Beta Panel launches for future beta tests

Over the coming months, the Couchsurfing team will be working on many changes to the Couchsurfing website. We are currently focusing on changes and improvements to the Events & Activities feature. Community Feedback is very important part of our development process at Couchsurfing HQ, and this year will see many improvements to our community feedback and development processes.

A new Beta Panel will be a key element of our feedback process, which we will use to get direct member feedback throughout the feature development process. If you would like to be involved in the Beta Panel and be eligible for future tests, please email beta@couchsurfing.com to sign-up.

Since we're just getting started with the Beta Panel, we are starting slowly and will be increasing the Beta Panel activity in the coming months ahead. There will be multiple beta tests and feedback rounds for each feature that we're working on, and each round will likely have different sets of members that have different site usage patterns and Couchsurfing backgrounds, to help us make sure that we're getting a good representation of the larger Couchsurfing community. Members will be notified via Email when they have been individually selected for a Beta Group round of testing and feedback.

When members are contacted about involvement in a Beta Group round of feedback/tests, we ask these members to agree to a set of Guidelines. These Guidelines help make sure that the features and ideas discussed are discussed privately. Here is the full text:

Please note that we may be disclosing website mockups, prototypes or discussing prospective plans or features for the Couchsurfing Services with you which may or may not be publicly known. Although these user interviews are not confidential, we ask that you be respectful of our development process and not disclose the topics or content of our conversations with the general Couchsurfing community (such as through the Couchsurfing forums). If we feel that you are not respecting our development process, we may terminate your involvement in this program or take any other action that we may deem to be necessary.

We feel these guidelines are needed and appropriate because they help make sure that Couchsurfing staff are more comfortable discussing and previewing ideas at any phase of the development process, from new idea to almost finished product. Since community feedback is important to us, we want to make sure that we can trust members when we share things that are not complete, or haven't been officially announced yet.

For legal reasons, we also ask Beta Panel members to agree to the Beta Test Agreement, which essentially says that Couchsurfing can use feedback and suggestions from the Beta Groups for future development. I have posted the full text of the Beta Test Agreement below. The Beta Test Agreement is sent to members when they are applying for the Beta Panel. 

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