Bokardo has an interesting interview with Bryce Glass of Yahoo, about Yahoo’s social design pattern for reputation. Building reputation systems can really help drive high quality engagement on a social media site, but is also fraught with danger and unintended consequences if not done thoughtfully:
What are the biggest hurdles in designing for reputation?
I think it’s probably the number and variety of unintended consequences that little design decisions can have further down the line. I’m fond of the article—so I cite it a lot—but Ben Brown, who founded the dating site Consumating, has a great blog-post about the ‘ill-fated points system’ that they used for that site, and the variety of… um… less-than-ideal behaviors that those incentives gave rise to. Early on, Slashdot struggled with many of these same issues, and they’ve re-jiggered their comment karma system several times through the years.
A big hurdle—and if you can solve this, you’re halfway there to having a well-designed and effective reputation system—is appropriately marrying the incentives that you offer your users to the appropriate set of goals that you have for your community. You want to be sure that you’re rewarding folks for behaving like good citizens, and not just rewarding them for no good reason. (Or for vague and misguided reasons like “to keep them engaged” or “so we can have a leaderboard.”)
Earlier this year, Glass gave a presentation on designing your reputation system at the IA summit outlining eleven different reputation systems:
> Named Levels
> Numbered Levels
> Identifying Labels
> Collectible Achievements
> Top X
> Temporal Awards
> Statistical Evidence
> Peer Testimonials
> User to User Awards
and how to select between them depending on questions including:
> What are your business goals? [Engagement? Promote a specific feature? Acknowledge top contributors? Increase content quality? User Retention?]
> What community spirit do you want to encourage? [Caring? Collaborative? Cordial? Competitive? Combative?] More detail on the competitive spectrum in Yahoo’s Design Pattern Library.
> What motivates your community members?
> Which entities will accrue reputation? [People? Things? Collections of Things?]
> Which inputs will you pay attention to?
> How transparent should the rules be? [More transparency is more likely to affect behavior]
He also notes that reputations should always decay over time to prevent a log jam at the top that can discourage new members and make a community appear stagnant.
Yahoo has done a nice job of categorizing some of the various reputation systems available to social architects and how to think through choosing one. I would highly recommend reading the interview and presentation and reviewing the material in the design library.