The WSJ is reporting this morning that people are asking and answering inane questions on the Yahoo! Answers service to boost their point scores.
Here is the WSJ’s explanation of the system:
“A points economy is like a regular economy, except the currency is points, not currency. Even though you can’t exchange these points for real-world goods and services, people will still spend enormous amounts of time accumulating them just to beat others in a list of top point-getters, or simply to compete with themselves.
Web sites are taking advantage of this aspect of human psychology and setting up point systems to draw in users to help create “content” for them.
If you’re a member of Answers — total users are in the millions — you can gain points asking questions, answering questions, and rating the questions and answers of others. The points are good for nothing, save allowing you to move up through the seven levels in the Answerers hierarchy. With each new level, you gain more powers on the site, such as the ability to ask and answer more questions, and thus get more points.”
Some background info on Yahoo! Answers
It’s interesting to see this particular system gamed as the incentive is somewhat low. Notoriety is one thing, but it seems that perhaps there are more lucrative sites out there to game. One thing that I learned at my time at Epinions is that the higher the incentive, the more likely it will be gamed.
Congrats to Yahoo! Answers for figuring out a way to make users care enough to game the system.
Read – [WSJ free link]