What's up with the Apple Support Communities?

Discussion in 'Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, Apple Services' started by VUDX GLXD, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. VUDX GLXD macrumors newbie

    VUDX GLXD

    Joined:
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    #1
    This might be a silly question, but obviously you can't ask something like this on the actual Support Communities. But what's up with it? I feel like some of the users are too busy looking down on anyone who isn't "at their level" to actually help, or they rely too much on canned responses that miss the point of the OP's question or issue. Not to mention a ton of baiting in longer threads, with some users just going in there to argue with others.

    Have you had good experiences there? Do you even use that site for support?
     
  2. flyinmac macrumors 68040

    flyinmac

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
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    #2
    I used to be one of the higher level support people on that site. I spent most of my free time helping people on there.

    But I eventually left due to frustration.

    The biggest irritation for me was the heavy hand of Apple.

    While Apple doesn't actively provide support on that site (or didn't at the time), they did actively censor the site to create the illusion that certain manufacturing defects didn't exist.

    So, when users came in with problems, myself and numerous other unpaid volunteer support people would spend considerable time helping Apple customers resolve their problems.

    But, if the problem was something Apple was trying to hide, they'd delete the question and any responses.

    Likewise, if the only way to resolve the problem required a software tweak that Apple didn't want public, then they'd delete the helpful answers.

    At the time, anything that involved 3rd party products, or admissions of design defects, or anything that might possibly make Apple look unfavorable was prohibited and deleted.

    So, we saw numerous requests for the same kind of help, because Apple would delete prior discussions involving that problem. And we became frustrated having to answer the same questions over and over again, only to have our efforts to help be deleted by Apple.

    For example, the original iMac G5 had numerous manufacturing defects that Apple refused to acknowledge for a long time.

    Cooling Fans were having problems, power supplies were having problems, and the main board (mid plane) was very problematic.

    We had isolated the problem to be a bad batch of capacitors. But Apple wasn't replacing the capacitors when midplanes were being exchanged.

    What we observed was that all of us (involved in the discussion) were seeing that we were essentially just swapping midplanes between each other.

    User 1 would request repair. Apple would switch out their midplanes. User 2 would do the same. User 3, likewise the same. And it continued on down the line. So user 3 gets user ones midplane. User 2 gets user 3's midplane. And user 1 gets user 2's midplane. And all the way down the line (obviously extending beyond 3 users, but I'm simplifying for illustration).

    We were able to establish that the midplanes in question were not being repaired as they were being exchanged. They were just being passed around by Apple in an attempt to pacify those who had problems.

    We eventually established who was getting who's midplane. And established that the capacitors were not being replaced on said midplanes prior to being sent back out to the next user.

    The bad batch of capacitors was visually identifiable by markings.

    None of this was looked upon favorably by Apple. They weren't ready to admit that their capacitors were defective.

    So every day saw new questions about the problem. And the only true answer was that their midplane had faulty capacitors, and they needed to exchange the midplane.

    But such an answer would be immediately censored by Apple and deleted (along with the original question).

    Eventually, after enough other sites generated significant publicity, and other events forced Apple to officially admit the defect, Apple began a recall to replace affected midplanes with new capacitors. And the problem was finally resolved.

    And only then, did Apple stop censoring discussions that admitted that there were midplanes affected by a bad batch of capacitors.

    This is only one example. There are numerous that I could cite.

    There was a "lounge" area reserved for us higher level support providers to discuss issues among ourselves. And for example, if a user asked a question that was out of my expertise, I would go in and contact someone I knew and request them to address that question to help the user.

    But we also discussed among ourselves the problems we were seeing in the public forums. And the majority felt that Apple's censorship of the support forums was a huge disservice to their customers.

    We realized that we could only provide "canned" responses that were limited to Apple's approved list of responses.

    And eventually it became so mundane, that I just kept a notepad with saved answers from prior questions to copy and paste the same answer over again as needed.

    We became very frustrated with this limitation on our ability to help. We realized we could never honestly answer a question.

    If the answer involved more than how to clean a mouse wheel, or how to install a program, or reinstall OS X, then we were wasting our time to answer the question (because Apple would just delete the whole discussion before anyone could read it).

    I understand that Apple wants everything to look favorable. But sometimes things go wrong. And helping the customer resolve the problem goes further towards maintaining loyal customers, as opposed to deleting the help to hide that problems exist.

    So in the end, the support site became a rating competition to get to the highest level possible, with minimal wasted efforts. And us original support people discussed our frustration and as a group we left.

    So eventually I adjusted to life here at Macrumors (after trying numerous other support sites).

    While the discussions do often have people who refuse to accept that certain problems exist for certain people, I do appreciate the freedom of discussion.

    I come here for random banter on various topics. I also help when I see a question that falls into an area where I have an idea.

    And I also appreciate when someone has a different idea than my own. Through the exchange of ideas, we learn.

    Under the old rules of the Apple Support site, even cross talk among us trying to help was forbidden. So we couldn't even discuss various points of view on a potential way to resolve a problem.

    Here at Macrumors, someone is free to disagree with my proposed resolution. They can say they've tried it and it doesn't work. They can say I'm partially correct, but a particular part of my suggestion needs changed. Etc.

    Not being able to do so at Apple (at the time) created a lot of frustration.

    So, as I said, as a collective group, we all left and let Apple do their thing their way. It wasn't worth our time anymore.

    So if you need genuine help, public sites are often a better resource for you. You might have to sort out the bias of the responses. But you'll also have access to resolutions that are honest.

    Just understand that there is bias on both sides. Some against Apple, some think Apple is the God of the computer world. The truth is usually somewhere in the middle.

    Personally, while I disagree with many responses on macrumors, I appreciate that we are free to disagree. And that disagreement brings out perspective, which reveals the truth.

    And welcome to Macrumors. Stick around. Enjoy yourself. Learn. Help. Express yourself. And try to maintain a respectful attitude.

    Here at macrumors I find comfort in the idea that everything is open for discussion, as long as you are respectful of your peers.
     
  3. VUDX GLXD thread starter macrumors newbie

    VUDX GLXD

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    #3
    To your first example, that sounds... incorrect isn't the right word. Skewed is maybe better? Now I don't know what your timeframe is for your time posting there, but as of right now I can point to many multi-page threads that ended up being some sort of "defect," perceived or otherwise. I don't know why those other threads were removed or deleted, but it seems like if they were trying to cover up something, they could do a lot better than they are. (Ex. iPhone 7 Plus Camera at 31 pages, iOS 10 no sound from speaker or EarPods at 26 pages, Thread making multiple mentions of "Touch Disease", and so on) On top of that, the whole midplane chain sounds like a ton of Apple policy speculation on how they do repairs, which would quickly get removed. It's the same reason I can't post this on their forums. Their forum, their rules, and policy speculations and rumors are clearly against the rules.

    Don't even get me started on the users in the lounge. I follow a few of them because I thought, hey, why not see how these productive users post and act on the forums! I'd like to help, it seems fun, why not? That was a mistake. So many of them talk down to OPs with questions or actively antagonize new users who are trying to help. Not to mention active antagonization of some of the Apple employees who post. It just seems like those higher leveled people don't want any more people getting points or helping others, they'd rather have the bulk of the recognition.
     
  4. flyinmac macrumors 68040

    flyinmac

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    United States
    #4
    Yes, as I mentioned, the forums have evolved.

    And perhaps they aren't deleting as many posts as they used to.

    At the time I left, Apple was redoing the "scoring" system to increase competitiveness. It became more about getting stars.

    It used to be that after a given amount of time with a significant number of posts.

    There wasn't even a scoring system then.

    We watched the beginning of the competition to be recognized. Published credentials, stars, marking best answers, etc.

    As for talking down to others, that sounds like a further decline.

    Under the original rules, no opinion could be stated in the forums. Only technical information. You couldn't express an opinion of a person or product. You could however say: when this happens, the resolution is to....

    But then again, only within the confines of what Apple would consent to being public information at the time.

    You couldn't criticize, show personality, etc. strictly technical information was permitted.

    As for the lounge, it used to be a friendly discussion area. We'd talk amongst ourselves, discuss life, discuss interests, learn about each other, and if we saw a forum question that none of us knew the answer to, we'd discuss it, each of us try to replicate it, research solutions, collaboratively work on an answer, and then nominate one of us to post our agreed upon resolution (if we were able to find a resolution). Sometimes our answer would end up being that we haven't seen that problem, but we're trying to find a solution and will post back soon.

    I can't comment on the site much as it is. I stopped spending any time there many many years ago. Occasionally I do a search for something that leads there, but I haven't seen that result in a useful solution in recent years.

    My prior comments were more towards how it got to be what it is. The beginning of the decline, and our recognition that it was heading that way.

    It is important to note that the discussion site has been relaunched completely (as an entirely new site) so much has changed since the original site (including content and available / active volunteers).

    As with all changeovers, there are positives and negatives.

    While macrumors does have a status associated with post count, there is very little incentive to reach a certain status. It doesn't contribute to your perceived value.

    The Apple discussions do encourage status achievement. And it's understandable why. It's Apple's cheapest method of tech support. Unpaid support staff. And providing incentives creates competition to encourage more active participation. But as with most competitions, there is the potential downfall of unsportsmanlike behavior.

    I don't know what incentives are currently offered. There used to be various levels to the lounge. And other fringe benefits (products / gifts, invitations to events, access to beta's, etc.).

    I still get invitations to events, and requests to participate in various developer betas. So I'm guessing they must still offer that much. What other incentives they might offer, I don't know. I haven't logged in since the relaunch of the discussion site several years ago.
     
  5. M. Gustave macrumors 68000

    M. Gustave

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    #5
    Ok, but you're talking about events from 12 years ago. It's really not even the same company.
     
  6. flyinmac macrumors 68040

    flyinmac

    Joined:
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    #6
    No, it's not the same as it was 12 years ago. But, if the complaint is how it's a competition to answer questions with canned responses that are ineffective, then a bit of history that explains how it became what it is today becomes relevant.

    And there is where the benefit of alternative support forums begin to shine. 3rd parties have less motivation to censor answers based on public image.

    Of course, as stated, that also leads to the potential for arguments that sometimes amount to "my God is better than your God". Which can be annoying. But that same freedom also allows for more honest and open answers.

    And since we're not motivated by anything other than our interest to discuss the topic, we have less incentive to limit our proposed solutions to a predefined list.
     
  7. tonyr6 macrumors 65816

    tonyr6

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2011
    Location:
    Brooklyn NY
    #7
    I hate sites when mods just post canned responses. I leave all of them eventually because all they are scripted useless junk like unplug your device for 30 seconds garbage.
     
  8. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    California
    #8
    I've never really posted there, but I occasionally search there for info to help answer posts here. But the little I have read the Apple Support Forums, I think the downturn in let's say tone there roughly coincided with their implementation of the whole gamification points thing around four or five years ago. Now I keep seeing some of the same people just copy and pasting the same thing over and over again, often without even answering the question asked. It seems like an effort to just score points.
     
  9. VUDX GLXD thread starter macrumors newbie

    VUDX GLXD

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    #9
    I try and post there and I will admit there's some enjoyment of knowing I helped someone, that there's a number I can point to and say "here's a thing that shows people I'm helpful," but I think a lot the high level users there obsess too much over points. I've seen, on more than one occasion, the high level users run out helpful level 1 or 2 users because they weren't answering the exact same way as them, only to then incorporate those posts or tips in their next canned response.

    I won't name names, but the worst I've seen is a couple people who only has two types of posts: 1) Condescending/snarky/argumenttive posts, 2) Canned posts that have formatting errors and typos that have not been fixed in the months and months I've seen them. That only encourages people to do more of the same since they're higher leveled, so much so that I've seen people even copy and paste long canned responses, typos and all, and post them as their own. It's ridiculous.
     
  10. iRunSlow macrumors newbie

    iRunSlow

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2016
    Location:
    Toronto
    #10
    In my experience (having signed up for Apple community forums in October 2007) some folks over there with high ratings/seniority or whatever you wanna call it have a very poor and almost dismissive attitude towards people looking for solutions.

    My trackpad on late-2013 rMBP stopped 'clicking' when I pressed down on it. I was somewhat worried about the swelling battery issue so I started a new thread. Comes in some 10, 000+ rating guy who basically avoided every single query I had in the thread and simply stated I should have bought AppleCare. Lol.

    Never went back to the forums, although I must say browsing Staingate on Apple's forum was a treat because it was a problem they no longer could avoid. The fanboys were accussing the thread starter of having greasy/oily fingers which when the lid was closed were being transferred to the screen. Lol.

    Without transparency there is no point for any support community. Denying problem doesn't solve any issue on the user's end and only results in frustration. Like when I took my laptop to Apple Store with the anti-reflection coat coming off and was told it is not a problem they are aware of. Only after some law firm started to collect user's emails and serial numbers did Apple step in to offer free replacement.

    The illusion of extra user-friendly is why Apple can get away with so much extra money for mediocre spec'd hardware.
     
  11. VUDX GLXD thread starter macrumors newbie

    VUDX GLXD

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    #11
    Ugh, that's the worst. There are so many there that like to throw their "weight" around, as if they have any. Honestly, the only thing they have that a level 1 doesn't have is reporting powers and access to "The Lounge," and considering how they act in that "public" space I can't imagine how they act in there.

    Eh, I'd say in those situations it really depends. I wasn't around there for "Stagnate," but I was for "touch disease." Ugh, that was the worst. There's some user there who's some no-name, third-party iPhone repair person and they kept going on and on and on about "touch disease." Every thread that might have been even a little related to that issue, she was in there. Which, whatever, spread the knowledge you can, but she was only there to advertise her services. Once it blew up with that awful iFixit video, she was in every comments section going "Hey, go pay a third party to fix this issue!" It was blatant. Then, once the extended warranty program for that issue came out, she changed her website to effectively say "Why pay Apple when you can pay me?" And now she's effectively disappeared from those forums even though she was only there to help, and not advertise, according to her.

    So, yeah. I try not to take any of that stuff at face value, especially when those big threads come around. Otherwise, I'd never update my phone because apparently every update will kill your battery, upset your dog, make your stomach hurt, and insult your grandmother, and I just don't need that stress in my life.
     
  12. VUDX GLXD thread starter macrumors newbie

    VUDX GLXD

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    #12
    More high level users being awful: How to Report Apple Discussion Accounts.

    It bothers me so much how these high level users will treat low level users. They're just ganging up on this person, when one answer would have been fine. One high leveled user gets so upset and invested they reply 3 times in a row.

    I have a friend who is in "The Lounge," the high leveled user's area. Apparently they called out that user and their thread in particular, and are making fun of them and egging each other on to go post in there. It's a wonder they get any new users who stick with it enough to be helpful.
     
  13. M. Gustave macrumors 68000

    M. Gustave

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    #13
    Uh, did you even read the thread in question? The guy is a loon. I think the people responding were being way more patient than he deserved.
     
  14. VUDX GLXD thread starter macrumors newbie

    VUDX GLXD

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    #14
    Yup, I read both threads in fact! In the thread linked, the OP is incredibly patient. In the other thread referenced in the linked thread the OP started out annoyed and continued to be annoyed because literally the first response was someone displaying they didn't even read the OP. I try not to post like that (Caps and bold and all) but I would have been pretty upset if that happened to me, and don't blame them for being upset.
     

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