SlideShare: user communication failure

While Enterprise 2.0 applications can be useful, hassles sometimes abound.

While Enterprise 2.0 applications can be useful, hassles sometimes abound. In this case, I innocently tried to upload a simple file to SlideShare, only to learn things aren't always straightforward.After attempting to upload the file, I received an error message stating in part:

There's a big chance this is just a temporary/random glitch with our servers; just retry after 5 minutes and see if it works.

Here's a screen capture, highlighting the relevant message:

SlideShare error message

The troubleshooting FAQ offers a bit more information:

I am getting a file conversion error while uploading my file. It gives me an "OOPs". What is this?

This means your file could not be converted to our format. Reasons could be varied - it's possible our converter is temporarily down, try uploading once again - if your file is password protected or contains macros, you might get an OOPs; remove them and upload again - sometimes uploading the pdf version instead of the original ppt/odp file (or vice-versa) helps to overcome the OOPs

If none of the above helped, this could be due to some incompatibility between our converter & your file.

While every application suffers bugs and errors, I don't understand why SlideShare doesn't state whether or not their converter is down. As the screen capture shows, I spent 41 minutes screwing around -- converting the file, uploading, re-converting, and so on. SlideShare, if your converter isn't working, please speak up so I don't waste my time.

Although I generally like SlideShare, communicating errors and problems clearly to users is obviously not a strong point. It's time the company learned this important skill.

Update 6/30/08, 8:30am EDT: The SlideShare blog reports the upload problem has been resolved. Amit Ranja, one of SlideShare's founders, sent the following comment by email:

Regarding your suggestion to add intelligence to upload error messages, it is definitely a good idea. Let me discuss this internally and see if we can incorporate that.