Product Development and Internet Marketing

I'm starting to dive into Rails a bit and am very impressed with the ease and simplicity of the approach. What I'm not so impressed by is the documentation. As far as I can tell, the only real getting started guides are either books for purchase or a fairly good ZDNet tutorial. That's better than nothing, but pales in comparison to a similarly scoped business like Movable Type.

So I was pretty excited to stumble across Rails Weenie. It's a simple proposition: You get 5 questions to ask the board. Other users answer your questions for free. But there's a twist, for every question you answer correctly you get a credit to ask another question.

Brilliance!

Let me count the ways:

  1. New users are given enough credits to make it worthwhile. I know that in any given build I've been involved with there have been several killer stumbling blocks which normally would derail (ha!) my efforts. Having five credits to play with is probably sufficient for me to get started, assuming I'm not a total newbie.

  2. And if I am a newbie, I've got 5 questions worth of time before I start understanding the system well enough to answer other people's questions. The ultimate success of the program will depend highly on whether the newbies can get up to speed in that amount of time, or whether the questioners and answerers will always remain separate

  3. The process of questioning and answering creates a searchable library for long-term reference. With MT I've always found the best answers on the message boards, and this should be no different.

I wonder, though, whether this credit-based model would work for paid software? Perhaps on a larger scale you could offer tiered levels of service to customers with differing credit balances. A tier 1 customer could have unlimited credits, a tier 2 customer 100, etc.

Has anyone tried creative approaches to getting paid customers to contribute to the support of other customers? I'd be very interested in hearing about it.

December 24, 2005 2:58 PM
Comments

"That's better than nothing, but pales in comparison to a similarly scoped business like Movable Type."

Rails is in no sense a similarly scoped business. Rails is an open-source and entirely free web development framework. MT is a for-sale peice of software, with entirely different user licensing and use. Rails is not a "business" at all.

Not to mention that MT's several years old, with many thousands of active users of all experience levels, from CSS cut-and-pasters to Perl-writing hackers. Rails is 1 year old, with a user base of possibly a thousand active users.

There look to be four or five Rails-centric books coming out in Q1 and Q2 of 2006.

Posted by: Andrew on December 27, 2005 3:48 PM

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