Keeping online discussions valuable with peer based rating

09/06/2011 at 11:21 am Leave a comment

If you want to encourage a community to collaborate, you can’t expect to control it. Let them control themselves and each other.

Discussion_post_rating

A long time ago when we were considering adding forum-like functionality to WeCanDo.Biz I asked the opinion of the head honcho of one ofthe UK’s largest business forums.  His opinion: “Don’t do it!”

We had a long discussion about his view and the conclusion I drew fits with this metaphor: starting a communiy, a forum or whatever, is like trying to move a boulder — it takes all your efforts to get it going and once it is you risk getting squashed by it at any time!

We decided not to add a traditional forum, because loads of those exist already  And as much as I like the community collaboration and support you see within forums, I dislike the way that simple questions or discussions develop into long and tedious threads of convoluted answers and other contributions, with the true experts inputs becoming overwhelmed by those who have an opinion but no knowledge.  They get messy and it requires too much time and effort to get value from them as a user.  So, as an alternative, we decided to put Discussion areas in each one of our Network ‘spurs’ so people could share information and pick the brains of business people with a common interest, be that working in the same industry, or location or whatever.

It was different and it took a time for people to get how our Discussions worked.  But now they are widely used.  However, they also get misused by some who seen an open forum to use it to shamelessly self promote — serving their own purposes but annoying everyone else who’s reading the Discussion, including all of those they are attempting to try and influence.

With hundreds of discussions on our site it can be difficult to keep on top of people misusing them.  And should we?  There are a few business communities online which have developed a reputation for over-zealous moderation and people don’t like it.  But people don’t like spam either.

Here’s our solution.

We are all getting used to being able to “like” pages or articles we find acoss the web.  As of today we’ve introduced Likes to Discussion posts in The Network.  You can Like anyone else’s posts — but you can also Dislike the ones you don’t like.

What we are hoping will happen is that we don’t have to intervene and the people who are reading the Discussion posts, who are already making their minds up about posts they see, will click the button to share their feelings.  It’s all anonymous and their rating gets added to all others received for that post.  So a post can pick up Likes and/or Dislikes and we showhow it rates on both.

Anyone can look at a post to see how many Likes it has and how many Dislikes, including those who posted it.  We’ll send you an alert to let you know when a post you submit has received its first rating.  Is your post getting Likes?  Well done!  People like what you have to contribute to the Discussion.  Picking up Dislikes?  Then they probably see you as spammy, adding self serving posts which aren’t of interest to anyone other than you.

We can’t wait to see how people use it and how it influences people’s use of this community collaboration feature!

You can see how it looks at the top of the page.  Why not try rating some existing posts now:

Location Networks
Business Networks
Business Interests
Business Categories
Private Networks

And let us have your feedback on this feature by adding a comment below or posting on our Website Help and Feedback Network.  We can’t wait to read what you think!

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