On Software Feedback

For some reason, I couldn’t find or load Dave Winer’s comments, so I decided to blog about it instead: Dave reported that after announcing to shutdown of his outliner Fargo in 9 months, now users just get in touch with him for the first time.

This makes me wonder: is it too hard to provide feedback from inside Fargo?

Making it easy is not the best thing to do at all times. I know one person who could say something along the lines of: “I don’t want to make things easy for people. I want to attract the right kind of people instead, those that really care.” That’s good advice. Especially if you do client work. Nobody really wants to deal with disrespectful/irritating/stupid/lazy/… people. So some kind of entry barrier can help filter folks out.

But I don’t want to make it hard for consumers and regular users of my software to get in touch. Now Fargo is free software. There’s that saying that people tend to behave worst when the product they’re complaining about was free or very cheap. One oft-mentioned benefit of “pro-pricing” is that you will attract customers who will care more about the software, provide better feedback, and are overall less annoying.

Side-note: All the users of my software seem to be recruited from Happy Land, where only smart and nice people reside. Thanks for being part of this, folks!

So what if Dave encourages users to write outlines in Fargo and send them as feedback? Would that help? Would it make matters worse? Will he drown in shitty e-mail? (Because he’d then be helping users stay dumb/unresponsive?)

On a related note, Brent Simmons wrote about feedback forums in beta testing. That, too, is a topic of collaboration and communication.

I plan to experiment with this. I will integrate ways to provide feedback right from within the app. Maybe even tie this to events. For example “user launches app for the first time in X days: do you miss something?” makes sense for a tracking app like the Word Counter. (Not so much for an app like TableFlip.)