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Fixing the review issues on a social level through site adjustments (an idea)

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  • It seems the general consensus that the point system is somewhat skewed. 5 points for leaving a comment and 5 points for writing a review seems a bit… off.


    The argument to be made for increasing points for reviews lies within properly written reviews and effective, respected reviews. Increasing the number of points garnered to 10 as opposed to 5 seems more prudent in that it takes a user more time to write a review than to leave a simple comment.


    If the staff were to change the number of points earned for a review with the system as it is, we’d see more problems, most notably users attempting to ‘power level’.  Users would continue as they are, posting comments disguised as reviews earning more points with no repercussion and dilute the overall purpose of having user reviews to begin with.


    Possible solutions include:


    Increasing the level a user must be at before being able to post reviews.

    Adding a ‘vote’ function to reviews for users to rate the quality of a review.

    Having the site moderators or staff review a user review prior to putting it on the site for others to read.

    Implement a ‘new user’ subsection that aims to teach new users good practices and fruitful intention within the site comprised of members who volunteer to take on this task.


    On the other hand each of those solutions also brings their own special problems:


     Increasing the level a user must be prior to posting a review does give the user time to become familiar with how reviews are done and experience the feel of the site and its workings, but what it doesn’t do it promote quality in any specific fashion. A user can spend 5 or 6 levels doing nothing more than commenting in forums and never do more than write a sentence at a time in responses to off topic threads and then suddenly reach a point where they can post reviews.


    Adding a ‘vote’ function promotes social cliques and ‘crusaders’ that patrol the site enforcing their own ideas of quality in contrast to what may or may not actually be quality. There’s an elitism that would surface which would at some point create a hostile situation between users. The other problem with voting is that it does nothing to promote quality and only serves to reward or punish based on social popularity and let’s face it – what might be okay to day won’t be tomorrow and vice-versa; social climates can change with the setting of the sun. Coming from a site that uses the vote function I can express through experience that while the vote function can be implemented to enforce objective practices thus intending to increase quality, the influx of new users to a site will not be privy to those ideals as time passes, therefore the community would constantly have to explain ‘rules’ and ‘codes of conduct’ and then members of the community would spend most of their time trying to keep the place clean instead of enjoying it. No one comes here to ‘work’ – they come here to enjoy what the site has to offer and the less time they have to enjoy it, the less they’ll visit and make valuable contributions.


    Having site moderators and staff members review the submitted reviews prior to allowing them post live seems to be the most neutral thing. It keeps users from showing bias towards one another or starting fights, but it also increases the work load of the mods and staff (which I’m sure they’ve enough to do as it is) which then puts them in a position to reprioritize their work. Do they sit and review the slew of user reviews first or do what they were hired to do and produce new articles about the game industry. If they forego reviewing the reviews then it make be days or weeks before user reviews hit the site making the information irrelevant since most gamers will have found the information they hope to gain from reviews elsewhere. This solution is akin to making a bathroom inaccessible unless there are 25 people already in line to use it.


    Creating a ‘newbie corner’ is somewhat denigrating. Partly because people may be new to the site, but aren’t new to games or discussion of games. Forcing them to sit in a pen for X amount of time wouldn’t be very attractive to prospective users. It also adds to the workload of the staff and community to monitor and foster good practices in the new members. While nothing good comes easy and nothing easy is worth keeping, creating work for the same of work is counterproductive.


    How then does a community monitor and enforce good practices without promoting elitism, social support cliques, closing off groups of people from one another, or making them wait in line?


    The best way I can think of to address this growing issue is to allow users to carry on as they are. Still increase the point value for user reviews, but grant powers to the community to have them  removed if they don’t honestly fit the bill. For example:


    User A write a review on a new game. The review isn’t much more than a few comments about how they enjoyed playing it and urging people to go buy it. Clearly this isn’t a review – so if the community is allowed to flag the review as ‘not a review’ an alert could be sent to moderators who then can check it out. If the flag was warranted the review is removed and the points earned get stripped from the review poster and an email warning sent to the poster. In that email is a link to a place that explain what is and is not a review or some kind of review guideline. If the user posts and gets flagged a second time another email is sent with notification that a third flag will have them banned from posting user reviews for 30 or 60 days.

    Now, it’s a bit unjust to give a singular user the power to flag an item for a mod to be alerted in context to this solution, so I think it best to have a mod alert sent when 5 different users or 10 different users flag the review (not flagged 5 or 10 times by the same user).


    It doesn’t keep the user from participating, but it keeps them in check and mindful of posting a review without drastically increasing the workload of the mods and staff…and, without promoting social cliques and elitism.  


    Just an idea…

    CAUTION: Shawn's blog increases the risk of intelligence.

  • Keep in mind, to reach the true pinnacle of user status - Expert or Contributor - you'll need to be consistently good and consistently informative.  Those users will be hand-picked and it isn't that much different than a job interview with site content being the portfolio.  We won't tolerate trash any more than you.

    Also, there is a star rating system for each review/blog, and how many people take notice of that content also counts for something.

    The idea behind the points system is not to say that a comment = a review, but to recognize effort and time spent on the site - plus, we want to emphasize conversations and community interaction more than introverted reviews.

    All that said, your ideas and input is good and very valuable (well formed, too), so I'm not simply saying we will not change or adapt.  We have something similar to your ideas in place for our Guides (where users can rate their helpfulness/validity in the form of a percent) which we are still finalizing.  We could potentially improve our reviews system to do the same.

    As to your "newbie corner" argument, we are not trying to separate anybody.  The elite forums are not there to prevent users from communicating, in fact those forums will likely not even have that many of the major threads that even the "elite" participate in.  But, again, your point is valid and it is impossible to predict how people will react to something like this without testing it out, which is exactly what we're still doing - testing.

    Please feel free to provide further insight and feedback, especially while we are in beta, to help us reach our maximum potential.

  • @Sean,

    I wrote this with the understanding that my relative position give me a rather single faceted view of the site as a whole - I don't see the big picture in the manner that the staff would. I also took special note of "beta" which is part of why I may have come off as forceful in my statements - given that there's room for change and beta phases are usually time oriented I thought I'd make suggestions, irrespective of how much like a manifesto it sometimes feels, and if that was the case - I do apologize about tone and tempo.

    I had a thought about the star rating: I can rate my own review or blog posts as  5 stars and it would remain so if no one else voted it. Obviously the number of stars is an average in the instance of more than one user using it. I'm not going to suggest forcing a user to review, but perhaps indicating the star rating is based on how many rates. It may also encourage users to use the star rating (and maybe outlining the stars with 1px blue would draw more visual attention without being a main focus point)

    Also, I don't want you guys to think that I am trying to edge in the backdoor so to speak - I just think that the site has a lot of potential and just figure that if the idea is good, it might be helpful on a community level

    In any event it's good to know that someone read the suggestion and I'm sure you guys have many things in the works and just as much floating around as ideas. I enjoy the site and find it both practical and helpful.

    CAUTION: Shawn's blog increases the risk of intelligence.

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