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Give users a number to optimize.

Stashed in: Karma, Branch, Influence!, @hunterwalk, Community, Redpoint, Awesome, @ev, Why not Zoidberg?, @ttunguz

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Tom Tunguz writes:

There is a Branch called Do platforms need to give users a number to optimize?

Most platforms do provide a number to optimize: Twitter followers, Facebook friends and so on. These metrics build liquidity in the platform as @satyap, @ev and @hunterwalk point out.

But there isn’t just one type of social metric. There are three. It’s important to distinguish the types of metrics a community can provide for users to optimize, because the community will rally around the metrics the community provides.

Let's summarize the three metrics:

1. Social validation. Examples: Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, Klout score. Useful for initial social graph growth but become useless once they're big.

2. Engagement. Examples: YouTube views, Quora views, App downloads. Useful for demonstrating popularity of an item or the community broadly, but easily manipulatable.

3. Karma. Examples: Twitter Retweets, Tumblr Reblogs, Pinterest Repins, Likes, Content Flags, Spam Indicators. These enforce a social filter and are the most useful for highlighting signal.

Tom Tunguz says to choose the metrics most in line with your community and values.

Personally, I think PandaWhale is made for Karma.

We already have Social validation elsewhere, and Engagement is too easy to game.

How is karma manifested? How do you know if your efforts are helping the community?

Right now karma (comments, props, stashes, shares) affect what gets emailed.

Also, whenever a person follows a stash, s/he gets a notification when something new gets added to that stash.

We know it's helping the community because the convos with the most karma are getting the most reads.

The convos that are emailed are most read, I'd argue, but that's not a bad thing. But how do users learn what to do in order to contribute more meaningfully? I had no idea what the emailed list came from-- I thought it was recency.

This general principle--giving users a number to optimize--seems applicable to things besides online platforms/communities, though with a different (broader?) set of metrics.

For example, in an email app, it might be optimizing your number of unread/unarchived messages down to 0. Maybe we can generalize that to "progress". "Progress" also seems to work for the product I'm building (an error monitoring/tracking tool -, and would probably work for any sort of productivity app. Are there other archetypes?

Brian, I like the idea of progress.

I also like the idea of an ever-growing collection of awesome -- the "Permanent Archive".

Christine, users contribute meaningfully through follows, comments, props, stashing, and sharing. Any gesture improves our ability to figure out what to send, and to whom.

yes, but I'm not rewarded for it... i.e. when my name is there, I figure I just got lucky. I don't feel that it was an accomplishment. User metrics are there to shape behavior... without feedback they don't change the user. You use different metrics to shape different behavior. Props shaped better, more clear replies, while views might promote appropriateness and comments reward conversation starters.

Brilliant-Saverin said "tell me what you eat and I'll tell you who you are." So: show me your UI and I'll tell you what you want from your users.. or I'll tell you you don't know

Heh. Fair enough.

Right now, the highest form of karma is actually getting a comment in response to something we've said.

Every comment is a form of feedback that what we said was interesting and merits interaction.

So in my mind the big question is how to increase the amount of commenting.

Design prominence. If you want comments, feature lively conversations and high propped comments on the homepage, and/or in email.

Design prominence.

I will think about how to do that. :)

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