I have noticed a strange change in the support of commercial consumer based software; using forums and such, where the moderation seems to by volunteers.

I am currently using two related software products, well, one is hardware with software firmware. The Western Digital WD TV Live HD Media Player and VideoReDo’s video editing software. Now, in both cases, I am using their beta software.

For the media player, WDC have been for some months now trialing various beta firmware updates to the software within the player. This, in particular, has enabled the playing of ripped DVD iso files directly. Rather nice. But it has been a rather slow process and WDC does seem to be dragging their tails. As the beta releases come and go, various functionality also comes and goes. Yes, it is a beta, but the issue is that the forum relating to these beta’s seems to be run by volunteers. Where are the actual company staff? There are ‘advisors’, ‘senior members’, frequent advisors’ and ‘honored contributer’. The list goes on as each member gets allocated a graded title. This is great for open source development as it builds a strong positive community. But this is not open source. This is a commercial consumer product. So many times, I have seen queries and issues submitted by members (read customers) which have been shot down in flames, rudely commented on and worst yet, just plain ignored.

VideoReD’s forum is shocking for this. I have the beta release (version 4) of the TVSuite software. And yes, I paid approx. $100 for it. Serious money for commercial consumer software today. As the development of this beta has been slow, and no new release now since the end of March, some members (read CUSTOMERS) of the forum are starting to get a bit edgy.I personally like the software, as it integrates into kmttg nicely, but a non-beta release would be nice at some stage.Comments from members that query the progress have had rather nasty replies from other senior members. Not impressive.

Is this the way of the future, where support is farmed out to the community as a free-for-all on basic manners? Everyone has heard of the apple fan-boys who will decimate any comments against their beloved commercial products. But, does an organization really want their after-sales image to be controlled by a bunch  of rude children? Moderation is meant to keep a lid on such activities, but in a large forum that can become a full-time job. But, it is cheap, in more ways than one …