Just about everyone in the Internet space is likely to have spent at least some time in a Google help forum. Whether that time was helpful or aggravating depends on the time of day, the user’s need for information in a timely fashion and, most importantly what brave non-Google soul is monitoring that forum to help someone out.
It’s the way that Google has provided ‘support’ for quite some time. Under the guise of “the best situation is when users help other users” the folks at Mountain View have been able to keep their exposure to the outside world limited and they seem to like it that way. Unless they are selling (did you know there are now 1,000 Adword phone reps supporting that platform?) Google treats the general population with the same attitude that the pope treats his followers. You can look,listen and worship but let’s not get too close.
Google, however, is doing an interesting outreach program which rewards many of these top contributors to forums and also puts a carrot out in front of others to get more involved because maybe they too, one day, could visit Mecca, which is the Googleplex, to be given some special treatment. Think of it as a spa retreat for geeks.
The Google Webmaster Central blog reports
We decided to give the online world a break for a moment and meet in real life to celebrate our past success and work on future endeavours. Google Forum Guides, Googlers that participate in the forums, and Top Contributors will convene for the first global Top Contributor Summit on September 13th and 14th in Santa Clara and Mountain View, California. During the Google-organized two-day event, Top Contributors will meet guides, engineers and product managers in order to get to know each other, provide feedback and share new ideas. We’ll be sharing some of the insights and takeaways after the event too, so stay tuned. And if you would like to follow the events online, look out for the #TCsummit tag on Twitter and our updates on Google+.
It looks like Google is getting smarter and shortening the distance between them and their end users. At least they are doing it in a way that provides a nice PR play and doesn’t commit them to doing anymore than they really have in the past.
Are you a forums contributor? What has been your experience in that space? Has it been worth the invested time?