New Apple Support Communities social network to replace Discussions

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple has teased a forthcoming "major upgrade" to its online forums, with the existing Apple Discussions set to become the new Apple Support Communities, a social network where users can assist one another.



Revealed last week in a post on the existing Apple Discussions, the forthcoming Apple Support Communities will allow users to have their own personalized profile with a custom picture and avatar. Users will be able to build their homepage with widgets and custom content.



The newly redesigned forums also aim to increase community participation with a reputation system. Members on the site will be able to recognize the contributions of others who are helpful by giving them reputation points, helping to increase their status.



"Apple Support Communities brings together thousands of Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, and iPad users from around the world to discuss Apple products and topics," the official introduction reads. "Apple Support communities provides a wealth of information about your favorite Apple hardware and software products to help you get the most out of your purchase. And, in the spirit of community, you can also help other Apple Support Communities' users by answering their questions."



Apple has said that the new online forums will represent a "major change" from the existing Apple Discussions. It also said the launch will take place "very soon," but did not provide a specific date. Users on the forums have indicated that Apple Support Communities is currently in beta testing for some users.



Users with custom profiles will be able to access the "Your View" feature on their homepage, which allows them to view the information they want to see. The new forums will allow users to customize their layout and add, remove or edit widgets.



"Let?s say you want to add a widget for Unanswered Questions," the Personal Homepage introduction reads. "From the Widgets list, click on the widget category from which you?d like to choose. For Unanswered Questions, select Content, and when a list of widgets is displayed, select Unanswered Questions. Now, click on the Drag to Add button and drag the widget to the place you would like it to appear on your My Page (Your View?)."



Over the weekend, the existing Apple Discussions forums were temporarily taken offline after it appeared the site was the victim of a malicious attack. The official forums were unavailable Saturday soon after the pages displayed the message "for fun, by tojen" without any other content.



After that, the site became "temporarily unavailable" and asked users to visit apple.com/support during the downtime. It is believed the attack many have targeted external DNS servers or Apple's content delivery partners, sending users to an incorrect or outdated address of compromised servers that had been taken offline.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    It is nice to see Apple Inc. starting to make this resource more public and available. It has always been a great help.
  • Reply 2 of 49
    As someone who has done forum work for about 20 years and is the co-admin of a iPhone developer forum, I think the forum format is something that needed to die 10 years ago. I haven't yet seen Apple's forum referred to here, but they didn't say it was innovative, so i just assume it's "lipstick on a pig."



    The problem with forums is that most questions don't get answered, and people ask the same question over and over because the ability to search for an existing answer (much less people having a skill to search, which they shouldn't have to) is so poor that they cannot find the answer they are looking for, and ask again and again and again, which makes people not bother to answer.



    Furthermore, forums get filled with old information that is never cleared away. The list goes on, and everyone here knows EXACTLY what I am talking about.



    There is a better way. I know what it is. And if I can think of it, so can many other people. I told Apple in a questionnaire what was wrong with the forum format, but I think the problem is that there are people at Apple who are not thinking outside the box and thinking different. It costs money to innovate, and apparently it's cheaper to have an open Genius bar than to innovate with online information.



    I guess I'm ahead of my time. We're only into the second decade of the 21st century.



    Mark Hernandez

    The Information Workshop
  • Reply 3 of 49
    Ridiculous.



    The Apple Discussion Forums -- no matter what Apple calls them and no matter how Apple redesigns them -- are a COMPLETE JOKE and an insult to all Mac users worldwide.



    Without actual Apple employees answering questions on the forums, most questions never get answered, and the rest of the questions are the blind leading the blind.



    Until someone is paid $$$ to help people in the forums, there will continue to be ZERO consistency and ZERO reliability and ZERO incentive for other people's help.



    Apple would be better off shutting these forums down altogether, than making this mockery of themselves and their users.
  • Reply 4 of 49
    you don't think Apple will come out with Apple.me?

    lol
  • Reply 5 of 49
    I use the Search feature on the Forums and 90% of the time find the specific answer to my question. The Forums for me are a Godsend.
  • Reply 6 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cascadians View Post


    I use the Search feature on the Forums and 90% of the time find the specific answer to my question. The Forums for me are a Godsend.



    +1



    I don't doubt that they can't be improved, most things can be... but I still turn to Apple's Forums when I have a problem and almost always get a solution.
  • Reply 7 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by scotty321 View Post


    Without actual Apple employees answering questions on the forums, most questions never get answered, and the rest of the questions are the blind leading the blind.



    Bingo. It is possible to get answers for some things, but the single biggest thing hurting the forums (and arguably, apple as a company) is lack of communication from the company to the users. No participation in the forums, no acknowledgement of bugs and other issues. So many other companies actually participate in the discussions, in comparison Apple's board is just sad - it often ends up being a place for users to complain about apple (and then apple often deletes those posts).
  • Reply 8 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cascadians View Post


    I use the Search feature on the Forums and 90% of the time find the specific answer to my question. The Forums for me are a Godsend.



    +++



    But even more frequently, I do a Google search, and the best answers tend to be in the Discussions.



    That being said, I do believe they can be improved. I think a very useful improvement might be a Stack Overflow style page. Stack Overflow works really well for Q/A type purposes.
  • Reply 9 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cascadians View Post


    I use the Search feature on the Forums and 90% of the time find the specific answer to my question. The Forums for me are a Godsend.



    Agreed. I get better information from the forums than the Apple genius bar.
  • Reply 10 of 49
    asciiascii Posts: 5,851member
    A social network! Sounds wonderful! Now excuse me while I braid my hair and sort out my jewellery box.
  • Reply 11 of 49
    shaun, ukshaun, uk Posts: 1,050member
    Unless you buy an AppleCare plan the forums are the only way to find answers to your problems. I use them all the time. They are not perfect and yes they could be improved, but at least they are free.
  • Reply 12 of 49
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,588member
    Off topic a smidgen but ... IMHO Apple should look into a FaceBook type competitor (for all platforms of course). Everyone copies everything Apple does so why not return the compliment to FB?



    FB has the worst UI I have ever come across and surveys show even though it is so heavily used most hate the actual UI. It would be a great way to win over even more converts as I am sure Apple's UI would be sleek, simple and a pleasure to use ... and logical (unlike FB).



    If they allowed multiple uses such as businesses, family & close friends and 'friends' to have totally separate accounts instead of the half-brained system FB uses!



    Plus Apple would not be all about leveraging the users to their own advantage all the time like FB are.



    Just my 2 cents ...



    p.s. If Apple don't my bet is Google will...
  • Reply 13 of 49
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,588member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by scotty321 View Post


    Ridiculous.



    The Apple Discussion Forums -- no matter what Apple calls them and no matter how Apple redesigns them -- are a COMPLETE JOKE and an insult to all Mac users worldwide.



    Without actual Apple employees answering questions on the forums, most questions never get answered, and the rest of the questions are the blind leading the blind.



    Until someone is paid $$$ to help people in the forums, there will continue to be ZERO consistency and ZERO reliability and ZERO incentive for other people's help.



    Apple would be better off shutting these forums down altogether, than making this mockery of themselves and their users.



    It may seem that way at first but if you use Google to search not the actual forum itself, as others have said, 90% of the time the Google results will show many in the forum and you can focus in on a good reply. I have used this countless times for everything from simple Finder issues to really complex application answers such as using Pro apps in FinalCut Studio. I have yet to fail to find an answer to a problem this way.



    I would say though, a live chat interface for Apple care users would be nice .. (if there is one already I have missed it so far lol).
  • Reply 14 of 49
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,588member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MarkHernandez View Post


    As someone who has done forum work for about 20 years and is the co-admin of a iPhone developer forum, I think the forum format is something that needed to die 10 years ago. I haven't yet seen Apple's forum referred to here, but they didn't say it was innovative, so i just assume it's "lipstick on a pig."



    The problem with forums is that most questions don't get answered, and people ask the same question over and over because the ability to search for an existing answer (much less people having a skill to search, which they shouldn't have to) is so poor that they cannot find the answer they are looking for, and ask again and again and again, which makes people not bother to answer.



    Furthermore, forums get filled with old information that is never cleared away. The list goes on, and everyone here knows EXACTLY what I am talking about.



    There is a better way. I know what it is. And if I can think of it, so can many other people. I told Apple in a questionnaire what was wrong with the forum format, but I think the problem is that there are people at Apple who are not thinking outside the box and thinking different. It costs money to innovate, and apparently it's cheaper to have an open Genius bar than to innovate with online information.



    I guess I'm ahead of my time. We're only into the second decade of the 21st century.



    Mark Hernandez

    The Information Workshop



    Yes the search function is totally useless. I have to go outside and use Google to get back to forums accurate answers. A total rewrite is in order.
  • Reply 15 of 49
    umijinumijin Posts: 133member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple has teased a forthcoming "major upgrade" to its online forums, with the existing Apple Discussions set to become the new Apple Support Communities, a social network where users can assist one another.



    Major FAIL. The discussion groups are the only way I can get cogent answers to most of my questions, because the support site itself is useless 80% of the time for me.



    What I don't need is a freaking FaceBook hook-up or social networking for Apple Fanboys. That won't solve anyone's problems.
  • Reply 16 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MarkHernandez View Post


    As someone who has done forum work for about 20 years and is the co-admin of a iPhone developer forum, I think the forum format is something that needed to die 10 years ago. I haven't yet seen Apple's forum referred to here, but they didn't say it was innovative, so i just assume it's "lipstick on a pig."



    The problem with forums is that most questions don't get answered, and people ask the same question over and over because the ability to search for an existing answer (much less people having a skill to search, which they shouldn't have to) is so poor that they cannot find the answer they are looking for, and ask again and again and again, which makes people not bother to answer.



    Furthermore, forums get filled with old information that is never cleared away. The list goes on, and everyone here knows EXACTLY what I am talking about.



    There is a better way. I know what it is. And if I can think of it, so can many other people. I told Apple in a questionnaire what was wrong with the forum format, but I think the problem is that there are people at Apple who are not thinking outside the box and thinking different. It costs money to innovate, and apparently it's cheaper to have an open Genius bar than to innovate with online information. ...



    It's hard to agree with you when we don't know what your brilliant idea is, but IMO the forums are like most governments in that they absolutely stink, but they are still better than the alternatives.



    Forums have lots of problems but when you are searching the web for an answer to a software/hardware problem, it's *always* a forum somewhere where you find said answer.



    This proposal as described in the article above is too confused to really get any understanding of what Apple is actually attempting to do, it's just full of the usual buzz words and so on. I'm sceptical that idiocy can be cured by any software but we will have to wait and see what they come up with before it's really worth commenting about it IMO.
  • Reply 17 of 49
    Apple discussion boards are a joke.
  • Reply 18 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cascadians View Post


    I use the Search feature on the Forums and 90% of the time find the specific answer to my question. The Forums for me are a Godsend.



    Me too. I've used them a lot. And just about all the time my question/problem is answered. Looking fwd to the upgrade!



    Best
  • Reply 19 of 49
    drdbdrdb Posts: 99member
    I've always found the forums really helpful and I don't see that a load of pointless social networking garbage is going to anything other than clutter the thing up.
  • Reply 20 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MarkHernandez View Post


    As someone who has done forum work for about 20 years and is the co-admin of a iPhone developer forum, I think the forum format is something that needed to die 10 years ago. I haven't yet seen Apple's forum referred to here, but they didn't say it was innovative, so i just assume it's "lipstick on a pig."



    The problem with forums is that most questions don't get answered, and people ask the same question over and over because the ability to search for an existing answer (much less people having a skill to search, which they shouldn't have to) is so poor that they cannot find the answer they are looking for, and ask again and again and again, which makes people not bother to answer.



    Furthermore, forums get filled with old information that is never cleared away. The list goes on, and everyone here knows EXACTLY what I am talking about.



    There is a better way. I know what it is. And if I can think of it, so can many other people. I told Apple in a questionnaire what was wrong with the forum format, but I think the problem is that there are people at Apple who are not thinking outside the box and thinking different. It costs money to innovate, and apparently it's cheaper to have an open Genius bar than to innovate with online information.



    I guess I'm ahead of my time. We're only into the second decade of the 21st century.



    Mark Hernandez

    The Information Workshop



    It would be nice if Apple actually moderated their forums. You know, moved threads into existing ones where duplicated or into more appropriate forums.



    It would also be nice if they tracked unanswered questions and followed up with the poster to see what else can be done. Such an approach to support could drive a lot of people towards forum use and take some of the strain off Apple. Could be a win win.
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