, as part of a support request.
    • When an enterprise customers wants something special, you will build it according to their specifications and bill them. You don't change the entire software, because an enterprise customers wants a niche feature.
 

KimmiKat

Fan
Joined
Mar 21, 2005
Messages
517
I rather take that pitchfork and stab FB many thousands of times. I did go to the link in Matt's post and many payment vendors are doing that.

Pitchforks no longer needed.... maybe.

"They always get it right... after they've tried everything else"
 
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