Sunday, October 21, 2018

Update on Saving SlideShare from Itself (Reupload)

About a year ago, SlideShare, the presentation sharing website, deleted one of its most useful features: The ability to reupload a presentation to make a correction or update without changing the URL. The change greatly degraded the usefulness of the SlideShare platform for so-called "Power Users" like myself and many others. Power Users are understood to be users with thousands of followers, many of us teachers, professional speakers, and consultants, who post serious material that needs to be accurate and up to date, not just cute pictures of their dogs and cats.

I posted about it at the time, and received many responses. Here is how I explained the importance of reupload:

Reupload is (or was) a feature that allowed users to repost a revised version of a slideshow without changing its URL. Now that it is gone, the only way to revise a slideshow is to delete the original version and repost a new version with an new URL. Why does that matter?
  1. Short-term error correction: We are all human. (Well, at least I am). We make mistakes. After you have posted your slideshow, you, or one of your readers, notices a typo, a wrong number in a calculation, or a broken link. You want to fix it, but meanwhile, you or your readers have bookmarked the original version, or Tweeted the link, or posted it on Facebook. When anyone follows those links or bookmarks, they will be taken to the original version with the error, not your corrected version. If you deleted the original when you made the correction, they won't find anything.
  2. Long-term revisions: Sometimes I publish a slideshow on a topic of lasting interest, say, the economics of a soda tax. I posted this version of my soda tax slideshow in 2010. Last year, soda taxes were back in the news, so I posted this revised version. At the same time, I added the little yellow box on the front page of the original so that anyone who had the old link could find the new version. This week, I wanted to update it again to include the news of the failure of Chicago's soda tax, but with reupload gone, I can no longer steer anyone who finds one of the old versions to the newest version.
  3. Classroom use: College professors and high school teachers use slideshows in their classrooms all the time. They include links to the slideshows in the printed or on-line curriculum materials they give to their students. What if the creator of the slideshow fixes an error or makes an update? Doesn't the teacher want them to find the latest version, not the old one? Without reupload, this won't happen.
At that time, I, and several other Power Users, had exchanges with SlideShare customer support. Those exchanges are cited extensively on last year's post. This past week I have had a new round of exchanges with a "Customer Advocacy Representative" [interesting term] named "Jeff." Here is that exchange in full:

My question to SlideShare 10/20/18:

I used to be an enthusiastic user of SlideShare, a "keynote author" with nearly 12k followers. Then it all came crashing down when you took away the "reupload" feature.
As I explained in a presentation posted on Slideshare a year ago, this feature is essential for my work and that of many other serious users. Nearly 3000 people have viewed that slideshow. 33 of them have commented, and many others have contacted me on Twitter. Please read the presentation and especially the comments to see our concerns. None of us can understand why you made this self-destructive change or why you are reluctant to restore it.
Recently some users have contacted me to indicate there may be some hope of bringing back the reupload feature. Can you give me any updates on this? Can you give me any explanation of why you are reluctant to restore it? Thank you for your attention to this issue.
Response the same day from "Jeff"
Hi Ed,

I understand your frustration, and I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. Please note that we did look at the usage of this feature compared to the usage of other SlideShare features. Through that investigation, we found that the re-upload feature wasn't as heavily used - this is why the feature was removed.   However, we realize that this is a useful feature for some power users. We are actively working on making foundational improvements to our platform, which will make building and supporting a feature such as re-upload much easier in the near future.   Again I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you need anything else, please let me know and I will gladly assist.
Best Regards, Jeff Customer Advocacy Representative
My rejoinder:
Dear Jeff: You say, "However, we realize that this is a useful feature for some power users. We are actively working on making foundational improvements to our platform, which will make building and supporting a feature such as re-upload much easier in the near future." That sounds very nice, except that it is exactly word for word the same response that I got from someone named "Allison" a full year ago (10/23/17). I wonder if you could spin this out a little for me.
(1) Can you send me some "proof of life" to let me know that you are a human and not a bot. For example, can you tell me the middle initial of the current president of the United States? 
(2) Assuming you can answer Question 1, can you give me some idea in human time of how far off "the near future" is?
(3) Can you explain why "foundational improvements" are needed to restore the reupload feature, since you offered that feature for years? It seems to me that if you turned it off, you could just turn it back on again.Thank you, and I promise I will share your answers with the community of SlideShare "power users" with which I have corresponded on this matter. 
Ed 
Jeff, back to me:
Hi Ed, Thanks for getting back to me. I'll let you know that I actually reviewed your previous case with Allison prior to responding to you earlier. I don't see anywhere in that specific case where the response I sent to you was by Allison in that conversation from a year ago. I was trying to make sure to not send you information you had already received in that previous case, so I apologize if you had previously received that information.
I assure you that I am, in fact, a human. In response to your specific questions:
1) The middle initial of the current president of the United States is 'J'. 
2) Unfortunately, we don't have any specific timeframe in place at this time. For this reason, I am unable to provide any kind of range or ballpark figure at this time. I'm very sorry for any frustration this may cause.   
3) We are unable to disclose any additional details regarding the decision to remove this feature, as that information is proprietary. All we're able to share is what has previously been provided - we looked at the usage of this feature compared to the usage of other SlideShare features. Through that investigation, we found that the re-upload feature wasn't as heavily used, so we have currently removed the feature due to the support cost.   I'm sorry that I can't provide additional details at this time. We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding. If anything else happens to come up, please let me know.  
Wishing you all the best, Ed!   Jeff
Me, back again to Jeff:
Thank you, Jeff, for your reply. I am sorry if my request for proof of life sounded snarky, but I was genuinely concerned, since not only I, myself, but other "power users" (PUs) have received boilerplate in the past. I am sure you know that some companies, happily not yours, do use AI rather than humans in their customer service divisions. I appreciate your "J" response and the fact that you and Allison are talking to each other.
I am evidently in error about getting the cited message from Allison. I found it in an archive of messages exchanged with SS last October, but the header and footer were cut off, so evidently the cited passage is from a message sent to another PU. In any event, the point stands that I (we, I should say -- the community of PUs who are communicating about this) are concerned that there is no real forward motion despite the teasers. You (and Allison) would probably be interested to read the whole thread from last October, including my initial blog post explaining the reasons why reupload is so important to us and the 30 comments. I plan to add this exchange to that thread. You can find it here
BTW, as an economist, I appreciate your need to balance the cost and benefit of a feature like reupload. I would hope that you would rethink that balance. You should consider that material from your relatively few PUs is widely disseminated on other social media and becomes one of the ways that new users are attracted to your platform. If you treat us like humans, you may find that you are rewarded for the costs and efforts.


Yours truly,  Ed Dolan 
This exchange is in someways discouraging, because of the repeated use of boilerplate excuses and the lack of a timeline for addressing the problem, but in some ways encouraging, because they are not outright refusing to restore reupload. I think it would be worthwhile for all of us who value SlideShare and hope to see it restored to its previous functionality to contact them. We need as many voices as possible in support of reupload.

Here is how to start a new customer support case:
  1.  Go to the SlideShare home page: https://www.slideshare.net/
  2. Scroll down to the very bottom and click on "Support" (you have to look hard, but it is there)
  3. Type "Reupload" in the search box at the top of the main support page
  4. Next, you will get a page that says, "Sorry, we couldn't find any information about 'Reupload' (unless, by the time you do this, they have added some information).
  5. Go to the bottom of that page and click on the "Contact us" link
  6. That will take you to a page where you can send a message to SlideShare help. Ask them to bring back reupload, and tell them why you care.
Thanks! If we all work together, we can save SlideShare from itself

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