20 years ago, I left a corporate environment as a software engineering supervisor and started my own company. We produce very technical, vertical market products. I took with me lessons learned in the corporate environment of a very large company. Preeminent among my company's principles of conducting business are customer relationships, product excellence, and integrity. Increasingly it seems to me that companies are just rolling out products with little attention paid to the actual quality involved or how their client base will relate to the product. 3 months to fix a simple email notification problem is indefensible, and points to Maplesoft's priorities. Think of all the extra internet traffic that was generated, the wasted time spent managing the useless repeated emails, the irritation of those who received them...all not worth Maplesoft's time to address.
I will admit in making these comparisons that my customers pay for our products, and therefore may be thought to have a different set of expectations. But in reply, I opine that the expectations should be similar. Just because we don't pay /directly/ for access to this forum is not an excuse for the poor implementation. This forum is slow and awkward to use, and loaded with useless glitter and glitz. As someone who appreciates a "sense of artistry in delivered products," I certainly appreciate an attractive presentation over a stark one. There are, however, simpler, more effective forums to implement.
This preference for glitter over function, and the lack of corporate response is not limited to Maplesoft by any means. Another company whose product I use regularly recently swapped out a reasonablly efficient and easy-to-use forum for one of these glitter boxes, and the critical response was (still is) lengthy and harsh. What's the point of doing something if you are not going to do it well? While I don't want to say that the whole forum is a complete waste - after all, I came here hoping to find an effective tool to help me learn Maple (in the face of the less-than-adequate Maple Help system) - I do find myself wondering what all the fluff is supposed to achieve. Am I in a minority; that is, did a majority of forum members vote for this in my absense, or is this the implementation of some corporate entity that imagines that this fulfulls a corporate goal, with little regard to its actual performance?
Story time: When I worked for the corporation, I was jointly tasked one fine day, along with a recent graduate with a M.S. degree in engineering, with producing an internal product to be used by the company's blue collar work force. The other engineer (I'll call him Fred) quickly finished his part of the project (a precursor to my part), and brought it to me so that I could do my work. I commented that his implementation would place a long-term burden of extra work on the workers. His repy was that /we/ were highly paid engineers with goals to meet, and the workers got paid less, so could work more - or something to that effect. The bottom line was that Fred was more concerned with looking good to our boss by finishing his task in short order than he was in the quality of the finished product, and his attitude toward blue collar workers was clearly less than complimentary. He suggested that we take the project to our supervisor for evaluation. We did so. After Fred had proudly presented his part of the project and expressed his disagreement with my reaction to his work, our supervisor simply looked at him and quietly commented that Fred would be in the field for the first 3 months of product rollout to help the workers learn how to use the product. No criticism, just the comment. Not long after that, Fred showed up at my desk to ask me what I thought might be improved in his part of the project before he turned it over to me. The lesson here is not that I have all the answers, rather that the greater value is looking at the goals of a project and how effectively it will be used rather than checking off a COMPLETED box on some corporate checklist.