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Goal

Implement a simple, transparent process for reviewing, voting for, and building your most popular ideas for new features. While I’ve generally outlined the voting process we used earlier this year, the backlog and inflow of new ideas has reached a point where it has become necessary to formalize the entire lifecycle of ideas. In the next week or so, we will be reviewing and updating all existing ideas based on this process.

 

New Ideas

The way you’ve been creating new ideas will not change. Either myself or another Product Manager will continue reviewing all new ideas and tagging, updating the product and experience (Original or Ultra), and posting follow-up questions as needed. Remember, the most useful ideas are focused on a problem or business need rather than the exact way the solution should be built. New ideas will remain open for at least 30 days. After that time, its stage will be updated based on how many views, comments, and bookmarks it has received, and other external factors.

 

Voting

Several times per year, we will open a set of ideas for voting. These voting periods will generally align with our development planning cycles for both Original and Ultra experiences in order to receive the most timely feedback from the community. The ideas chosen for voting will be based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to: number and nature of comments, number of views, feedback from users outside of the community site, business goals/priorities, and prior voting results. Voting will remain open for two weeks. While we will be interested in pursuing all ideas that receive a large number of votes, we will not be able to deliver on every idea, even those that finish very high or at the top of a voting period. However, we will strive to be transparent and share our reasoning when we choose not to add ideas that the community is passionate about to our near-term plans. Ideas not chosen for voting will either be archived or remain in the For Future Consideration stage, depending again on the same criteria outlined above.

 

Product Development Partnership

As a follow-up activity for the ideas we will be moving forward with, we are bringing back the Product Development Partnership. After each voting period, we will choose at least one of the ideas for a set of collaborative webinars. During these discussions we intend to share designs, talk about how we will break down the functionality into deliverable milestones, and project rough timelines for building the new feature. We will begin by inviting the community members who voted for the idea, but will include as many interested participants as we can support.

 

Because it will not be feasible to do this for every idea we intend to build, we will kick it off with one per voting period. We certainly expect to build more than one idea from each voting period, though, so an idea not being chosen for this activity does not mean that we are not interested in building it! Also at the end of each voting session, the stage of each idea will be updated appropriately, based on number of votes, number and nature of comments, and our intentions for building or not building that idea.

 

Archiving Ideas

In the interest of maintaining an orderly, working backlog, we will review and archive ideas at each step of the lifecycle. Between voting periods, we will archive ideas that have been open for at least 30 days that have not garnered a minimum level of activity. We will seek to normalize activity across all open ideas, so that an idea that has been open for 60 days is given similar consideration as an idea that has been open for 30. Ideas may also be archived if they are not chosen for voting or if they finish very low in a round of voting. We will never archive an idea that has moved beyond the Under Review stage without first posting a comment explaining why we are not moving the idea forward at that time.

 

Ideas that are archived can be resubmitted, but it may be best to give the idea some time before doing so. If an idea is resubmitted but does not meet the minimum level of activity, it will be eligible for archiving after its first 30 days. Again, our intention is to keep a consumable number of open, active ideas in the backlog. If we do not have a desire to develop a feature in the next 12-24 months, it benefits the backlog to archive it and revisit the idea in the future.

 

Stages

 

  • Under Review: This is the default stage for new ideas. Ideas in this stage are available for viewing, comments, and bookmarks. Ideas will remain in the Under Review stage for at least 30 days.
  • For Future Consideration: Ideas meeting a minimum level of activity will be moved from Under Review to the For Future Consideration stage. Many of the ideas that are chosen for voting will come from this stage. We will also use this stage for ideas that have gone through a round of voting but will not be included in the next few releases. In order to keep the backlog meaningful and manageable, we will limit the number of ideas in the For Future Consideration stage to 100.
  • Open for Voting: Ideas in this stage are open for your votes! You can vote one time on each idea and you can vote on as many ideas as you’d like. Ideas will remain in the Open for Voting stage for two weeks.
  • Planned: Ideas in this stage have usually gone through a round of voting and we intend to deliver them in a coming release.
  • Delivered: These ideas have made it all the way through the process and are now available in Learn!
  • Archived: Archived ideas were open for at least 30 days and may have even gone through a round of voting, but either did not interest the community or will not be built in the next 12-24 months. We will never archive an idea that has moved beyond the Under Review stage without first posting a comment explaining why we are not moving the idea forward at that time.