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Why We’re Phasing out the Support Forums

Hi there! As I write this update, this post is nearing two years old, yet it still gets a lot of attention. A TL;DR is: our Facebook and Slack channels provide a better opportunity to grow a community. We moved our support channels to a dedicated ticketing system and we've embraced Facebook and Slack to foster and grow the Beaver Builder user community. We also have more info about why in this video.

In our March update post, we mentioned we were considering phasing out our bbPress support forums. We got some great feedback in the comments and on Facebook asking us to keep the forums around. To be 100% honest, the feedback we heard made us change our minds, or at least seriously reconsider our decision to close them down. Thank you for that.

We've Simply Outgrown our bbPress Support Forums

Since then, there have been several more signs that we're simply outgrowing the bbPress forums. They're just not sustainable or scalable, and sooner or later, they're going to have to go.

We like the forums, too. We like the sense of community there and, of course, we love when folks search and find answers as opposed to opening new tickets. Sadly, with almost 40,000 replies, the forums are getting to be a drain on our human and computing resources.

They're just simply becoming more and more unmanageable.

Reasons Why We're Shutting 'em Down

  1. The forums are so large that they're becoming difficult to manage.
  2. Email notifications are getting out of control, and the bbPress email notification settings leave a lot to be desired.
  3. The forums are significantly slowing down our site.
  4. As our support team grows, bbPress is not suited for teams of support staff.
  5. We genuinely believe we can provide a better, more scalable, experience with HelpScout.

Say Hello to HelpScout

help-scout

When Billy, Justin, and I shared an office, we also shared the main Beaver Builder email inbox. This worked great because, if I was answering an email, I would shout over my shoulder, “hey, I got this one!”

As soon as we moved out of our office, this system no longer worked. We started using HelpScout for our shared email inbox and it's been great! I can instantly see when someone is writing a response to an email (no more sending two versions of an answer because neither of us knew the other was responding), and we can easily assign and tag emails to specific people or teams.

We immediately saw the potential benefit of using HelpScout for our support system. It's got great features for teams working together, it's fast, and it has powerful analytics and stats that we can use to ensure we're providing good, timely responses.

Again, one of the reasons we're making the switch is because we're confident that—once the dust settles—we'll be able to provide a better support experience for you.

What is the Transition Going to Look Like?

Okay, here's the plan. We're not going to get rid of the support forums. We're going to keep them open and searchable, but we're asking that all new posts/tickets go through our new support page.

For the next week or so, we're going to keep the forums open to posting so we can resolve and close out the outstanding tickets. Then, we're going to move the entire forum over to a new subdomain and WordPress install.

What About all the Great Content?

In closing, the most common feedback we heard when we talked about shutting down the forums, was that people found them helpful because of all the great content. For what it's worth, we heard you loud and clear.

Frankly, though, this is partly our fault. Your feedback showed us that we have plenty of room for improvement in our Knowledge Base. There's tons of great information in the forums that we're planning to port over into Knowledge Base articles. Plus, the forums will still be available and searchable for a long time!

We apologize that we're going against the popular opinion here, but we really think this is going to be the best option for everyone moving forward. Thanks for your understanding.

Robby McCullough's Bio

31 Comments

  1. Desmond on April 26, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Makes sense guys — I think its a good call. Using HelpScout in conjunction with some sort of community forum where ideas and community solutions could be discussed would be ideal. Thanks for keeping us informed!

    • Robby McCullough on May 2, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Thanks a ton for the feedback!

  2. Jay on April 26, 2016 at 9:19 am

    One of the greatest things about an open forum style of support ticketing is you can see what other people’s experiences and steps were to resolve and save yourself hours of troubleshooting. There are also a lot of side cases and comments which might come in useful to helping you to diagnose something.
    It’s not a simple matter of being in the knowledgebase because the search terms are non conversational there, and there may not be room for a useful snippet that fits the bill perfectly.
    I’m sad to see these forums go, and I hope that maybe some day in the future you can switch to an open ticketing system so at least all troubleshooting can be searchable. My 2c

    • Robby McCullough on April 26, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Jay! We do appreciate it. This is a bit of an experiment, and we’re keeping our eyes peeled for a better, long-term solution.

    • davidlab on May 4, 2016 at 6:24 pm

      I totally agree. You are removing the community feel in which we all learn from others and what they are experiencing. You should at least keep the forums and alert the users that it has limited support. Some of the best tips, hidden secrets and tricks of the trade can come from forums.

      • davidlab on May 5, 2016 at 4:49 am

        P.S. I am not saying I am against HelpScout as I see why BB needs to use it. I am just saying BB was built around a small community feel and it would be nice to keep part of that in some way.

  3. Gerry on April 26, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Hi Robby, I’ll be sorry to see the existing forum go but I trust the BB team decision making implicitly. It will be obvious to anyone who gets email alerts for new tickets that the level of growth would become unmanageable. The important thing here is the ongoing sustainability of a fantastic business for the benefit of both the owners and their families and the your customers and their families!

    Gerry

    • Robby on April 26, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks, Gerry. It’s a bit bittersweet, but for 9/10 questions/tickets we get, HelpScout is going to be better for everyone.

  4. rcgama on April 26, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Why QAO click search is directed to a page that asks for username and password: http://clip2net.com/s/3xqgjXe

    As will be going forward to access the knowledge base?

    Thank you.

    • Robby McCullough on April 26, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      Whoops! That was a mistake on my part. Thanks for the heads up! All fixed now. 🙂

  5. Ed Stutzman on April 27, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Congratulations on making a tough decision!

    In the face of significant feedback favoring the many benefits of the forums you are moving support to a ticket-based system. I’m sure it was not a decision taken lightly.

    I appreciate your openness in walking through your logic about why it makes sense for us as customers as well as your team.

    Ticket-based support systems are a key element of high-performing IT organizations across the world and provide the foundation necessary for application support, development, and sustainability. So it makes sense to me that you would take this natural step to ensure a viable future for your company.

    For me, the BeaverBuilder forums have always represented the opportunity to engage with your team and with other customers about your products and our projects. The ability to improve our skills by learning from real situations is immeasurable.

    I’m impressed by your humility in discussing the Knowledge Base and am hopeful that the need you identified will improve over time.

    My biggest hope is that you will find the incredible value of all 3 pieces working together to be large enough to continue investing in each of them with full commitment.

    Having ticketed support coupled with a comprehensive Knowledge Base on top of an active Community Forum would be a tremendously powerful competitive advantage enjoyed only by those forward-thinking companies willing to make it happen and their customers who are lucky enough to help them do it.

    Thank you for your great products, but more importantly, thank you for your authentic leadership and genuine concern for making smart decisions to benefit us all. Even if they’re tough.

    • Robby McCullough on May 2, 2016 at 10:09 am

      Ed, we really appreciate the words of encouragement. Reading this, I think another area that we could improve on is spending more time in the Beaver Builder’s Facebook Group. That “forum” has really become the main meeting place/communication hub for our community. Sadly, it’s not as well organized, but hopefully it will continue to thrive and be a good medium for discussions.

  6. Joanne on April 27, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    That all makes sense.

    I’ve got experience of enterprise level support (IBM) and at scale, only a full ticket system is ever going to work.

    I’ve used them in the past where a ticket could be promoted to the knowledge base if it was thought it would help others – maybe something to consider.

    I’d use tickets for all problems, and forums for users to help users.

    Thanks for the open and detailed explanation.

    • Robby McCullough on April 28, 2016 at 10:53 am

      Great to know! Thanks for the feedback. That’s very encouraging to hear.

  7. brumbino on April 28, 2016 at 4:50 am

    You guys not think about Spiceworks?

    • Robby McCullough on April 28, 2016 at 10:53 am

      To be honest, I am not familiar. I’ll take a look. Thanks for the suggestion!

  8. Jon on April 29, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    I sent two post today in old system. No more.
    Thanks,
    JP

    • Robby McCullough on May 2, 2016 at 10:10 am

      No worries and thanks, Jon!

  9. Bob on May 6, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Your success so far is from what you Billy and Justin have done, and is a result of many moving parts coming together at the right place and time. Your formula is spot on- FOCUS is key (cliche but applies HERE). Stay focused on improving these existing parts- do not veer off the path- its working. This thing has become real big and scaling is a challenge but, you will do it- wear holes in that white board- it still works.

    Many of us out HERE are now part of your “team.” Everybody works together, and everybody wins- you ticket data becomes the missing manual, the adventure IS the dream. Caution- don’t sell out, though tempting, anyone else at the helm will just destroy what you have. Just watch those episodes of Silicon Valley again to remind you of sh*t and damage Vulture Capitalists do to good ideas, and if you want instruction on alternate realities, check out “Rick and Morty” (bu not in front of your children). Best as always, and Peace through communication. -Bob Barker

    • Robby McCullough on May 6, 2016 at 8:13 am

      Hey Bob. Thanks for the words of advice and encouragement. We really appreciate it!

      Silicon Valley is one of my favorite shows these days. Especially growing up in the valley, it gets so many things right, haha.

      We’ll keep doing what we’re doing. Your support means a lot. 🙂

  10. kdeuler on May 14, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Robby, sounds like a good plan. Just curious if you could clarify just for my understanding…

    > is it the nature of the new support resources that they are read-only for users , except of course for dialog with you and individual ticket submitters about the issue in the ticket. That is, there’s no user-to-user communication facility?
    > Is your point that when the old forum is moved to a new sub domain and we install, that it will be fired up as a forum again for users to trade ideas?

    Thanks.

    Kurt (a pre, but imminent, newbie)

  11. Ermanno on June 10, 2016 at 7:04 am

    Many other systems use both, the ticket for difficult problems, the forum where you are confronted and solutions are found, and where experienced users help the less experienced, easing the work of the staf, just move out of the site and forum It does not slow down, in my opinion the best solution.
    Since many users on the forum claimed to be unable to use BB on ipad pro, I point out that with the Puffin pro browser, you can use it like the mac or pc, you can activate a virtual pad and use like a mouse desk top. Hello to all from Italy

    • Robby McCullough on June 12, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Thanks for the tip, Ermanno. They both have strengths and weaknesses, but the Facebook group has become the community hub that we intended the forum to be. We’re doing some work on improving our Knowledge Base right now. I think once we start turning appropriate conversations into KB articles, the two systems are going to be a much better combo than the old support forums. Fingers X’d. 🙂

  12. Oliver Nielsen on October 8, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    That makes a lotta sense!

    Personally I find forums in general… messy. People ask variations of the same questions, over and over. That is time-consuming for the moderators, and frustrating to search, as a user.

    A well-managed knowledge base + email support is a far better combo.

    Good choice:)

    Oliver

    • Robby McCullough on October 9, 2016 at 8:52 am

      Thanks, Oliver! We miss the sense of community in the forums, but from a management perspective it’s been a great switch.

  13. GRANT on October 19, 2016 at 10:10 am

    How are you guys finding the switch to helpscout?

    • Robby McCullough on October 19, 2016 at 10:56 am

      Hey Grant! The only downside is that a lot of people liked the support forums. Apart from that, from the management and day-to-day perspective, it’s been a great experience.

  14. David on March 14, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    We were just about to sign on with BeaverBuilder until I searched for your forums and found this post. We try to avoid dealing with companies that don’t offer support forums. It’s always amazing to me the disconnect on the part of companies that don’t want forums and think they can “give better support” without them. It misses the entire reason people use forums! 90% of the things I post on forums would not be appropriate for a tech support channel, and are often because I’m looking for input from other users. Without that community, I’ll choose a product from a company that cares enough to offer one.

    It’s also not an either or scenario, yet for some reason companies that don’t use forums always try to portray it that way. Offer tech support, and let your forums be user to user.

  15. David on March 14, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    So as I read the comments it looks like you have slack and FB community. May I suggest updating the post to reflect that?

    • Robby McCullough on March 15, 2018 at 8:54 pm

      Hey David! Yeah, good idea. Our thinking isn’t that far off at all..we agree that community is extremely important. We just found Facebook and Slack are the better mediums to foster and grow that community.

      We actually just addressed this question again in our AMA video: https://youtu.be/ZnqBSrQk6Io?t=3m33s

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