Public Beta of Packaged Software: 10 steps for a successful Beta Program

Recently, in a discussion I came across with a ‘How to do a Public Beta of Packaged Software’ question. What came out was a list of 10 bullet points. Not that I am an expert on this topic or I have successfully ran public beta programs for million (or billion) dollar corporations — I just happened to participate in a few.
Here’s how a successful public Beta program should be run (not in any particular order of appearance):

  1. Public Bug Parade
  2. Moderated Discussion Forum
  3. Moderated Chat amongst Beta Participants
  4. Incentives to Bug submitters
  5. Build announcements
  6. Visible Change Log of Builds
  7. Easy Feedback form
  8. Incentive for Referrals
  9. A certificate or tchochke as a Thank You note to each Beta participant
  10. Beta Program should run from a community website (Sales/Marketing pitch is the last thing Beta-users are interested in)

Update: Gautham proposes the 11th step (The Microsoft way of running a successful Beta Program) — Release the code, make people pay, and then fix the bugs.
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