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Free Copy for Beta Testing

Agree or Disagree: If you contribute significantly to a beta test, you should be rewarded with a free or steeply discounted license to the application?
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Share your thoughts, explanations, and/or examples in the comments below.

FWIW I've always tried to reward people who take the time to beta test by giving them free licenses. It's entirely unfair to rationalize that they got "a sneak peek" at the application. The types of people who just want a "sneak peek" don't use the software much and don't submit useful bug reports. They don't shape the development or advancement of the application, so they don't "significantly" contribute at all.

FWIW part deux, "significant" is often as small as being the first to report an actual bug, or suggesting a feature first that is then included (in some form or another).

Even if you have a large beta test group, your market has to be many orders of magnitude larger. Giving away some licenses as thanks isn't going to break the bank.

4 Responses to "Free Copy for Beta Testing"

  1. Of course. You should absolutely throw a bone to your beta testers. I think it comes down to setting expectations ahead of time:

    1) FREE LICENSE: >100 bugs/suggestions
    2) DISCOUNT LICENSE: <100 bugs/suggestions

    Something like that, ignore the numbers, I have no idea what would be acceptable numbers.

    People shouldn't take you for a ride either and expect a free license. For instance, I use Beta software all the time, but I'm not sending tons of feedback in, I'm just using it because I like the adventure of it all. But, that doesn't entitle me to a free license or even a discount unless I step it up a notch...which I wont. I'll pay. 🙂

    1. The answer is obviously "maybe." 🙂

      Do beta testers have an unalienable right to a free copy? No. Is it usually a good idea to rewards free testing? Probably.

  2. As a developer and as a beta tester I'm in favor of free copies for users who participate in betas. Participate meaning in forums (if the beta has them) or logging bugs or whatever. Adobe did it this way for the Fireworks CS3 beta.

    Like Matt I don't think beta testers have an unalienable right to a free copy, and I too reckon it's probably a good idea.

    As a developer, how good may be dependent on your market size (Adobe obviously was going to sell a lot more copies than they gave away), and also, if it's an upgrade, if you limit your betas to existing users.

    As a beta tester I'm always in favor of free stuff, so, uh, absolutely give free copies to beta testers! 🙂

  3. I agree with the other commenters. There should be some sort of bottom limit or graded schedule for this type of thing. I have participated in some betas, and sometimes I'm a good beta tester, and sometimes I'm not. When I was not I would not have expected anything in return. When I was, some sort of discount would have been nice. (In that case, however, I was a beta tester for a free, but major, product upgrade.)


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