Keep the Book Feedback Coming… We're Listening


October 11, 2008 By Tim O'Brien

When I started a page on Get Satisfaction for Maven: The Definitive Guide. It was an experiement, after a few months, I’m pretty sure the experiment has succeeded and I’m looking forward to more community feedback.

Initially, Jason has asked me why I didn’t just create a new JIRA project for the book. I told him I was looking for something that a casual reader could start using right away… I wanted something a bit more “social”, something with threaded conversations and something that facilitated a more casual interaction. If you find a typo, all you need to do is type in a free form paragraph and a description. You don’t have to know the meaning of twenty different drop-down menus or be bothered with version numbers. In other words, I really didn’t want “an issue tracker” – I wanted something that would help the community develop without the conceptual overhead of an issue tracker. Writing is not software development.

Reduce the Barrier for Feedback

My hypothesis is that users and readers are not developers. Most users, if they encounter a problem, are going to silently fail, 90 out of 100 just won’t tell you about a problem. Most readers, if they encouter a typo, might not have enough invested in the book to stop what they are doing and report a problem. Think about a population of 20,000 readers, thousands of people reading the book over a six months period. How many of these readers are invested enough to report a typo?

If you look at Get Satisfaction, I think we’ve had something on the order of 70 interactions in six months. I’ve had at least 60 people report typos via email. Let’s round up and say that about 150 people have taken time to write a short message on the order of “Section 3.5.2 there’s a stupid typo, fix it”. It isn’t paticipation rate that I’m after, I’m more interested in the type of participant. I’d argue that Get Satisfaction lowers the boundary for feedback. While it is certainly true that we would have had better reporting capabilities if we had used JIRA for the book, I’d argue that we’ve attracted more people by adopting Get Satisfaction as our feedback mechanism for Maven: The Definitive Guide.

Keep the Feedback Coming, we’re listening…

FYI, I’m going to be writing an occasional post on My Amazon Connect blog.

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