Comparing ST Community vs. standard forum solution
Question asked by Peter M - 4/18/2014 at 7:20 AM
We are considering to replace our customer forum with SmarterTracks Community solution. Did we made mistakes in the following comparison? Would you please be so kind to help us closing our knowledge gaps?
Differences: ST Community vs. Forum XY
  ST Community Forum XY
Categories Predefined (?) Optional (create sub-forums)
Link to external images Yes Yes
Upload images No Yes
Ability to close a thread ? Yes
Mark thread as "solved" Yes Yes
Rich Text Editor Yes No
Filter un-answered threads ? Yes
Switch off voting function ? n/a
<code>-Tag ? Yes
Subscribe to thread Yes Yes
Ban spammers ? Yes
Request system informations ? (yes, via Mod)
Add Tags Yes No
Integrate in HelpDesk (Yes?) No
Show related threads/FAQs Yes No
Multilingual support ? Yes (sub-forum for each language)
Delete misleading Tags ? n/a
[forgotten feature 1?]    
[forgotten feature 2?]    
Thanks a lot!

4 Replies

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Employee Replied
Employee Post Marked As Answer
Hi Peter,
Let me help fill in the missing pieces:
Categories: Configured in the Management Interface by the administrator. Can have as many or as few as you'd like.
Upload Images: Images, video, audio files may all be linked from other sites using the 'Embed Media Content from Various Sites' button on the editor. Uploading new content to the site is not permitted in the Community though.
Ability to close a thread: Threads cannot be locked down, but they do have a status that shows if the issue is resolved or not.
Filter un-answered threads: When viewing the main Community page there are filters for every status and category, including unanswered questions. There is also a reply count on the main Community page that shows how many posts are in a thread.
Switch off voting function: There are role permissions to control who can view or create threads. Those that can view the thread will be allowed to vote on it.
<code> -Tag: The code tag is supported. It is available through the editor, just click on 'more' and look for the code '<>' symbol.
Ban spammers: This is a planned feature for the Community. At the moment, any user may report a thread/post/comment as Spam. If 1 agent or 3 users report it as spam then it is hidden until an agent approves/deletes it.
Request system informations: SmarterTrack includes a feature called Who's On that could be used to view user information on any of the pages, including the Community.
Integrate in Helpdesk: When viewing a Community thread, agents have the option to create a ticket based off the thread.
Multilingual support: There is multilingual support for all permanent text in SmarterTrack. The administrator may install multiple language packs which will provide a language dropdown for users to select their desired language. User created content will not be translated by SmarterTrack. However, we have found that most multi-lingual users will use a browser capable of translating content for them (ie; Chrome) or install an extension that translates content in their browser. You could also add category tags (or regular tags) for different languages that would allow users to filter their result to only include threads with those tags.
Categories: An agent may edit, remove, or add tags to any post. They may also switch its type (ie: question to idea) and adjust its status as well as edit the actual content of the post.
Forgotten feature: Having related Knowledge Base articles and similar Community posts show when viewing a thread and creating a new one can help users find a solution to their issue faster and helps to avoid duplicate posts on the same subject.
Hope that helps clear up some of your questions!

- Mike
Peter M Replied
Hello Mike,
Thank you so much for your help! I understand now that we have to continue to use our old forum solution, because it still fits better to our needs.
User Replied
No problem. What features, if added, would make the Community suit your needs better?
Peter M Replied
Hi Mike,
Thank you very much for your question.
We believe that SmarterTrack 10’s integrative approach is the right one. Instead of having to monitor different webpages (helpdesk, forum), all the information for our support department is brought together in one place.

However, we will not be switching from our forum to the new community solution for the following reasons:
We encourage our users to illustrate their questions with the help of screenshots. If they are forced to use an external provider to add screenshots, we will be creating a new hurdle for them that did not exist before.
System Information
We can quickly answer many user questions if we know which version of our program and which Office programs they are using. That's why a short form is displayed whenever a user creates a new topic in our forum. If this option is omitted, we will probably need to ask additional questions more often. This would increase the amount of work for our support department.
We believe that the voting feature is confusing. What will change for whom if a thread is placed higher? The voting system suggests that program development follows democratic principles. But this is not the case since many other factors need to be considered when we plan whether or not a new feature will be added. For this reason we would prefer that the voting feature could be optionally disabled.
No Options for Multilingual Support
I can understand that SmarterTools offers support in English only. SmarterTools users are well-versed technically and are certainly accustomed to using tools such as Google Translate. Also, technical issues are well suited for automatic translation. 
Our users are not as technically adept. That's why we offer multilingual support; all the help materials that we create are at least bilingual, and our current forum contains a German-language and an English-language sub-forum. This makes it easier for us to configure Google Custom Search. For each language, there is a stand-alone Google Custom Search Engine, which only searches the relevant user manual, website, forum, and (SmarterTrack)-FAQs for the language in question.
[not related to the Community discussion]:
SmarterTrack 10 is still missing an essential search feature: two or more search words should be combined with an AND-operator. Imagine a fruit dealer who searches for the most recent order for apples named Cox Orange. He will not only find this order but all orders for all other orange varieties as well! We would upgrade immediately if ST 10 came with a better search feature.

Kind regards,

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