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Encouraging feedback from users

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solanus
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Encouraging feedback from users

I'd like to suggest an addition to the Development Test - Forum Posting Layout.
One of the bigger delays to the release of apps is the lack of feedback from users. As someone recently posted, buggy apps get far more feedback than stable ones, so the stable ones will languish while waiting for user input.

I think simply putting a statement right below the download link might encourage users to provide both POSITIVE feedback and BUG REPORTS.
Something like:
"Feedback on this app is necessary to move it to the next phase. Please check all the functions of this app, and ensure that no files or registry settings are left behind. Even if no bugs are found, it is important to post your feedback here. Include info on your operating system and your portable drive. Thank you."

I know, this should go without saying, but unfortunately, it seems that the number of people that DL an app without giving feedback is vanishingly small.

Disclosure: I am as guilty as anyone of doing this. I'll try to report on all my beta DLs from now on!

What do you think?

vf2nsr
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Agreed

you said it most eloquently Wink

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” Dr. Seuss

Darkbee
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Need a better mechanism

Perhaps if there was a better mechanism for reporting on the state of apps, then they might get more feedback. Forums are much abused IMHO. I'm not suggesting a full-blown bug-tracker but even polls or rating systems could be utilized to solicit positive and negative feedback.

dagardner
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Polls

I think polls would be a good idea. Developers could create a poll for their app and users could vote on their experience.

solanus
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I don't think we need a new tool

We already have too many things waiting to be invented.
The forums should be able to do the job.
I did a quick survey of the dev test forums, and they aren't abused.
The posts there almost all pretty much have actionable information that is helpful to the developer.
There's just not enough to justify releasing an app.
I can give you an example of the one real app I have:
Hugin Portable.
Maybe it's good, maybe people hate it - I don't really know.
What I do know is that it's been downloaded over 500 times, and I only got feedback from 3 people.

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

Simeon
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Yes

I think this is a good suggestion. The lack of feedback is something lots of devs (including me) were/are having problems with.

"What about Love?" - "Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate." - Al Pacino in The Devils Advocate

Chris Morgan
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Nothing wrong with it but unlikely to help much

There's nothing wrong with the idea, but I don't think it's likely to help very much, as Angel most people will still not comment about it, and (b) what in my opinion is needed more is a full technical review. Merely an "it works" really doesn't guarantee portability at all, often there will be things which aren't obvious which still prevent it from being really portable. And generating even a partial technical review (say a regshot report) takes time which I don't think most will give.

It might be worth while trying this as an experiment on a few posts, and see what happens about it. I might be wildly wrong (in fact, I hope so, but don't expect so).

I am a Christian and a developer and moderator here.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

scriptdaemon
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I imagine most developers

I imagine most developers already use Regshot, but horusofoz, especially, occasionally provides shots which are very helpful.

solanus
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As a beta tester

I'd like to know what other devs expect from me, so maybe we can put up a stickied post with more detailed instructions for beta testing, and put a link in the statement to that post.

And you're right, most people likely won't comment, but I'd wager we do catch some more. We have a lot of appreciative users, who would be happy to participate if you give them a little direction. If I were only to get 2% feedback, that would be 10 people.

I'll update my app with the latest PAL, and throw my statement on it, to see what I get.

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

Darkbee
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Feedb...

Unless most users can leave feedback in about 5 clicks or less, most won't bother. And if you expect them to actually type something, then forget about it.

It's well documented that about 80% of a website's user base just lurks, not actively participating, another 15% minimally participates (clicking voting buttons/polls), and the remaining 5% percentage actually contributes content.

So at best, you have to assume that you can get about 20% response rate, and this assumes that you're using tools that those minimally active users are apt to using.

And by abuse of forums, I'm not talking about spamming and nonsensical posts, I'm talking about misuse of purpose. Similar to how people use Email as a journal, an archive, an address book, a knowledge base, to-do list and otherwise all encompassing application... it's for sending messages!

I agree that more feedback is good, and I also agree that I'm just as guilty as the next person at not giving enough. My excuse, valid or not, and typical excuse of most people is that I don't have enough time, so I'm more likely to give feedback if I can do so in the most unobtrusive way.

Regshot snapshots, and detailed information like that should only be necessary in the cases where something is not working as expected. Those can be dealt with on a case by case basis (in the forums!).

Jimbo
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As a user who doesn't often give beta feedback

I can tell you that in my case, when I download a beta of an app, while I will happily watch for and report any bugs that I see (and indeed I have done on occasion in the past), I don't generally have the time to run a full analysis of whether it passes the portability requirements or not, so I tend to steer away from saying "works for me" when I've not actually tested the portable nature of the app.

Maybe I should post more often, but I've always thought that if I had nothing more than "doesn't crash on windows version blah, but no idea how portable it is" to say, then it wasn't really helpful.

If the devs would like to get more relatively-information-free replies, then I'll start posting them.

Darkbee
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Still useful

I would argue that, that is useful because if an app is downloaded 500 times and only 3 people post about it, does that mean that other 497 people tried it once and don't use it anymore? Did it not work for them and so they gave up? Did the app not do what they expected it to do? Is there any way for us to verify that those other 497 are humanoid and have a pulse?

I'm also still arguing that a forum might not be the best mechanism for capturing that feedback but hey ho, whatever works.

vf2nsr
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Tongue in cheek

We could always create a program to "cripple" the app after X number uses until the rate it....Kidding of course

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” Dr. Seuss

Darkbee
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*lightbulb*

I think you're on to something there, we could start up a new site PortableCrApps.com (CrippledApps). Only problem is people might think it's a gambling website. No dice! Pardon

vf2nsr
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Hmmm

Spin the wheel and try your luck?

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” Dr. Seuss

Jimbo
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nah

trying your luck is when you d/l "portable" payware from a torrent source and hope that it doesn't have any viruses or malware in it Wink

Rapscallion
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Might not be realistic, or too much work, but...

solanus - We already have too many things waiting to be invented.
The forums should be able to do the job.

While I agree with the above statement, the fact is that "it is a lot of work to sign in to a forum, find the correct thread and post a comment". While I don't believe this, the truth is, it's a sad reality for many.

IMHO the best way to get active feedback is to have a rating mechanism built into the launcher. This could update something, somewhere, where people interested (developers) could review the comments/ratings. It could also be a way for potential users to review an app by checking the ratings and comments before they download it.

I know that this would take a lot of work and thought, and may in the end not be a viable solution. But I also think that this is the only real way that you will get the majority of people to comment, rate or submit bugs reports for an app. Simply because it does not require much effort.

... Just my 2 cents

It amazes me that on the internet you can be anything you want, and yet so many people still choose to be idiots.

solanus
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Maybe

But finding the correct thread should not be the problem - it's the thread they downloaded the app from!
True we may never get lazy lurkers who'd rather DL and complain than participate, but a gentle reminder might help nudge people who are generally inclined to be a part of the process. We just need a few more, not everyone.

I'm SO not a fan of rating systems, having worked with other development environments. Rating is generally useless to the developer as the color-coded homeland security system - it provides no actionable information. Comments are good, and forums are a great place to put comments!

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

Darkbee
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Good Luck!

Good Luck!

Rapscallion
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True the ratings alone would

True the ratings alone would not be that helpful, but if the purposed dialog were to have a rating and comment box, then....

...well I'm sure this is all a "moo point" (thanks Joey Tribbiani, hehe), its not likely to happen anyway.

So with that said, I agree that at the very least a gentle reminder to "Please comment" may help.

This thread has convicted me... time to update some threads Smile

It amazes me that on the internet you can be anything you want, and yet so many people still choose to be idiots.

SAL-e
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Feed back sugestion

I think this will require some work on portable launcher, but how about this:

1. When the user starts beta version of the app it pings the tracking URL. This should be optional and clearly stated that will not send any personal information and allow the user to disable if he/she don't want to participate. I believe that most users like me will happily participate. That way the developer will know how much use his application gets.

2. When the beta application is closed it opens a small dialog with simple text field where I can type comment and submit it to the tracking URL or original forum thread from where the app was downloaded. This should be optional also and easy to disable if the user chooses. This could be tricky to implement in the real world once the security gets involved.

Personally I keep eye on beta forum by RSS reader and the problem is that once I read the first post and don't comment there is no easy way to go back to that post and to keep eye on the progress of the beta app.
I would like to help, but I have really limited time so as result I am failing to provide my feedback as I should.

For all PortableApps developers thank you very much!

Chris Morgan
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Not plausible

That's not plausible at all. It would require a major launcher rewrite (and also work in the website backend), and would lay launchers with that functionality open to being flagged by anti-malware software far more than they are now (practically nil) because of the online connectivity.

I am a Christian and a developer and moderator here.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

Simeon
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I am with Chris

on this one. I dont think its feasible. And I have a general dislike for things that "phone home" even If I know that its protecting my privacy, I still don't like it.

"What about Love?" - "Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate." - Al Pacino in The Devils Advocate

NathanJ79
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We need a sticky

I've read the topic thus far (that is, every post above this one) and I believe the easiest route to take is a sticky. Call it "Please read before downloading". Start with the caveats of using portable beta apps, and explain how in exchange for getting to use portable apps pre-release, the authors request (but do not demand) that you test their apps and report back, whether positive or negative. Then you tell them how to do so. I've tried to use RegShot, for example, and only embarrassed myself when I made an absurdly large snapshot file. So a quick tutorial on that would be in order. And the comments that the sticky receives will help fine-tune it to everybody's needs.

I would like to help as well, but like someone else said, Horus has done a great job of posting the regshot logs (and someone, I think usually Chris? always comes in behind them and says "that looks clean" or something).

Chris Morgan
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Unlikely to be read much

I think it's unlikely that people would read a sticky in Beta Testing much; I'm not at all certain, but I imagine that there are two main groups of people; those that just follow the Recent Posts tracker (like me, supplemented by my user tracker for priorities), and those that want a given application and search for it (either on Google or our site search) and so find the thread that way, and so never even see the "Beta Testing" forum. Various others may browse the actual forum page, but I don't think they'd be very many compared to these other two groups.

Various people look over Regshot reports; I think Simeon, Oliver and I are regularly the ones who comment on them agreeing with Horusofoz that they're clean but various others do to. I still don't see how you managed to get that large report that time. My own recommendation for general use is to scan the user profile directory (C:\Documents and Settings\user / C:\Users\user) and leave everything else at its default.

I am a Christian and a developer and moderator here.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

Mark Sikkema
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What about this...

Something what crossed my mind a while ago, and still need to figure if it's really possible.

What about 'Anonymous Usage Statistics', just get the launcher (in development) to ask if the user was satisfied or not (and open some sort of window to write down why he wasn't satisfied)!
This info if the portable application was actually used and the user feedback, could already be wanted info for the PA developer !

This all should be possible with the inetc.dll plug-in, and a server who gathers the information.

Mind you, probably all a lot of work again, and personally I've got no experience with this and not really any time to spend on it.

Just wanted to give another idea to a really bad issue of the development tests !

Formerly Gringoloco
Windows XP Pro sp3 x32

Chris Morgan
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As above

Please read my comment above. Substantial rewrite, anti-malware issues, not how we want it either.

I am a Christian and a developer and moderator here.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

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