How to get an invite to Forrst

If you don’t know, Forrst is a invite-online developer and designer community started by Kyle Bragger (@kylebragger).  It’s a fairly friendly community, with lots of great feedback from a wide variety of people with all levels of skill.  However, one thing Forrst strives for is a community for all levels of people.  From beginners to experts, designers and developers, Windows/Mac/Linux users, all are invited.  At least, as long as you are willing to put forth the effort.

To get an invite, an existing member must invite you (and invites only come to those who contribute back to the community), or you have to be voted in after having applied.  To join, you go to the “I want to join” page.  On that page, it asks for a few pieces of information, including a  link to something you’ve done.  A github page, open source project, some fancy design.  Something to show that you are a developer or designer oriented person.

The second part, however, is the most important part.  The Forrst join page asks you to provide sample feedback for a random post.

Provide Good Feedback

Listen.  Forrst is all about communication.  Communication between all types of people.  This means feedback is important.  Poor feedback is bad.  We don’t like it.  However, good feedback is cherished, loved, and rewarded.  So, when Forrst asks you to provide feedback for a post on the Join page, realise that real Forrst members are going to review this feedback.  It takes 3 votes to get you in, and chances of finding 3 people to agree that “That looks awesome” is good feedback is slim.

Let me try to make this clear: the feedback you provide on the join page indicates to us the type of feedback you’ll provide once a member.  If the feedback provided is essentially worthless, then making you a member won’t help the community.  A community built up around feedback.  What this means is that you should put some effort into your feedback.

So, here are some tips on how to write good feedback.

1. Pick a post you can answer

Forrst provides a nice little button that you can click on.  It will reload the post to provide feedback for.  Don’t just settle for the first post you see.  Instead, find something you are actually interested in commenting on.  You aren’t expected to comment on everything that gets posted to Forrst.  Not everyone that gets posted to Forrst is going to get good comments.  So, click a way and find something that will allow you to provide good feedback.

2. Why, not what

“That looks awesome!”

The person you are providing feedback too is probably not going to see your post, so you aren’t going to win brownie points for complimenting work.  Though, if the work is good, providing compliments is fine.

However, in this case, “That looks awesome” is fairly useless.  It just explains what you feel.  It doesn’t explain “why” it looks awesome.  Take a few minutes to go into detail about what you like and why.  Even if you can’t express it clearly, try.  Remember, effort is key here.  Explaining why you like something takes a bit more than just saying you like it, but it provides a lot more value.  Others can learn from it, the original poster can focus on those areas.  Who knows, in explaining why you like something, you might learn a little about yourself.

3. We need Effortmore, not Effortless

Okay, that was bad.  But, the point is, your feedback should take a bit of effort.  It is, after all, an application to join.  And regular members like me are going to read this feedback.  I’ll by frank, if I see a 10 word comment, I don’t bother looking at anything else and move on to the next person.  Maybe it’s unfair, but I figure it’s the same amount of effort put into the comment.

It doesn’t take long.  A couple minutes at most.  Ask yourself after you’ve finished the comment if it’s something you’d like to receive.  Does it actually share a unique idea.  Does it express an opinion? Is that opinion explained?

The Elite

Forrst isn’t about being among the elite.  It’s about being among people who are just like you.  Frankly, if you feel applying to the site and actually putting effort into the feedback is too much work, then Forrst probably won’t benefit you.  That’s fine.  However, if you truly want to join, then maybe this little piece of advice will help you avoid a pitfall you might not think about.  From the Forrst join page:

Since Forrst is a very critique- and discussion-oriented community, we ask prospective users to leave sample feedback on a post from one of our members.

We review this.  The members.  And I imagine those of us that review these potential members are very interested in keeping Forrst’s quality high.  We will be picky.  After all, we want to log into Forrst and enjoy what we read there.  We want to be part of a community of people that we’d go out drinking with.  A little bit of effort will go a long way.

Join us!  We aren’t elitist.  We just want you to know that this is the place for you, and we want to know that you’ll get a lot out of this community.  But only as long as you are willing to give.

Of course, as mentioned, the other way to join is to be invited by an existing member with invites.  Like myself.  In that case, beer is ALWAYS a welcomed bribe.