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Author Topic: The Bat: Great program, terrible documentation and support  (Read 18076 times)
superboyac
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« on: March 13, 2009, 01:34:24 AM »

I love the Bat as a client, I really do.  But it has terrible documentation for the most part, and a pretty unhelpful forum.

First of all, I think most people know that the help manual that comes with the program is just ok at best.  Yeah, most everything is in there, but for being such a poweruser program, it needs more details on all the options.  Every word that is defined in the program or options should be explained somewhere.

The forums.  Again, they're ok, but not good enough for a program of this complexity.  Mouser has done an unbelievable job with this forum, and I feel it's hands-down the best forum interface I've ever used.  The bat is mediocre.  Whatever.

Also, it seems to me that The Bat is quite slow in fixing little bugs or adding features.  I gladly paid for the recent upgrade, but didn't find it different at all.  Maybe it's all behind the scenes stuff (yes I know i can read the history).  Still, it's an awesome program.  I'm just saying, most poweruser programs like this have either very active forums with a lot of helpful people, and/or a manual that is very detailed and complete.
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rjbull
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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2009, 07:14:33 AM »

Do you mean you see TB!'s forum online, as per DC?  I take it as a mailing list.  My main problem with it is the sheer volume: not surprising, I suppose, for a program of TB!'s power and complexity.

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Dormouse
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« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2009, 01:30:56 PM »

I don't think I've ever tried to open the help file
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superboyac
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2009, 01:58:21 PM »

Do you mean you see TB!'s forum online, as per DC?  I take it as a mailing list.  My main problem with it is the sheer volume: not surprising, I suppose, for a program of TB!'s power and complexity.
Yeah, I was talking about their online forum.  I didn't know they had a mailing list.  I hate mailing lists.  but they also have the option to read it through a newsreader.
I'm trying to setup the gmane server in my newsreader, but it's not working.  Can someone walk me through this?
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superboyac
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2009, 02:10:26 PM »

Unbelievable...I think I was banned from the Bat forum!  All I did was start these threads:
http://www.ritlabs.com/en...ad.php?FID=4&TID=7223
http://www.ritlabs.com/en...ad.php?FID=4&TID=7222

I don't think I've ever been banned before from a forum!  Either I did something terribly wrong, or they are terribly sensitive to something i have no idea about.  Now I know why there is no good documentation in their forums...you're not allowed to ask anything.
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Darwin
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2009, 03:01:28 PM »

There is a corollary to this, thougu, Aram: compare The Bat!'s documentation to the documentation provided for Directory Opus - they've gone in the other direction and have produced such a comprehensive users manual that it's VERY intimidating when you need to dip into it. So much so, that I've never really made much use of it, getting tips and pointers on their users forum instead. But then, I'm one of those people (men) that don't really like to use the instructions when I build things, either...  ohmy
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Darwin
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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2009, 03:03:03 PM »

Wow - posted the above and then noted your latest post about being banned from the Bat! forums - how do you know/what makes you think you've been banned? The two posts you linked to are very innocuous  huh
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superboyac
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2009, 03:47:06 PM »

Wow - posted the above and then noted your latest post about being banned from the Bat! forums - how do you know/what makes you think you've been banned? The two posts you linked to are very innocuous  huh
I've been banned because now I can't create a new thread, reply to any threads, or even modify my own threads...with a message in red saying I don't have enough permission to do so.  I've been banned.

Then i saw their forum "rules":
http://www.ritlabs.com/en...ad.php?FID=4&TID=6975

Which are really stupid rules to have for a support forum.  Don't talk about bugs?!  That's just a dumb rule.

As far as Dopus, yes, it is rather intimidating.  But with them, at least they have a really nice forum where you can find answers relatively quickly.
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Darwin
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« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2009, 04:03:44 PM »

Wow - posted the above and then noted your latest post about being banned from the Bat! forums - how do you know/what makes you think you've been banned? The two posts you linked to are very innocuous  huh
I've been banned because now I can't create a new thread, reply to any threads, or even modify my own threads...with a message in red saying I don't have enough permission to do so.  I've been banned.

Then i saw their forum "rules":
http://www.ritlabs.com/en...ad.php?FID=4&TID=6975

Which are really stupid rules to have for a support forum.  Don't talk about bugs?!  That's just a dumb rule.

As far as Dopus, yes, it is rather intimidating.  But with them, at least they have a really nice forum where you can find answers relatively quickly.

Agreed about the friendly fourm. Sorry about your experience with RitLabs - that SUCKS. Agree, too, that the forum rules are dumb. Has anyone contacted you? Seems a bit draconian to ban you for two such minor infractions. You don't even get a warning?
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mahesh2k
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« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2009, 04:15:51 PM »

What ? Superboyac- got pwned from "The-Bat forums"?  ohmy
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cyberdiva
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2009, 07:03:58 PM »

Good grief, Superboyac!  I don't even see how your innocuous and reasonable messages violated The Bat!'s forum rules.  I've thought from time to time of giving The Bat! another try, but the last thing I need is a forum where I can't ask questions and express opinions.  thumb down
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superboyac
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« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2009, 08:45:44 PM »

Yeah, no warning or anything!  It wouldn't prevent me from buying the program, it's just annoying.  I like great software too much to not get it just to make a point.  At the end of the day, it's a good program.  But many people take into account these things before buying a program, so if I were them, I'd relax a little.
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Dormouse
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2009, 03:24:26 AM »

For a lot of programs, I'd very much want a good forum, or some other reliable source of info and support. For TheBat!, I've never bothered except to check the forums occasionally after a new version is launched to see if it has stabilised yet and might be worth trying. I would think they get masses of critical comments at those times, so maybe there are a lot of posters who aren't banned but can't post anymore.

I suspect the post that gave offence was the MicroEd one. Doesn't matter to me one way or the other either, but I think someone there is very proud of it. At least they haven't deleted your posts, but it is never a good thing when developers limit negative comments on their forums beyond the point of removing insults, trolls, spammers etc.

As with Superboyac, it doesn't put me off using TheBat!, though it might if there were a program I found as good and had a much more supportive forum. TheBat's longevity would count for something even then though, so it might be 10 years before I switched.  smiley
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mouser
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2009, 06:52:40 AM »

That's totally ridiculous if they banned you from the forum.. maybe you just triggered something that prevents one user from posting too many posts on the day they sign up, to prevent spammers?
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superboyac
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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2009, 02:53:37 PM »

That's totally ridiculous if they banned you from the forum.. maybe you just triggered something that prevents one user from posting too many posts on the day they sign up, to prevent spammers?
That shouldn't be the case, since I signed up two years ago.  But maybe I posted twice in a few minutes and that triggered it.  But that still leaves me to wonder why no one responded.

On a related note, I was able to access their newsgroup/mailing list and it is VERY active.  Seems like all the important discussions happen in there.  A bit antiquated in my opinion, but it is a poweruser email program so i can understand why they gravitate towards using mailing lists and newsgroups.
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J-Mac
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« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2009, 01:40:15 PM »

It does say in the rules the following:

Quote
In this forum, the users of The Bat! can communicate with each other to spread their positive attitude toward The Bat!, to share the experience in attaining different goals using The Bat!

Soooo.... they don't want anything posted there apparently that is not spreading your "positive attitude" about the bat.  What a crock! Talk about self-serving.

I can now add this as another reason I wouldn't even consider installing this thing on my machine! (I won't bother to go into all the others!)

Jim
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J-Mac
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« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2009, 01:44:02 PM »


On a related note, I was able to access their newsgroup/mailing list and it is VERY active.  Seems like all the important discussions happen in there.  A bit antiquated in my opinion, but it is a poweruser email program so i can understand why they gravitate towards using mailing lists and newsgroups.

?????!  I don't see the correlation at all. Poweruser programs use usenet and mailing lists?   Grin Grin Grin   I think not! Has nothing to do with whether a program is for, (Ahem!) "powerusers". To me it just indiciates that the developer of the program has probably been around computers for a long time and is accustomed to/more familiar and comfortable with such media.

Jim
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J-Mac
superboyac
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« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2009, 08:25:07 PM »

?????!  I don't see the correlation at all. Poweruser programs use usenet and mailing lists?   Grin Grin Grin   I think not! Has nothing to do with whether a program is for, (Ahem!) "powerusers". To me it just indiciates that the developer of the program has probably been around computers for a long time and is accustomed to/more familiar and comfortable with such media.

Jim
Yeah, I know...I've used all the different kinds of support methods over the years like mailing lists, forums, simple emails to the author.  The best BY FAR is an active forum as far as quickly finding information and resolving issues.  And for that matter, this DC forum is the best as far as interface and searching options and organization.  But I also know mouser has put in a lot of custom tweaks and effort to make it that way.

Mailing lists are a pain in the butt.  Sure, there's a lot of information in there, but it's hard to find something when you need it.  And because of that, it forces you to read a whole bunch of stuff you don't really care about.  Remember the days (about 10 years ago)?  I was on several mailing lists and it was just ridiculous.  I was in college and didn't have as many responsibilities so i had the tiime, but man, I had to read so much garbage every day.  No, forums are definitely the way to go.

But Jim, seriously, the Bat as a program is excellent.  I don't know what client I would use if it did not exist.  I used to use pegasus for years which is still pretty good.  but DC made me change.
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cyberdiva
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« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2009, 09:38:43 PM »

Mailing lists are a pain in the butt.  Sure, there's a lot of information in there, but it's hard to find something when you need it.  And because of that, it forces you to read a whole bunch of stuff you don't really care about. 

I think this depends on the mailing list (by which I assume you mean a listserv).  Some listservs, especially those running LSoft Listserv software, have searchable logfiles that make finding information just as easy as on web forums.

Quote
But Jim, seriously, the Bat as a program is excellent.  I don't know what client I would use if it did not exist.  I used to use pegasus for years which is still pretty good.  but DC made me change.

Several years ago, when Mulberry seemed as if it was about to disappear, I tried several other email clients, including The Bat.  It had lots of attractive features, but unfortunately its IMAP support was disappointing, not nearly as good as that in Mulberry, Pegasus, or even Thunderbird.  I don't know whether the most recent version of The Bat offers improved IMAP support, but since Mulberry is still alive, I no longer feel any urgency about finding another email client.  And to be honest, your experience with The Bat's web forum really puts me off.  I want to be able to participate in a forum without feeling as if I have to watch every word and opinion I express.  So I guess for now I'm sticking with Mulberry, with Thunderbird and Pegasus available when I need them.
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superboyac
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2011, 10:51:12 PM »

Some more complaints about the Bat's support.  I keep looking for a helpful, normal forum to figure shit out about the Bat, but there is nothing like that.  here's what I've found:

The actual Ritlabs forum:
This is the one on their website.  According to the rules, you can only say "positive" things about the Bat there.  Nothing else.  no bug reports, no support questions, nothing about beta.  Only "positive" remarks.  It's basically a forum to only give good testimontials for the program.  So the official forum is basically useless.  i doubt anyone goes there for anything...ever.  That's why it's not used.

The stupid mailing list (also accessed through usenet, if you prefer):
This is by far the most active place to discuss all things related to the Bat.  The only problem is that it's, well, really really antiquated.  We're talking early 90's technology here.  Either you use a listserv mailing list, which basically means people communicate through emails.  You subscribe and get tons of emails, or one large weekly mail.  Or if you don't like that, you can read/post through the newsgroups which mirrors the activity in the mailing list.  This is very insane.  Good luck searching for answers, or navigating through all the information.  Forums are really the way to go for stuff like this, if only the Bat would get with the times.  it would be great if they just allowed the Ritlabs forum to be used as a regular forum, open to everything so people can actually figure things out about the Bat.  Or give us a manual!  Something!  Good grief...

Now, I found this forum, called The Unofficial Bat Support Forums:
http://the-bat-forums.org
The problem with this forum is that nobody uses it.  It's great if people used it, but they don't.  It's a normal, modern forum, with all the features you would expect.  But because everyone that matters uses the mailing lists, nobody uses this.  So it's basically useless.

I have such a love/hate relationship with this program.  There are like 5 things that they never fix, and if they did, it would be awesome.  I can even show them exactly how to do it, and it wouldn't be that hard from a programmer's standpoint.  But as many of you know, the only features they have added in the past 5 years are very minor, and predominantly useless.  Why?  Because the only feedback they ever get is from the mailing list users.  And anyone who regularly participates on a mailing list is not a "normal" person.  That's not a criticism, what I mean is that they hardly have any sense about what is "easy" for normal people, and they don't care about buttons/UI as long as their keyboard shortcuts are working.  So you can't expect them to care about easy conveniences.  A version 5 is coming out, and I can almost assure you that there is going to be nothing noticeably different about the program.
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J-Mac
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« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2011, 11:06:25 PM »

Usenet can actually be a terrific support method if it is used properly and well-covered by the developer. Of course that goes for regular software forums also. As for having to search for information on Usenet I have Agent Forte (though admittedly it is not currently installed - though I do have a current license). Agent is built specifically for Usenet groups - and nothing else. It has a built-in email program too but I never used it much. But for searching, building watches, filters, and marking posts for later reference, it is the best available. And with it Usenet can be pretty decent.   smiley

Jim
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J-Mac
superboyac
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« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2011, 11:19:48 PM »

Usenet can actually be a terrific support method if it is used properly and well-covered by the developer. Of course that goes for regular software forums also. As for having to search for information on Usenet I have Agent Forte (though admittedly it is not currently installed - though I do have a current license). Agent is built specifically for Usenet groups - and nothing else. It has a built-in email program too but I never used it much. But for searching, building watches, filters, and marking posts for later reference, it is the best available. And with it Usenet can be pretty decent.   smiley

Jim
yeah, back before forums became mainstream, I used Forte Agent a lot.  it was great for that.  But now, it doesn't make sense with all the conveniences available with regular forums.  Just look at this forum here, it's amazing...the way you can present content, search, and the interface is just amazing.  people come here and they don't have any frustrations mechanically, which is not the case in other forums.  newsgroups are horrible compared to forums.  I'm not saying they are bad in every way, but once you've tasted the forums, it's hard to go back to that.
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J-Mac
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« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2011, 12:08:24 AM »

......But now, it doesn't make sense with all the conveniences available with regular forums. 

Unless, that is, the software you use and love is using Usenet only for their main support vehicle. Then it makes sense by necessity!

Jim
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J-Mac
superboyac
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« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2011, 12:13:14 AM »

......But now, it doesn't make sense with all the conveniences available with regular forums.

Unless, that is, the software you use and love is using Usenet only for their main support vehicle. Then it makes sense by necessity!

Jim
Well, if the question is "how do I get support for the Bat?", then yes, you are correct.

Now, if the question is "How do we set up a support system where more than 5% of our userbase will want to use it...ever?"  Then the answer is definitely not usenet.  To me, it's clear that the Bat developers have no real intention to help their users figure out the program.  You don't go this long without a user manual if you did.  Same with the forums and all that.  Now, they have this trouble ticket support system, which is ok, but the problem there is that other users can search the questions and solutions that have gone through there.  But at least they have solved all of my few issues with that system.  But if they just had a forum, it would be soooo much better.  or a manual!  Give us something!
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superboyac
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« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2011, 09:49:55 AM »

OK, I found another forum:
http://www.batboard.net/index.php?page=Portal

It actually looks like a good, active forum.  Problem?  it's not english!  Son of a !@#. 
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