Sunday, February 07, 2010

Why Elecraft should terminate its reflector

I have been a subscriber to the Elecraft email reflector almost continuously since 1999 when I ordered my K2, and for most of that time have found it useful. But over the last few weeks I have come to the conclusion that the best thing the company could to do would be to close it.

The reflector has been a good forum for communication between Elecraft and its customers. But postings about the K3 have swamped postings about other Elecraft products, making it a frustrating forum for kit constructors. Now that the K3 has reached maturity there are very few useful suggestions for improvements to be made about it. Instead, most postings now seem to be nit-picking complaints, which often result in ill-tempered responses from others who feel there is nothing to complain about, which generate further ill-tempered replies suggesting that some people don't use their radios and don't even understand the problem.

The overall impression conveyed to any would-be K3 purchaser who subscribes to the reflector is that the K3 is a very flawed radio with some serious problems. That isn't how I see it. The K3 isn't a perfect radio but I don't think there is anything better around at the moment.

The obvious thing to do would be to unsubscribe. Except for the fact that the reflector is the only way to keep up to date with news from Elecraft. If you want to know about new firmware releases and what's in them, or know when new products like the P3 panadapter are ready to be released, the only way to get that information is to subscribe to the reflector. I have repeatedly suggested that Elecraft should create an "elecraft-announce" mailing list that contains only news from the company, and they have equally repeatedly ignored my suggestion.

Because the Elecraft reflector is an email list, every subscriber receives a copy of every posting, including every complaint, whinge, gripe and fanboy denial of the criticisms. This tempts everyone to have their say in topics regardless of whether their contribution is useful. Even if you resist the temptation to comment, reading of these "issues" sows seeds of doubt that perhaps there really is something wrong with the radio after all.

I think the reflector is turning into a public relations disaster for Elecraft that also serves to unnecessarily alarm its current and would-be customers. I think the best thing to do would be to put it out of its misery. But I doubt they will take my advice on this either. :)
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