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The Feature Suggestion subforum is worthless.

Discussion in 'MASCHINE Area' started by D-One, Aug 26, 2017.

  1. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    9,136
    Sorry for the alarming thread title, get confy, grab some pop-corn.. its gonna be one of those long posts :D
    Before I start this rant note I am offering a solution and this is not a pointlessly negative thread.

    So, the feature suggestion sub forum for Maschine has over 3000 posts dating all the back to when the forum opened, most of the threads are outdated, there are hundreds of duplicates asking the same thing, there's also a pinned thread for no reason that was started in 2009, again filled with outdated stuff. This doesn't help anyone and is very counter productive, it gives this image that the sub forum it's just there for decoration because who the hell is gonna scroll thru all those requests when its mostly outdated and repeated? Speaking for myself I don't create feature request threads anymore because it I don't believe it will matter or even be seen at all. The amount of posts there is ridiculous, it's the biggest on the whole forum in regards to suggestions subforums (afaik).

    Having a general idea of what most of the user base wants should be fast, this is might be good for the Dev's and Product Managers but also good for the community since no one wants to waste time making a thread requesting something that has already requested 100 times before, and if one does open a thread it would be nice to know it won't be buried under 100 other posts asking for Audio Tracks.

    So how do we fix this?
    A good example of where to start is what @d33psp33d did in the Komplete Forum.
    One sticky thread with a list of the most common requests, it can't have every single minor request in world tho, moderation is required.
    This same list is then also used to make a form/poll that has all the requests in the list and users can vote on each one based its importance.
    With this method, new forum users won't need to create another thread asking for Audio Tracks or Realtime Time-Stretch, it will be on the list and all we need to do is vote. The form helps clean up the requests and also helps understand what users consider a priority, is it Performance Recording or is it Audio tracks? A Poll answers that very easily and maybe the people at NI with the magical decision powers could take it into consideration.
    These forms require email login so people can edit their votes and also re-visit it when new feature requests are added.

    In order for this to be possible, we would need @Mick @ NI to agree and be willing to help. (Sorry, I know it's the weekend and you will probably only see this Monday, but I wanted to share this today so when your back people already have some opinions out.)

    Feature Suggestion subforum clean-up.
    I have owned a forum community before, not this big of course, it only had about 2000 registered users but it was enough for me to know how hard it is to keep things clean and organized. What I suggest is to completely change the way feature requests work, these are my suggestions:
    • First things first, delete or archive the whole sub forum and start fresh. I know this is extreme and very debatable but as it sits it's completely useless.
    • On a clean sub forum set the posting options to only be displayed after approval. This way threads are moderated so there are no duplicates which will obviously mean Mods will have to do it, but it's not like they have much to do around here now anyway so that shouldn't be a problem, it is, get more Mods I am pretty sure there are a few trustworthy old and active members who wouldn't mind doing it.
    • Upon a new thread having X amount of likes, it could possibly move on the Sticky thread list and Poll/Vote thing.

    Sticky thread example: https://www.native-instruments.com/forum/threads/possibly-a-new-sticky-to-be-edited.318826/
    Form example: https://goo.gl/forms/PxZjkg4wDRDTWDs12

    (this is just an example and a work in progress pls no flaming, I mean well... :p)


    Obviously, this can be more complex and have separate sections on the sticky/form for Jam, 4x4 controllers, and other stuff. Now lets hear those opinions about this. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
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  2. Uwe303

    Uwe303 NI Product Owner

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    5,526
    +1
     
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  3. Coorec

    Coorec NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    337
    I am afraid formatting it different wont change anything. A feature suggestion forum only makes sense when devs are actually reading and answering there.

    At times when CEOs of big companies browse boards and talk with people, its hard to understand why the head of devs department, cant come to the forum and give feedback. At least a "thank you" would be nice, right? It'd give you the feeling someone actually reads the suggestion.

    All else is just saying: "You have an idea? Please tell it the tree over there."
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. DA RIPPER

    DA RIPPER NI Product Owner

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    73
  5. Mick @ NI

    Mick @ NI Banaholic NI Team

    Messages:
    1,686
    Nice one D! Happy to read this constructive idea :) And don't worry, I'm also on the forums in my off time.

    I'd be happy to help with this, and figure out a way how we can keep track of feature requests in a organised way. But of course I can't promise that then all of a sudden changes will happen on the development end. Devs are active here and read along, but the problem they face is that they dont get to make the decisions.

    I will wait for some more replies and hopefully ideas, here. And will get back to it during the week
     
  6. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    9,136
    I don't really feel like we need a "thank you", just a percentage of things requested 1000x times done, and it's all good. The point is not make it all pretty in hopes big and important people see it, the point is to keep it organized so the information goes up the ladder and might eventually be considered, or at the very least if people who matter want to know what are the wishes of the user base they can do it without getting lost in a million threads. Or, people within that have influence over those who make decisions can point it out for them and it can easily be checked... you get the point. It might also be pointless and lead to nothing but why choose to be messy over being organized?

    I don't work for NI or I am here to defend it but i feel like sometimes people underestimate the amount human resources it takes to get things done, it's not just Devs and CEOs, take a look here that's 26 different jobs open... just in Berlin and most people don't know what half of those job titles even mean. Every time an idea is considered I wonder how many people have to approve it, I'm guessing a lot. (Not that that's some sort of excuse for slow development of course)

    Cool! thumbs up for that. BTW I have an inside Spy... He told me you just came back from a crazy party at some Club.:p
    Yes, I am aware development teams don't make software/hardware direction decisions, they do what they're are told or what gets approved by whoever holds the big fancy job title 6 step's above in the corporate ladder. :D
    Seriously tho, I don't expect this to change anything magically and have any drastic impact. It's just a small step.

    Let's see what rest of gang thinks.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
  7. Tomess

    Tomess NI Product Owner

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    369
    I think the main problem here is, that user requests and development (or the poeples who tell the development what to develop) have totally different goals in mind. After these many years those two drift more and more apart, for my understanding. Which is totally ok for a company which has it's own idea of the direction the product is heading to. But giving the users the feeling, his/her voice might be heard and the do totally different things might not be good for the overall mood around here (speaking for myselfe). I once postet requests, but stopped doing it because i got the feeling it's nothing worth. And i'm positive that i'm not the only one feeling that way. And it's not like i was asking for the impossible. If it where up to me, this subforum should be closed.
     
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  8. gingerman

    gingerman NI Product Owner

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    177
    @D-One Great idea! :thumbsup:

    At this point I feel like anything is worth a shot. I just wonder though, will it make any difference?
     
  9. Braz

    Braz NI Product Owner

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    41
    Great idea, it could be a small step toward better communication between NI and customers.
    Worth a try IMHO.
     
  10. loachm

    loachm NI Product Owner

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    2,045
    ... I agree, for a reader the FR section is a waste of time, as it has become too big and unorganised. I know, that the devs monitor it and I'm confident, they will file and organise the provided suggestions internally to evaluate them (I'll come back to that later). If I'm not mistaken from reading in the General Forum, Mick & Keir are in the midst of reorganising the forum, so something like Diego's initiative will be very helpful for that. :thumbsup: So yes, improving the FR section will certainly help establishing a more pleasant environment and creating a better forum experience.

    But along with that suggestion I can't help, but think of some other, also general aspects related to running a forum (by its members) and to practicing a certain approach of what we're talking about here and how. I.e., that an improved FR may only be one aspect for an overall more effective forum. I hope, it's OK to take the opportunity to write about that here and it's not exactly meant as hi-jacking the thread, but trying to raise awareness for those who care. So sorry, if it feels like that and if someone's not interested, please skip the following.

    Closely related to the feature suggestions, that people make, is, how people use Maschine and, in fact, how little it is talked here about workflow stuff or even workarounds. Many feature requests (apart from the obvious, yet not so-easy-to-implement ones like audio or performance recording) may come up, because someone has a problem, but immediately also has an idea of how it can supposably fixed. And then it gets posted in the FR section, probably along with a feeling of "great, my work is done - now NI only has to implement that and we're all happy".

    It is great that people care and want to improve Maschine, as well as it is a legitimate request, that the thing is supposed to work better for oneself. But quite often, when I read in the FR section or also questions here in the forum, I have feelings like "Oh boy - why something like that and have you actually read the manual?".

    A lot of it seems to come down to the way of how people participate, I think, if we had a culture of more talking about how we do things and, if someone has a problem, of precisely describing it (as one often has to ask a couple of questions, until you can help someone), we all might benefit from it. With that we might be able to use Maschine more effectively and also might be able to identify the areas, which need improvements, better. SImply put - the more we talk about how we use things and exchange ideas, this might also lead to more focussed feature requests - that is helping the development, too. (And more talking in general surely would also make the ones, who think they know, understand better and diminish my and other people's "Oh boy"'s as well).

    So, what I'm trying to say is, that NI can, of course, try to improve the forum architecture, which is really needed in some areas. And the following is in no way meant to diminish efforts like the one here. But I also think, more forum members have to play a part here and not only the honourable work of single players. For instance, have a look at the participation level of threads like this here:

    https://www.native-instruments.com/forum/threads/maschine-tips-and-tricks.316220/

    Or the participation level at and around (!) the Beat Battles, which are, in fact, an excellent playground for discussing Maschine's abilities and improving your skills (and also exchanging tips and tricks with your "opponent" - it used to be more like that).

    I just wanted to contribute that as a general encouragement for people to engage in the forum with your own ideas on a more practical level (e.g. I do this, you can do that, too - you do it this way - cool, I will use that from now on). Things, that we can immediately use, rather than interacting on a pretty theoretical level (e.g. it would be so great, if Maschine had that - true, but now what?). The suggestions are important, as is criticism and even complaining, but it's not just a place to drop by, whenever someone feels like ranting or suggesting (or even demanding) something, that he needs just now.

    Sorry, Diego, if I may have distracted things or misused this thread or if anybody feels like I've dragged things too far. But, as I said, this is what I immediately thought, while reading and agreeing to your suggestions - i.e., I think, it's connected and it doesn't end here for me. Though I'm pretty certain, you wouldn't see this post as undermining your approach, I just wanted to say this explicitly. :)

    And in general - running a forum costs money and manpower, I am very grateful to have this here! And it's good to see, that we can improve it from both sides. :thumbsup:
     
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  11. D-J-K

    D-J-K NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    1,294
    I'm going to be blunt here, so please take with a grain of salt.

    As much as I truly commend Diego's effort, and Mick's acknowledgement, at this point, I think the feature suggestion sub-forum is worthless and essentially broken beyond effective repair . If anything, its good that this thread was created to allow Maschine users (and really any NI products in general) to ventilate and get stuff out on the table.

    If the feature request/suggestion sub-forum did receive a clean slate (as Diego noted), in itself being a large undertaking that may be beyond available resources, that still would not necessarily guarantee anything unless there is two-way communication. Until that happens, things will probably just continue to fall on deaf ears or into an endless void. Its one thing knowing that the developers read this stuff, but if they don't have power to decide anything on what features get implemented, then really whats the point ?

    Here's an idea. Instead of the users initiating requests, why don't decision-making people at NI (at some level or another) tell us what features, changes, updates, etc. they are considering and let the community respond ? I realize that sort goes against the way NI does things, not discussing anything prerelease. Still, I think back to the Maschine Right-Click Behaviour thread. While that was about a very specific feature, that's the type of communication I'm talking about. That thread received a lot of useful and creative responses that I'm sure NI considered at some decision-making level. Why can't that happen more frequently ? I'm guessing it must depend on what features can or cannot be discussed pre-release, which again goes back to a business matter that is beyond the scope of this discussion.

    Let's talk about the internal bass synth that came with 2.6.8 release -- NI just added that out of the blue, and I don't recall seeing one shred of evidence on the forums of that ever being a feature request/suggestion. So what was the decision process in adding this feature ? Is there some secret society of maschine power users who are not active on these forums that requested it and NI listened? Clearly NI decided somewhere along the lines that was a needed feature and added it, whether that be with or without user feedback. Being its a free feature, I realize beggars can't (or shouldn't) be choosers, and I'm always grateful to get free updates . However, if the decision to add that feature was driven by marketers or analysts who only see the numbers and $ signs in terms of hardware sales , then having any type of feature request/suggestion sub-forum seems unnecessary to me. NI holds the cards since its their products and software, we are just the user base minions. They don't have to listen to anyone on these forums.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
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  12. b-righteous

    b-righteous Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    9,673
    Good idea. I also like how the top feature request were handled in the Komplete forum.

    However, I echo the sentiment of others. Reorganizing the feature request forum will take some work, work that may not yield fruit. The culture here is that development is not prioritized by user request from here or anywhere else. Not that they don't listen to feedback and take user request into consideration, just that user request take a backseat to whatever it is they are planning internally which is sometimes not on the same page. The developers work hard to try and work in our request and improve the product, but that has to work around whatever else they have going. Sometimes features we want are worked on and then put on hold to make way for some other objective that came from higher ups.
    This is the right idea and this process is already in place in beta. They have reworked how beta users give input. They present us with ideas very early on and get feedback on the implementation. This allows us to catch workflow problems in the design so they can tweak it or even rework so it's improved.

    I think the issue is more with how development is split into teams working on different projects, some of which are not things high on the list of most users. I don't see it as an issue of them not knowing what existing users want, it's more that they are focused on gimmicks they feel will easily attract new users.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
  13. Mick @ NI

    Mick @ NI Banaholic NI Team

    Messages:
    1,686
    This 100%. And that's also why for dev's its harder to have open communication. They come in here with good news, and a while later they have to work on something else. The audio features are a good example of this. Then this got put aside while they had to work on other things, but they are the ones getting the heat in the forums, while it's unfortunately beyond their reach...
     
  14. loachm

    loachm NI Product Owner

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    2,045
  15. Coorec

    Coorec NI Product Owner

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    337
    Thats a very good explanation why devs cant say much or theres a chance they are proven wrong. I did not consider it this way before.

    Anyhow, there has to be head of dev department. There always is. And this guy could talk to us, listen to us or give you Mod guys approval to communicate in certain directions along certain guidelines. We had this open letter thing. Would it really be too much hassle to follow such an approach once per month?

    I know i know, wrong thread, wrong crowd to preach to. Its not like we dont understand the problems you guys are facing.. its like b-rightious said a question of NI enterprise culture. And i think thats what i am unhappy with. At least the communication part of it.
     
  16. Braz

    Braz NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    41
    it's interesting because actually, NI communicates a lot.
    There are a lot of videos and contents generated by NI.
    But it's aimed to market their product and to make people buy.

    What advantage would have NI to be transparent about roadmaps and plannings ?
    I would say customers loyalty, but it's not so much...

    Also perhaps we, Maschine users, see more potential in Maschine than NI head of business do ?
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
  17. macchinista

    macchinista NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    361
    Just wanted to add my 2 cents:

    1) 100% agree on the need to improve the FR forum. It's a big task, but there are some low hanging fruits which could help significantly. I like the idea of following what's been done in the Komplete forum with a sticky collecting the top requests and the ability for users to up/down vote them. Great place to start, IMO

    2) as it concerns communication with NI, about a year ago, the product managers for Maschine came to the forefront with the open letters. They delineated a roadmap which included sequencer improvements and audio tracks, and they also admitted that they had let the "ball" slide on these long term feature requests and were determined to make amend. I think it's a bit unfair to users to say now that "well, the developers were working on it, but then 'higher ups' moved them to other side projects" and "it's hard for developers to communicate because they get moved to other projects". If there is anybody from NI which knows how the story went, it's the product managers. They set the strategy, roadmap and decide which features to implement and when. In an Agile environment, developers come and go, but product managers don't usually change. So they should be the one to communicate, not the developers who are starting to look like the scapegoats of this whole situation.
     
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  18. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    9,136
    Quite often FR are selfish and written with the specific benefit of the writers own workflow, or they make no sense, or that feature already exists.
    That's exactly why I believe there's must be 2 levels of Requests, a moderated subforum and a main sticky thread to quantify how much a specific feature is wanted by the community.

    I agree absolutely everything you said in your post.
    I think the lack of problem description is easily fixed, most forums of this caliber have way more strict rules, especially about posting questions, there's usually a FAQ and a mandatory part along the lines of "before you post questions read this..." where it tells people to state their software version, OS version, firmware version, etc so when people don't follow that standard someone just needs to quote that part of the thread.

    Oh boy.. im I'm really glad you mentioned that.
    The beta testers now seem to have 'a bit more power' to help shape upcoming stuff which is great but... how strict is that group of people? What kind of producers are they? Is there a wide range of musical genres and tastes in that group of people?
    And the biggest question of it all: Do they accurately represent the desires and best interest of the community as a whole and guide the devs in a fair manner for all? We don't know...
    I believe if there is a neat and organized way of checking peoples desires, in a quantifiable manner they can "help shape the future of Maschine" with better information and understanding of what most of us all want.

    Yeah, it's definitely not very fair that the devs get the heat. Well, i am not sure about that PM part, since I been paying attention I have seen a lot of job openings for product managers for NI. I have this unprovable theory that NI was a company founded by musicians that grown way too quickly without its founders expecting it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
  19. b-righteous

    b-righteous Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    9,673
    I think the best way to approach this would be to first lock the current feature request forum and archive it as you stated. Create a new one so that feature request are not outdated and start with current version. Add a sticky there with a link to the archive. This by itself will help keep request more relevant and easier to sort through.

    Add another sticky there with the top request similar to what was done on the Komplete Kontrol forum with a voting thread. This would take some time to compile and summarize. It won't be perfect or represent all request but could be a good start of the most popular. Each request can be summarized with a very brief description and include a link to reference another thread that gives more details from the archived forum or the new one.

    We could also add another sticky thread so users can list their top 5 request. Would be similar to the one there now but will be current. We would just restart this thread every year so it does not become outdated.
     
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  20. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    9,136
    Agreed, some questions though.
    Should there be criteria used to link a specific request to a thread when there's so many asking the same?
    How do you think new suggestions should be filtered? There needs to be a transparent system in order otherwise people will cry.
    Do new duplicates/invalid requests just get deleted? Or should they just be moved to the archive?
    Should all content be moved to the archive as of now, and bring back in only the ones listed in the sticky? Doing it the other way around would be tedious, there's 9,265 threads there lol
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017