Why People Don't Use ZSpace
By Mark Conroy at Feb 18, 2009
I'm replying as one of the 20% who has uploaded my photo and bio to ZSpace; I'm also replying as one of the 10% who has been commenting (infrequently) and blogging (more frequently) using ZSpace.
Firstly, I find the tone of these messages (this one and the last one in particular) somewhat patronising and condescending; it comes across as if you are saying, "look at all we are doing, why aren't you doing the same?". I'm sure the mailings are not meant to come across in this manner, but to me they do. The corporate world has made great strides to promote its garbage in such as way as to encourage consumers to consume and this is, I think, something that ZSpace (et al) could learn from. The corporate world is good at some things.
Secondly, blogging on ZSpace can be a pain. The options for categorising articles are too limited. I have not posted one blog piece on ZSpace yet that I have categorised in a way that I would like. For example, today I posted a blog "A Reason to Vote NO to Lisbon 2" and had to categorise it as >>Politics/Gov. >> Int. Rel. >> Europe. The next category under Europe only lists about six countries in Europe (there are 27 in the EU alone). Whilst "Europe" is okay for me for Lisbon 2, I would prefer to add in Ireland, since Ireland is where the referendum will be held, making Ireland the most important country in the EU at present. More importantly, I posted a blog last week encouraging students to boycott a commercial endeavour in Irish schools (I'm an Irish teacher/activist), but I couldn't put it in to the category of Ireland. This is something that I feel might alienate many users when (if) they begin to use ZSpace in the manner in which you wish - especially since using something like blogspot.com or wordpress.com is free and easy. Myself, I use Drupal.org and find it fantastic.
Thirdly, the infrastructure of ZCommunications.org is not very good in my opinion. Things take too long to load, even the menus on the top of pages take a second or two to load the sub-menu when scrolled over. The search function is also way too slow and cumbersome. Even to find it you have to click on the help menu and then scroll down, click on search and then be taken to a box to tell us what kind of search engine you have, click on that and be taken to another page to start searching; people want to be able to find what they are looking for instantly (for good or bad) - this means a very visible search box on every page, in the same position. Perhaps there is one there, but I can't find it (and I think I am slightly more tech savvy than the majority of people. You might need to have a serious look at the platform that ZSpace is running on or get some good designers to work for you, because something is seriously flawed here.
Fourthly, I have a feeling that many who support ZSpace are happy to support it but don't necessarily wish to be bloggers, commentators, etc. You should be glad of their help in offering funds that will allow a platform for those who do want to blog, comment, etc. My students sometimes tell me they'd like to go to Africa to help the poor. I ask them what can they do and they don't know. I tell them wages are very good in Ireland, why not get a job here and use the money to fund projects in Africa? This is something that many Sustainers are perhaps doing for ZSpace.
I don't wish to sound pessimistic about the project. I think it is a fantastic one, I wish you the best with it, and I'll certainly be involved, but the problems you may have may not necessarily be ones that us Sustainers can sort out.