Commentary: Critical discussion of Mystarbucksidea.com

MSI homepage Dec., 2009

MSI homepage Dec., 2009

Has My Starbucks Idea been a winning innovation for Starbucks? Is it effective?

On Wednesday, March 19, 2008, at the annual shareholder meeting, Starbucks launched a customer-suggestion site called “My Starbucks Idea“. This blog post is a discussion and review of mystarbucksidea.com since its inception.  In the nearly two years of the site, it has been through a number of changes. For example, when the site was brand new, there was no way to subscribe to a thread.  About a year after the site was born, the ability to add a thread as a “favorite” was added. Unfortunately, if you subscribe to too many, you tilt the system. I have 539 threads listed as “favorites” and I haven’t been able to access them in months – when I click on favorites, it loops me back to the home page. Though I keep adding new favorites, as if one day it will work again!

When the site was new, lots of in-store signage helped promote the site, as well as a floating icon on starbucks.com which said something like, “Got an Idea?” and then if you clicked it, it took you to mystarbucksidea.com.  The floating icon lasted for about six months, as I recall, and even sometimes prompted people to start threads complaining about it.  This was in many ways the best era of MSI, in my opinion.  The driver for many people to come to MSI was that icon, and once Starbucks removed it from the homepage starbucks.com. site traffic seemed to slow down.  Now, in November 2009, MSI seems like a far quieter community than what it once was in 2008.  It’s never really picked back up to that 2008 level.

In March 2008, when mystarbucksidea.com was new, I had no idea that I would be writing a blog 15 months later, and so unfortunately I wasn’t making any screen captures or somehow otherwise memorializing the important changes and discussions at MSI.  As a result this blog post will just be a ramble of my observations from being a participant in MSI from its very beginning with almost no nice screen caps to illustrate my story.

Let’s start at the very beginning of the story: The day that MSI was born to the public. On the morning of the annual shareholders’ meeting, friendly Starbucks partners passed around cards to the meeting attendees.  They were cards about 3 x 5 in size (roughly), and basically asked you what’s your idea for Starbucks.  The cards were collected, and we shuffled into the meeting.  Howard Schultz announced a “transformation agenda” for Starbucks which included mystarbucksidea.com and describing it as follows in a press release: “Starbucks first online community, that takes the Starbucks Experience outside the store and enables customers to play a role in shaping the company’s future.”  That day at the meeting, Chris Bruzzo, Chief Technology Guy (I’m not totally clear on his exact title), got on the stage and demonstrated on a large screen the new cool site mystarbucksidea.com. It had been pre-loaded with customer ideas, and pre-loaded with ideas that came from the cards filled out that day at the meeting. The earliest idea threads all said, “custidea” or something close to that because they were not started by individuals with profiles.

Early on, the site only had the ability to have “up votes” and a person could not vote down a thread. I have heard it said that Chris Bruzzo firmly believed that it was important not to have down-votes, and only up votes, but then in response to the many people who came to the site wanting down votes, MSI gave in.  By late 2008, the site had the ability to vote down.  It would be important to note that this created a strange dynamic that threads that existed before negative voting (and still to this day this is true) always had much higher point totals than threads created after the advent of down votes. A person may only vote once a thread, up or down, and then either adding 10 points to the thread or subtracting 10 points to it.

So what have we seen from mystarbucksidea.com and what is the upshot? Overall, in my humble opinion, sadly, I think there are more “cons” than “pros” with the site.  It pains me to say that, because I enjoy participating on it.

Here is the downside to MSI: (In no particular order)

* Well an obvious problem is that it is an open slate for anyone to write anything about Starbucks.  This means that if Starbucks, or high profile Starbucks figures make the news due to jet planes, Sonics, or store closings, there is sometimes a wave of new threads of people trashing Starbucks for the hot topic of the moment.  When you give your customers a wide open empty page to write on, controlling it becomes difficult.

* It seems that many people have little interest in the merits of the conversation. People would rather listen to how it is said, than what is being said.  Customers who complain about their pet issue, and threaten to leave Starbucks, are met with negative votes. The down votes come from the angry tone of the post. Since many partners (and other customers as well) cannot get past how the message is being said, the result is that people are overlooking often an area where there is genuinely room for improvement in the business.

There are so many of these kinds of threads, it is hard to mention them all!  It’s a shame because many baristas respond with similar tone, happy to let the customer go to a competitor.  Of course all those customers add up, and they mean something to the changing character of the business, the demographics of the customer base, and even the brand image. No matter how angry an MSI thread appears, it shouldn’t be treated by Starbucks partners or other customers as, “well, he’s just a complainer” attitude.

* Point totals mean very little. Great ideas get down votes. Some ideas have very high points because they’ve lived on the site forever, long before down votes existed.  At times, I think people vote ideas down because people are simply tired of hearing about them, not because there is no merit to them.

* The duplication of ideas causes problems about how meaningful any information on the site is.  As previously mentioned, meritorious threads sometimes receive down votes simply because people are tired of hearing about them.  The moderators attempt to merge threads, which I applaud them for, but this requires a subjective judgment call at times. Is a thread that says, “Please recycle and compost” the same as a thread that says “Why can’t a put my glass bottle in a recycle bin?”

* The area of the site with the most valuable information receives the least amount of visitor traffic.  The Ideas in Action area of the site is woefully neglected by visitors. When a person signs in to the site, he or she is directed to area of popular ideas. Of course, this is not the most factually useful area of the site.  Ideas in Action has content on everything from Shared Planet, Coffee options, new products, new store design, to Vivannos.

The unfortunate result is that most people happily create new threads, over and over again, on topics that have previously been thoroughly discussed in the Ideas in Action area of the site. I have sometimes thought that there are very few novel ideas that have not been touched upon in Ideas in Action. I wonder if Starbucks could just eliminate “new ideas” and the entire “ideas” area of the site in favor of structured conversation in the blogs.

* The structure of mystarbucksidea.com can actually make customers feel less heard than if there were no MSI at all.  Unfortunately, for some repetitive ideas, when looking at moderator responses, it appears over and over again like as if mods are say, “we’re working on it.”  After a while, from the customer perspective, it simply appears like no answer at all.  In the end, it leaves the customer or participant the feeling of talking to a brick wall.

* The use of mystarbucksidea.com can blur with the purpose of Customer Relations: Customers come on the site repeatedly to make store specific complaints, only to have moderators tell them that MSI is geared towards finding universal ideas, and not store specific ideas. Of course then to the customer who doesn’t understand what MSI is, he or she feels like she has to complain twice, and doesn’t understand why the corporation can’t take a complaint from the MSI part of their website.

* Starbucks store-level partner participation can great poor customer relations:  It is unfortunate, but sometimes a customer will have a complaint about something, and the comment response will be an angry barista type response.  The “Starbucks experience” is continued from the store, to the online site, and the customer comes to MSI still expecting to receive welcoming, kind, reassuring words. It is not like the image of Starbucks ends with store experiences only, and that MSI is some distinct entity.  Rather, the green siren is proudly displayed on the site, and the psyche of the customer is geared towards have a continuation of the great customer service and legendary experience for which Starbucks is famed.  Once in a while, baristas post hot-headed comments which reflect poorly on the image of Starbucks.

This can work both ways. Sometimes store partners post helpful and knowledgeable answers to threads.

Some of the positive aspects of mystarbucksidea.com are as follows:

* The site can be highly entertaining.  Actually this is one of several reasons I keep coming back to the site. I have to just laugh at times at the ideas that are posted. Take a look at this sampling of ideas:

Catchy name for a bigger size (a customer wants a 40 ounce latte!!)

Star Wars theme day (a customer somehow thinks baristas should dress as Star Wars characters on a given day)

Some people want (a paragraph run on sentence of what people talk about at MSI)

Kissing Booth (customer wants to kiss girls at Starbucks)

Build a Starbucks theme park and rollercoaster (appears to be a serious plea for a Starbucks roller coaster)

* The site is an amazing opportunity to create a community of customers and partners in vibrant discussion. This is a critical part of the site. I admit, I log in to mystarbucksidea and wonder what CranBliss, Pechipy, BetterBefore, Chicagobrocks, and many others have posted.  I look forward to comments in orange, because the moderators give the place a lot of warmth, even when they have no good answers to hard questions.

Mystarbucksidea.com is fundamentally a community.  It allows people to talk about what is happening around the world at Starbucks and compare and contrast experiences.  Sometimes people who leave mystarbucksidea.com are sorely missed by the regulars. I enjoyed getting to know “Breve” on mystarbucksidea.com, and I wish that Momiji would come back and post again too.

Certain moderators are missing.  Though I know that sbux_nric is now at another part of Starbucks, I miss her comments.  And I don’t know where sbux_mguiste has gone, but I want him to post again too. He just disappeared, which never really feels good.  If Cecile, Brendan, and Sally stopped posting, I’d think there had been an upheaval at the Starbucks headquarters.

* There is a wealth of information in the site:  If you are one who is clicking on the links found in my blogs, you’ll find that many posts have some link back to the Ideas in Action area of MSI.  If I am referencing the Vivanno, I might link back to the original Vivanno launch entry in Ideas in Action. There is simply a wealth of information about everything from store design to products to Shared Planet, all in Ideas in Action.

What might be done to improve the site?

* Eliminate the ability to so easily create a new thread. I realize this is antithetical to the site’s purpose, but until there is some control over the million duplicate threads, the site will always be lacking in meaning. This may mean that really, Starbucks should just offer a blog.  Whether it is a blog framed like starbucksmelody.com or other popular blogs, there should be a lot more control over ideas.

* Eliminate down votes: Perhaps Chris Bruzzo was right all along. Customers don’t like to see their ideas receive hundreds of negative points, and it discourages future participation when a person starts a thread, and it is met with huge negative points.

* Enhance profile capacity: Since the site is a place where people can connect with each other, a basic private messaging system might be useful.

* Add some formatting to the comments. Having long block comments with no ability to make a new paragraph, bold, or underline, thwarts effective use of the comments.

*Drive more traffic to it: There is no way to get a representative sample of customers on any topic, if the traffic is too small.

I could probably write more about mystarbucksidea.com, but this blog entry is getting quite long. I turn it over to my readers now. What do you think of mystarbucksidea.com?

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42 Comments

  • Chris W

    I always thought the 2 biggest problems with Mystarbucksidea.com were the un-merged, duplicate / similar ideas, and the sheer volume of posts asking (demanding?) changes to loyalty programs. I think if down votes are eliminated, the site should probably be cleaned up by moderating and approving new posts, so that the threads that remain remain relevant.
    After using it for awhile, I think a format similar to Google Wave, where posts, pictures, attachments, etc. could be added to each conversation, and threads could be more easily followed.

  • Karl Dahlquist

    I am all for a Venti Plus size….(now I will go on about how I will have them ring up all ten shots separately to boost my new Starbucks Rewards)

    I haven’t paid much attention to MSI….not sure why, but I would rather read StarbucksGossip or other sites to get my back-channel information.

  • camspi

    I usually go to the Partner section of MSI. They’ll have Starbucks partner related news in the “Ideas In Action Blog.” Once upon a time there was a Starbucks Partner Blog, but one day it magically morphed into part of the MSI partner community.

    Occasionally they’ll have contests. The most recent was one for creating a new sandwich. (Be expecting a new vegetarian dish coming your way soon.) They’re pretty easy to win because not enough people participate. It would be awesome if more people voiced their opinions. These online communities (including your blog) are more fun when you comment and join the conversation.

    They also had one that helped partners sell VIA in innovative ways.

    And a year ago, when labor was cut drastically, there was an interesting dialogue between retail baristas and partners at the SSC. Does anyone else remember this posting on the partner section of MSI? It was really brutal and awful!

    However, I really stopped checking it as often as I used to. Probably because people stopped commenting on it as often. Also, a lot of what people were posting had mean tones, and who wants to dwell in the negativity? Not me!

  • Melody

    @CamSpi – Actually I think you’ve touched on why blogs work at all. With a blog you get a stream of comments you can follow. With a site like MSI or even times many forum/message board type sites, it can be hard to follow the conversation.

    Truthfully, I think every one of the comments on this site breath life into the site. It would be really dull without them. If I don’t say it enough, I’m thankful that I’ve got some loyal readers who leave comments, and thankful for all the new people who join in too.

  • Venti_Bold

    O-M-G!!! EXCELLENT BLOG POST!!!!

  • LatteRose

    Good post. I’ve pretty much stopped reading MSI as well. Might start looking into it again. (The guy with the theme park idea was, um, quite imaginative…)

  • Andy

    once again Melody you blow me away with your passion and knowledge for what you write about.

  • AmazonV

    Thank you for hitting the nail on the head
    I started reading when MSI was first introduced
    I participated for a while but i felt there was not enough moderation for it to be a truly effective solution.
    I understand salesforce runs the site so it cannot be a part of starbucks.com, but i feel finding a way around that technological limit would have been beneficial, all feedback could come into a central area and be routed directly (MSI, the local store, etc.). heavier moderation would also shunt all comments into the correct place to reduce duplication.
    I also know corporations are slow and thoughtful, but the “we’re working on it” does feel like a polite no many of the times even if they really are working on it.

  • @CoffeePedaler

    Great entry, inspiring passion. Has there been a link posted on MSI? Not to worry, I’m sure they will hear about it. Voting down is such a tricky concept, some sites don’t remove the down-voted material completely, they put in a place marker and link to it for the truely interested.
    Though I will say that online communities are no different than other communities in that they are as fruitful as the participants make them. Baristas @ some stores don’t know that MSI still exists, or in some cases what it is to begin with. Maybe its time for some fresh internal marketing.

  • Nathan

    Great post! One thing I wouldn’t really want to see happen though is the elimination of down votes. Without down votes, people who don’t like the idea really get very little say, because when implementing ideas, moderators look much more at point totals than comments.

  • Jason Breed

    Melody,
    First off great post and way to focus constructively on how to improve MSI. MSI was a sexy marketing push around a technology that got Starbucks a lot of great press. From that standpoint, it was well worth it. The problem though is that with +/- 80k submissions and only a hundred or so used, MSI has become a lot of noise. Not to mention, the ideas being used are incremental improvements and not fundamentally shifting improvements that change the game. I will elaborate.

    IMO, where MSI fell down was on the execution. In general, asking people “what they think” is rarely a positive outcome. Here are some thoughts on how to re-ignite this MSI engine with a focus on results:

    1. Create more focus. Starbucks should create the areas of need and ask for ideas specific to that. (ie. How could we improve the lines…store seating…music…etc.) This way there is some natural organization around the content and those topics can be reviewed by staff ar the right times.

    2. Time Slice. having ideas up from the beginning of time simply creates too much noise. The signal gets lost. To fix, have recent ideas, best ideas this week, most viewed ideas this month, etc. Have spotlighted or featured topics. This gives an idea submitted today a chance to be seen and debated.

    3. Reach the right audiences. I am not a restaurant professional or pro nutritionist or a recognized logistics person so asking me how to run your restaurant better will get you un-substantiated thoughts. Ask patrons about what flavors they like, music, if there are enough outlets, etc (more experience based). Engage professionals separately for real help in how to evolve logistics, create better efficiencies through the electrical grid, involve suppliers in packaging ideas and logistical support. The experience ideas will build goodwill, the professional ideas will facilitate substantial ideas with realistic outcomes that have significant dollars tied to them. Engage them differently, Reward them differently.

    4. Build your Networks (Enable Sharing). If someone posts an idea, let them share that idea with their networks via FB, Twitter, Posterous, etc. That will get that person’s network engaged in a personal way. I don’t care about voting up stranger’s ideas (my enthusiasm for Starbucks is only so great), however I would care if my colleague or friend had an idea that I wanted to support…ohh by the way on MSI. Becomes more about my friend’s idea than supporting starbucks. Right now there is no way to engage outside networks.

    5. create open log-ins. I will never create a Starbucks idea because I have to create “yet-another-profile-on-another-site”. I will never remember that user ID or password. big barrier. Let me use my Twitter login or Facebook connect to login. It is important to own the content on your own site (MSI) however closing it down from the outside creates too high of a barrier.

    There are some other things but I think this is enough. Starbucks is an iconic brand and MSI is a great concept with poor execution. the other part is SalesForce created a few of these idea centers a couple of years ago and is not interested in building them out or maintaining them (not their core business). Probably time to migrate the platform to next generation. Hope this helps. Keep rockin!

  • Winning Resources

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  • StarbucksTweets

    Melody, Thanks again for taking the time to write a great post. Many of your points are well taken and valid. But, while I HAD been a participant at MSI for quite a long time… I’ve really come to believe that the site is a “FARCE”- in the literal sense of the word.
    Good Coffee Day to You!

  • Cecile

    Hi Melody,
    Thanks for your thorough review of MSI. We are working on some enhancements to the site that will launch in January. We hope they will help add to the community feel.
    Happy Holidays!

  • AmazonV

    @Jason Breed
    1.
    Love it!
    Makes sense, i always have a hard time finisng where my idea fits, if there were already minute clear groupings by clear logical spots (lines, drink sizes, etc) more discussion could occur in each area instead of repeat ideas thata re slightly different!

    2. an expiration date might be nice, but i think your #1 would address this root issue and so #2 might not be quite as crucial

    3. They’re tapping free input – but it might be nice if i could for instance let everyone know i have 5 years managing ecommerce for a food service provider – like some kind of certification where in certain topics you might be able to better weight input

    4. I agree that it would be open to sharing more easily so spread the word, but i believe most people come with a specific complaint or idea (or a targeted person) so i doubt most traffic would be “support my friend” some may start that way but then the pet peeves will come out of most people (IMO)

    5. Most sites are struggling with open accounts (single sign on) and although i think it would be great if they supported it i see from a website management perspective that with all the standards (openid, facebook, etc) it can get a little daunting for the programmers to keep current with all the id types and when they change API calls. Someday in the future when there are less, or more static designs perhaps most sites will have this.

  • denise r.

    Great topic and writing Melody. I have many thoughts on all of the above (nearly) but not enough time at this moment. Briefly, I know for sure that I think the “voting down” option should be removed. If a thread doesn’t get a vote up, then…that’s it. It’s unnecessary for the ‘down’ votes, imo, and actually just makes an idea more confusing. (its popularity, I mean) up & down and up & down……becomes meaningless for the thread. The “absence” of a minus vote will only leave the ups. seems simple. Much more to say, but later. Thanx again and as usual!

  • Nathan

    Another thing I forgot to add earlier is that I strongly agree with the ideas of visible profiles, formatting in comments, and more site advertising.

  • Steve

    I really do not have any worthwhile or witty comments. I think MSI is sort a waste of time and for the most past we are just talking to ourselves and Starbucks will do what Starbucks wants to do. For instance look at all the discussion about the gold card and how nice it was and tracking the savings like Safeway and QFC does and how Starbucks was not going to play the punch card game and the moderators kept stringing us on by saying “we’re working on it” and “Starbucks will never have a punch card” and BS like “enhancements to the gold card program”. Well the “enhancements” are no 10% discount which was good for the customer and good for Starbucks because it encouraged people to spend more than they normally would, a sort of a punch card but instead of punches it is stars and to collect the required 15 stars to get a “free” drink that every intellinent person out there knows has already been built in to the mark up (45 if you are not at the “gold level”) each purchase must be a separate transaction meaning that if you buy a cup of coffee and a pastry they must be purchased separetly to get two stars or you only get one star. This is “enhancement”?

  • E. Sheppard

    Hi – I read this posting and liked the fact that the site was available for people (#1) and that it was actually read by somebody working for Starbucks.

    I did not like having to register there. I often just don’t have time to do this. I think you are missing out on some good comments this way.

    I think you should keep the site, and maybe streamline it or make a way to put similar comments together. This could save you more time.

  • Melody

    (@Cecile & E.Sheppard) – Cecile thank you for dropping by my blog! I know that many of us regulars at MSI are so anxious for site improvements! Glad to know they’re coming soon.
    @E.Sheppard – Welcome to my blog. This is a quiet little fan site, and usually does not have Starbucks folks posting on it, but please come back again and browse through the archives.

  • Joe McCarthy

    This is a fabulous historical account coupled with great analysis about what is working (and not working) and why!

    The only issue I’d quibble with is your recommendation about eliminating the “down vote”. One of the few things I don’t like about Yelp – aside from the sheer quantity of [increasingly redundant] reviews – is that I cannot say “this review was not useful” … I can only say it was cool, funny or useful. Even if some kind of down vote was not used in the overall computation of points or even communicated to the ideator (or reviewer), it would at least be helpful in customizing the voter’s view of the expanding collection of content.

  • Art M

    Hi Melody. Ah the good old days when we had to BEG for a coffee other than Pike…. (actually come to think of it that really sucked!…).

    I suspect that a lot of the improvements in Starbucks over the past year or so came from this site. Nonetheless….

    I stopped going to my starbucks for the precise reason you cited: lack of response. You explained it well in your blog above. Perhaps that is their goal? Customer, just dump your ideas here and let us quietly sort it out. Thereafter what you see is what you get.

    That said, if they would let me subscribe to a thread AND send me an email digest of other client’s updates to my threads, that would probably continue my engagement.

    I’ll close with your well phrased comment.
    Best wishes,
    Art

    “* The structure of mystarbucksidea.com can actually make customers feel less heard than if there were no MSI at all. Unfortunately, for some repetitive ideas, when looking at moderator responses, it appears over and over again like as if mods are say, “we’re working on it.” After a while, from the customer perspective, it simply appears like no answer at all. In the end, it leaves the customer or participant the feeling of talking to a brick wall.”

    ————-

  • CABarista

    I find the site a little silly to be honest with you. Not the idea of it, but the lack of moderation, the duplicate posts by the same person or on the same subject; but most of all the sense of entitlement there, it’s mind blowing. I find it just puts me in a foul mood. I did however find your lovely blog through it :)

  • Melody

    LOL! TroyBear, I notice that the “Kissing Booth” has been “reviewed”, but it’s not to late to weigh in on “Star Wars Theme Day”! That thread is still open!

  • Mona Robertson

    Thanks for the heads up Melody! It all makes sense. If I’m in a mood for some great debate, I know where to go! 😉

  • tobias fornell

    well it took me a while to read through this all haha but it was well worth it, melody, that was beautifully thought-out and well-written. I’ve said this before on MSI that I appreciate your civility, a quality not often displayed by MSI posters, and this blog entry only serves to increase my respect for you. because of the design flaws, MSI has taken on such a negative atmosphere. I have a post open right now on which a sbux mod commented “tobias fornell — I think this is a great idea! Voting up.” and yet it stands currently at -60pts haha. I just cannot understand why everyone down votes everything always- is it just because they’re not their ideas, or are they just cynical people, et cetera? but I’m in agreement with everything you’ve said here, especially about the repetitive comment spamming- every other recent comment to come in these days says “bring back the old fraps!” which leaves only half the incoming posts any room for originality, and half of those are asking for things like kissing booths 😛 but again, I’m awed at how you remain so pleasant in the face of such ignorance, so my hat’s off to you- some of us actually do appreciate all your efforts. thanks and God bless! Semper Fi.

  • merryncole

    I’ll occasionally look through the posts at MSI, but it’s frustrating to see 356 posts on the same thing. It especially gets old when they’re whiny posts that come off sounding like Starbucks has personally wronged them by not having a giant cup, vegan pastry, reusable sleeve, recycling, etc. It’d be wonderful if there would be fewer duplicates, but also posts that were constructive requests/ideas.

  • CD

    I posted this on the open thread, and then saw your tweet about this older post so I’m re-posting the comment here too:

    @Melody (and denise r, etc.): The problem with MSI as I see it, is that you and I care more about it than Starbucks does. MSI serves its purpose for Starbucks. It gives the appearance of listening to customers and is something that the company can reference if/when it suits their needs. It is not, however, the “community” that we would all like it to be.

    I stopped posting (Since92) on MSI quite some time ago. StarbucksMelody.com is my new Starbucks community. I come here for great conversation with engaged and passionate fans of the Starbucks experience. It’s a positive place, and has remained so since day one.

    So what’s the difference? The difference is intention. Melody intends to make this website an informative and positive place to “meet over Starbucks.” Starbucks, the company, does not share that same intention about MSI, no matter how much we’d like it to.

    Knowing how Einstein labeled doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, I’ve moved on from MSI to StarbucksMelody.com and I haven’t looked back.

    I do not expect the tiger known as MSI (or HS or SBUX) to change its stripes. I also applaud you Melody for having such great intentions for this website and for following through and building such a great global community.

    Thank you.

  • purple1

    Melody it is sort of sad to see from my perspective that MSI has not maintained control over its content or tried to revamp its objective. I think its original purpose was a good one, but I frankly rarely go to it and I used to enjoy reading the blog posts.

  • Melody

    @Purple1 – One of the things that is interesting about this thread is that a number of the comments above were from past regular MSI participants who are long gone from the site.

    Essentially, there is close to zero comment control. One could debate back and forth the pros and cons of a strict moderating style versus a style where the community ‘self corrects.’ I don’t really believe that the ‘self correcting’ model works as I think bullies tend to trounce the site, but reasonable minds may differ.

    Starbucks at this point could do one of a few things:

    1. Shut down the idea suggestion portion of the site, or have only “drop box” with almost no customer crowd-sourcing or customer participation. Then there would be only official MSI blog articles on pre-selected topics.

    2. Take the aggressive stance and have every comment go through moderation. This would prevent the out of control 150 comment threads that have nothing to do with the original topic.

    3, Add a large number of moderators, and aggressively clean up threads, quickly close threads – The downside is that it would look like a very aggressive and heavily policed response. It could chill participation. It might be what is needed though.

    The site has some positives to it still, but there are really problems that there is so much discord in the “community.”

    At a minimum, it could help if new threads went through moderation – Then every new almond milk thread could be consolidated with the next, and the ideas that are NOT really ideas at all could be deleted.

    I don’t know the answer!

  • Melody

    CD – I just read that. Very interesting. I guess that bodes against any changes at all at MSI. I must admit, I only check the Starbucks Facebook page like once a month, so I’ve missed much of that controversy. Very interesting article!

  • Dave Wakeman

    Looking back on this, its amazing how far the site came and how far from the original intent it has now slipped.

    As you said to me on Twitter, the site seems to lack a consistent community manager and I think the site suffers from lack of direction in the little interaction with it I have had.

    Going forward I think the site could be rejuvenated by promoting it more from the main Starbucks site, but by also having someone available as a community manager to moderate ideas and keep the discourse moving in some way.

    I also think that it might be possible to encourage more participation if there is an incentive for people to have positive interactions with the company and not just to use the site as a forum to vent frustrations or just to bitch.

  • Melody

    The challenge of twitter is expressing yourself in 140 characters. I probably wasn’t too clear. MyStarbucksIdea.com definitely has a main community manager (“Cecile”) however she has taken a very hands off approach to moderation. Having read the article that CD posted above, it actually makes a little more sense to me – it could be an actually strategy to let controversy flow. Though for me, I’m a little uncomfortable with it. MSI has many threads of long arguments and discord, and broken record-like comments. Perhaps it’s intentional to just let people vent, complain, gripe or whatever … I still visit and participate, but it’s a disappointing experience often these days.

  • Timmy Mac

    hi mates-
    i’m trying to find out the sodium content of those delicious little cherry pies. i can’t have
    very much sodium( 1500mg. daily), due to medical problems. the pamphlet SB puts out does not have that item. called the 800 number- they had it neither. So my other recourse
    is this blog thing. if anyone happens to have that info, i’d much appreciate an e-mail(above)- or an answer on the blog page.
    thanks, T-Mac

  • Victoria Eynon

    I would like to complain about the change of the city and country mugs. The new mugs look cheap plus the is handle is small, the ounces are less and the quality of the ceramic is lower. I travel around the world and have purchased many of your collector cups for myself,friends and family. They have been beautiful and useful mugs. The handle allowed three fingers. The ceramic felt good on the lips when drinking the coffee. The size of 16 oz. was a good amount to enjoy a cup of coffee. In addition to it’s practicality, the colors inside and outside the mug were beautiful. The pictures on the mugs were always of some special place or item unique to that city or country that was illustrated beautifully on the mug.

    If Starbucks is a first class business with good quality items, those new
    “You were here cups” are a disgrace. They are unbelievably cheap looking and poor quality. They are a poor representative and advertisement for Starbucks. I would not buy one of your new cups.

    Starbucks should reconsider their decision to change their mugs. If it means increasing the cost people would still buy them because
    individuals are now asking a high price for them on eBay .

    Lets not cheapen the name of Starbucks! Bring back the collector mugs. Thanks Vicky the traveler.

  • chad avey

    I’m emailing to ask that the ham and cheddar cheese artisan breakfast sandwich be returned. I have preferred it since it was first introduced. I think it is your best sandwich. Why would you discontinue such a good seller?
    A friend of mine also prefers the artisan sandwich. She has experienced it frequently sold out. So what is going on? Just because it has been around for awhile doesn’t mean it should be dropped.

  • chad avey

    Same as above, requesting the return of the ham and cheddar cheese artisan breakfast sandwich. It is my favorite as it is a friend of mine’s also. She has frequently found it sold out. Why have you dropped such a good seller? I will discontinue getting breakfast at Starbuck’s if it does not return. I have tried the other sandwiches but prefer the artisan.

  • Barry Graham

    I have issues with it too – first of all, on two different computers from three different browsers I can’t log in, it goes into an infinite loop. Also I noticed the negative vote issue, with people latching on to off the cuff comments made in the idea rather than the main theme of the idea, then voting that off the cuff comment down. Frankly if an idea doesn’t affect you, why vote it down just because it won’t affect you?

  • denise r

    Just wanted to say ‘hi’ to everyone, this is one I have a lot of opinion about but will just say quickly:
    I recently found quite a few cards and notes from Cecile from the past, usually with some kind of gift or gift card…just a nice thing. (remember our ‘bold’ …I think they were all bold ? coffees but maybe I’m wrong? when we all tasted a coffee a week and then commented about it every Tuesday? At the end we got a bag of Ethiopia Sun Dried Yergachefffe :)))) That was fun. ) Those kind of things are so long gone from MSI It was fun, the whole thing but thru the yrs, as everyone has said, with little or no moderation, it’s gotten very un-enjoyable. I guess one good thing is it brought quite a few of us together as (at least) virtual friends…..sometimes more!
    want to say especially to Melody, CD, DadC….. purple1… I do think of you. Am in the middle of ending an Estate sale on my Mom’s house and closing on 7/31. :( Take care all of you, will hopefully be back functioning at some higher level soon!

  • Barry Graham

    Well at least I just found out why I couldn’t log in to MSI – it’s incompatibile with the Covenant Eyes filter on my PCs.

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