More Autodesk discussion group angst

When you start using the new AutoCAD discussion groups, in addition to the broken search facility, you will have other issues to deal with. There’s a new editor with lots of features and lots of problems. Quoting formatted messages results in a mess. Switching from one tab to another messes up your text. Submitting your message results in an error page like this:

Autodesk
Discussion Groups
Discussion Groups
Oops! Server Error 500. The resource you’ve requested is not available.
   
 

© Copyright 2007 Autodesk, Inc. All rights reserved. Legal Notices & Trademarks — Privacy Policy

Despite this, the message does actually get submitted. People are unaware of this (possibly because the list of topics, and the popular discussions pane’s “last post” displays are not being updated as new posts are made) and re-posting their messages, resulting in duplicates.

There is some confusion about what constitutes a category in the discussion group structure. If you go from the top level to the AutoCAD level and then into AutoCAD 2009, picking the “Up one category” link takes you right to the top.

The speed of the web interface varies from quite acceptable to something rather less than that.

People are reporting problems with losing their old watched threads, and not being allowed to watch new threads without email notifications.

There’s nowhere obvious for people to report problems, so people are just starting complaint threads in random locations. What if you report problems directly to Autodesk? According to a poster in one thread, this is what he got in reply to his report that search is broken (which it still is):

Thank you for contacting Autodesk Support. Here is the recommended resolution to your Support Request:

Discussion Group is just a BBS for all Autodesk Customer. This BBS is not product support duty. So We could not give you any more resolutions. But I think you could use different key works or other mothord to search in Discussion group.

Good grief.

So, Autodesk, was user feedback sought prior to making these changes? Did the pre-release testing phase allow plenty of time for the design to be user tested, modified based on user feedback and re-tested before release?

Didn’t think so. Ah well, it’s a good thing that this valuable lesson was learned with something relatively trivial like your discussion groups and not something important, isn’t it? Like AutoCAD, for example?

3 comments to More Autodesk discussion group angst

  • This reminds me of when Six Apart abruptly changed their blogging interface for TypePad customers. The new system was a disaster, adding featuers I certainly didn’t want.

    After much complaining from customers but no resolution, the CEO finally sent emails of apology. I replied with a specific list of problems, and suddenly fixes began appearing.

    A case of redesign-itis: the itch to change something for the sake of change.

  • (I left out this:) This is one of the flaws of cloud-based computing: changes being imposed without customer permission. With desktop software, you can freeze the software to the one you prefer.

  • Still using Thunderbird to read/write to the Autodesk NG’s. I see no changes.

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