Managing User Feedback, Online Discussion Notes


FabRiders’ Network-Centric Resources Project supports the development of people-powered and participatory resources that establish assets for networks and communities. During an online discussion that took place on September 17th, 2019, resource designers shared their lessons learned on managing user feedback.

Who was there

We had five anchors, for small breakout groups, who talked about their experiences and then solicited advice on how to improve their process. The anchors were:

Participating in the breakouts: Doug Belshaw (Moodle and We Are Open Co-op), Greg Bloom, the Open Referral initiative, Georgia Bullen, Simply Secure, Chris Delatorre, editor at Digital Impact, Ashley Fowler USABLE, Bob Gradeck, Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center, Manush Guilhem, Huridocs, Matt Haikin, Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), Morgan Hargrave, Namati, Madeleine Maxwell, The Engine Room, Lisa Morris Humanitarian Leadership Academy, Ozren Muic, Huridocs, Neil Planchon, NTEN Oakland Chad Sansing Mozilla Foundation, Molly Wilson, Simply Secure.

Take-aways from the discussion

User feedback is a critical element of any network-centric resource. Soliciting and incorporating user feedback shares ownership and demonstrates the contribution of your network. Key learnings from those conversations:

  • Challenges and opportunities for getting feedback is very different if you are locally focused. You have more opportunities to get feedback
  • Take Human-centred approaches, find out what they need to be included in a meaningful way.
    • Understanding the contexts and preferences of your users is key to enabling them to provide feedback.
    • Be aware of language and terminology
    • Don’t underestimate the importance and the amount of time it takes to come up with useful, insightful questions.
  • It doesn’t matter if you are soliciting feedback on written materials or tech tools, the challenges are largely the same.
    • How to incentivise people to give you feedback?.
    • How do you prioritise/validate feedback that you receive?
    • “Outlier” feedback or feedback that conflicts with the values of the project is very challenging. When is it important? Should it just be dismissed?
  • Define ‘participation’ at the start. Set expectations early.
    • Demonstrate that feedback is really valuable, not performative.
    • Be transparent, involve people meaningfully.
    • Invest time to onboard people
  • Feedback should be integrated into project management.
    • Plan to manage the flow of user feedback

Links that were shared

The video of the discussion.