One of the things that makes Mozilla such a welcoming, and engaging community is that it, well, engages with its community. It does this through events, Dev Derby, social networks… the list goes on. One thing that is in common with all of these things is that Mozilla take feedback about these engagements, as well as its products, resources… anything Mozilla really.
Feedback, unless via blogpost (which is free-form) or in person (also free-form), tends to be via a survey (not free-form, very not free-form). This means that the people, as epic as they are, do tend to be from a subset of the community.
I think that this is due to how boring surveys are. They ask you lots of questions, but either don’t allow you the option to respond with, or there aren’t enough words to convey the feelings, and emotions you wish to. On top of this, there aren’t many things that bore me quicker than a page full of input fields that I have to fill in.
Why not make the process more creative? We do after all have the skills, resources, and people power to come up with something better. Don’t we? It something I plan on proving we do have, starting with a small series of makes over on webmaker.org. The aim: collect some feedback from the community at large, as well as people who wouldn’t normally consider it, all without you noticing you’re filling in a survey.
How am I going to manage this though? Aren’t surveys big boring forms? Is the earth not round?!
I’ll tell you how I intend to pull off this feat of wizardry, on the condition that you help me prove that surveys don’t have to be big boring forms, and that the earth is indeed round.
Thanks to the wonderful work of the Webmaker developers, we now have a powerful tool that sits at the heart of the new and improved webmaker.org. The MakeAPI. This allows us, with properly written code, and carefully chosen tags. Find, and get, any makes in the survey. Once we have them its a simple case of extracting the feedback we wanted.
This does require us to spend a little more time on how we craft our questions, as well as the time it takes to create the makes, but it’s my opinion that this is time well spent if it means better, feedback. Even more worth it if the quantity of feedback increases too.
Now comes the part where you hold up your end of the deal. Over the weekend playtest my first Webmaker survey. Take the time to be creative, or don’t. It’s all up to you to provide the information we need to prove that surveys don’t have to be big, boring, forms, and in the process you’ll have a few more makes under your belt!
Completing the survey
As this is no ordinary survey, I’m going to quickly run through the process.
This initial survey consists of 4 makes. Each one has an introductory block at the top that briefly explains the purpose of the make.
Next up comes the meta data for the make. This includes a collection of tags, that will allow us to quickly search for the completed makes, and thus get the feedback, and a thumbnail. These shouldn’t be changed if you want your make to be included in the survey.
<meta content="playtest" name="webmaker:tags"> <meta content="make-based-survey" name="webmaker:tags"> <meta content="mentor-survey" name="webmaker:tags"> <meta content="http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/7467121/monkeys-at-work.jpg" name="webmaker:thumbnail">
Now we get into the creative part. There are comments littered throughout the code to give you hints and ways you can remix each make. I’ve made these initial makes nice and simple so that there is lots of room to customise. Change the backgrounds, add extra information, Throw away the design and do something completely different! Get creative.
Finally at the end of each make there is a link to the next in the survey, and a hint at how to score some bonus points.
So what are you waiting for?! Get out there’ have fun playtesting, and lets work together and prove that surveys can be fun!
Some early remixes