Welcome to Synthiam!

The easiest way to program the most powerful robots. Use technologies by leading industry experts. ARC is a free-to-use robot programming software that makes servo automation, computer vision, autonomous navigation, and artificial intelligence easy.

Get Started
Asked — Edited

Getting Everyone To Take Tutorials

In a recent thread, DJ mentioned that only about 1% of users don't take the tutorials and asked how we can get that number near 0% (and we have seen some users say they took them but didn't mark them as complete, so the number may be even smaller, although I am never sure I believe that statement based on the questions that usually accompany the statement).

I didn't want to hijack that thread since it doesn't fully apply to the topic or user who started it, but I have some input on DJ's question.

I think we are dealing with a few things that may prevent us ever getting to 100% tutorial usage.

1) This has been discussed many times, and I understand, if not fully support DJs position on it. There are some users who expect to see, and prefer to use, a user manual. I personally prefer written documentation that I can copy into Onenote or print so that I can mark it up. I have little patience to sit through a video (and I hate podcasts for a similar reason. I can read 5x faster than anyone speaks except for other native NYers like me). Written documentation also allows a user to easily review just the relevant parts when they have a question. A video is good for providing use examples, but is not the best for initial instructions. The newer tutorials are better than when virtually everything was a video, but they still have a lot of video inserts and are not always easy to use when trying to review instructions. Given that this only impacts probably 1/2 of 1% of users, I don't know that it needs to be addressed. More that it helps answer DJ's question.

2) Some techies think they don't need instruction of any kind. Again, using myself as an example, as much as I love documentation, when I get a new piece of technology to play with, I rarely read more than any warnings in a quick start guide before trying to figure it out. However, I will always read the manual (or take tutorials) before asking questions on a forum, and only turn to asking questions if I can't find the answer. Some users though, think it is faster to just ask a question than to research an answer. I'll come back to this topic.

3) Similar to #2, some people are just impatient to get started. I think we have seen this most with JD purchasers because it looks more like a toy and something that should just work out of the box. Unfortunately, it is actually the Revolution bot that most needs tutorials because without fine tuning the servos, it can fall over and get broken and has a lot of complexity in the sample project.

4) Much more rare, but we have seen a couple of examples over the years (I think all of these users have wound up getting themselves banned because they were otherwise also obnoxious). Some users feel so entitled that they think their time is more important than everyone else on the forum. These are the ones who ask a question that has been asked a hundred times and when someone takes the time to post a link to the thread with the answer or a link to the correct tutorial, they complain that their question could have been answered in the same amount of time. They also tend to be the ones who can't be bothered with using spell check or proper punctuation to help themselves be understood. These people are not worth engaging because they never seem to learn that "teaching a man to fish...." is the better solution.

In the other thread, DJ said:


We have been considering locking software features until the tutorials have been completed.

I think that is a really bad idea. It will just cause consternation among already difficult customers and probably won't change behavior appreciably. These users will learn that they can quickly step through the tutorials and mark them complete without actually paying attention and we will be back in the same position.

Another idea would be to not honor warranties for blown batteries, burned out servos, or JDs broken from a fall if the tutorials are not taken before the warranty claim is made, but you are already prompting three times and making users enter NO LEARN on the terms of service page if they skip the tutorials, so thinking that these kinds of users are going to read that and then not argue about warranty support is probably not realistic.

The one thing that might help is, in future EZ-B's,. update the initial voice greeting that the EZ-B makes before the first time it is connected to not jsut say "visit www.ez-robot.com" but to specify that there are critical tutorials that must be taken to fully operate an EZ-B (again, if you just have JDs do this, I think you will get most of that 1% audience - every Roli question I have seen has been a valid problem, usually with the H-bridge being mis-wired, and all but one of hte questions about Six were valid issues which would not have been answered in the tutorial).

I don't think I have a really viable answer other than accepting that a 99% success rate of getting users to use the tutorials is very good, and deal with the 1% the way we have been, as frustrating as that can become. Improving the feature documentation (you have to admit that some of it is out of date, and some is kind of week) would help a little, but like I said, probably less than a 1/2% (that being said, I am going to be posting a question sometime later today about something that I think is not documented well and I can't find forum discussions that I think have already occurred on it). We have discussed a few times setting up a WiKi so that feature documentation can be improved by the user base and kept up to date as features change, but the two of us most interested (me and jstarnes) don't seem to have the time to devote to it. Something organized by feature would be easier to search than relying on the forum search engine which sometimes works well, but other times returns too many unrelated hits unless you already know what you are looking for.

Anyway, just brainstorming a bit while I wait for a meeting to start, so take or leave this as you see fit.



Upgrade to ARC Pro

ARC Pro will give you immediate updates and new features needed to unleash your robot's potential!

I did think of one more thing that maybe could help. Instead of locking out features, you could lock out the ability to post to the forum until some minimum number of tutorials have been completed. I would suggest 2 or 3. One someone starts taking them and sees the value, they are likely to take more, or at least look to see if any are relevant.

Another thought, that would take a lot of work, so you might need to authorize some of us as volunteer moderators, but a lot of forums I participate in moderate the first couple of posts of new users as both spam prevention, and to make sure the user isn't asking a FAQ without searching.

Moderators could either accept the post if it is legitimate, or reject it with a canned "your question is answered in the tutorials or by a simple keyword search in the forum. Please use these resources before asking questions". After one or two posts, a user would be switched to non-moderated, but could be put back on moderation if needed (would have helped back in the day with "the ghost" and a few other overly obnoxious users).

I agree with you, Alan, about having a written manual that can be downloaded and read thru without being online. Sometimes, I'll go to a relatives house that, believe it or not, does not have internet. If the manual were downloadable, it would be on my drive, and I could read it when I need/want to.

Don't get me wrong, the online tutorials are informative, but, sometimes, a video just doesn't cut it.

No offense, DJ.

P.S. I have done all the lessons and read thru some of the other examples as needed.
I have pretty much given up the fight for a downloadable manual, and DJ has stated some very good reasons for not having one (mostly the difficulty in a small company without a dedicated tech writing staff keeping it up to date as software updates are made), but the one area it really would also help is that you can't see the tutorials if you only have one computer and are using an EZ-B in AP mode, so you need to keep switching back and forth, which can really hamper learning.

Maybe just having the tutorials as a downloadable ZIP file would be a passable solution for that.

you never can be sure if anyone read the tutorials,you can just click it as read.
even in a zip file you cant be sure if someone reads it or not.
am absolutely sure it is for you guys to repeat it over and over again,
and posting the links avery time.it must be very frustrating to keep up.
am in for first read and mark tutorials before comming on the forum.
question will always be there.am also thinking a better privet contact,
possebility can be helpfull between members.also a post to help someone,
chould be one on one.its diff when averybody post something its confusing,
for the person that needs help.

Thanks for taking the time to write about it.

The challenge was raised in my last thread so i think i was the trigger:) so i'll use my self as an example:

1) yes
2) Guilt
3) Guilt
4) I know the feeling, and in my job i'm victim of that, so i don't think my time is more important than the others.

I think you nailed, i have a lot of eBooks, with different IT subjects, i didn't read any book from the begin to the end (2 or 3 they got the full attention).
i open the book, i see the index, and i jump to the chapters, some writers are clever and mention some clues from other chapters forcing me to read more chapters.

1) Time
2) Most subjects are already common sense, nothing new, an IF/ELSE
the concept is equal in all languages, so you want to know how to write it not to understand.
2) Most bla bla is to get the scenario, can be squeezed to a few pages, but than you can't justify the price per page.

Making a parallel to EZ/JD i had time constrains, stress, i pickup the important lessons: assembly, calibration, fine tuning, and then i jump to ARC.

I knew that what ever path i followed the basic stuff/safety was done, and with a GUI tool, you can't go wrong the real pain is when you get a terminal console and you don't know what to do (and no help command)

if the stats are right 1% is not a problem, if i fit in the 1%, i can't argue with 99% success, i don't complaint at all, i'm broken:)
@ptp, yes it was your thread that triggered the discussion, but you actually explained in that thread very well why you were skipping some tutorials. This is something that has been on my mind for a while (and in fact, several of the points have been discussed before, particularly item 1). It was DJ's 1% stat, and question of how to do more is really what I was responding to.

Also, I was preparing to ask a question because I could not find the answer in any thread in a search and the documentation of the feature is one that needs to be punched up a good bit, so it all came together in a perfect storm.


to address 1% you need to have all the options covered so if you want really cover more options, you need to pay attention to the details,

this is my opinion but you asked ...

1) Kit: there are no assembly instructions, i'm ok when i order components, in a kit i expected at least one poster assembly guidelines, and all the safety issues in plain paper.

2) manual (ebook/PDF) missing

3) Videos, tutorials
3.1) are nice but you get lost
3.2) not easy to have ARC open, multiple browser windows, it's easy to give up
3.3) I can't get the kids/me to follow them in a specific order, the links make you jump to other places, it's ok when you are browsing looking for something specific.

4) JD assembly video as an example:

4.1) music is really annoying when you are trying to learn, for demos is ok

4.2) if i pickup the video is because i want to see the video until the end, DJ at 3m.14s stops giving instructions and sends you to ARC instructions, i'm supposed to have the ARC open ? please keep talking:)
4.3) While doing the assembly (+- 6 mins video) some other tips can be mention, this is the most important, and in some cases the only video seen, so give as much juice as possible.
Here's my idea. When making a new thread have a menu that checks for keywords in the title and your message. Then before you post there's a pop up asking you to take a look at these tutorials as they have matching keywords. Then the person can get their information before they post.
Locking the software will do no good. People will just click through them and mark them complete. I've seen this happen many times in other Electronic learning programs. To make this actually mean something you need to have a test at the end that needs to be passed to unlock. If you go this route you will really upset customers and they won't even buy the product. Unless ez sells only to educational institutions this is a bad idea.