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Comments on Running a Beta Test

I would add the following two tips:
1) Make it ridiculously easy for your beta testers to provide feedback.

If checking the status of previously submitted bugs, and submitting new bugs is too complicated or time consuming then your testers will find something better to do with their time.

If you use a newsgroup or some other public forum, then by all means make sure it is highly moderated. If your beta testers must spend hours just to read though the socialization taking place in the newsgroup then they are going to loose interest. Some beta testers enjoy the socialization, and there is nothing wrong with that, just make a channel for them to socialize in, so the beta testers who are tight on time can focus on the beta testing.

2) Don't be harsh on your testers for their feedback, unless you don't want them as a tester any more.

What I really hate is when I beta test something and I send feedback (which I work really hard to provide as much details as possible for) and they respond "Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know about that. We will be fixing in the next release." Then I feel like I am waisting my time since I had no way of knowing (or as far as I knew I didn't) what all is already reported and going to be fixed. The second part of this point is key. There are some beta testers you don't want to be involved because they constantly provide useless feedback. Unfortunately they are sometimes the hardest to get rid of.

Jim McKeeth
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

This is in response to Joel's article:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/BetaTest.html

Jim McKeeth
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

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