Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Social consumers - and what ratings are for

The emergence of raises questions about the best way for communities to rate.

Most site builders insist on registration and have a preference for IDs etc.

This is based on protecting the site owner and our drive to 'own' user data. These factors gain priority over the altogether simpler imperative - helping a community to accurately share its assessment of things it regards as important. In short - we forget what ratings are for.

The approach of The Gorb may seem a little extreme for some tastes. It takes the no-barrier route. No need to register, and you get to remain anonymous.

There are controls on this. The ratings are weighted (though god, and gorb math alone knows how...)
"This is a sophisticated mathematical algorithm that detects and eliminates ratings that have a high likelihood of being biased. It also uses an innovative rater scoring scheme to provide people with incentives to rate truthfully, as well as to recognize frequent and thoughtful raters."

In essence there is a community control which scores you down if you appear to be dissing for no good reason. If you misuse the tool you'll lose respect in the eyes of TheGorb. Reingold's 'shadow of the future' is cast across every user the moment they begin to interact with the site.

It seems to me they've done a great job of putting the value of ratings first - and doing all they can to remove bias. TheGorb argues, for example, that linkedin is positively skewed by the simple fact that you aren't anonymous. You say nice things in the hope that the receipient will say nice things back. TheGorb aims to get closer to the truth.

Its whole big idea is to raise up the quiet, good, people and modify the behaviour of the bad. To make the world a better place (eg: Take greater incentive to do the right thing, encourage others to do so, and celebrate those opportunities together. ).

Seems vague and tree-hugging, doesn't it? But consider google's mission statement for a moment ( organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful). - and you might recognise the potential TheGorb really has.

But I do wonder how it'll cope with the potentional for ruinous litigation - ie Defamation cases (since it's entirely about personal reputations). There would be a certain irony in the 'losers' finding themselves a great lawyer using it.

And anyone who's read The Tipping Point is going to struggle with the notion of reducing personality to a non-contextual abstract... but that's another story altogether.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?