Assuming I'm doing this right -- big assumption -- if you're reading this it means you're one of the lucky few who were selected to help Newsvine beta test what they're calling Version 3.0 of the site.
Some of you may be new not only to Newsvine 3.0 (as we all are) but to the concept of beta testing in general.
I thought I'd offer some tips:
- If you were selected, chances are you were selected because of the perspective you'll bring to the table. When testing a change as dramatic as this, they won't want all computer pros or all amateurs. If you feel like you don't quite understand what you're doing there's a good chance that you were selected precisely because you would provide that perspective. When they launch the site a lot of people are going to be where you were when you first saw the changes and hopefully you'll provide the feedback that helps Newsvine avoid a major hassle when the site goes live. So, dive in, get things wrong, and make sure to take good notes. Speaking of which...
- Detail, detail, detail. Don't be vague when you report an issue. The more, the better. What operating system are you using and which version of that operating system? What browser are you using and which version of that browser? If you have multiple browsers does the problem happen in all of them or just one? What were you doing when "the problem" happened? Was there an error message and if so what was it? What did you expect to happen that didn't happen? Screenshots are great as are links, if possible.
- Try a little of everything. Explore, expect things to break, and accept that part of being a beta tester is that things aren't going to work quite as well as you might hope. That's the game.
- Read the email Mike D. sent out that announced the beta and your participation. Some questions you have may be answered there. I couldn't figure out why I was still seeing the classic view and was about to file a report when I discovered that Mike explained how to switch in that email. They want detail, but they won't want to answer questions that they've provided written answers to. If you can't find it written down, go ahead and file that report. He also mentioned that IE 7 isn't supported so if you're using IE 7, don't expect them to take your bug reports particularly seriously. Get a new browser!
- What happens in beta stays in beta. Keep your participation to yourself, for now. Things may change before the end of the beta so you don't want to tease a feature that may not exist when the new site launches.
- Help out. If you've figured something out and you see someone having issues, be a mentor.
- What do you like, and what don't you like about the changes? If a feature doesn't work they way you think it should, or is confusing, be sure to say so, but be ready to explain your reasoning, as well. With that said, don't be upset if your ideas are rejected.
- When reporting a bug, make sure to do so using the HELP menu and REPORT A BUG. Just because you've said something isn't working somewhere on a random article doesn't mean that someone who can fix the bug will see the report. It's best to just assume they won't. Also, don't assume someone else already reported a bug. Go ahead and report issues as they come up. More reports from a wider variety of testers equals more detail.
I'll add more as I think of more, but this should be a great start.