The magical feedback loop


Let’s say you’re launching an exciting, new social networking application on the web (yes, there are thousands of you out there). Face it: you’re going to have bugs.

You have a few options on how to cope with this.

  1. Ignore it and have your new-found audience get quickly annoyed and leave
  2. Throw up an email address and wait for your new-found audience to email bugs
  3. Spend about an hour making an email form for your new-found audience

The first option is an interesting one. It says, “We don’t care what you think. Fend for yourself.” No way to build a community. At the same time, it’s a strangely popular option.

The second option has its appeal. Someone sets up a little email alias for you and, perhaps, another person (depending on how large your organization is) makes a little mailto: link on the page somewhere. This method is putting a remarkable amount of onus on the user. It might seem like a very simple task; but, adding on the time to move to a mail application etc., it’s a pain.

The hottest thing going right now, Pownce, opted to go this route. Not surprisingly, I encountered a bug on my first day there. I typed in two of the characters of my password into their desktop app and got an error that looked something like:

Pownce:Pownce.exe – Application Error
The instruction at “0x00a40d66” referenced memory at “0x00000004”. The memory could not be “read”. Click on OK to terminate the program.

I felt like I could be helpful if I told someone. I sent an email. I heard nothing.

It’s not rocket-science to set up an auto-responder on an email address. Basically, it’s just a generic message that automatically goes out with (a) we got your message, thanks for doing that and (b) it’s nuts right now, if we need to be in touch we will.

Finally, let’s examine the third option. A lovely form will give you user even more instant gratification for helping while your user feels the love for the effort. And, if I can copy an email form from the interweb, so can you. You could even be clever and pass the HTTP header in the background.

Want to make your new-found community even happier? Answer them. Ask them how their day was. Love them. Simple.

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