Rather lengthy feedback (sorry)

Do you have any feature requests or suggestions

Moderators: Celeste Stewart, Ed, Constant

Project Dave
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Mar 16, 2008 6:00 am
Location: Te Awamutu, New Zealand

Rather lengthy feedback (sorry)

Post by Project Dave »

First of all, please do not take my criticisms to heart. The fact I have have spent my time providing this feedback shows how much I respect this website - I wouldn't bother for most. I'm also setting the bar high because CC is aimed at the premium market so I think premium standards are required.

I may have some things wrong in which case I'd appreciate being corrected.


The high quality of the articles is what makes this site. On the flip side, it is expensive and I'm not convinced I can make the financial numbers work at these prices. In any case I think you've got it right by targeting the discerning market and pricing accordingly.

Unfortunately the quality of the content is not matched by the infrastructure. More on that in the technical stuff below.

It would be nice to see the site from an author's point of view as well as a customer. As it stands I feel a bit like I'm only seeing half the picture. That might not be the case but it *feels* like it - I guess I just don't like not having the full picture (I'm a bit of a control freak).

Do authors see some sort of profile about customers? If I spend a lot of money and work well with authors, is this reflected in my reputation? I'd like to think so. BTW I don't even know what name I'm known to authors by. I hope it's not just my email address.

I'd like to be able to buy credits like I do at places like istockphoto.com. I find it keeps bookkeeping simpler (and I'm lazy).

There should be some way to see which articles are waiting for moderator review, for two reasons:
(1) Authors need to know which of my article topics are already being considered and which ones have yet to be submitted. One author specifically asked which articles were less popular but I didn't really know at that stage because they were all still in the queue.
(2) I don't know exactly when I should decide which article to buy. One day I purchased several articles only to find out that additional articles were waiting to be approved. This brings me to the next point...

When authors respond to a general request, it would be nice if I was guaranteed first option to purchase (at least for a few days). I feel under pressure to buy when I see a good article in case some other customer gets in before me. But if I buy too soon, maybe I'm missing out on an even better one that's waiting for review.

Some authors submit more than one version of an article. I'm not happy about the fact that the version I reject is likely to be picked up cheap by my competitors. Seems a bit like double-dipping on the author's part, although that's probably not intentional.

Some of the articles I purchased have typos. In one short article alone I found words such as htat, casue, capabitlies, and others that would implicate the author so I won't mention them. I don't need to explain what sort of impression this makes.


I have a problem with the message system - basically it doesn't work and I can't reply to any authors except the last one who contacted me. I submitted a ticket to your support staff but apparently I got my email addy wrong - I only discovered this when I posted a thread in the forum.

I'm not the only one of your customers who is stupid enough to get his email addy wrong, which is just one reason why you should get a decent ticket system. Another reason is that the simple contact form approach feels too down-market for a premium service.

More importantly, I submitted another ticket and double-checked my email addy, but I am still waiting for a response three full days later. Unacceptable. Even if I got my addy wrong again, it shouldn't be hard to contact me through the site somehow. Come on guys, this is a serious issue that is preventing me from spending money at your site. In fact the poor response to my technical problem is the main reason that I've decided not to use this website for the foreseeable future.

On to other technical issues....

The login timeout is too short, I'm frustrated by the number of times I need to login. Also, if I take too long to compose a message or request I lose the contents of the form when I submit it (yes I know I should copy and paste). BTW the "remember me" checkbox doesn't seem to do anything.

The "New Messages" area under "My Requests" has stopped working. When I first started using the site it worked fine, but now it no longer tells me when I have messages waiting. The link in the left-hand navbar still works though.

My replies to an author should be visible when I view an individual author's messages, instead they are only visible when I view all author's messages.

Some article links don't work. One author submitted an article but when I clicked the link I was taken to the articles home page. This could be related to the fact that there was a question mark in the URL. Anyway I had to find the article manually by digging around in the photography section, which turned out to be a good thing because...

I didn't receive notifications of all articles which were posted in response to my request. When I looked in the photography section I saw a bunch of additional articles that were obviously supplied for my consideration but it was too late - I'd already purchased the topics from other authors. I was working on the assumption that I was being notified of all relevant submissions, so unfortunately a number of articles weren't even considered by me. I don't know if this is a technical problem or an error on the authors' part.

Please let me set my own time zone. I'm on the other side of the world and I hate having to think in USA time.

Some of the error messages could be more useful. For example, I discovered that "You have no orders" actually means "You have been logged out".

When I tried to submit private requests to some authors I had no luck. When viewing an author's profile I clicked "Request this author" but that only takes me to a generic form that allows me to search for the author. I then have to click my back button to copy the author's name because my memory span is too short to remember it. This is a good example of a minor frustration that wouldn't be bad by itself, but when added with lots of similar frustrations it adds up to a less-than-outstanding experience.

Anyway, some of the authors I tried to request weren't found in the database so I had to give up. BTW the "not found" message has a typo ("No Record Foud").


Private messaging has been disabled, which is fair enough but it might make sense to remove the PM buttons.

The customer forum is full of questions that should be elsewhere, which made it difficult to browse and look for genuine questions related to my issue. Can they be moved to the correct forum?

The memberlist link doesn't work.

The spam is pretty bad. I sympathize but not 100% - if you had better forum software (see below) it probably wouldn't be so bad. Maybe you could consider hiring additional moderators in different time zones? I find that helps keep my forums under better control.

Tidy up a few little things, e.g.: BB code isn't correctly rendered, the Topic Review area (underneath the message form) is squashed horizontally.

IMO phpbb is a fine script but it's not a top-grade forum solution. vBulletin is better and more secure against spammers. It doesn't cost that much, you can import the phpbb database, and I think it would offer a more professional impression than an inferior freebie (with all due respect to the phpbb developers). I find my estimation of a site goes down just a little when I see that they have opted for an inferior solution to anything.


In the end it's the quality of articles that count. I can put up with most flaws if the product is there. Unfortunately I can't live with the technical problems so I have taken the rest of my current project elsewhere. I'll probably come back at some stage and see if it's improved.

CC is a credit to both the owner and the contributors. Your reputation for quality writing is deserved. I just think a few technical issues need to be cleaned up to make the package complete.

Thanks very much for reading my feedback. All the best.
Dave Owen
Celeste Stewart
Posts: 3528
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2006 5:28 pm
Location: California

Post by Celeste Stewart »

Wow, Dave, you have some really interesting points. I'm sure the folks at CC will appreciate your honesty. So many people leave businesses without telling them the reasons why.

I do know that CC takes suggestions seriously and actively works to improve the system. Mostly, this forum gets suggestions from the writers' end rather than customers. I'm confident that they'll take your suggestions to heart and get busy. I'm just a writer here (and one of the spam-cleaner-uppers) so I don't have any power to make those changes. However, I would encourage you to check back down the road and see if things have improved. We have an awesome set of writers and a "work in progress" delivery system.

As far as articles not being posted for your review, I do know that on my own two articles for your topic, I did them several days after your initial request because I was swamped with other projects. I knew that the Macro topic had already been filled but wanted to write it anyway as I figured I could sell it elsewhere if you didn't want it.

Both articles were approved promptly after I submitted them to the system but I couldn't post them to your request because it had already been removed. Not CC's fault in this case. That may be why you found them in the photography section without a note from me alerting you. Just my thoughts on that point. I would love a feature that automatically alerted customers when an article meets their request too.

Anyhow, I'm glad you shared your concerns and hope you'll check back from time to time.