Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back in Class

I spent a few hours this afternoon in the basement of a giant convention center listening to Joshua Porter talk about designing for community.

Scribbling away in my notebook, I felt like I was in class. I type too loud not to use pen and paper.

Being in NY is always a high speed experience, so I figure it begs some high speed blogging. Or, more accurately, some high speed note transcription and commentary.

-Make sure you model the core features of your community-based website on community interactions that already exist in the offline community.

-In reputation economies, be sure to reward quality first and then quantity. Beware of Harriet Klausners.

-Apparently Yahoo! remains relevant, and not just because of Flickr and delicious, which feels weird to admit.

-Reward high quality users with labels that explain WHY they are high quality. Probably don't need to use as many labels as Yelp does, but throwing a few around is a generally good idea. It attracts attention to the right people for the right reasons. The "gardener" label on ma.gnolia is a great one (and part of a great anti-spam system).

-Reward NEW people. Right away. Don't make it hard for them to get in on the rewards, the labels, the recognition.

-Be careful with lists of highest rated users. Competition can get out of control. Collusion happens. Your community turns into Survivor. And, when the leaders get out in front and hard to reach, people lose interest. Maybe the thing to do is to give competitions time limits. Have a weekly MVP. Or monthly. Or yearly. Don't have a leaderboard. This reminds me of fantasy baseball. Head to head leagues are WAY more fun than rotisserie.

-Be careful with thumbs up thumbs down systems. They tempt competitive users to thumbs down content that they see as threatening to them, stuff that might very well be the most valuable content on the site. Maybe just have a thumbs up. Or a was this helpful question.

-When you make members of your community angry, for whatever reason, before you explain or defend yourself, say you're sorry.

-Encourage people to "tell others what you think." Ask people to offer their "unique experience."

I especially love that last one. Because I think it's true. In a big sense. In life just as much as in web use. Everyone's experiences are unique, and they're all fascinating in their uniqueness. We all have stories. Great stories. Unique stories. Stories no one else can imagine. But we don't always tell them. Maybe we have silly insecurities about lacking uniqueness. Maybe we have trouble communicating. Who knows.

Ok. Pretty speedy. More tomorrow.

Note: Thank you XBOSoft for the invite to The Expo. And for lunch at the only restaurant on 11th Ave in Midtown. Funny to speak Chinese in an Irish Pub filled with construction workers on lunchbreak.