Lousy Ratings (Part One)

By Marc Solomon posted 06-02-2011 23:56



Engineers are the master technician/carpenters that hold and pass electronic charges -- a circuitry that corresponds to a binary set of numbers. Instead of hammers chasing nails, every byte is reducible to zeros and ones. Off and on. Black and white. True and false. Left and right. Yankees and Red Sox. Throw an engineer a curve like kinda-sorta-maybe and you get one tuned out programmer dude. That's the same unfailing socially engineered response that goes into every "like" on the f book icon. 
There's nothing organic or opt-inable about configuring a game of checkbox toggle: she-loves-me, he-loves-me-not. We're all thumbs and thumbs fly to an up-or-down vote. Show me a ratings system at the social media kissing booth and I'll show you four-of-five unused fingers per hand. By-th-way, those four extra digits are still zeros and ones if we use them to apply a 1-5 ratings scale on SharePoint 2010.  
Why do we have rating systems in the first place?
In an apolitical environment ratings reinforce the worthiness of the popular best or what the best known are best known for. May the best idea win fair and square. They tell a distracted world engorged in surplus information what's worth a payment of our attentions. In the past these arbiters were self-selected opinion-shapers from corporate publishing empires. Now the game's been blown open,
Even the pretense of a methodology or a formula for deciding ranks and ratings is a way bigger business secret than the spoils of winning such a contest -- especially in a world where your winners are different from mine. As Eli Pariser evangelized in his TED conference talk in March, there is no definitive list because there is no longer a standard set of search results.
"Like" = +1 is an easy engineering stunt. But does it serve the purpose it was designed for -- mainly that I should invest my attention in web pages that have the have the highest like runs. Afterall, this is the simple social media reduction of the page rank formula for search media. EdgeRank is the reward system for emoting good, loyal social media citizenship. Hint: sending a picture carries more weight than "likes" and "comments" so be graphic and vote often!
Current cable news political scandals aside how do we get beyond the silliness to a system that serves our SharePoint user base? Sincerity in any ratings system is determined by the absence of reward. I'm likelier to buy into the activity streams of my user base when my users are not trying to keep up: (1) an appearance, or, (2) with the pressures of becoming a social media slave (see EdgeRank rationale). The irony worth surfacing here? Rating systems serve our users more the less a rater is vested in the outcome of their ratings.
So how can we recover the lost innocence of userhood? How do we quantify sincerity in a credible way so that SharePoint time counts for folks who can't bill back for the privilege?
Next AIIM Communities post: usage reporting that tracks your user's most productive impulses both as team players as well as when flying solo.  

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