My post about “What Happens When Your Webinar Service Dies” pointed out that there is no database of information that lets consumers compare the relative reliability of different hosted web conferencing providers – or even to compare notes on whether a service interruption was localized or widespread. So I decided to do something about it.
If you are a webinar/webcast host, administrator, or presenter and you find that your web conferencing service drops unexpectedly or is unavailable outside a scheduled maintenance window, use the following link to report the problem:
The report form just collects basic information: When the service outage occurred, what product was involved, and where you are located. Almost all the fields are dropdowns to allow speedy and consistent data entry. You remain completely anonymous. Your report is immediately added to a master spreadsheet, and the data is available for everyone to view, sort, and download.
I have added links at the bottom of every page on the Webinar Success website and there is a button link in the right-hand column on The Webinar Blog. I hope you will help spread the word and put links in other places that webinar users are likely to see and remember. If you want a button graphic and linking code for HTML, email me and I will send you the information for putting it on a web page. This utility will only be valuable if people know that it exists and can find it in a hurry when they experience a problem.
We should all remember a few things when looking at the data:
- This is not statistically valid data. It is anecdotal. The only information available is what people choose to report. I would prefer to have self-reported outage history from each vendor, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen.
- Vendors with larger user bases have higher odds of getting reported. More people being affected means a greater chance that a service interruption hits someone while they are trying to use the system. And a greater chance that one of them knows about this form and uses it. So even if WebEx had the same number of downtime situations as a tiny vendor with just a few customers, WebEx is likely to look worse in the database because of the reporting bias.
- The data does not show how long an interruption lasts. I don’t think users can reliably supply that information.
We’ll see if this experiment pans out. If people really use the form, it might supply some welcome information that we can’t otherwise get.