Do you guys even realize what mess it will cause? If user who didn’t buy a support package goes to item comments, he still can read all author replies to the questions what user who have bought support package asked. The only difference is he won’t have a badge that he purchased it. Where is the logic?
That’s a good thing though, the core idea is to reduce support requests. So in that respect, all good.
However, the reality is that with this proposed system where buyers can still leave comments even without a support badge, means buyers will 100% ask questions/report bugs/say the product is broken/etc without a support package. And it will be up to authors to either answer for free (it will happen) or waste minutes of their lives to explain/confront/tell buyers to pay up more money. And after that their question will be answered.
A lot of the time the answer to the buyer’s question will be something like “turns out the problem is a third party plugin, you need to contact plugin author”, and then the buyer will have to go to the plugin author having wasted his/her money and time (and the author’s time). Oh and if the plugin is from CodeCanyon, pay up more money for support again….... it’s such a ridiculous system for both authors and buyers, that will lead to huge frustration on all sides for insignificant extra income. Like I said before – completely out of touch with reality and how the marketplace works.
Apart from raising the point about Envato’s own “Envato Support system” in my previous comment, I should have also added:
@AndrewFreeman you are essentially doing a type of “support” on this very thread: To reduce the number of comments/repeated questions from authors, you yourself have manually amalgamated all your answers and edited your opening post here to include links to those “common questions”.
Why are you and Envato not approaching improving support with this type of mentality? The first thing you should have ever looked at and done was to implement and improve the comments/email form systems to naturally and effectively reduce overall numbers, whilst making buyers happy for giving them quicker solutions. I honestly just don’t get it. Well, 30% of me does get it a bit.
My themes have sold almost 10,000 licenses on this marketplace in my 2 years here, and I have received over 7,000 tickets/emails/comments and have spoken to many buyers in-depth over support. Therefore, I can confidently say I know what I am talking about and your proposal is 100% out of touch with how the marketplace works and should work. You are making the experience for both authors and buyers extra frustrating and problematic.
On a very superficial and basic level, paid support sounds like the right solution. But it really, really will not fix any of the core problems with support, and you either simply don’t understand the core issues, or you are ignoring them for whatever reason.
Core issue #1: Buyers don’t understand what “support” actually is.
Envato solution: Charge buyers extra for “support”, i.e. “Questions to ensure product works as advertised”.
True outcome: Buyers will now feel more entitled as they are now paying for something extra. They will be even more demanding than ever, and simply getting money out of them will not suddenly make them understand what support actually is. Which will lead to the same number of comments and a lot of authors continue to bend over backwards for every buyer, including not-so-simple customizations to keep them happy. In other words, nothing has improved or changed. It’s only worsened buyer’s sense of entitlement and perception of support.
A better solution: Implement multiple systems to lessen support naturally and educate buyers. For instance:
Example solution 1: In the “Comment” and “Email author” form, there should be a dropdown menu/radio options that users have to choose between “Bug / Pre-sale / Customization / etc”. And whatever they select should show a small line explaining the rules and include links to relevant FAQs/Documentation that likely already have the answer, before they are able to submit a comment/email.
You already do this to reduce your own support at Envato Support. Why are you not considering doing the same for author’s support?
Example solution 2: Something similar to how StackOverflow does it – Ajax live search as you write a new comment. So as you type keywords they are picked up and show buyers potentially related comments that were already answered before they even submit a new comment.
It took me less than 10 minutes to think of those two potential solutions that would 100% at the very least reduce support numbers and make buyers happier by solving their issues quickly. But of course, it would require Envato staff to implement the solutions, and it is clear you’d rather throw problems at author’s laps instead, as you said “Authors are entitled to tell buyers to buy support package”. That makes no sense, buyers should be told by Envato automatically they need to buy it, why should authors have to waste minutes of their lives and be the perceived bad guys by responding to buyers that they need to buy support before being able to ask, even though they already asked their question….......
It goes without saying how frustrated and disappointed I am with Envato over this. I would appreciate if you could give me some sort of response or opinion over my point of view, Andrew.
So, so, so many potential issues with this implementation. It’s going to be painful.
I want to be clear that I am all for clarifying buyer’s expectations, as that has been an issue, but paid support was never the correct/best solution.
And the “retiring of themes” response by Andrew is particularly disturbing. In other words you are saying authors are now under some sort of contract with buyers for potentially 12 months to “support and help buyers” even after they remove their stock products from the marketplace. This is ludicrous!
Many items are removed by Envato for various reasons, DMCA’d or simply removed by authors because they don’t want the products in their portfolio any more for whatever reason.
The support agreement should be:
“For as long as the item is being sold on Themforest…. Blah blah”
And if the item is removed for any reason, support stops. It is nonsensical to even fathom providing support for an item that has been removed. You honestly think it makes sense to expect authors to update retired themes to work with the latest version of WooCommerce and then send them privately to buyers over email?
In short, Envato want their cake and to devour it too. Lock buyers and authors in some, weird out of touch, contract and all the potential problems will fall on the author’s laps, yet Envato still got their cut for doing absolutely nothing. Insane. Simply insane.
@Kailoon, thanks for starting this thread. It’s been a while since many themes are now comfortably and openly advertising “multiple designs in one theme with 100 premium plugins bundled in”, which Themeforest claims is strictly not allowed. At least the multiple designs (themes) in one part. Most authors understand how damaging and ridiculous this trend is to not only the marketplace, but to the WordPress world in general. The main issue is that Themeforest is allowing and encouraging this trend to continue and it will only get worse.
What really confuses and worries me though, is that you, Kailoon, and other experienced reviewers, have spoken out in the past on how against you guys are to this ridiculous trend, but if you guys, who have been reviewers for such a long time here, don’t have the power to change the rules and stop it. Then who does?
I spoke to Collis about this, and he put me in contact with Stephen Cronin about it, who said they would look into it internally and told me to chase him up on it, but I decided not to follow it up, as it is clear to me that no one with the power at Envato has the desire to change it, either through being out-of-touch with the WordPress world or through sheer fear of dealing with such a big pink elephant. Which is very deflating. I have the skills and capability to create one of those monster “multi-design/20 themes in one”, but I don’t want to contribute to the problem. And that leads to the other annoying fact about Themeforest – which is that in a few years from now, or sooner, authors who want to stay competitive and continue creating themes may have no other choice to but do it.
@GravityDept, great comment, pretty much my thoughts on this too.
What I really don’t get is that Envato are saying they want to do this to help authors with the “burdens of product support”, yet I haven’t seen a single author say that this is the solution they had in mind. Really confusing!
1- Serious question: Has anyone at Envato who is coming up and deciding on this subject ever sold anything on the marketplace as an author?
2- What happens if a buyer doesn’t pay for support. Will the buyer literally not be able to leave a comment/send email until he pays for support? Or will comment pages on products be filled with authors telling buyers “Please pay for support and then you can ask for help/theme questions”.
3- If a buyer pays for 6 months of support. What happens when it runs out? Do they lose the ability to leave comments, leave a theme rating and the ability to send emails to the author?
I still strongly disagree with this move by Envato. Currently, themes are cheap and support is optional + free. Yet you still get some buyers demanding the world and getting angry/confrontational when they don’t get it. Now you are going to make them feel even more entitled by allowing them to literally pay peanuts for 6 months support.
1- How do you suggest authors deal with buyers that demand beyond the support boundaries?
2- Will authors get a direct point of contact with someone at Envato to help deal with conflicts?
I have both offline/online docs for my themes, and I agree it would be great if you could only have one version somewhere. I think the main reason Envato demand offline is because some authors leave the marketplace or delete themes (and likely delete the demo site/docs), meaning buyers would then lose access to the docs forever!
I don’t think it should be either “Offline and/or online docs only”, I think a better solution would be if Envato created a well-developed documentation solution for products so that Envato can host the documentation on their servers. Authors would simply build their docs using the documentation system inside the submission form (maybe drag and drop type interface for simple titles and blocks of content with images/text). Buyers could then click on a “documentation” tab on the theme page to see it all, similar to the “comments” tab. It’d probably be better for buyers too, as they’d have a consistent documentation UI experience through all their themes and easily find them too. Buuut I won’t hold my breath for something like this