TVCatchup – How NOT to run a feedback forum


A few months ago, after using what I think is a wicked service,, for 6 months, I decided to venture into their community forums and post some ideas/feedback I’d had nagging at me since using the service. It wasn’t meant to be a criticism of their service, just some innocent feedback on my thoughts for them to register/ignore at their leisure. You can find the full post thread here:

So I came back a few weeks later to see what the replies were (which took some time to find as they’re using vBulliten for their discussion forums and it’s hard to quickly navigate to your last posts!) and was disappointed to see instead of the reply(s) I was expecting from TVCatchup saying “thanks for the feedback, we’re working on it!” or something to that measure, instead I got a bunch of replies that were pretty defensive and seemed to insinuate that I should be “grateful” for such an amazing great service!

We run a community for SambaJAM using GetSatisfaction. While we’re still small and in no way get the kind of traffic TVCatchup gets, we’ve always taken the attitude that anyone who takes the time to post some ideas/issues on the forum or email us (people still love email which is why most of our feedback comes this route instead of the forum as we’d prefer!) gets a massive THANKYOU and where possible we go out of our way to address their concerns or put the idea on our roadmap!

I may have misunderstood the forum, I assumed the admins were employees of TVCatchup, but it appears the admins are self-motivated users, which completely changes the dynamics (they’re not customer service representatives, just passionate users) so I may have got the wrong end of the stick in how I expected my feedback to be responded.

However, as TVCatcup is a business, they could take some advice from the hundreds of other start-ups (like ours) that run feedback forums for their users:

  • Users are not there to serve you, you are there to serve the community
  • Accept that most users are lazy, they either won’t bother giving feedback in the first place, or if they do, searching the forums to see if their issue is unique or come back to check replies the next day. If this frustrates you, like it does all of us who are in love with our own products to a level our users never will match, then take a chill pill and don’t have a go at them for not searching through the forums first!
  • If you are going to moderate your community with end-user evangelists, then make sure first time users like me are fully aware of it so we don’t assume we’re speaking to your customer service reps when we see “admin” next to their name!
  • Don’t use old clunky forums software like vBulliten to get feedback from end users, you’re just making it harder for your users to see all the suggestions/ideas and give feedback. There’s plenty of affordable services like GetSatisfaction/UserVoice that are designed to be nice and friendly so you don’t get duplicate ideas, and can tell which ones are the most popular easily!

No great service ever became great through arrogance. I wrote that as my reply because I thought I was talking to the employees of TVCatcup, and if that was the case, they should, like the rest of us, kiss every last user’s arse that takes the time to actually talk to them in the first place! They’re doing us a service, helping us make our services great, let’s not forget that!

Anyway, it appears the admins (at least on my thread) are in fact passionate end users and not paid employees, so I do understand that in that context I overreacted. I’m not here to start a flame war with end users who put hours of their time into the community just for the love of it, but if employees are participating on the forum then make sure you’re kissing every last user’s arse for their feedback!