Passionate users

A few days back we got this email . The new web is more about passionate users then hefty PR budgets.

A user’s passion is worth a hundred times more than the result of a huge PR/ Marketing budget. It is this passion which motivates us through tough decisions and rough times. One such decision has been to focus heads down on product quality rather than hype.

Enjoy 🙂

There once was a young man named MattWho was starting to feel like a bratFor he longed to use iScrybe

With no money for a bribe

He wrote limericks for Sabika to laugh at!

I used to try using my Palm

Then I heard about

Just needing a password

And willing to be absurd

I’m no poet, and that’s why these bomb!

In hopes of help planning our Christmas

We’ve thought of now buying a school bus

With red paint on the side

Scrawling, “I love iScrybe”

Then dreaming a beta comes to us!

– Matt Hudson

Anybody have any practical suggestions on how to identify these users among all the sign ups? Any practical way to differentiate them from the ” let me check this out” users?  I haven’t been able to come up with any idea that does not require human intervention.



Filed under Technology

35 responses to “Passionate users

  1. mamund

    i know the feeling!

    i don’t have a simple answer, but i can tell you that if you asked me how many different online (and offline) task tools i’ve tried in the last several years, i could not count them.

    while some come close, none have made the match for simplicity, flexibility, power, and convenience that i need. i continue to limp along using a hodge podge of online, paper-based, and desktop solutions.

    and i continue to look for the right tool set that will finally allow me to spend more time *thinking* and *creating* and *acting* on my ideas instead of spend so much time keeping track of them.

    i’ll wait my turn to try iscrybe. i’ve got no choice!

  2. E

    hmm maybe you can ask people to give a list of tools they tried before…? I know I’ve tried quite some (let me see: google calendar, sunbird, lightning, mozilla calendar, korganizer, a paper agenda of course and quite a few other online programs I already forgot). I just hope that I will be in the next batch of beta’s.

    And keep up the good work!

  3. modified

    I have a thought. What about cross referencing the the email addresses that signed up for the beta with the people that have created forum accounts.

    I know my first though when I didn’t get a first beta invite was to create a forum account and share my passion with others that crave Scrybe.

    On a personal note… I’ve told everybody I know about scrybe and made them watch and listen to the video 🙂
    I check the site frequently for updates and I really adminre the work you all are doing.

    good luck and happy betas,

  4. Open it up to more people and delete those people’s accounts if they don’t use it everyday(at a minimum). Or how about charging a $20 donation (or higher). That should eliminate a few tire kickers.


  5. Ayala Sherbow

    I like both Jason’s ideas of requiring a minimum amount of activity and/or charging a modest amount.

    I am in the process of starting a new business while being the full-time parent to my 4 mo old, my 3 year old and my 7 year old. Scrybe seems it could be the answer to my search for a way to coordinate the different aspects of my life I am managing. I’ve had a palm for years but now that I use my laptops all the time, the palm seems a bit redundant. And the papersynch is what I’ve been dreaming of forever.

  6. AJR

    As someone who has been eagerly awaiting my scrybe beta account (in the hope that this is the solution I’ve been looking for and extremely excited about papersynch which seems like exactly what I need), I wonder if one way of sorting out the “truly interesteds” from the “sign up for everythings” would be to ask people to write a paragraph or so about what features they’re particularly interested in about scrybe, what other systems they’ve tried (outlook, calgoo, google calendar, etc.), and that sort of thing,

    I suspect that even that much effort would provide the information you’re looking for…

  7. Maybe give the users preference who check this weblog and participate in the discussion, as it shows they are more interested in the product?

    haha just a suggestion

  8. Those could be good suggestions, but if you notice, he is looking for a method that doesnt require any human intervention, including users. Meaning he wants a programmatic solution.

  9. Tobi

    Oh no – it is thursday and I am not among the lucky ones, who got an invitation yesterday 😦
    Probably I have to wait up to end of January? Will Scrybe still be free for users after beta-testing?

  10. E

    Well seems I am also not lucky… 😦
    At least it is almost January 🙂

  11. Nil Admirari

    I wish that I had some witty idea for making the beta user issue easier. I am really looking forward to using Scrybe. I even had my wife watch the video. I have lost track of how many people that I have told about Scrybe and/or forwarded the video to. This will be stellar once it gets going.

    Good luck getting it finished! Keep up the hard work, it will be worth it in the long run. I feel Scrybe will have an incredible effect on it’s users.

  12. stran

    Let me add some human intervention here. I’ve been dying to try this out and have been longing for the day when my email inbox would get an invite for the beta.

    When I saw the demo video, I said, “This is how I work! It would have made my current project so much easier to organize and manage.”

    I’ve been a good boy this year. Maybe Santa will give me a beta login?!

  13. Pete

    How about inviting everyone who drafted an email request with the words “invite” within it. People who take the time to explore the site for an email address and draft an email seem more interested than a simple “enter my email adress and forget about it” person.

    Just a suggestion.

  14. Cort

    do a multiple choice test that will generate a score. anyone that gets above a certain score is either automatically given a beta account or get’s their application forwarded to a person for approval or rejection (possibly based on a written paragraph).

    i currently use trumbra religiously (have two accounts i use) but they have migrated toward groups and businesses and away from personal use so have been functional for me. Outlook syncing is invaluable due to exchange server scheduling.

    looking forward to january and the move past beta!


  15. Pete D


    For people who sign up from now on: When users submit their e-mail for a beta version, have them select one of the following options:

    ___ I just want to check this out

    ___ I am incredibly passionate and excited about Scrybe even though I haven’t tried it yet.

    For people who’ve already submitted e-mail: send them all an e-mail with the same two questions above.

    (After seeing the YouTube video, I am honestly in the second category.)

  16. raj

    How about actually asking people (during beta signup) what they would use Scrybe for? I’ve been waiting weeks for an invite so that I can include a synopsis on a giant “productivity tools” list I’m writing for a client. But I keep having to push the article further and further. (If it helps, the articles I write for my clients get between 5,000-35,000 pageviews. I also write about productivity on my own blogs. So how about an invite? Pretty please?)

  17. Pete D

    Easiest: sell the beta version.

  18. DeBeq

    Charging for a beta is not always a good idea however…when a product generates enough interest such as iScrybe…I think it’s imperative to at least consider it.

    What is $5 or $10 dollars to beta test someting like iScrybe? Not much to a passionate lyric writer…I can tell you that for nothing!

    You say you want it to remain free during the beta….just make the beta “donation” refundable towards the purchase of the full version when it finally comes out of beta!!

  19. Beytah

    I think ‘modified’ had a good idea for minimal human intervention (see his/her prior post)
    Those searching for more information can be identified by their effort to seek out more info via the forums. And although it still leaves you with a large pool, I feel this indicates those people who are willing to contribute (not just ‘check it out’). This could further be refined by checking post count, and eventually quality/style of posts. However this tips the scale from automated methods to human intervention.

    Some other thoughts come to mind however (based around the forums as a tool for qualifying beta testers).
    * Leverage the community and enlist CLs (Community Leaders) with special status and limited admin rights on the forums. It’s useful to your ever growing community (collating posts, stickies, managing FAQs, etc..) and is the human element you need to identify more passionate people. It’s been done before, it’s free, and could even be seen as a reward to your already supportive testers.

    * Introduce post rating on Weblog comments and the Forums. This is definitely a sensitive one, but it is automated. Perhaps it’s something to try out in the suggestions forum first?
    The concept works by allowing registered forum members to rate posts (e.g. A scale of 1 to 5). After a short time you see who the community repeatedly identifies as positive/helpful/clear/innovative, and this can all be done without human intervention on your part.

    * Tester invites. I think it’s a bit horrible, because it becomes a bit exclusive. But perhaps existing testers can ‘vouch’ for new testers by earning invites with each round of testing, and then being able to send out invites. You could restrict it solely to the forums/Weblog to ensure that only those interested in the Scrybe project and community are chosen. It worked for Gmail, so might help here 😉


    My other idea unfortunately involves initial human intervention, but may still be valid. When I first found Scrybe I was studying, and so jumped at the opportunity to share it with the rest of my HCI class (Human Computer Interaction). By this final year of the degree everyone is highly passionate about their studies and the application of HCI principles, so there were a lot of really impressed and interested students wanting to get involved. Therefore, like me, they signed up. But as you say, how can you possibly find all of these qualified and passionate people amongst the sign-ups?
    Perhaps some form of academic alliance would be helpful. This way you can seek students from multiple disciplines from across the globe all willing to contribute their learnings, whilst offering them a chance to be part of a real application development process in a small way.

    Just a thought 🙂

    I also wanted to contribute to the discussion regarding charging for Beta slots. In my mind I have no doubt that this would quickly deter the ‘window shoppers’.
    My gut instinct however tells me that it’s a bad thing. Somehow the concept offends my sensibilities of what the web is supposed to be today, and to be truthful it just seems wrong to pay for the privilege of helping someone else improve their product.
    Whilst it might resolve the issue of “Wow we have a LOT of interested people, how do we narrow it down”, it doesn’t really ensure any criteria other than finding out who is willing to part with money. A lot of great committed community members might be missed out this way (like the students I mentioned earlier). I’d hate to see this way taken as a shortcut rather than putting in the extra effort, because from what I can see and read about your work on Scrybe it seems that you haven’t taken any shortcuts in your product so far.

    Well thanks to everyone for your great ideas so far, and for the opportunity to contribute my thoughts to the topic. Keep up the discussion and keep the ideas flowing!

  20. in fact “passionate” is not the best way to describe those users. A better definition would be “key influencers”. These are the ones who motivate friends and collegues, spread the word and generate “free PR”. Those are the ones to die for.

    a good alternative often used by edgy digital agencies is to determine key influencers monitoring its social activity (personal blog, social network, photo sharing, forums, discussion lists, etc).

    there are several automatic tools to facilitate the work of harversting the web and automatically indexing content to identify key influencers. Unfortunately, none is open source (yet), and usually are sold as services by agency and specialized companies.

    a simpler solution for iscrybe would be to ask for the user’s blog, and then use a simple spider to check the number of outer links plus google’s API to identify number of inbound referers.

    far from bulletproof, as not having a blog or people with a low pagerank not necessarily means the person is not important, but the opposite (people positively bloggers, with lots of outbound links and good inbound friends) are definitely the ones that could generate word-of-mouth for your product…

    googl’ing for user’s name (though G-API) could be valid too (check mine, for example). The problem is that this is applicable for only a very small fraction of not-so-common names. You could do a frequency ranking on your own database to eliminate common names/surenames, and just get the ones that appears infrequently, to increase the odds of finding the right person.

    if you need any help discussing this in more details, let me know. I would be more than happy, and won’t charge anything more than a beta pilot account :o))

  21. Beytah

    Also, I think that the way the sign up is presented sets a specific expectation with users that they will automatically get an invite.

    “Submit email for beta invite”

    It may be that you do wish to collect a large number of email addresses, but even so I feel it is misleading and it might be better to change the language in that statement to reflect the actual situation.

    This will alleviate anxiety for a lot of people and help to reduce the number of “Where’s my invite” posts in the forums and blog. If it doesn’t appear to be an instant gratitude solution then this may also help to reduce ‘tire kickers’.

    Perhaps: “Submit email if you are interested in becomming a Beta tester”. And then perhaps below the submission box should be a hyperlink to a sticky on your forums that outlines the Beta process and status. e.g. “Click here to learn more about the Beta”

    What do you guys think?

  22. bunnybash

    i have tried, palm, microsoft pdas, thunderbird (lightning plugin), outlook, writing things on my hand, my cell phone organiser… everything, now i have been waiting patiently for my invite!! it has been about 3 months now too, i have sent about another 120 or so people to sign up too, but alas i am still unscribed!!

  23. Aur Saraf

    Pyramid scheming – allow people to reference others to the beta-account-request and grant beta invites to those that have the greatest pyramid of referees under them.

  24. Aur Saraf

    And don’t forget a HARD captcha – otherwise people will reference themselves to oblivion 😛

  25. Why not glean email addresses from blog comments and forum postings? I signed up many months ago using my email address (after a few weeks of exploring your website and reading early reviewers comments). A few weeks later I submitted another request using my address. I follow the blog and forums and have posted a few topics in the forums. Those potential beta testers who have been participating from the outside are very likely to be passionate users who will test the product thouroughly and give good feedback.

  26. Ben

    I tend to agree with the above comments. The conclusion is that we who are posting here are those who are the most interested in something like this. To be honest about a couple of years ago I had an idea of something similar to what you call the Paper Sync… Unfortunately, I’m not that good at developing and wasn’t able to expand on it. Anyway, all this to say that I will be impatiently checking my email every day until I get your invite.

    Good luck and keep up the good work

  27. Anthony Dervish

    I don’t understand the queuing. Why can’t everyone be allowed to start on the Beta? The Beta will expire after a set time, and a new sign up is required: it’s the usual Beta for desktop software, which iScrybe is competing against with it’s ‘Offline’ feature. Or is it to do with capacity constraints? The more dedicated Beta users iScrybe has, the more initial revenue.

    What is missing from the traditional Beta model is a good way to note features that are buggy/unusable/difficult. Maybe each Beta user could have a default ThoughtPad to scribble thoughts about the Beta, and that is automatically shared with iScrybe developers.

  28. Anthony Dervish

    Oops. Just read your post about ‘Why don’t we give Beta passes to everyone?’, and agreed with it.

    Guess that means I’m not that ‘passionate’, if I don’t read the previous posts…

    Good luck.

  29. Three comments on the blog should get that user in. Of course, you don’t advertise that fact!

  30. John Allan

    The only way of testing people’s seriousness is to ask them to perform a task for you. Those who put in most effort are clearly most motivated. The trouble is, most tasks (such as writing a paragraph to explain how you’d use iscrybe) would need human intervention to make them work – somebody would have to read and judge the responses, thus soaking up vast amounts of everybody’s time.

    I’ve signalled my interest once, and now feel quite helpless because there’s no more I can do. But suppose I were able to send you an e-mail, or click on a button, or whatever, once a week ? The responses could be automatically logged and counted at your end – and the people who kept on taking their weekly chance to click in would emerge automatically as those who were prepared to go to most trouble to express their interest. You’d have identified the most passionate and most motivated without having to do any extra work.

  31. Well, did you send him (the person who wrote the poem) an invite?

  32. AmishSteve

    Trying to be patient here, and answer the question honestly (while not appearing too eager to grovel) is difficult. I think you may have around 40 or so in this list that would make good candidates, though!

  33. Rod

    I am really looking forward to trying this product out. I use PIM and calendar software for my engineering firm constantly, so this looks like a great new tool. I will pass on the URL to others in my field.

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