We've made some major changes, and we think improvements, to the RoadTest area of the site recently. For those of you not familiar with RoadTests, basically this is a chance for engineers on element14 to get a chance to take some new, and sometimes REALLY new or hard to get, technology items for a "test drive"...FOR FREE! All we ask is that any of the lucky winners provide a review to share the benefits of your experience with the new stuff with your colleages on the site.
When we started this process, we used the Events item on the site to schedule new RoadTests. Members signed up by indicating they wanted to "attend". We randomly selected our winners from those who attendees. Then began the tedious manual process for our RoadTest managers to notify all of the winners, collect their mailing information, ship out the goodies, and then try to keep track of whether our winners had recived the item and written their reviews.
No longer! Now, each new RoadTest gets its own form - tailored just for RoadTests, which includes the description and images of the item, and attachments of any pertinent documentation. If you are interested in taking a RoadTest of the item, you click "Enroll" at which point we collect a COMPLETELY PRIVATE mailing address that will only ever be used to send you your winnings, and there is a space for you to tell us and the rest of your fellow members why you should win.
Once a RoadTest enrollment period is over, our RoadTest managers can select who the winners are - and you'll see who won right on the RoadTest form. We'll also be releasing a new Review form in about a week that will tie back to the original RoadTest form - making it easy to find all reviews on a particular item, and also easier for us to see who of our winners have and have not yet provided their review. The Review will still give you the opportunity to provide your free text review, upload photos, or even video, but also lets you provide an overall score and asks for a few key bits of info we can provide back to the manufacturer to make the product even better.
We very much value all of your feedback - so especially all of you avid RoadTesters out there, please let us know how you find the new process and how we can make it even better! We've heard from several of you already and have already rolled out a few fixes and tweaks, so keep it coming.