Some of you may have heard that we released an early beta version of the new Newsvine last night to approximately 100 people. Some of you may even be in that group of 100 people. I want to spell out some more detail about the beta so everyone is aware of what we're thinking and what the next steps are.
First off, this isn't a "Google style beta" where the product is essentially ready and it just keeps the beta tag for a few years. This is more like an an alpha. It's actually less functional than the current version of Newsvine in many ways (some by design though, admittedly) and you may not even enjoy using it in its current state. We hope people enjoy it even at this early stage, but if you're a heavy Newsvine user, you may miss certainly functionality.
Second, the 100ish people in the beta don't necessarily represent "our favorite users" or "the most prolific Newsviners" or "people who have been here the longest". In other words, we haven't simply rewarded our best users by letting them into the beta. Instead, we made sure to pick several heavy users, several light users, several NBC News users, several writers, several seeders, several lurkers, etc. We're trying to gauge how each type of Newsvine user likes the new setup and having a group comprised exclusively of the 100 most prolific Newsviners does not help us achieve that goal. Furthermore, if we let too many users in, it actually prevents us from getting the feedback we need. Too much information takes too long to get through and we are less able to respond to individual concerns if this early beta gets too big.
This new version of Newsvine is more or less a complete rewrite and complete redesign so a lot of work has gone into it. Just to get it to this stage, we estimate we've knocked down 1200 or so To-Do items in our project management tool. To give you an idea of how many To-Do's we currently have in the tool "for launch", it's only about 200 now. That number will certainly grow and shrink in the next several weeks, but going from a standing start to beta has taken a lot longer than it will take to go from here to launch.
So what's next?
We're going to spend the next couple of weeks dealing with immediate bugs and oversights brought to our attention by the first beta group, and then get to work on getting the site ready for a much bigger batch of beta users (several hundred more, perhaps). Since groups (now called "Nations") play a critical role in this new version of Newsvine, we will essentially be inviting several active groups (and all of their members) into the beta next. We can't commit to an exact date right now, but it's looking like a few weeks.
We want to get from an expanded beta to full release as quickly as possible, but we're not communicating an exact date until we get a little closer to the finish line. It's challenging running two completely different versions of the site at the same time, so we want to flip the switch as badly as you probably do.
There will be more details forthcoming, and we thank you for being such a great part of the Newsvine community through the years. Exciting roads ahead!