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Old Discussions replaced by new Comments - unusable

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Robert Jack
edited 12/09/19 in Archived 2016 Posts

It would seem I am not alone in voicing the disruption and administrative nightmare that the new comments format has caused.

 

There are many reasons for concern, but this thread is about the process, rather than the problems associated with the physical change itself.

 

The way that Smartsheet has implemented this change is significant and effectively restructures our data that is held in the old discussion threads. Relationships between unrelated threads or snippets of information have been imposed on us the decision to group all comments under the first comment. This is tantamount to changing our data without permission. This was not authorised  nor sanctioned and there has been no consultation that I am aware of. For such a fundamental change in the way a feature operates to be forcefully imposed without warning is pretty damn slack and not what I would expect from an organisation of any significant standing with high operational principles.

 

The impact of this change is many and varied and will have actual cost implications in terms of redrafting training materials, amending operational processes, printing and publication, end user training and overarching administrative overheads.

 

This is not good Smartsheet!

 

Please provide an option to "unsubscribe" from this new feature or at the very least, revert the way you have implemented the comments.

 

- Keep my oldest comments at the bottom and my newest at the top.

- Ungroup all of the unrelated comments from a single thread.

- Get rid of the useless "see more" option which adds no value.

 

Thank you!

Comments

  • Alex Vorobiev
    Alex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Robert - thanks again for your feedback.  Sincere apologies for the inconvenience the changes have caused you and your organization.  I assure you that the decision to make the current changes were not made lightly.  I also completely understand that despite our best intentions and notwithstanding all the reasons for making the change, this is having an immediate impact on your work and it is frustrating.  We will continue to monitor customer feedback and investigate the concerns.

     

    Thanks again for taking the time to provide feedback!

  • Art Miller
    Art Miller ✭✭✭
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    My vote to is to allow us to unsubcribe from comments.  I just went into review a smartsheet for a customer meeting and can't find anything that I need.  As Robert stated we used notifications to structure information so that we could get to it quickly. 

     

    Have been a smartsheet advocate but am very disappointed in this change.

     

     

  • Art Miller
    Art Miller ✭✭✭
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    Correction discussions not notifications in above post. 

     

    On another note found a quick solution which may or may not work for you.  Exported SS to excel and then sorted my comments by date.   Short term solution for this afternoons meetings.  

  • LeslieW
    LeslieW ✭✭✭
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    My team has also run into HUGE problems these past couple of days because of this change. We have teams in different countries communicating with each other though these discussions. We had previously used separate discussions to communicate on different topics or to call those discussions to the attention of specific departments, but now all of these separate discussions have been merged together into one thread, which makes it extremely difficult to diffentiate between the individual discussions.

     

    We have also run into problems with emailing discussions. Previously, if we emailed a discussion, the subject line of the email would show the text that is shown in the first column. Now the subject of the email only rows the row number and name of the sheet. Our rows are continuously changing and the information included in that first column was vital for us to be able to identify which emailed discussion was associated with which product.

  • Allan Ross
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    These changes have irritated my clients with whom we share our sheets and damaged our relationship with them. To say I am unhappy would be the epitome of understatement.

  •  

    Robert- You have hit every key point and frustration that we have with this change as well. There is already another discussion with several other users that are frustrated with this change.

     

     

     

    I just finished training documentation and was ready to officially execute a plan that heavily relied on the capability of having multiple discussions and the ability to sort / collapse them based on subject matter.


     

    SmartSheet- Will we be able to unsubcribe to these changes as Robert suggests?

     

     

  • Alex Vorobiev
    Alex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭
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    To reiterate - really appreciate your feedback and patience.  Apologies for the disruption the change has caused.

     

    My team and I have been focused 100% in the last two days on customer feedback, and we are looking at options to mitigate the concerns that have been expressed.  Most immediately, we are working on a fix to add aditional context (primary column value) to notifications, and looking to release that today or tomorrow.

     

    LeslieW - the threads are still there, that has not changed.  Your existing data is still threaded.  You are absolutely correct, however, that the threads are now expanded by default - rather than collapsed as they used to be.  As I mentioned, we are looking at options to address outstanding concerns.

     

    Thank you for your patience.

  • Alex Vorobiev
    Alex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited 08/30/16
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    Brad - really appreciate your feedback.  Based on your aggregate feedback, we are targeting early September for a number of usability improvements to Comments, including expand / collapse, and improved readability.

     

    Help me better understand the "gaping hole in ... data security" - can you please send a direct link to a specific previous discussion that describes this issue in detail?

     

    Thanks

  • Brad Jones
    Brad Jones ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited 10/27/16
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    Sorry Alex, just saw this as I was going through all my old forum subscriptions.

    Data security hole being that we cannot prevent users from deleting rows unless we don't allow them to edit at all. (update requests are not a viable workaround for this when you have 1000's of tasks and 100's of users, it's just too cumbersome)

    These are some of the posts:

    June 2015

    https://community.smartsheet.com/discussion/rows-being-removed

     

    August 2015

    https://community.smartsheet.com/discussion/avoid-shared-person-delete-my-row

     

    March 2016

    https://community.smartsheet.com/discussion/prevent-deletion-rows-if-it-contains-locked-cells

     

     

    May 2016

    https://community.smartsheet.com/discussion/allowing-team-members-update-smartsheet 

     

    Related

    August 2015

     

    https://community.smartsheet.com/discussion/find-deleated-items#comment-9452

  • Brad Jones
    Brad Jones ✭✭✭✭✭✭
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    UPDATE 10/27 -  After working through this more, we're still having the problem.  We should have the ability to disable the reply feature in our sheets if we are the owner.  I try, but my users are still using it and messing up the chronology of the sheets.

    Also, we discovered that we LOST functionaltiy with the change.  It used to be possible to go to a workspace, click on the dicussion bubble at the top of the sheet list, and see a list of comments for all the sheets in the workspace.  This was a great way to get an up-do-date overview of the whole project without jumping through every sheet.  That is gone now, because it was not integrated with the "Workspace Discussion" window.  Within the sheet, you can see Sheet and Row discussions, but within the Workspace you can only see the Workspace discussions.  Very sad to have lost that feature.  All Sheet and All Row comments should be an option on the Workspace Discussion window.

     

     

    UPDATE 08/23 - After all the hotfixes, we are able to maintain our previous workflow as long as people don't use the reply functions.  We still want to be able to turn off the "See All" condensation that's happening, but at least now our comments are in order and they have the title of the primary column.

    Thank You Smartsheet for working on this to get it to fit better.  

     

    Alex,

     

    We, your users, are deeply irritated and impacted by this change to the core functionality to the most important cell in the entire sheet - the discussion.  The change implemented is not only disruptive to our workflows, which you might try to dismiss as a growing pain on our part, but it is attached to the structure of the system.  Now, my discussions are no longer single discussions, but piles of comments in multiple threads.  I used to have my users add a comment for each row and it would stay in chronological order from newest to oldest, top to bottom, and it did not collapse the information at all.  Now users are not sure whether to add a new comment, which was the existing workflow, or to reply to a comment.  And, now that there have been many days of this confusion, there are several comments per discussion, and they are all out of order because some users reply to one comment, and others reply do a different comment.  When you look at this it is both visually and chronologically disjointed.  And having to expand comment after comment just to read the discussions is a nightmare.  This is not Twitter, it is a work tool.  We need it to see information about work being done, and care about more than just the first 140 characters.

     

    I can tell you clearly and succinctly, I would not have endorsed this product to my company if the discussions were configured this way when we adopted the product 7 months ago.  This is not user friendly, and it is more prone to disorganization.

     

    The big fail here is that you did not warn us it was coming.  Your roadmap did not mention this, and we had no warning that a core functionality of the system was being significantly altered.  You pushed this out as part of your internal development plan, and while your software team may be in a better place for a future change, your user base is paying the price.  You don't take from your users in order to support your developers, and you don't change the core functions without preparing your users for the change.  This was implemented while I was on vacation, and my users were not able to know why everything changed and what to do about it.

     

    Bad form Smartsheet!  Please fix this now.

    Suggestions -

    1. Eliminate or allow for opt-out of the "show more" of each comment.  We would much rather scroll with our mouse wheel than click click click click click.

    2. Allow for admins to enforce one conversaion per row, so that we don't have 5 different reply options in a conversation about a single row.  If a row needs 5 conversations, it should probably be a parent row with 5 sub-tasks.

    3. Use larger focus groups before you push out changes to core system functionality and get feedback from a more diverse set of users.

    4. Fix your big problems before you push out more 'cool' new features.  There's a gaping hole in Smartsheet data security that has languished on the forums for over a year.  Check out row deletions.

  • Alex Vorobiev
    Alex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Thanks, Brad, I will pass it on to the appropriate team.

     

    We may disagree on the definition of "data security hole" in this case, but your point is taken - you are looking for a new access level that would let users edit but not delete.

     

    My hunch is that the issue here is not so much their ability to delete, but lack of visibility into what was deleted, and lack of an easy way to restore / recover what was deleted.  Today our notifications will let you know WHETHER any rows were deleted and WHO deleted them, but not WHAT specifically was deleted.  Nor do you have an easy way to roll back the deletes.  We are looking into mitigating both of those issues.  Additional access levels are also being discusssed and investigated.

     

    Appreciate your feedback and thank you for your patience.

  • Brad Jones
    Brad Jones ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited 10/28/16
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    Alex,

     

    The desire is to ensure that the data never disappears in the first place.  It could be a new user level or something else, but once the row is gone so is the history, and that's no good.

     

    Visibility of the specific delete is a start, but the end goal is to get to better control.  Each time I onboard a new project team, I have to do those painful rollbacks manually.  

    Thank you for your continuous engagement on this issue.

  • Alex Vorobiev
    Alex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited 10/28/16
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    I hear you.  It is certainly possible to create a very granular permissions model where you can pick and choose what your roles can do.  We've been intentionally trying to steer clear of this because of its inherent complexity.  In the early days of Smartsheet the permissions model was much more granular, it caused signficant user confusion and it was barely used.

     

    So, the followup question for you - what should that new set of permissions be?

     

    (1) edit existing cells, but not create or delete rows or columns?

     

    (2) edit existing rows or create new rows or columns, but not delete rows or columns?  in this case, what if your editors routinely create a ton of new rows by mistake but aren't able to delete them themselves - is that a concern?

     

    Tx

  • Brad Jones
    Brad Jones ✭✭✭✭✭✭
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    It's always a balancing act, eh?  I certainly don't want to increase the complexity unnecessarily.  But every time I get a '2 rows deleted' message in my notifications I cringe.

     

    CHOICE:

    For us, and I hope others chime in on this, we need option #2, slightly modified.

    Call it the "Safe Editor", "Editor Basic", or whatever.  

    Edit existing rows, create new rows, no deletion of rows 

    (No add/remove columns, which only licensed Admins can do anyway) 

    They can contribute, but never remove existing data in 'locked' columns.

    REASON:

    For our application, if an editor adds a row there is little risk to the existing data.  This does not make me worry about compliance for our records. (medical industry).  Also, even if the users cannot delete 'oops' rows they can still move them out of the way or send an email to the sheet owner/admin.  More does not hurt us, but deletions are really bad because even if we restore the data values, we lose the history of each cell.

    APPLICATION:  

    The way we use SS, we create several sheets in a workspace for the project team.  Each team has the same basic sheets, with only minor customizations to workspace branding for regional requirements.  Basically a cut and paste for each project.  So we don't need creative freedom for the users to build - we need control of the data.  We want our projects to follow a template, so that when an engineer from one site is about to work on Test#12345, they can easily go to any other project running Test#12345 and quickly find the information they need.  Same for the managers and PMs.  Keeping it 'standardized' keeps it simple for our users.  

     

    And thanks so much Alex for sticking with this.  I appreciate the help of you and all the Smartsheet crew.

  • Alex Vorobiev
    Alex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Brad - this is very helpful.  I understand the need for standardization, template-driven workflow, and data access control.  The flexibility of the Smartsheet grid is great, but sometimes you want a little (or a lot of) structure.

     

    I will pass it along!

This discussion has been closed.