Posts Tagged ‘reputation system’

Bringing them back pt. 3 – Levels

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

In video games, levels are the natural extension of points. Once you receive so many points or have accomplished so many tasks, you are awarded with a new level. If we model this to real life, you could equate this to accumulating wealth, social standing or a position at a company. Games provide a way to achieve “levels” more quickly than in real life and in turn, create more satisfying game play.

Typically, achieving a new level affords you abilities not otherwise afforded to mere beginners. Web sites tend to use two different kinds of levels, explicit, quid pro quo levels or levels that are really jobs in some ways. The benefits of these levels varies from site to site, but generally, if you have achieved a higher level at the site, higher rank means more benefits.

Quid Pro Quo

I’ve mentioned Yahoo! Answers before, but Answers bears mentioning again given how transparent their system of levels is.

yahoo-answers-levels.jpg

Do this, get that. It’s pretty simple.

Levels as reputation

ebay-stars.jpg
Usually, icons next to one’s name on a website indicates to outsiders (or other insiders), that the icon holder has a higher reputation than someone sans icon.

eBay rewards members with positive feedback with “reputation” stars. Yellow stars are on the lower end of the feedback scale, while red tops out their feedback scale.

It may sound silly, but long time eBayers covet these stars and ultimately, having a green star (5k+ positive feedback) on eBay can really help sales.

eBay’s usage of icons extends beyond reputation for sure, but the association of icons with reputation levels is an incentive to get as many icons next to your seller info as possible. Filling out a profile page, reviewing products or adding your Skype contact info will get you a new icon.

ebay-profile2small.jpg

Levels as a job

The best social media sites have users that feel so strongly about the site and use it so much, it is often what some would consider a part time job.

Wikipedia would be a massive failure if it did not employ levels of some kind. If everyone were equal on the site, newbies and old timers, Wikipedia would be rife with errors, vandalism and infighting.

While all Wikipedians, by definition, contribute to the site, there are numerous people who also have administrative roles.

1. Stewards can give and remove permissions to users.
2. Administrators can prevent articles from being edited for numerous reasons.
3. Bureaucrats assign who can be administrators and stewards.

One attains these levels by not only contributing heavily to Wikipedia, but also has a commitment to helping others contribute and keeping the site to a high level of standards.

Finally

At the simplest …. ahem… level, levels are a good way to compare how you are doing in comparison to others. Levels are a good way to reward heavy users and in turn, ensure your web site runs more smoothly.

What other sites out their use levels effectively? How are you using levels on your site?

Reputation Systems and Gaming Epinions

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

I want to look a little more at the Yahoo! Answers story and add what I’ve learned about gaming a system. When you look back at the history of Epinions, the site made a big bang when it debuted because it offered to pay writers for their product reviews. The idea was the company would make money off of ads (this is when banners were big) and they would share that money with the community of writers.

At the time, your “Income Share,” as it is known, was based on the number of people that looked at your review. At the time, I believe that the going rate was something in the $.30 per-page-view range. You can just imagine how this got gamed.

How it works
Now, given that the site’s raison d’être was product reviews, there is a relatively finite amount of products to review and ideally, from a shopper’s perspective, you would want the “best” review at the top. So to accomplish this, Epinions built a reputation system called the Web of Trust. In theory, Epinions’ “Web of Trust,” or WoT what an early social network where your “friends” were people whose reviews you trusted and respected.

The second component of review ranking was how helpful someone found your review. At the bottom of every review, users are asked to rate the review on a 4 point scale from “Not Helpful” to “Very Helpful.” Review order is determined by a combination of the two criteria, WoT and review ranking. The basic idea is that if you are trusted more than another member and your review received a higher rating, that review would appear higher up in the list.

The story goes that writers on the site formed rating and trust circles to boost their own reviews over others. The stakes for this were high. If you were the top review on a popular product, most shoppers would see your review first. If you collected all the page views, you received considerably more money than anyone else who wrote the review. And while points are nice, money is a lot better.

So, what did Epinions do to thwart gaming?

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