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I have to speak up as a "hero" - Year 1 HMD community engagement scorecard

Community Hero

Hi Laura,


Since I have this "community hero" tag I might as well try and use it for the benefit of the community, otherwise it will become more and more of a joke (at least, I'm pretty sure that's how many others see it and I don't really understand what it's supposed to represent).


Things aren't getting better. By this I mean that HMD have recently done a number of things which have had a negative impact on the community. Some are conscious decisions by HMD leadership, others are mistakes.


1. Bootloaders:

  • Almost one year ago HMD said it would allow customers to unlock the bootloaders of their phones; we interpreted this to mean that within a few months HMD would provide an official, sanctioned and user friendly way for people to unlock the bootloaders
  • This hasn't happened. Even worse:
  • The unofficial method of unlocking the bootloader has been removed by the August security patch - this is well explained in the blog post by Seppe Baelus.
  • So, almost one year from the statement by HMD on Twitter, we actually have less than we did a year ago - neither an unofficial nor an official way to unlock the bootloader
  • 0/10 for community engagement there, mainly the fault of HMD leadership.

2. The community forum:
  • Thank you for setting up the community forums. The software isn't the best and your team is severely under-resourced, but at least we have a place to hang out together and share our wants, desires, frustrations, knowledge and generally try and help each other.
  • Anna, Mike, Laura and everyone else from HMD that has actually engaged with the community on this forum has done a good job - we need more of this, not less. Hint hint to HMD leadership.
  • 6/10 for community engagement - not bad for the first year, but HMD will have to try harder to avoid a low score next year.

3. The camera app - my experience is mainly with the Nokia 8, other HMD phones may have a better camera app, but this phone has not received the "flagship" treatment it deserves:
  • It started quite well. Generally people were pretty happy with the camera performance, although for the specs it should have done much better.
  • Our requests for the "Nokia Pro" UI were listened to and acted upon, so top marks for this :)
  • But then it started to go wrong.
  • First, the system update to upgrade the camera app bricked some phones - this is a no-no, this is unacceptable, especially since you're not providing users with the ability to recover devices themselves with "Nokia Phone Recovery Tool" or (even better) to backup and recover phones with a "Nokia Suite".
  • Second, the new camera app has more bugs than the old and removes some functionality - so it's a downgrade and lower quality. Again, a no-no - how did this get through QA?
  • Thirdly, yesterday you released another update to the camera app through the Play store which reduced the Nokia 8 camera app to a basic point and shoot, no usage of the Nokia 8's special features but still containing bugs like the EIS/OIS mixup.
  • How did this happen? This terrible QA has caused me to turn off auto-updates for both the system updates AND the Play store, I can't risk you ruining my phone.
  • 2/10 for community engagement, since you did implement the Pro UI, but everything else really deserves a negative score.

4. Source code:
  • This shouldn't even need to be written, since it's a legal requirement, but the glacial pace of HMD releasing the code from copy-left sources is very disappointing
  • In addition, in many cases the sources don't appear to be complete I think HMD are strictly following the letter of the GPL and other licences, rather than the spirit, de facto industry practice and community expectation of releasing the full source, even the bits that HMD haven't modified.
  • Important things like device trees which developers need are also missing.
  • This all suggests that HMD doesn't want the developer community to engage with it's phones, which is very disappointing and very surprising.
  • 1/10 for community engagement - some sources released, but not all and not in a helpful way.

5. Customer service:
  • This is a difficult one. Personally I've had no problems with my phone so haven't had to contact customer service, so can't comment from first-hand experience.
  • Also, we know that generally people who had a good experience don't talk about it, normally only those with a bad experience talk about it.
  • However, some of the stories of customer service which I've read (mainly in India, but also some in Europe and elsewhere) suggest that HMD are not investing enough in making this a good experience for the customer.
  • I know that no company wants warranty claims and they all try hard to avoid them. However, when the warranty claims are genuine (and from the stories on the forum we know for certain that there are many faults with HMD phone hardware and software) then it's unacceptable that the warranty claims aren't respected.
  • In other cases where there is a fault which does not make the phone unusable, but means a feature is degraded (e.g. the camera app, bluetooth, sound, network connectivity, SD card) the software updates which fix these problems are very slow to appear, if at all
  • Let's consider the brand name "Nokia" and consider how the current customer experience compares to what we used to experience with the old Nokia phones
  • ....thought about it? Yes, the old Nokia was much better at this - software didn't break as often; when it did it got fixed; the customer was respected and their claims addressed fairly. I'm surprised that Nokia are happy to let HMD continue to give bad customer service and have this associated with the Nokia brand.
  • 4/10 for community engagement - but as I said, it's very difficult to judge. Certainly this has to improve otherwise peopel will start to hear that Nokia phones are poor quality and poor service, which will be the end of HMD.

6. Software updates:
  • "100% pure, secure and up to date." This is what HMD say, but is it true?
  • In my personal experience yes, although as noted before some feature updates have been disappointing.
  • However, there are some people (e.g. in Australia) who are not receiving the monthly security updates, and have not for several months. Why is this? There appears to be no obvious reason, but HMD should provide a clear explanation.
  • Updates to the core OS version, e,g, 7.1 to 8.0, 8.0 to 8.1 etc, Again, in my experience this has been good, but I know that some of the lower spec and older models have not received 8.1, with no obvious explanation.
  • Honestly though, I think we can all agree with HMD are better than almost every manufacturer except Google themselves (considering the whole product portfolio, not incidivual phones, where I know some manufacturers do better than HMD).
  • 8/10 - fix the known problems and keep up the good work! :)

I've probably missed out many areas which are important to people but these are the ones that I've noticed are the most important to the community. Please join in and give your own experiences and feelings about HMD's community engagement in their first year of operation.

Cheers :)

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Community Hero

Wow! I'm surprised that this long rant made it through moderation! For the camera app score I may have been unfair, since I think it's only the Nokia 8 that's a problem case. So 2/10 for the Nokia 8 camera app, 7/10 for the others (based on what I've read).

perhaps the nokia community should be run along the lines of mobile devices-microsoft community you ask a question and invariably got an answer the next day as i have yet to receive an answer on the nokia one

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Community Hero

This forum already works like the Microsoft one, in my experience. On the Microsoft forum there are some users who are identified as experts by badges and they tend to give replies quite quickly (it depends on the subject matter) but it is voluntary. Some MS employees post there but in my experience their replies are not very quick (on the subject of mobile devices anyway). Users are encouraged to mark helpful replies and answers so that other users who have the same question can find answers quickly.


On this Nokia Phones forum the we have people identified as "Tech Wizard" and these people are also very helpful and tend to give answers quickly. These people are also volunteer members of the public with a passion for Nokia phones. The Tech Wizards are not the only people who are helpful though, there are many people who help others without the Tech Wizard badge. We also have the "thumbs up" button and "Mark as Answer" button, but unfortunately people are not using these functions very well in this forum - maybe we need to send reminders to the people who ask the question to come back and say if they got a helpful reply.


The current forum software and structure has made it difficult (with all the phone models) for everyone to keep track of the questions. I hope this layout will change in the near future and we'll being to answer questions and help people quicker.


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Moderator

Hi madbilly, 


First of all we are fine with critique written in an appropriate way and yours is, so  there was no problem to publish it. Secondly, thanks for it you put a lot of effort  and thoughts on it. I’m sure you are aware I’m more in a mediating role, passing on the burning topics to responsible departments. So I can’t really give any  input to the Bootloader topic, camera app, source code and software updates.  Simply because I don’t know much about it either. 


Customer service is another point I can’t comment on that much. I see the topics in here when people say they are unsatisfied. But as you said people with good experience don’t talk about it. All I can see is that in the customer feedback questionnaire, we have good scores. 


When it comes to the community forum - thanks for the nice words here. We are aware of that more interaction would be better and by now we are working on a new concept. I hope this new concept will bring a clearer understanding of what the forum is all about and a better overview about the topics as well as more possibilities for users to engage with each other and HMD.


Best  regards,
Laura 


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Hi @madbilly,

Thank you for finding time out of your schedule to write this up. All well written, if you ask me. You have covered the heating issues. Thank you for justifying your badge :))


And @Laura,

Thank you too for caring enough to write it down. Most of the people in the management do not show any interest in interacting with the users when it comes to negative feedback. It's like appreciate the good, ignore the bad. I'll hope to hear from at-least you if you hear anything from the management about bootloader unlocking and kernel sources.


The community's setup still lacks a lot of things, but it has certainly improved. I'll be looking more towards seeing something which is a mixed of modern open source platforms like Discord or NodeBB or Flarum, plus your own in-house additions to it. If you are building this platform from scratch, then maybe that's not needed when we have so many open source platforms already available.


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Tech Wizard

The freshdesk customer support software and its user forum have some technical limitations that remain unsolved since launch.
For example, the way line breaks and paragraphs go missing when posting from the mobile browser discourage me from participating more actively.


The main social difference between what Nokia and Microsoft did previously and this forum is IMO this forum allows discussing hacked and pirated software, including posting direct links to unofficial downloads, and that we are allowed to speculate regarding products and software. - It derails discussions and spoils feedback threads (and I suspect dodgy commercial interests behind such posts).


There are official statements and official replies from support and marketing to be found elsewhere.

What I miss is the occasional comments and statements from technicians who were previously allowed to step in and explain when and why apps or features changed, and confirm when something was broken pending another update or is left as it is. - Such postings are not always popular among users, management and supporters, but I still miss it.


--
Hans


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@madbilly at least u used your community hero platform to do well,,but we all know hkd won't unlock bootloader,for me I wait for Android 9.0 pie ,,I need a fon that can withstand rough handling like Nokia 6.1 2018 and can have the only important feature of Android 9.0 ,the MAC address always changes so it makes it more secure to log in to any network ,or even use it as a hotspot ,,after 9.0 u can even stop updating the fons ,I'll have bought Poco f1 ,there I can tinker with ROMs as I wish ,,

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Otherwise hmd keep the bootloader locked ,,update to 9.0 then u can stop updating the fons if u wish ,,,I really don't see the difference ,,,if u want a fon u gonna run custom ROMs on it's definitely not a nokia/hmd fon,get yourself something from brands that embrace open source and developers spirit ,don't bother hmd with what they don't care about ,they only care to provide quality update in secure manner whether delayed ,buggy or stable u gonna have to accept it ,,just do me a favor and update my 6.1 2018 to Android 9.0 after that ,,,u can abandon the fon who care ,there other brands who will sell flagship grade fons with flagship grade specs with open source and developers at heart ,,we will get those devices since hmd can't do that anyways which is fine ,always read user agreement ,,,the entire print hmd has not said anything about unlocking bootloader or even providing updates timely and secure ,but u signed and agreed to user agreement when setting up the device so stop bothering hmd let them do as they wish be a smart lad buy fons that allow unlock on bootloader and stop wining !!!

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Thanks for your points , Madbilly, I really appreciate your positive presence here !


BOOTLOADER Let's say that I'm a newcomer in the Android world so I still have way to understand how the Android community in general handles topics like bootloaders and code availability; in the meantime it makes no difference to me if bootloaders are unlocked or code released; I understand that how HMD is handling the bootloader question though can represent a violation of the GPL rules , that's why I read some harsh comments here and around .


My 7 Plus is still 1 month old in my hands , I've already set it up to give me as less bothering as possible but as time goes I'm finding it quite comfortable ; it's not the WP approach but I can live with it.


CAMERA One thing I can agree with you is the camera software; I still did not update it as I'm waiting to do it after Pie will be released ; at the moment I can only say there is a LOT of room to improve it, mostly in the optics handling area . I must say that I've tested it in pretty hard conditions (late night, weak lights, lots of people moving around ) and I've got mixed results. I liked how the light is handled in Pro mode but I've also had blurred photos even with device placed on pavement, fixed focus  and self shoot (which remembers more of my old lumia 730 which wasn't the best shooter out there)


CUSTOMER SERVICE I hope I will NOT need it apart from when I 'll need a battery replacement. Anyway in the 90s and 2000s what distinguished Nokia from others was a quality service network (and Apple took good lesson from it ) . I still know a couple of chaps here in Rome who where quite good authorised techs. Hope that HMD could try to build it up again.


UPDATES Well myself I'm a lazy updater, meaning I will NOT update if device is working good enough. Also I would not push engineering with fast releases unless they are for bugfixing or security. What could be helping a great deal here would be IMO:


- get in touch with sw developers in forums, share troubleshooting and reporting methods and rules and have a wider testing base with repeated releases in order to test the fixes (quite like Microsoft with Insider Rings  : Fast>>Slow>>Release preview )


- provide users with a well thought PC tool for backup/update/restore : that could sound "old" but sometimes you cannot fix a dangerous issue without flashing the device; as I said somewhere else this can also reduce the need for a service center, it helps a lot.


M


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Wow... That's a beautiful summary of the problems of the community

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Community Hero

@Laura, thanks for the feedback, we know you're between a rock and a hard place! What would be most interesting for me (us?) is how your list of issues suffers from mine. What do you see as the top trending topics over this past year? @Hans, I agree with those things you mention. Some technical replies to got topics would be much appreciated (e.g. ongoing Nokia 8 camera debacle). @Auki, you're right, I think HMD aren't taking the market which cares about bootloaders, source code and custom ROMs. We are asking for things they never listed in the sales literature, so we can't really complain... except where they made a public statement (bootloader) and where they are legally obliged (source code). So, actually, we can complain. Still, you're right that other manufacturers cater much better to this market than HMD do. Interesting what you say about Android 9 and MAC addresses, I wasn't aware of that. @omissis, I think the 7+ camera software is already better than the 8, do you're lucky :) and wise not to update too quickly. The Nokia beta labs should work like Windows insider, but he aren't using it well enough for some app and system updates - I think they would benefit from doing so. Your observation about service centres is excellent - HMD have a service network on aime regions, eg India, but not others, eg Europe. Strange, and an area for improvement. @Rinzler, thanks :)

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Tech Wizard

Thanks @madbilly for writing about this. I was expecting something like this for a long time. And I hope all of this important messages and conclusion from you on every topic reaches to concerned authority. And, I hope they act upon this quickly as many customers are losing patience over many of the topics you stated above especially the Bootloaders topic. HMD officials have completely ignored about this topic for a long long time. They either have to come up with really good reason so that most of the customer are convinced on why bootloader unlockling is not a good idea or they have to give some time frame on when this will be available. Staying quite is a very bad decision from HMD.


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@madbilly: Thank you community leader! You are a true representative and a good leader! Thus you put forward current point at correct time.

@Laura - Moderator: It is not expected that you should know all jargon related to technology and other things. But it is expected that you should understand topic and judge who will able to answer it, on the half of HMD global. This is, especially for too technical questions, for which even moderator unable to comment anything directly. In term of chemistry moderator should play role of catalyst. That means, without taking part in reaction just accelerate rate of reaction in positive direction. The expectations of Nokia enthusiast is not fulfilled by current version of product forum .
On the other hand, every post get pass through process of moderation is a positive point of forum. Since it ensure prevention of bad contents on the forum.

Although, I expect improvement in process of moderation. Topics for which we expect comments from HMD, we are not getting any response from HMD even after process of moderation. For example: my question on buy back offer in India. It is new idea and tried in a limited region (Source: Nokiapoweruser) .
Link of topic : https://community.phones.nokia.com/support/discussions/topics/7000032183/page/last#post-7000068954
(See topic for details)
At least now, I hope I will get response for it.
When company try new idea for limited region, then help and feedback related to it must manage carefully. Even topic related to it get unnoticed on official product forum by HMD is too casual work.

Mention of moderator in comment should not consider pointing towards a person, rather it is collective responsibility. Moderator is not part time job, but full-time job. May be, it can be full-time by 2 or more persons.

In all, my suggestions for radical changes in product forum are:
1) Role of moderator is mediator between customers and HMD global with smart work rather than, only hard work.
2) Those questions can only be answered by HMD should mark during moderation and get answer by concerned authority of HMD and posted by moderator. It can be reflected by "work for topic is in process by HMD" in that topic status.
3) Fixed response time to get answer of question. For simple question take help of knowledgeable contributors. Consider example of management skills of Google product forum how that forum work with knowledgeable contributor.
4) For experimental idea for limited region, it should consider as priority in this forum and promptly address queries associated with it at the form. Consider to reflect such trial offers with tab in region applicable for that offer. This tap will inform the enthusiast and can address issues associated with it in time.


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Good post with some valid criticisms.


I'll add that the camera app needs major work across almost all Nokia devices as users are able to get much better results from third party apps. I also agree that they need to do a better job at QA'ing their app and OS updates. Oreo brought many documented bugs to the Nokia 6 which HMD has yet to fix or acknowledge (broken Dolby support, wifi disconnects, etc).


Threads about this pop up every now and then but I think HMD is also ignoring Nokia's software ecosystem to their determent. Classic Nokia devices were known for their functional and experimental apps and services, it would be good to see this represented again in some way (I doubt HMD can preload but offering them through Google Play would still help).


Just so the thread doesn't get too negative, HMD has done a fantastic job with their hardware. All of their devices are durable, well built, and offerings like OZO audio stand well above offerings from competing manufacturers with far more resources. The fact that a startup was able to grow as quickly as they did (sales, retail reach, partnerships, etc) in a little over a year is also incredible and especially commendable.


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