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How to Write Good Feedback

Burning Man 2009

Photo by: albany_tim

This blog post is meant for the Amazon Mechanical Turk workers who work on Feedback Army reviews. If you’d like to leave your own tips, drop a comment.

I just spent the day responding to many of you who have had responses that were not accepted recently. I noticed some common patterns and I think they’re easy to correct without making more work for yourself.

Here are my tips to writing good feedback on Feedback Army to make sure your responses are accepted.

Spelling and Grammar

This is a big one. Customer’s will pay less attention to the feedback in your review when they spot a writing mistake. One or two may be forgiven. Several mistakes or choppy responses will hurt your credibility with the customer and cause them to reject the response.

Fortunately, this is easy to deal with.

  1. Use spell and grammar check. On the worker form, there is a spell check icon in the upper left hand side of the worker form. Make sure you click it and review the suggestions before submitting your response.  There is also an add-on for Firefox called After the Deadline. If you’re using this you can customize the settings of the spell and grammar check feature and it will work on other HITs, not just the Feedback Army ones.
  2. Make sure you upper-case ‘i’. Remember that you’re an I and you’re important.
  3. Add a space after punctuation marks. I notice many rejected responses forget to add spaces after commas and periods. Proper white-space will go a long way towards making your writing look correct.

Answering Questions

I find on Feedback Army there are three kinds of responses. You can respond to show that you did something, say that something can improve, or say that something is fine as it is.

Show What You Did

When asked to do something, do the task, and then give a URL or some other information that shows you did it. I’ve seen some of you reply with “Yes, I did this”. If you’re asked to find a product and you provide a URL to the product, then your customer knows you did what they asked.

Chances are the customer will ask you about the tasked you performed. If they didn’t, then give specifics about the task to help them out. For example, consider stating what steps you followed to find the product. Did you search for it? Did you browse to it? Good questions make your task easier but if the questions aren’t good, you can help the customer out anyways.

Feedback to Improve

When a site feature or task confuses you, this is your chance to give your customer something valuable. The best feedback says:

  1. What you wanted to do
  2. What stopped you from doing this and why
  3. What could fix this for the future

The customers needs to know these answers to improve their site’s navigation, add a feature to their site, or make something less confusing. When you write a response ask yourself, “did I answer these questions?”

Here are some examples of good responses:

Is this site trustworthy, why or why not? No, I do not consider this site trustworthy. There are no testimonials on the front-page. The lack of testimonials makes me think you haven’t had any happy customers yet.What would improve this site?It’s 2010 now. I would change “2009 Search Engine Offers” (on both the home page and the page you are directed to when you click on the link) to read “2010 Search Engine Offers”. The types of services that you are offering are “pay attention to details” types of services, and I think it is important to show both current and potential clients that you pay attention to details on your own website.

Both of these responses are answers to open-ended questions. The first reviewer says she was looking for testimonials to decide if the site is trustworthy or not. This is what she wants to do. She stated that she did not find testimonials on the front-page and this is a problem because it indicates no happy customers. The fix? Add testimonials.

Feedback on Good Things

Many rejected responses answer questions asking for improvement ideas with “It looks good” or “Nothing confused me”. These responses offer no action or value to your customer. If everything looks good, you can still help. Feedback on what is good and what shouldn’t change is just as valuable as feedback for improvement.

When saying something is good, make sure you say why it is good. The best feedback for this says:

  1. What you wanted to do
  2. What you did and why
  3. What happened

By letting your customer know a feature is good and how you interacted with it, you’re showing them how you interact with a feature and what your experience is. Knowing this, your customer can work to keep your use-case in mind when improving the site.

Here is an examples of good response:

What confused you about the installation process? Nothing confused me about the download process. Since this is an experimental add-on, I had to check the “let me install” box, but other than that it was just like downloading any other add-on. The download went smoothly, and after restarting Firefox, the add-on was active.

Subjective Answers

I often see suggestions for customer’s to change the color or layout of their site. It’s ok to state that you dislike the colors but keep in mind that these will often get ignored unless your customer sees a trend from other reviewers.

If you’re going to suggest a subjective change, make sure you give a why. Sometimes the why is important.

I saw a website selling gag gifts for Bachelor and Bachelorette parties reviewed on Feedback Army. The entire site was pink. Many reviewers quickly pointed out that the pink color scheme was bad because it alienated male customers.

Bonus Points

Sometimes you will find blatant errors on a page. Maybe a spelling mistake or a copyright date set to last year. Point these things out. By doing so you’re immediately giving value to your customer and making it worth their while to read what you have to say.

Remember the Goal

Remember that your goal is to help your customer make their site better. You can do this by letting them know what is wrong, letting them know what is right, and always letting them know why. If you follow these tips you’ll make more money from Feedback Army and you’ll help make the web a better place. Thanks for reading this far. :)

Posted in usability testing on January 31, 2010 | 2 Comments »

2 Comments on “How to Write Good Feedback”

ljh Says:

Maybe you should check out how to do plurals in the “spelling and grammar” section!

lija Says:

Thanks for the important information.

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