User @Callewaert-Francky mentioned voting for features in another thread so I thought this would be a nice source of discussion here on the forum. As I wrote my reaction I decided that if this turns out into a productive discussion we should probably move it to a different topic
It's an interesting idea that we've talked about on a lot. There are some concerns for such workings but we'll definitly consider it if the community is able to help us avoid problems. I'm going to dedicate some time to explaining it in this post, please forgive me if I over-explain or come across as patronizing: I'm simply trying to involve as big a part of the community in this as possible.
The problem of decision making
Imagine an obvious "we all want this really much" feature such as elevation. Now, any user on MyRoute-app will certainly enjoy being able to see elevation while tracking, planning a route or while for example showing a route to friends. But how do we know this?
Right now we know things like this because first of all Michel (the CEO) is an avid motorcyclist and has a lot of experience with route planning software and navigation devices on the end-user spectrum. Michel knows that by having elevation you're able to not only make a route more twisty, but also increase it's elevation pattern (very relevant for cyclists for example). Daniël, me and the other guys at the office know that this would be useful because we heard users about it and are able to deduct the relevance of such a feature from our direct surroundings (and having a good dash of creativity).
So we're completely on the same page there. Well, go ahead you must think! Forward into development, let's get that elevation profile done! We'll get started right away. But then something hit us: we also want to get Android Auto and Apple Carplay online and to be honest that would be a lot less technical work. With the same train of thought that we had before, we're able to deduct and verify that indeed Android Auto and Apple Carplay would at the very least be just as good as a new feature as elevation and there's another bonus: development doesn't need to get involved immediatly because management and finance will first need to pry open the closed doors of those tech giants to allow us access. Alas, management and finance are also caught up and in the end everything will still cost a lot of resources. Thus we might as well go ahead and just get everyone rallied around investing heavily into adding a suite of small new features that won't satisfy any existing user but would probably draw a lot more hikers and runners (a demographically small group right now) to MyRoute-app and the community around it.
Now let's look back on all that, what happened here? Why are we unable to develop things that would either be good for a certain group of our existing community (elevation), develop an innovative feature that would help in guaranteeing durability (Carplay) or invest heavily into an oppurtinity rich part of the community (more hiker features)? It's because those are all equally important and competing factors.
- The community must be satisfied; and therefore we develop features that the community wants (elevation)
- The community must continue to exist; and therefore we develop with the future in mind (Carplay)
- The community must grow; and therefore we try new things (hiker features)
This balancing isn't done in weekly, monthly or even quarterly meetings. It's a continuous process that isn't entirely clear at all times but that translates fairly well into gut feeling because we're all experienced and work with a relatively small team. Of course we're expanding at the same time, so we've started to work with a strategic, tactical and operational goals, but that is an entirely different story. To get back on it, we know what can be done immediatly and what can't. We know when a feature is in harmony with all three goals and when it isn't.
The self regulating community and voting
Does that mean that the community should not have a voice? Absolutely not. In fact, the reason why we started this forum is because in part because we want to make the community self regulating and an even greater source for inspiration. The community will not be a blindly following trailer attached to a vehicle that they don't control, the community will be like a sail pulling MyRoute-app in the right direction.
Now in all honesty voting would be a very crude way to let that sail up. It would certainly work for some features, so in that sense I agree with you that we'll sometimes use it, but it certainly shouldn't be the way our community continually steers the future of MyRoute-app (in my opinion). Why? Because voting as a general way of doing things has it's own problems. In politics today we see what happens when governments get elected because people don't want to vote anymore and only a fraction of the population goes out to choose who'll rule them for the next few years. On our scale that might cause a loud minority of the community to push through features that are not in the best interest of the majority or all of the three outlined factors. Ignoring a vote, even if it's better for everyone, would certainly look bad.
So how could we fix this? Well, first of all discussions on this forum might come up and we support that. A critical mind considering and lobbying for a feature and it's relevance on an intellectual level is far more effective and responsible than a poll could ever be. Of course such discussion should be substantive, but that speaks for itself. Secondly, the first-among-equals of the community should be involved as decision makers. It's why we're recruiting RouteXperts, Instructors and Community Leaders. MyRoute-app will then factor in what's seen here on the forum and what the aforementioned groups tell us, compare it with the earlier outlined factors and come up with an order of implementation for features.
So to anser your question: the community is already involved and is actually getting more involved in helping us prioritize, having votes on everything would hamper that. What we don't do properly right now is clarity and transperancy into development. The forum and community blogs will be the first steps towards that. Perhaps we'll even grow a kind of "community decision board" over time, but we'll first see how this works out.
I hope I have explained everything as clear as possible. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas!