On the Usenet: Supporting a Company in an Online Public Forum

My presence in online public discussion groups dates back to the CompuServe forums I frequented starting around 1993, where I helped customers with Incat’s CD-R software, and CD-R technology in general. I was eventually invited to start a section specifically for Incat software. Then a friendly user wrote me: “Hey, you should be out on the Usenet – they’re saying nasty things about your products.” (“What’s the Usenet?” said I…)

I was very visible on the Usenet until February of 2000, when I hired Adrian Miller to provide more technical know-how and detail than I had time to. Selected (nice) comments about both of us are given below; not all the comments were nice, but the nasty ones tend to be unrepeatable!

Even as early as 1995, the Usenet was plagued with trolls, flamers, and spam-mongers. So someone suggested a private mailing list, where folks interested in serious discussion about CD-R could get together in a more civil atmosphere; the CompuServe forums were fine for this, but were not open to non-members of CompuServe. So the Adaptec CD-R list was born

Customer Comments on Usenet Presence

> on Mon, 23 Jul 2001, Deirdre’ Straughan wrote

> FYI, as of July 13 I no longer represent Roxio in these newsgroups or anywhere else.

From: mikah <mikah@nospam4me.com> Yeah, I know… and I’m still trying to figure out who I’m never going to forgive — you or Roxio.

10/15/95 – Your presence on the internet was a major part of my decision to purchase the HP system. Also, the Easy-CD Audio is a very nice utility. I hope that your merge with Adaptec will not decrease Incat’s innovation or responsiveness!

11/17/95 – Re: 2 second delay recording CD-DA: If only more people would post stuff that is that informative and enlightening

Subj: Write at once Section: incatsystems – January 25, 1996: I believe this is one of the best support forums and this is one more reason to buy Easy CD writer software.

12/8/95 – I really appreciate your activity on comp.publish.cdrom.hardware – many other discussion groups lack people who know and are willing to share their information. Makes a good impression of Incat systems, too.

12/19/95 – Incat probably has the best support of all the major companies. I have constantly seen you posting at various groups and your articles at some web sites. Your articles and posts have been extremely helpful in understanding the complicated nature of CD recording.

1/24/96 – I’m with Hewlett Packard support. I’m sending you this mail to say you’re doing a great job on the newsgoups

3/7/96 – …myself, my acquaintances and I’m sure others are always inclined to purchase from companies that make a presence on the net.

3/23/96 – I think it’s great that you guys consistently monitor the news groups and answer questions. Not many companies out there do that.

March 27, 1996 – …with Deirdre on line here, I felt sure that first-rate assistance was available; it was only a question of when, not whether, I could get help.

5/3/96 – Thank you for your participation in the newsgroups for CD-R. I purchased EasyCD Pro 95 (version 1.1.410) just because of your active participation.

I appreciate all the work you do here online. One of the reasons I bought the Smart & Friendly with Incat software was so that I could ask Deirdré tech support questions!

5/30/96 – …thanks for publicly supporting your product. I don’t see any names from HP tech support or Corel tech support on the cdrom.hardware newsgroup. It has made an impact on my decision about which software to buy.

5/27/96 – I would like to commend you and your company for having a presence on the internet that can actually be felt. A lot of companies out there say they have email and internet support and it is little more than what seems to be one person sending out one sentence answers that are not very helpfull.

6/28/96 – …I doubt if the 90 days trial will be necessary – I’ve been impressed by users comments in the comp.publish.cdrom.* newgroups and by the technical support given in your postings in the same forums.

August 13, 1996 – Your comments to everything posted here are always helpful and enlightening and this is one of the finest support forums I’ve seen.

9/19/96 – But did want to say thanks for your response. Your presence in these newsgroups (and the newsletter!) is much appreciated. I hope your boss realizes how useful all of this stuff is to us users out here!

17-Oct-96 – Thanks. You are doing a great job of keeping in touch with your users via the newsgroup(s). I wish all vendors had similar policies (and people to act on them so efficiently).

23-Nov-96 – Welcome Back.These newsgroups have not been the same without you 😉

Subject: CDR Advice! – 28 Nov 1996 – Newsgroups: comp.publish.cdrom.hardware – Deirdré — You’re doing a great job here, thanks for all the helpful posts.

04-Dec-96 – Deirdre’, I would like to thank you for your informative posts to comp.publish.cdrom.hardware. The support you provide there influenced my decision to go with Adaptec’s mastering software.

18-Dec-96 – I don’t know what your employer’s attitude is towards your interaction with the usenet groups, but I for one think it is an excellent thing…

…Though you are in a difficult position, as witnessed by the needless comments you received (wasn’t from me, hope you didn’t take them personally, but it is only human for them to hurt a little) and it would be impossible to conduct an online support group in this way from a corporate point of view, I hope you will continue to try to reach a happy medium. Your postings are always the first I read.

18-Dec-96 – nice to see you commenting in alt.cdrom-groups. that is what exellent customer-support is all about!

12/19/95 – I picked up your email address from a posting in the comp.publish.cdrom.hardware newsgroup. I will probably buy a HP 4020 soon and will need some software for it. Incat seem to be the best supported product through your own efforts.

1/11/96 – I am going to buy an HP CD Recorder, solely because of your presence and support on usenet. You take time to explain and help, and you know customer bitching is constructive feedback.

8/3/96 – the work that you do as a representative of Adaptec and your postings to the news groups are invaluable and more companies would be wise offer the quality support and time that you do.

5/14/96 – .Every once in a while, I log on to Compuserve and pore over the CDROM and CDVENB forums. I continue to be amazed at the thoughtful responses you give to the hundreds of messages that go by. You are doing a great job.

06-Nov-96 – I’d just like to congratulate you and your company on providing such detailed and helpful support online. Although I haven’t yet got a CD-R , I read these groups in preparation, and I’m always impressed at your helpful replies. This is the sort of service that other hardware/software suppliers would do well to emulate.

2/18/96 – I respect the effort you’re putting in to supporting Incat and Easy CD software. I see you all over CIS and the Internet and you’re always giving tips and help. I hope Incat knows all of this!!!

3/1/96 – …Its support like this that makes people choose your product over a competitor’s who dont use the net.

2/1/96 – BTW, I have been following this newsgroup for a few months now, and it’s nice to see a company rep getting involved on-line. Keep up the good work.

2/3/96 – I work in Pinnacle Micro Tech Support. I am glad you are up here fielding the flames tossed out.

1/24/96 – Thanks for the helpful response. I just started to monitor the comp.publish.cdrom.hardware and software news groups. I have seen several of your messages and look forward to seeing more as they seem to contain very useful information

Jul 25, 1997 – Newsgroups: comp.publish.cdrom.hardware

>That’s a good thing? A marketing person to advertise products instead

>of a technical person to help user. Hm.., which one do I like more?

Be fair. Deidre does help people here and at adptec mailing list I don’t know his technical background but he surely isn’t a marketing guy. Adaptec having a person looking at newsgroups and helping people using adaptec’s products is a good(and smart) movement. I wish other companies did the same (for ours and their own good).

15 Aug 1998 – Thank you for being on this USENET group… I appreciate the fact that Adaptec is a company that cares enough about its products and customer service to have a representative here. You have shown great patience and great restraint – there are several people on this NG whom I would have throttled by now if they were giving me the flak they are giving you.

You should be commended. It’s a thankless job, but I want to thank you. As a result of this, I will put Adaptec products at the top of my shopping list from now on.

6 May 1998

Dave Ulmer wrote: I realize that I’ll probably attract a lot of flamers with such statements and candor, but so be it. For those of you out there who know Deirdre, myself, and the ever-lurking development crew, I think you understand the efforts we undertake to be responsive and proactive, and that we’re not big, bad, bureaucrats, but a collection of individuals who stand by our customers and really do strive to make CD-Recording easier, more reliable, and what YOU want.

Yes, Deirdre is really a masthead for you company! I had serious trouble trying to upgrade my by HP request crippled Easy CD Pro to the NT4 friendly version during the special rebate offer. I sent repeated emails to your sales dept that went unanswered (due to understaffing at the time…), but my plea to her magically produced the chance to get the upgrade before the curtain was lowered. As a subscriber to the “A_CDR” mailing list, I am even more impressed by her efforts (have you reappraised her salary recently? There exist other companies that would need such a resource…)

24 Nov 1999 – How many other newsgroups have representatives from companies tapping in and helping / defending products? Adrian’s coming in here amongst a crowd of folks demanding answers and he’s handling it all quite well.

Subject: Re: De-Commercialization of News Groups

30 Nov 1999 – Newsgroups: comp.publish.cdrom.software, comp.publish.cdrom.hardware, alt.comp.periphs.cdr, alt.cd-rom

I welcome the presence of Adrian, for the most part. D’ is okay too, but she really never posts anything of End User Value. It is more of a facade or show than anything helpful. She does keep us up to date via e-mail, but that signature tag is almost as big as her e-mail. =)

If Adaptec wants to help out people in this news group, then I say they are warmly welcomed, if they do not attempt to mislead. Give support where needed, like Adrian has done.

I would ask that Adaptec’s Representative, Adrian, to stay in the news group. There are no other company’s reps out here trying to help end users. I think highly of Adaptec attempting to do the same.

So. If Adaptec is straight with the posters from the get-go, and keeps their positive role about them, I see no commercialization.

Subject: Thank you. – Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001

I just wanted to express my thanks to both you and Adrian Miller. Adrian had helped me quite some time ago with a problem I was having, by responding to the article I posted in the alt.comp.periphs.cdr newsgroup.

I’m just felt like writing this now, as I have become appalled by the large onslaught of personal attacks the two of you have had to graciously endure in the said group. Why these people have nothing better to do than constantly berate you, and Roxio for no substantial reason is far beyond me. I just wanted to say there are in fact many of us who appreciate the work you do. Thank you.

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