Topics

How best to provide support for BB4W


Richard Russell
 

This Yahoo! group used to be the 'official' support forum for 'BBC BASIC for Windows' until the Neo debacle made it effectively impossible for me to use (the bugs meant I couldn't compose replies in a sensible fashion). Even now, although things have improved a little, I can only access it satisfactorily from my laptop and message formatting is often messed up.


So I moved 'official' BB4W support to the Conforums board, which has other advantages such as being able to list formatted code snippets without fear of line wraps or leading spaces being deleted. However that forum has now been infiltrated by two or three people who are, to put it politely, not BBC BASIC supporters. Posts from me are not welcome there, and I have resigned.


That leaves me with no way to provide support other than by personal email. Whilst I am happy to do that, and am doing so, it is not an entirely satisfactory situation. So I am asking for people's views on how things might be arranged differently, or indeed if there is any need for change. Some other languages seem to manage perfectly well with no contributions to their forums (fora?) from the author.


Feel free to contact me privately with your opinions, or post them here whichever you prefer. The 'usual suspects' can spare me their normal unhelpful responses (e.g. to suggest that I might like to kill myself), I will take those as read.


Richard.


Rob O'Donnell
 

Are you not the "owner" of the Conforums board?

I'm not familiar with their system from an admin side, but their terms of
service state "Forum owners reserve the right to delete and modify content
on his/her message board, and control access and membership of his/her
message board." so I would have thought that you should be able to simply
bar any obvious trolls and troublemakers?



On 12 September 2015 at 20:44, yahoo@rtrussell.co.uk [bb4w] <
bb4w@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

This Yahoo! group used to be the 'official' support forum for 'BBC BASIC
for Windows' until the Neo debacle made it effectively impossible for me to
use (the bugs meant I couldn't compose replies in a sensible fashion).
Even now, although things have improved a little, I can only access it
satisfactorily from my laptop and message formatting is often messed up.


So I moved 'official' BB4W support to the Conforums board, which has
other advantages such as being able to list formatted code snippets without
fear of line wraps or leading spaces being deleted. However that forum has
now been infiltrated by two or three people who are, to put it politely,
not BBC BASIC supporters. Posts from me are not welcome there, and I have
resigned.


That leaves me with no way to provide support other than by personal
email. Whilst I am happy to do that, and am doing so, it is not an
entirely satisfactory situation. So I am asking for people's views on how
things might be arranged differently, or indeed if there is any need for
change. Some other languages seem to manage perfectly well with no
contributions to their forums (fora?) from the author.


Feel free to contact me privately with your opinions, or post them here
whichever you prefer. The 'usual suspects' can spare me their normal
unhelpful responses (e.g. to suggest that I might like to kill myself), I
will take those as read.


Richard.







------------------------------------
Posted by: yahoo@rtrussell.co.uk
------------------------------------


------------------------------------

Yahoo Groups Links




Richard Russell
 

Indicative of the problems with Neo, I tried to reply to Rob's message, clicked on the button to include quotes... and nothing! Yahoo seems to think that his message is empty as far as quoting is concerned. So I will have to resort to manually copying and pasting....

Are you not the "owner" of the Conforums board?
I'm not sure about that. I originally created the board, a long time ago, but my most recent 'identity' on the forum (user 'rtr2') and my previous identity (user 'rtr' - this is at least the second time I have resigned!) were as normal members with no admin privileges.

I would have thought that you should be able to simply
bar any obvious trolls and troublemakers?
Even if I could regain admin control, past experience suggests that if I took such a drastic step as to ban somebody they would immediately create another account, under an alias, and more than likely post an extremely critical message accusing me of censorship.

Richard.


 

I am unable to offer a solution to the problem.


I can only say how sorry I am you have encountered this problem and hope you will find a viable alternative.


Only comment is that there will always be mentally unwell people who enjoy causing disruption and unpleasantness in any available manner.


Bob.


 

I appreciate both your efforts and the problems. For some years I was a major contributor to a forum on video and production but eventually simply had to abandon it because of an influx of bigots and know-alls who'd never let a sensible conversation be unchallenged.

I'm now present only on private but unmoderated forums of professional bodies, where we know who all the members are (because they're paid up members).

I really don't know how to continue this, but I hope there is a way.

Alan Roberts

--
Alan Roberts - Mugswell, Surrey
+44 (0)1737832586
+44 (0)7749387934
Skype: alanxbbc


 

I think the best solution would be to just ignore these people. The other people on the conforums board are surely mature enough to recognize an unproductive troublemaker.After a while these will get demotivated by lack of reaction and disappear. They may, occasionally, feel inclined to start over again.  Even if they use an alias, you'll recognize a "disruptive" contribution within seconds. Just ignore them systematically. Don' t be tempted to react.
The only effect they have on me is me raising an eyebrow.
 Even if I'm not a very active contributor to the conforums board, I check in every day to see what kind of problems others are struggling with and how to solve them. This a rich source of information and I would really be disappointed to see it abandoned by the person who makes it a point to give clear, precise and well documented replies.

 Eddy

From: "yahoo@rtrussell.co.uk [bb4w]" <bb4w@yahoogroups.com>
To: bb4w@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2015 11:26 PM
Subject: [bb4w] Re: How best to provide support for BB4W

  Indicative of the problems with Neo, I tried to reply to Rob's message, clicked on the button to include quotes... and nothing! Yahoo seems to think that his message is empty as far as quoting is concerned. So I will have to resort to manually copying and pasting....

Are you not the "owner" of the Conforums board?
I'm not sure about that. I originally created the board, a long time ago, but my most recent 'identity' on the forum (user 'rtr2') and my previous identity (user 'rtr' - this is at least the second time I have resigned!) were as normal members with no admin privileges.

I would have thought that you should be able to simply
bar any obvious trolls and troublemakers?
Even if I could regain admin control, past experience suggests that if I took such a drastic step as to ban somebody they would immediately create another account, under an alias, and more than likely post an extremely critical message accusing me of censorship.

Richard.
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Richard Russell
 

To those who have suggested I use an email mailing list I'm afraid I am not interested in that option. I am aware that Yahoo! supports an optional email interface to this group (and the strangely-formatted messages I sometimes see presumably arrived via that route) but I have only ever used (and only wish to use) the web interface.


I want to be able to see what everybody else sees, so if I list a piece of code I want to know that somebody can copy-and-paste it into BB4W with confidence that it will work. I also want to be able to post links, pictures, videos etc. in such a way that everybody can view them; email clients are just too variable to be able to guarantee that. That's why the Conforums board is (or was) so much better suited to providing support.


As an additional, technical, complication if I were to configure Yahoo! to send me emails I couldn't straightforwardly reply to them because my 'from' address is not the email address with which I am registered with Yahoo. As I have my own domain (rtrussell.co.uk) I use a lot of different email addresses, which doesn't suit a mailing-list situation.


How many of you use Facebook, Twitter or another social media site (in general they work far better than Yahoo's Neo interface)? Those who do should be comfortable with web-based support. For the others, just because BBC BASIC is 30+ years old and largely obsolete it doesn't mean the support process needs to be as well. :-)


There is already a Facebook group for BBC BASIC so I might consider giving that a go as the primary support portal.


Richard.


 

"How many of you use Facebook, Twitter or another social media ? " Not using Facebook, Twitter, .... overhere. Sorry.


Eddy
From: "yahoo@rtrussell.co.uk [bb4w]" <bb4w@yahoogroups.com>
To: bb4w@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Sunday, September 13, 2015 7:36 PM
Subject: [bb4w] Re: How best to provide support for BB4W

  To those who have suggested I use an email mailing list I'm afraid I am not interested in that option. I am aware that Yahoo! supports an optional email interface to this group (and the strangely-formatted messages I sometimes see presumably arrived via that route) but I have only ever used (and only wish to use) the web interface.


I want to be able to see what everybody else sees, so if I list a piece of code I want to know that somebody can copy-and-paste it into BB4W with confidence that it will work. I also want to be able to post links, pictures, videos etc. in such a way that everybody can view them; email clients are just too variable to be able to guarantee that. That's why the Conforums board is (or was) so much better suited to providing support.


As an additional, technical, complication if I were to configure Yahoo! to send me emails I couldn't straightforwardly reply to them because my 'from' address is not the email address with which I am registered with Yahoo. As I have my own domain (rtrussell.co.uk) I use a lot of different email addresses, which doesn't suit a mailing-list situation.


How many of you use Facebook, Twitter or another social media site (in general they work far better than Yahoo's Neo interface)? Those who do should be comfortable with web-based support. For the others, just because BBC BASIC is 30+ years old and largely obsolete it doesn't mean the support process needs to be as well. :-)


There is already a Facebook group for BBC BASIC so I might consider giving that a go as the primary support portal.


Richard.


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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Abd Al-Latif
 

Hi Richard,



Like Eddie Jacobs, I may not contribute but also like reading about what
other people have achieved, and the answers to certain problems.



I am an avid Facebook user for keeping in touch with my old Army buddies, as
well as other technical sites. I think FB does give you quite an
administrative edge, as well as being able to have a closed user group.



I would definitely miss all the posts.



As far as the Language being 30+ years old, I can tell you that it is still
being taught in the High School where I am the Network Manager!



Regards,



Abd Al-Latif Whiting.



From: bb4w@yahoogroups.com [mailto:bb4w@yahoogroups.com]
Sent: 13 September 2015 18:36
To: bb4w@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [bb4w] Re: How best to provide support for BB4W





To those who have suggested I use an email mailing list I'm afraid I am not
interested in that option. I am aware that Yahoo! supports an optional email
interface to this group (and the strangely-formatted messages I sometimes
see presumably arrived via that route) but I have only ever used (and only
wish to use) the web interface.


I want to be able to see what everybody else sees, so if I list a piece of
code I want to know that somebody can copy-and-paste it into BB4W with
confidence that it will work. I also want to be able to post links,
pictures, videos etc. in such a way that everybody can view them; email
clients are just too variable to be able to guarantee that. That's why the
Conforums board is (or was) so much better suited to providing support.


As an additional, technical, complication if I were to configure Yahoo! to
send me emails I couldn't straightforwardly reply to them because my 'from'
address is not the email address with which I am registered with Yahoo. As I
have my own domain (rtrussell.co.uk) I use a lot of different email
addresses, which doesn't suit a mailing-list situation.


How many of you use Facebook, Twitter or another social media site (in
general they work far better than Yahoo's Neo interface)? Those who do
should be comfortable with web-based support. For the others, just because
BBC BASIC is 30+ years old and largely obsolete it doesn't mean the support
process needs to be as well. :-)


There is already a Facebook group for BBC BASIC so I might consider giving
that a go as the primary support portal.


Richard.


Brian Jordan
 

As a dedicated lurker I would be happy to use Facebook (where I am a member of several closed groups) to keep up to speed with BB4W matters.

On 13/09/2015 6:36 PM, yahoo@rtrussell.co.uk [bb4w] wrote:
To those who have suggested I use an email mailing list I'm afraid I am not interested in that option. I am aware that Yahoo! supports an optional email interface to this group (and the strangely-formatted messages I sometimes see presumably arrived via that route) but I have only ever used (and only wish to use) the web interface.


I want to be able to see what everybody else sees, so if I list a piece of code I want to know that somebody can copy-and-paste it into BB4W with confidence that it will work. I also want to be able to post links, pictures, videos etc. in such a way that everybody can view them; email clients are just too variable to be able to guarantee that. That's why the Conforums board is (or was) so much better suited to providing support.


As an additional, technical, complication if I were to configure Yahoo! to send me emails I couldn't straightforwardly reply to them because my 'from' address is not the email address with which I am registered with Yahoo. As I have my own domain (rtrussell.co.uk) I use a lot of different email addresses, which doesn't suit a mailing-list situation.


How many of you use Facebook, Twitter or another social media site (in general they work far better than Yahoo's Neo interface)? Those who do should be comfortable with web-based support. For the others, just because BBC BASIC is 30+ years old and largely obsolete it doesn't mean the support process needs to be as well. :-)


There is already a Facebook group for BBC BASIC so I might consider giving that a go as the primary support portal.


Richard.






------------------------------------
Posted by: yahoo@rtrussell.co.uk
------------------------------------


------------------------------------

Yahoo Groups Links



--
______________________________________________________________________

Brian Jordan
From somewhere in North Hampshire. England. UK.
______________________________________________________________________


J.G.Harston
 

Eddy Jacobs wrote:
"How many of you use Facebook, Twitter or another social media ? " Not
using Facebook, Twitter, .... overhere. Sorry.

I signed up to Facebook and set the "email me posts" option on groups
I'm interested in, and then only go in when something interests me.


I wonder if it would be possible to get the BBC BASIC Facebook group to
email posts to the bb4w mailing list.


(I originally signed up to Facebook for work because many of the people
we
worked with were putting all their info on Facebook, but at the same
time
work blocked access to Facebook because it was seen as "not work".)


--
J.G.Harston - jgh@mdfs.net - mdfs.net/jgh


J.G.Harston
 

J.G.Harston wrote:
I signed up to Facebook and set the "email me posts" option on groups
I'm interested in, and then only go in when something interests me.

If people need to know how to do this:


Sign on to Facebook.
Go to the BBC BASIC page at https://www.facebook.com/bbcbasic
Ensure you've clicked on Like so that you have Liked the page
Click on the drop-down menu within the Liked button
Ensure Get Notifications is ticked.


Then, whenever there's activity you get it emailed to the address
Facebook
knows you by.


--
J.G.Harston - jgh@mdfs.net - mdfs.net/jgh


 

On Sun, 13 Sep 2015, at 18:36, yahoo@rtrussell.co.uk [bb4w] wrote:


As an additional, technical, complication if I were to configure Yahoo!
to send me emails I couldn't straightforwardly reply to them because my
'from' address is not the email address with which I am registered with
Yahoo. As I have my own domain (rtrussell.co.uk) I use a lot of
different email addresses, which doesn't suit a mailing-list situation.

This isn't (or didn't use to be) a problem. Under yahoo you have a
yahoo id, and with
that you can associate several email addresses. For example I think I
can post to
yahoo groups from one of several email addresses, though emails are sent
back (by
my choice) to just one of them.


However fighting through Yahoo's config options has always been a pain,
and last time
I tried to change anything (possibly post-Neo) even harder than before.


--
Jeremy Nicoll - my opinions are my own.


Richard Russell
 

---In bb4w@yahoogroups.com, <davidfeugey@yahoo.com> wrote :
> I don't see why Facebook would be better for trolls and spam than a classic forum.


Perhaps not better, but probably just as good.


> Facebook is a no go in term of privacy.


I'm not aware of any particular privacy issues, and I would have far more confidence that Facebook would quickly address any issues that did arise than Yahoo!


Richard.


Ian_Wade_G3NRW
 

On 14/09/2015 07:27, yahoo@rtrussell.co.uk [bb4w] wrote:
I would have far
more confidence that Facebook would quickly address any issues that did
arise than Yahoo!
Richard

I don't understand this. I own several closed Yahoo groups for software development discussions. By setting the access permissions appropriately, these groups are totally invisible to anyone who is not an approved member, so we don't have any outside interference. This is far preferable to Facebook, which adds so much clutter and noise that any meaningful continuous discussion is virtually impossible. I have no idea how Facebook would handle complaints about inappropriate messages or access, but I suspect it wouldn't be as fast as you might like.

BUT, BUT, BUT, a further point concerning the forum has just struck me. You complain about unacceptable messages over which you have no control, because you can't login as administrator to remove them or their perpetrators. However, looking at random through many of the posts on the forum, I can't see *any* messages that one could object to.

[Rather, are you complaining about *private* email messages that you find unacceptable? If so, you could set up an email filter (to trap the sender's IP address, for example -- this will usually be the same each time) to redirect the mail to /dev/null].

So what is the problem? Why can't you just rejoin the forum as an ordinary user and let it continue as usual? IMHO the principal advantage of the forum is each topic has its own slot (thread), and discussion is highly focused in each slot. Also, the forum acts as a repository of extremely useful information (much of it provided by your good self) that is always available to anyone who joins "late". You can't say that about Facebook or Yahoo groups.

Also, I don't see any objectionable messages in this Yahoo group either. So why not let this group continue as at present, just for background chit-chat (as it is now)? No need to worry about message format differences, because all the technical stuff (like code inserts) would go into the forum.

I do recommend you use email access instead of web access to the group -- you will find many of the issues you complain about will go away. I have just looked through a number of recent messages here, and everyone except you seems to be using email access. It really is simple to set up and use, and a decent mailer (like Thunderbird, for example) can sort messages into threads, making discussions much easier to follow than on the web site. Try it -- it won't hurt a bit, and you can still use the web interface as well if you really want to!

--
Ian


Richard Russell
 

Facebook is amazingly popular: I don't think I personally know *anybody* who does not at least have an account which they use 'passively' to keep tabs on family members. The interface is extremely slick, the compatibility with different browsers good, the reliability high etc. The contrast with Yahoo, who seem to care little about supporting their 'Groups' product, is stark.


I have no concerns about privacy - Facebook is just too popular and has too high a profile for any genuine issues to go unresolved for long (of course they collect information about me that I allow them to have - that's their business model - but they are welcome to it).


So, in my view, that makes Facebook an attractive prospect. We could easily give it a try as the primary support forum for BB4W. The BBC BASIC group already exists, and the likelihood is that the great majority of members here and at Conforums already have an account (albeit that there is probably a higher proportion of 'dinosaurs' than in the population at large!).


If you have a support query, and a Facebook account, try posting it there as an experiment.


Richard.


Ian_Wade_G3NRW
 

On 14/09/2015 18:17, yahoo@rtrussell.co.uk [bb4w] wrote:

If you have a support query, and a Facebook account, try posting it
there as an experiment.
Richard

Quite by coincidence, and nothing to do with BB4W, my daughter persuaded me recently to set up a Facebook account -- I was told I was a "dinosaur" missing out on "modern" communication. Then, on the suggestion of someone else in this group, I looked at the BB4W Facebook page yesterday. What an unstructured, unattractive mess!

Tell me, exactly, how will anyone be able to find and follow a technical discussion on Facebook a few weeks or months after the discussion has terminated. Facebook may be fine for family pictures and transient chit-chat, but is totally unsuited to structured technical discussion that needs to be preserved for posterity.

I closed my Facebook account today.

Final question: Are you saying you will no longer answer technical questions in the forum?

--
Ian


Richard Russell
 

---In bb4w@yahoogroups.com, <g3nrw-radio@ntlworld.com> wrote :
> Tell me, exactly, how will anyone be able to find and follow a technical
> discussion on Facebook a few weeks or months after the discussion has
> terminated.


They can't - Facebook is transient (well, old posts may be archived, but aren't normally searchable as far as I know). If the question raises an issue which requires 'preserving' then an article on that subject should be created on the Wiki. It's not fair to expect people to search multiple online repositories to find the answer to a query: the most they can reasonably be expected to do is search the Help file that comes with BB4W and the Wiki.


> Facebook may be fine for family pictures and transient
> chit-chat, but is totally unsuited to structured technical discussion
> that needs to be preserved for posterity.


Indeed not, but neither this group nor the Conforums board can possibly be described as hosting "structured technical discussion", except very rarely! The vast bulk of the material posted has no reason to be preserved, and although there may be the odd 'gem' that would benefit from preservation there's no practical way to filter the wheat from the chaff. It will certainly be better to preserve the 'essence' of those discussions in a proper structured repository such as the Wiki.



A number of the responses I have received - specifically from people who do not use the web interface to this group - have been in favour of an email mailing list. Fundamentally that is transient too: people aren't going to be collating and later searching their own accumulated archives of messages!

> Final question: Are you saying you will no longer answer technical
> questions in the forum?


If by 'forum' you mean Conforums, I am no longer a member so it's not a case of "will not" it's a case of "cannot". Of course in principle I could re-join under yet another alias, but I have been warned not to do that. I'm not saying I will never be able to re-join, that depends on how things develop in the future, but at the moment it is not an option for me.


I would also want to make this point. You seem to think that I should be solely responsible for providing support, creating and maintaining forums, writing Wiki articles etc. That is not how it works with any other programming language that I am familiar with. It is *not* typical for the author to run/maintain the support forums, it is *not* typical for the author to be the primary source of documentation on a Wiki and it is *not* typical for the author to be expected to devise code to solve people's programming problems.


Take for example Liberty BASIC. Virtually all support - and it is excellent - comes from users. The Wiki was created by users. Large numbers of example programs have been created by users. The capabilities of the language have been largely demonstrated by users. The forums are administered by users. Why shouldn't BBC BASIC be the same?


Indeed, nearly 14 years after the initial release of 'BBC BASIC for Windows' ought it to be necessary for me to provide *any* technical support at all? It is my opinion that people are expecting too much of me, and they are having a lovely time criticising me, goading me and (in some cases) hoping that the end result will be me topping myself. Well it probably will, and then who is going to provide the support?


Richard.


Richard Russell
 

---In bb4w@yahoogroups.com, <davidfeugey@yahoo.com> wrote :
> But I'm not sure you'll like to see my fake Facebook acount being connected to your services.
> full of spammers, and with a bunch of new articles everyday. The two will be routed to your account,


Do I understand that you have deliberately sabotaged the BBC BASIC Facebook page? Or my personal Facebook account? With 'supporters' like you who needs enemies!


I give up. This is the last time you will hear from me on this group.


Richard.


Ian_Wade_G3NRW
 

On 15/09/2015 07:21, yahoo@rtrussell.co.uk [bb4w] wrote:

I give up. This is the last time you will hear from me on this group.

Me too.

Last night I joined the Liberty Basic Yahoo Group and Conforum:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/libertybasic/info

http://libertybasic.conforums.com/index.cgi
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sanity at last!

--
Ian