We should stop calling live projects beta

by Andy Boyle.

Recently, I had a conversation with some folks at work about the iPhone 4S. This led to some chatter about Siri and I showed my coworkers how to find the closest burrito joint. The future is amazing, etc.

One of them asked, “Isn’t Siri still in beta?” Yes, yes it is.

I responded that I hate things being called “beta.” The rest of this post will be, hopefully, a more erudite explanation. With less swears. Maybe.

Saying something is still “in beta” is a goddamn cop out. It’s like you’re releasing something and winking, saying, “This could still suck so please be gentle and don’t be mean!” That’s a crock of horse shit. You released a product live, showing it to the world. It is no longer in “beta” mode. It is now in production. Otherwise, why did you release it?

Oh, you say you’re going to add features and fix a few things here and there? Cool. That’s more or less how everything is always done. I don’t think most folks refer to Twitter or Facebook as being in “beta,” as they’re adding features and updates all the time. Most web projects are continually in flux and are constantly being updated. To quote The Social Network, it’s like fashion — it’s never finished.

And to use my journalistic background, this is akin to calling the newspaper the “beta” version of stories, as people can go in and update the online version of articles whenever they want. No, we call it the damn newspaper. Get ‘em while they’re hot.

The phrase has a use, of course: internal testing. Once you release it to the world, though, stop calling it beta. It’s live, goddammit. Be proud of your accomplishments. Building that thing and launching it was hard.

Don’t hide behind a four-word veil of I-hope-this-doesn’t-suck-too-much-itude.

Also, if you think I’m wrong, please explain your arguments below. I’d love to hear a good argument for using beta.