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Symantec to reactivate IT support discussion boards

A year after shutting down its discussion forums for IT professionals, Symantec is set to reactivate them as part of a revamped technical support portal community coming in 2007.

Almost a year after shutting down its enterprise technical support discussion groups, Symantec is promising a "revamped" IT technical support community within the next few months.

The company is planning to roll out support discussion forums for products and services across the SMB and enterprise segments, according Tom Diederich, Symantec Corp.'s Veritas Architect Network, or VAN, community manager. Diederich posted the information on a VAN support chat group, which is not a Symantec-wide forum.

The new portal, set to launch in 2007, will incorporate the VAN into a Symantec-wide IT community forum, said the company. The forum will include news and other features designed for the IT community.

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Symantec did not provide an exact timing for the launch or further details on what the portal would involve. The company said the new portal will be run by Symantec and will offer discussion forums.

Symantec closed down its enterprise technical support chat groups in December, the company said in a statement, because the support discussion groups were no longer an effective vehicle in which to address customers' technical support needs and that confidential information being discussed was not appropriate in an open forum.

However, some users said they felt Symantec shut down the discussion boards because of negative feedback that was posted about its products -- especially the holes in the company's antivirus wares.

"They were getting hammered on the boards," said Duncan McAlynn, independent security and enterprise management consultant out of Austin, Texas. After Symantec shut down its discussion boards, McAlynn established, an independent discussion forum focused on Symantec products, to fill the void.

McAlynn shut down three months ago because of a lack of participation. McAlynn said the site sputtered out because it wasn't backed by the Symantec brand.

With a void left behind, McAlynn said he welcomes Symantec's re-entry into the space.

"People automatically go to vendor support sites to look for collaboration and information sharing," McAlynn said. "When [Symantec] pulled the plug, I think it left a lot of people isolated and left to their own devices."

McAlynn said he believes Symantec should take a page from Microsoft, which he feels is more on level with the end buyer and user as a result of its discussion forums.

Steve Perry is IT director at Costello & Sons Insurance Brokers in San Rafael, Calif., which is a Windows shop using McAfee products rather than those from Symantec. A frequent visitor to discussion forums, Perry said that vendors only hurt themselves when they try to control the content on IT discussion boards.

"It's called an open discussion," said Perry. Vendors that think they can determine what is said on it because they own the space don't really encourage a good user loyalty base, he said. "If people can't come in and discuss things openly, I think the vendor is sending a message that they don't trust their user base."

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