One of the most important aspects of creative products, especially those that rely on learning and using software, is the community surrounding that product. One of the first things I do when considering a product is to see how vibrant the community around that product is.
I have been involved in product related communities for longer than internet groups have existed... right back to the old direct dial Compuserve days. And, in all these past years I have never felt the need to unsubscribe out of disgust. Until now.
And, the only thing that would make me do so is if the rules and the application of the rules was such that one could not help people without getting a reprimand and then finding that others are NOT getting reprimanded for blatant breaking of the rules. In other words as the saying goes, "Everyone is equal. But, some are more equal than others."
The Gazelle was not an inexpensive printer at the time I purchased it. So, even though I definitely think the eCraft design is more to my liking, I thought I would at least give the Gazelle a shot and try to see if the Funtime software was better than my initial reaction. So, I joined a Yahoo group for Funtime. It turned out to be a Not-so-Funtime.
I always try to be as helpful as I can within an online community. So, because I do not know Funtime all that well, I looked for other opportunities to be helpful in areas of my expertise. Almost immediately I saw a question from someone who wanted recommendations for a good photo printer. Now, as someone who captured more than 8000 images last year, and has been printing digital camera images since 1996, I KNOW a little bit about photo printers. I have at least 10 printers right now of various brands for different purposes. Some are wide carriage for posters and others only print on CDs and DVDs.
As timing would have it, I'd just purchased a Canon MX870 for it's multi-page scanning capability. And, I got it at a great price...$149.95 So, I made the fatal mistake of not only telling the person about the printer; but, suggesting a place that was even less expensive.
ZING! The polite email informed me that while I was only trying to be helpful that was NOT allowed.
So, a day or two later, after removing the offending link to B & H Photo, I mentioned that I am getting excellent color and great yeild from all of my calibrated Canon printers. That prompted the direct question... "How do you calibrate your printer?" Good question. Easy answer. I use Spyder Studio 3 screen and printer calibration system manufactured by Datacolor... and included a link to Datacolor's site so that the questioner could see what it was like.
ZING! Another polite email informed me of my terrible offense.
So, THEY recieved an email in response. I noticed that one member had directly referred members to a sales site for a continuous ink system and that message had remained without being ZINGED! into non-existence.
I can understand that a company that creates a group might want to prevent members of that group from posting links to competitor's sites. That's certainly legitimate. But, for the life of me, I cannot understand keeping people who have asked for help, in entirely NON-COMPETING areas, from getting the most direct help they can, including links to the manufacturer. The Funtime Software Yahoo group is the first in my experience that goes that far and even then appears to apply those rules haphazzardly.
I don't need that. Community is community and I've found several other digital cutter related communities that do allow their members to share the kinds of information that they need as long as the help is not a link to a competitor. I can live with that rule.
I was on the fence about keeping the Gazelle and using precious time to learn Funtime in more depth. Not any more. I'll keep it for a while as I fully evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the eCraft machine. But, if the eCraft does all I need, then the need for Funtime disappears.
I unsubscribed and, at least for now, will pack up the Gazelle for now and look for the eCraft to arrive.
Products like digital cutters are more than simply steel and plastic. They are idea realizers. And, no matter who we are we need help getting the most of our selected idea realizer. And, there is no better way to get this help than to be a part of a vibrant community of people helping people. If members can't help without getting ZINGED! then it's hard to believe that you are truly getting all the help that others want to give because they, too, might be being ZINGED! as they try to answer YOUR question. And, that is unacceptable.