The Power of Feedback

This post is really about our broken comment system.

We are suckers for feedback here at Aptoma. We hold listening to the right sources of feedback as core for improvement in the right directions. As I frequently mention: without feedback there is little chance of improvement. In fact, the possibility to receive user feedback is a main motivation for starting this blog. We figure that the more value we can manage to provide to our readers, the more valuable criticism and/or insight we can hope to receive in return.

So why was our blogs comment system broken for a while?

The comments are the main vehicle for feedback, so you might wonder about this. The answer only provides further motivation for listening to user feedback.

Truth be told we have not realized that the comment system was broken because the comment system was broken(!) Let me explain.

Without feedback, no improvement

Depending, as we all do, on some form of feedback to realize that something is not working, we are left with a couple of options. We can create some form of automated feedback mechanism, i.e. write unit tests for the comment system that all are run each night. We have not implemented any such tests for this WordPress blog. Another option is to be suspicious about few comments to the blog. We’re just getting started with our blogging-efforts, and we figured that we hadn’t been encouraging comments enough just yet. And this left us in a situation where we were relying on the feedback from readers when something like this was broken.

What happened in this case was that the vehicle for feedback itself was broken, and this left our readers unable to tell us about the problem. This just shows how wrong it can turn out when you’re not accepting feedback from your readers.

Sorry about that.

Feedback to the rescue for broken feedback system

Google Analytics (GA) is a very good feedback system. It provides feedback on how much time each user is spending on your site, where they are coming from, and what they are reading. Using GA, I was able to discover that each user was spending on average about 4minutes 20seconds on our latest post, which is significant considering the reasonably modest post length. And users were visiting by the hundreds, as well, which puts this post among the more read posts on this blog. This led me on to doing this search on Dzone.com, which was providing much of the traffic to the post. Hungry for feedback, I started reading comments on Dzone for our posts. This led me onto this page. Dzone has a functioning comment system, and a user had been patient enough, after spending time attempting to post a comment on this site, to go back to dzone.com and post a detailed comment about the problem there. Thanks to amphi for doing this (It seems I am not able to give him any feedback or thanks on dzone)

Another user (thanks Hilde) did also provide us with feedback on the broken comment system via e-mail (feedback at aptoma dot com).

Thus, even though the broken comment-system prevented us from receiving feedback about the problem, feedback took on other forms, and via diverse other systems and mechanisms it was able to find its way to us and save us from further embarrassment.

We thank you for providing us your feedback even though we had made it very difficult for you to do so.

Please feel free to leave a comment.