Greetings Emily, thank You for having coordinated this project so far!
As You may know, when a product is not a v1.0 yet - an unfinished product - but is still usable, it what is labeled as an “early release”. This usually is at a stage between an alpha version and a beta version. Usually the purpose of publishing an early release is to get as much feedback as possible from the users so that the development team can tweak it to address the user needs/expectations. Then after most of the feedback is gathered and the product is tweaked/improved accordingly to mirror the feedback from the users, a “beta” version is published. This is still not a finished product yet, but an almost finished product. At this stage between the beta version and the v1.0 there are only some small bugs to be fixed. Fixing those, finally the v1.0 is released. This is the process that I noticed “big” software application titles usually go through from the initial announcement to their final release.
The thing is that is not possible for the development team to collect enough feedback from just a bunch of experienced users, which is what we are here. In all this time since more or less July we tried to figure out what we want the product to be like. The next step is to see if what we made so far actually matches the expectations of the “market” or not. I give an example based on the prototype testing I did two days ago with @Kellyt: on a certain page in the app there was a map; while clicking around simulating I was searching for a host, it just came natural to me to ignore that map; then Kelly when she noticed it she brought it to my attention and I finally clicked on the map. The bottom line of this was that some user(s) suggested to put that map there, while to me in relation to the way it was natural for me to use the app for my goal that map in that location was just irrelevant. This is the reason why the next step is to publish it and to collect as much feedback as possible - so that then based on that feedback, the development team can further tweak/improve the platform to satisfy the needs and expectations of the users. How do we want to make an useful product otherwise? There is no way. We need real feedback from real users. We are just a bunch of people here. Sure, each of us in terms of experience in specific areas is a “monster”, and put together we are maybe stronger than what David was in his fight against the goliath, but still we are just a bunch of people insufficient to provide enough feedback.
The reputation is hurt when a product is either not functioning either when user’s expectations are very different than what the product is supposed to offer but is not offering. As long as the product offers what we advertise it for, even if in a limited way until v1.0 will be released, there is no reason to worry about the reputation.
Already covered this above.