Autodesk discussion group maintenance failure

Autodesk discussion group maintenance failure

I must admit that I wasn’t really expecting the November 15 Autodesk discussion group maintenance effort to come up with the goods and make everything all better again. However, it appears that even my lowly expectations were nothing but naive optimism.

Here are the changes I see:

  • The old messages and Plain Text new messages that had their paragraphs stripped out have had them returned. This is the end of the good news, as far as I can tell. If you only ever like reading positive things, particularly about Autodesk, I suggest you stop reading now.
  • Rich Text messages have had superfluous paragraphs introduced, and other formatting issues. The more you edit a message, the worse it gets. Try switching back and forth between Rich Text and Plain Text a few times, it’s a crock.
  • My email address has been newly exposed to the spambots as my user ID, and I’m not alone. WTF? Totally unforgivable! Heads should have rolled the first time this happened. Doing it again is way, way beyond endurance.
  • The Edit Account page refuses to allow me to make changes, falsely claiming that several fields contain incorrect data. This means I can’t fix the email exposure problem myself, and have to wait for Autodesk to fix it. Never mind, I’ve done a lot of waiting for Autodesk over the past few months, so I’m kind of used to it.

Other than that, the discussion group system looks like the same old pile of garbage that it has been for weeks. For example, Search is still broken. Paste is still arcane. Using the indent or bullet items in Rich Text results in text above the selection being indented too. The question evaluation system (of dubious value in any case) causes threads to start with such nonsense as “This question is not answered. Helpful answers available: 2. Correct answers available: 1.” Er, OK then…

Even the Help page hasn’t been updated to reflect any alleged new fixes or to correct any of the errors I pointed out weeks ago.

All in all, I’d say it’s not exactly a major triumph as a maintenance effort.

Autodesk, please give up trying to maintain this steaming pile of pus. It’s not going to work. If the people at Jive Software can’t help you get their forum software working (and there has been plenty of time in which that could have happened), then bite the bullet and throw it away. Really.


  1. Robin, it has been doing that for quite some time. The main problem with Search is not so much the UI, although there’s room for improvement there too – a maximum of 30 results per page is awful to work with. Rather, the main problem is that it fails to find what you’re looking for. Here are a few example searches:

    AutoCAD category (past 3 months)
    Search Results » Messages: 79 – Search Terms: autocad

    AutoCAD category (all dates)
    Search Results » Messages: 188 – Search Terms: autocad
    Search Results » Messages: 191 – Search Terms: acad
    Search Results » Messages: 192 – Search Terms: command
    Search Results » Messages: 168 – Search Terms: lisp
    Search Results » Messages: 0 – Search Terms: of

    All categories (all dates)
    Search Results » Messages: 180 – Search Terms: autocad
    Search Results » Messages: 176 – Search Terms: acad
    Search Results » Messages: 193 – Search Terms: command

    There should be thousands of results for most of those searches, not less than 200. And why would there be 191 results for “acad” in the AutoCAD category, but only 176 results for the same search in all categories?

    According to Help, Search was supposed to have been fixed on 7 October. The best that could be said about that claim is that it is “mistaken”.

  2. Jimmy, I see one frustrated user has asked for help from Jive on behalf of Autodesk:

    Jive person: “If they would submit a case in their Support space on this site we would be more than happy to take a look at any problems they are experiencing.”

    It’s interesting to see that in that thread, there’s a dumb “This Question is Possibly Answered – 1 “correct” answer available (4 pts) – 2 “helpful” answers available (2 pts)” message at the top. This is in a thread with only one reply, so that can’t be right. If Jive’s own forum for supporting its own forum software doesn’t work properly, what chance does Autodesk have of getting it right?

  3. Many excellent web-based forums use vBulletin (, SMF ( or PhpBB (

    One big problem for Autodesk is that it has a long tradition of providing simultaneous web and NNTP (newsgroup) access. NNTP is now unfashionable, which strictly limits the available forum software choices, unless extensive extra custom development effort is undertaken. Another significant problem is carrying over the very large and valuable existing message base into the new system without breaking it.

    But even if Jive was the only choice, I still wouldn’t have used it. Particularly not to replace something that was already much better. Maybe the old system wasn’t perfect and it looked a bit venerable, but it worked.

  4. John Dunlap

    My AutoCAD 14 won’t open on Vista. I get a “mem bad pointer” message when I try. I know this can be overcome, and I have tried changing my “sh31w32.dll file but it doesn’t work. It worked last year, but when I upgraded my compy, it doesn’t work any longer. WHAT CAN I DO TO GET MY AutoCAD WORKING AGAIN?????

  5. I really have no idea, I wasn’t able to get it working myself (not that I tried enormously hard). If you’ve copied that DLL over, tried turning off UAC and using Vista’s compatibility options, then I’m out of ideas as far as running in native Vista is concerned. You might consider running it under a virtual XP, perhaps?

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