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Rating Systems and TwinF

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the impact of rating systems on communities. It was a focus in the Online Community Summit, with folks from Yahoo and the Omidyar Foundation discussing different versions of reputation and ratings. Have you ever thought about reputations linked to accurate tagging? Something for later…

Our trip site The World Is Not Flat has a basic rating system and I spent some time trying to figure out the best way to do it for our purposes. The ratings are for the Travel Experiences members contribute to the site (not the members themselves). Example with Ratings.

It’s a 5 star system, and I got to choose what each set of stars "means". This was an interesting exercise for me as it made me think about how the ratings might reinforce the things we value as owners of the site.

Case in point: We value almost all contributions- so we have no negative ratings. Our star ratings go like this:

1 = Nothing New
2 = OK
3 = Nice
4 = Interesting
5 = Awesome!

An alternative is to have a ratings scale that includes some negative attributes, such as:

1 = This Sucks!
2 = Bad
3 = Good
4 = Great
5 = Excellent!

This kind of rating system would work best in higher volume communities in which ratings work to enforce proper behavior. Negative ratings essentially work to punish members for not behaving in an acceptable manner. In some cases like eBay, the presence of negative feedback is the glue that holds the community together. This is especially true when the ratings become attached to personal identity, becoming reputation.

For us, it was all about reinforcing positive behavior and that meant thinking about what we want from the Member Travel Experiences and making those part of the ratings. In the end, we want the Member Experiences to be “Awesomely Interesting�? so that’s why those are the two highest ratings.