User feedback is vital to building a great open-source app. Having a direct channel to users helps to solve questions and makes the overall experience of AntennaPod better. Celebrating one year of the AntennaPod forum, this blog post describes how the forum was born.

Before 2020, the main feedback channel for AntennaPod was a Google Group. A Google Group is basically an email list that you can subscribe to. The group was rather confusing to use - it was full of people asking the same questions over and over, and also had technical difficulties where replies were sometimes not sent to all users. A really important aspect that I only realized later was that the group did not have a friendly and personal atmosphere. Writing there mostly involved email addresses and the humans behind the addresses were not in focus.

A second feedback channel was the GitHub repository. Aimed at developers, GitHub is great to coordinate development but not so great to help users find what they are looking for. Vivid discussions with quotes and images are a bit harder to manage there, too. Lastly, when many of the notification emails are related to answering questions again and again, development is slowed down because it is easy to miss important information.

In the end of 2019, I met with other open-source Android developers and discussed how to connect with users more easily. In May 2020, I set up the AntennaPod forum using the wonderful open-source software Discourse. In June, the forum was finally ready to be used and I invited @keunes, who was doing a lot of user support - the AntennaPod forum was born!

When we did our big user survey about a new icon for AntennaPod 2.0.0 in July 2020, the last page of the survey spread the word about the forum. This was when it really started to grow. Until today, 478 users have joined and the page is visited around 600 times each day. In 347 topics, we discussed proposals for new features, helped users with the app and fixed bugs. In total, 3213 posts were created (that’s more than 9 each day) and the like button was pressed 1168 times.

In my opinion, the forum is one of the best changes to AntennaPod since I became involved with development in 2017. It finally creates a strong bond between the people working together to create one of the best podcast apps. Actually, I wonder how we even managed to work on AntennaPod without the forum just about one year ago.

If you are not registered yet, you are warmly invited to join now. You can get an early look at new features and shape the future of AntennaPod by participating in discussions. Beyond code on GitHub and translations on Transifex, the forum offers a new way to contribute to AntennaPod. You can help other users and get help, without being familiar with the code and technical details.

Happy discussing!