Reasons I don’t like UserVoice.com

From the perspective of usability, I don’t like uservoice.com and have contempt for any site which forces me to use uservoice.com as the only means of communication with them. I like to use an email address or a contact form whenever. If I have to use a forum I will, even though it means I have to go through the registration process. One of the sites I frequent used to use UserVoice.com for support and feedback. Within a month I ran out of the 10 votes which every new user receives upon registration. For any kind of post, a question, feedback, opinion, idea, suggestion,.. etc it costs you at least one vote. My first irritation with the site is why do I have to go through a voting system, subtracting a vote if all I want is an answer to a quick question. I knew right then that was an awkward system for providing support.

Back then uservoice.com was new and it seemed it had some kind of ‘cool’ factor because I felt every site was using it, along with getsatisfaction.com. Uservoice is good for voting a suggestion or idea up or down. It’s not for providing support.

So what happens when you run out of 10 votes? This is what their site tells us (the text in italic is theirs):

  • Your votes will be returned when your ideas are completed or deleted. (So what happens if my ideas, let’s say I posted 10 ideas, take months to complete? Am I stuck till one of them gets completed? Deleting my idea, question or suggestion seems rude. Just say it won’t be implemented and move on)
  • You can change your votes by clicking on them. (It’s not clear what this means. Can I downgrade a 1 vote to 0 vote. Why didn’t I get ability not to vote or use 0 votes?)
  • You'll get a (digested) email of any activity. (I get an email and then what? What happens for the number 10 to change?)

When I ran out of 10 votes I did some research on their site with no results. I don’t like sites which limit my movement. Imagine if you go to a forum and you're allowed 10 posts only unless someone deletes one of your posts.

Anyways, my past frustrating experience with them made me wish that I won’t come across their site again. Recently a site ‘forced’ me to go there but I swore I wouldn’t use them again. It’s one of those sites I avoid with a big effort. If you have a site and want to support your customers, do it through a ticket system, forum, contact form or direct email. Don’t use uservoice.com. My opinion they are only good for soliciting  customer feedback for new ideas or enhancements and where people can vote for these ideas.

I am glad the past overuse of uservoice has waned. I am guessing more and more people are realizing it’s not a good communication venue for everything.

I am not saying UserVoice is bad or useless. It’s how some site owners use it for.

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My thoughts about Facebook

I watched the movie "The Social Network" the other day and it was interesting to learn how Facebook got started. While I knew about Facebook since its early days when it was exclusive to university students, watching the facts in a movie is a different experience. It gives you a closer look and a human face. The movie resonates with me because launching successful websites and web applications is what I do for a living. I am a late comer to Facebook because I am not really into social networks. Never bothered to join any of these sites until I started getting a few friend requests for Facebook from my some of my old friend and so I decided to check it out. Also because of constant barrage of news coming towards me about it and i wanted what's all hype about.

The movie is about 2 hours long but I felt the movie went by pretty quick. I heard it uses a technique where the frames play at a faster speed but the viewer's watching it as a normal movie. This way they can cram more movie material.
I am not sure how this is done but I am guessing this method will be used in more movies. It must be flattering for Mark zukerberg to have a movie about him. They used real names for the people involved with Facebook. If you knew about Facebook and its history in advance, the movies might feel like a bio or documentary. The movie provided me with more detail starting from the Harvard days. The actor who played Mark, Jesse Eisenberg, was pretty good. Coincidently, the next day I was listening to a podcast with the real Mark,  where he discusses Facebook's current and future plans. The two voices & characters are pretty different.

I joined Facebook with a main expectation of getting connected again with some old friends & acquaintances from school and college days and relatives.  As of now, almost all of my FB friends I have are people I personally know. part of my effort of limiting my online noise, is not accepting invites from people I don't know.

Different people have different experiences with Facebook. Some love it and spend hours every day playing online games, chatting and posting messages. (advertisers target these types). On the other side of the spectrum, there are ones who checked in once and never bothered to come back. In between, you get the pretty active users and the 'lurkers'.

Personally, FB with 500 million users, I had higher expectations of finding old acquaintances. There are of people I know who are not on it. A few more billions to go and it should get easier! While I see the 80/20 rule being popular, on my Facebook I would say 90% of the activity comes from 10% of the friends. The remaining "friends" and pretty inactive. Too busy, too lazy or simple don't care?

Facebook is about connecting with people. By communicating with people. You can communicate with others by talking about yourself, your day, your thoughts, your hopes, your feelings, your kids (be proud of your kids).. etc. Post photos of your happy moments, your past and present.. and your kids. (Did I mention kids twice already?) It's not just about posting links or quotes or news. It should be also about yourself. I believe if you're being too private or too silent, you don't exist. Out of sight, out of mind.

Today I read that Facebook's pre IPO valuation is $41 billion! In the movie credits it mentioned it was $25B. The real value will be known hen Facebook goes public. Facebook is a trend setter. It's enabling sites like cnn.com and nytimes.com to be more social. You can see Facebook widgets and connect on millions of sites. Google sleeps with an eye open on Facebook. Rumors have it that MySpace is closing down. Well this rumor has been going on for a long time but I won't be surprised if MySpace and other social network sites disappear. Facebook is just crushing it. It's an amazing success story where a 20 year old creates a multibillion company in a few years and is still growing at a neck breaking speed.

There are many privacy concerns with Facebook. As a rule of thumb, consider anything you post as being public. Privacy rules change all the time. Read the fine print. One of the reasons I don't use any FB apps is because I get the prompt where I give the vendor access to my information. I don't know what kind of information they will get and FB doesn't make that clear. I play it safe. There's no app or game I need to be using on Facebook. And My profile is empty.

Be smart. Don't post something if you think it would offend someone or can be used against you in any way. By your current employer, by a future employer, by a competitor or even your spouse. You can delete a post of yours if you think it was inappropriate.

Have fun.

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