Introducing the Pepper Expert Program (updated 9/8/2021 - scheme to end on 31 Dec)

Refreshed 9th Aug 2021 (Posted 8th Nov 2018)
Update 1
Hey all

We wanted to let you know that we will end the Pepper Expert program on 31.12.2021.

Before I briefly go into the background, we would first like to thank all active and no longer active Pepper Experts. The effort put in has been incredible, and the Experts have shared loads of fantastic deals with the whole community. In terms of heat and other engagement metrics, Experts are often right near the top of all users, and they have been generous in sharing expertise in comment threads all around the site.

So ending the program (with the longest Beta phase in known history ) has been a really tricky decision, and not one we have taken lightly. We definitely see big benefits of having this group of dedicated, knowledgeable deal hunters, especially where offers have been found that wouldn't otherwise have been.

However, we have seen clearly that the program was not remotely as scalable as we had originally hoped. We hoped to expand it to 50, 100 or even more participants at some point - but the rewards that we feel are required to compensate for the huge amounts of time and effort Experts put in, would have meant this made no sense from a resource point of view. We also really understand the feedback we have received about this being a closed group and the impact that has on the wider community.

To make it crystal clear, these challenges are entirely of our (Pepper's) making and I don't think there is anything the Experts could have done differently to overcome them. But they certainly made future development of the programme seem increasingly unrealistic to us.

Therefore, in the future we would like to focus more on things that benefit a larger part of our community. For example, some of you have been contacted by us in recent months and received a small Amazon gift card for posting the hottest deal of the day in a category. We think that such an approach might be the more appropriate way to thank a larger part of our community for their help - so we will pursue this again and further.

Nevertheless, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Pepper Experts once again! And for the time being it continues through Black Friday and to the end of the year...
Black Friday is just around the corner, so what better time than now to test what might just be the biggest change on hotukdeals in its 14 yr history?!

On Monday we’ll be launching the Pepper Expert Program- a closed beta test where a handful of deal posters are rewarded for their activity on hotukdeals. These users are the ones you’ll see day after day posting great deals - we see them, we see how much they’re loved by us and the community and we want to show our appreciation.

I’ve highlighted how this will work operationally in an FAQ but for now I wanted to make sure we give you as much info as possible around who is involved, what the driver behind this beta is and what will happen next.

What is the Pepper Expert Program, and why are you testing it now?

For a long time now at hotukdeals and Pepper, we’ve talked about introducing some kind of rewards program for some of our members, but with site updates and company changes we’ve never really been in a position to dedicate time to it.. We decided to stop talking about it so much and just try it out!

At hotukdeals (as well as across the rest of communities) we great content. This is what brought you to the site in the first place, and what made you stick around - it’s the same for all of our community members - they came here to find something specific and eventually stuck around because they kept finding deals and stories that interested them.

We feel like this is a great starting point for our expert beta, so we started looking at the number of new visitors that our deal posters bring to our site through their deals as well as the way those deal posters treat their fellow community members. We created an index and score based on those metrics - the PEP Index

Users who ranked highly in this index, ie those users who contributed heavily to the community as a whole and ranked in the top of the table are being invited into a closed beta, where they will be rewarded for their expert opinions, their amazing content and the way they treat their fellow community members

How can I trust the community if some of them are being rewarded for what they post?

They’re still posting exactly what they would’ve posted originally, they’re just being rewarded for doing so. Their only driver is to post well researched, well written content. In fact, every expert on the program will need to sign a contract in which he or she guarantees us that they are not being paid or in any form rewarded by the brand or shop he posts the content for. Conversely, there’s also a section in the contract that underlines that here at Pepper and hotukdeals, we won’t influence the user either.
You’re guaranteed absolute transparency when it comes to knowing who is a part of the beta - Pepper Expert members will have a unique user title and their profile page will provide details about their participation. You’ll also see a heavy banner on each and every one of those users’ deals. (Mrswitch has been used for this example!)

note - banner updated 23 December 2019 to new wording (now shown here)...

Once our Pepper Experts are all active, we'll add their usernames in here so you know what's what

On what basis do you pay Pepper Experts and how much do they earn?
Pepper Experts are rewarded purely for the quality of their contributions. Each month we’ll contribute a fixed monetary pot, and our Experts will be rewarded a share of that pot based on how their deals performed according to our Pep Index*. The better the quality, the higher their cut of the pot.

Wth is a Pep Index?
As mentioned earlier, our Pep Index combines various numbers to measure the quality of Pepper Expert contributions. The formula in the index will continue to be improved throughout our beta. On-site actions such as voting do not play a role as we want to retain neutrality and balance. Temperature also isn’t a factor, nor is commission.

Do Pepper Experts have extra permissions? Do they get “insider info” from you?
Short and simple answer Nope. There’s no influence from us and they have standard user accounts - they will be expected to continue to adhere to our forum rules as always. Conversely, we expect the rest of our community to treat Pepper Experts with respect; again, they’re still members, they’re still a part of the hotukdeals community and no allowances will be given if they are targeted or otherwise trolled by users because of their perceived change in status.

Why is the beta closed? Why not just open it up?
First off, this is new to us too - we need to test it to death and see if it actually improves the quality of content on hotukdeals.

Secondly, unlike Instagram or YouTube, for example, we don't want hotukdeals to become a place for people who just want to make money on the net or create a brand out of themselves. The Pepper Expert Program is intended to give selected members whose deals inspire others and who are always exemplary towards the community a chance to be rewarded for their special efforts.

So the program isn’t intended to be open to *everyone*. In the future, however, there will be the possibility to apply as long as certain conditions (e.g. minimum age of the account, minimum number of deals) are met. We honestly feel this is the fairest way to handle the situation.

We’ll be running the beta phase for the next few months - we’re positive the majority of our community members will be happy to see some well-known names in the test group but if you see anyone being harsh or unfair toward one another, please let us know via report!

We know this is a huge step into the unknown, and some users won’t be impressed by the plan - some may even feel excluded because they weren’t invited (yet). However, we have to start somewhere, and there’s no rule that we can’t scale the program or change the participants over time. We just have to see how it goes.

Our theory is that quality content is the keystone of a healthy community, so we hope our test will prove that theory and strengthen the community and its values for years to come.

As always, ready for the “tl;dr” comments but seriously, it’d be great to get your feedback and constructive comments.

Current Pepper Experts as of 23 December 2019

  • thewrecker7477
  • apur32
  • mrswitch
  • idontflycathay
  • Zanyangel
  • Devinn
  • brutes
  • mixmixi
  • Tacavas
  • reindeer333
  • joeydeacon
  • matwalaboy
  • myusernamehasgone234 (starts 1/1/20)
  • DealDroid (starts 1/1/20)
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