said by bighorn1:
1) Phone system is annoying (press this, press that, currently nobody available, please wait, blah blah)
2) Usually canned answers from 1st level tech support. To be fair, that applies more for RR than BH.
3) It's easier to describe problem here, especially if issue is more complex. On the phone, many things get lost or misunderstood. Sometimes you talk about white, and the person on the other side about black.
4) Usually here in forum, you get relevant answer quicker due to several savvy BH people posting. That doesn't necessarily mean the problem is solved, but you get general idea what you should next.
5) It's easier to understand possible solution to your problem, because you can reread it several times (in case you didn't get it first time). It's more comfortable, less stresfull than hanging on the phone.
6) For more general troubleshooting, it may be useful to more people with similar issues.
Couldn't have said it much better.
I prefer the forums because:
a) Large numbers. If there is an outage or widespread issue, it's likely to be discussed here very quickly. There is often a thread going before Level 1 support even learns (or at least admits) there is a problem.
b) Honesty. Often vendors will gloss over a problem, even if they know one exists, or try to minimize what they disclose. My favorite is when a massive failure has occurred (fiber cut with no protect path, core router down, etc) where a large number of people are hard-down, and the carrier passes it off as "some customers may be experiencing degraded performance". Forum posts tell it like it is: "can't connect" or "totally down".
c) Large base of information. Often, each of us hears a tiny piece of the story. Discussing what we all know, collectively, puts the puzzle pieces together and builds a clear picture of what is really happening.
d) Time saver. If the issue is not critical, it's more convenient to post, go about my day and periodically check in on the responses. This beats wasting time sitting in a phone queue waiting to talk to a Level 1 support rep who may not even understand the problem at first. (I only call for complex issues beyond my reach to fix.)
e) It's already happened to someone else. Occasionally, some anomoly will happen that by ourselves, we can't quite pin down. But discussing it openly, someone will often pop up and say, "Hey, the same thing happened to me a few months ago, and we got it fixed by....."
f) We're taken more seriously. Provider employees who participate in forums take us more seriously and listen more carefully to the information we offer, because we (in general) are more savvy than the average customer.
To sum all that up in one sentence, forums enable us to (quickly) draw on a much broader range of curent information and past experience, and to get more honest information without the corporate P.R. filters scraping away the useful-- but often ugly-- truth.