Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Commenters; are you ready to be rated?

Mario blogs about a new service calls SezWho. He explains:
SezWho is a first step in a tool that enable an easier way to monitor conversations generated by your community on blogs, based on the reputation of the commenter. And, what’s interesting is that it takes into account not only the reputation of an individual on your blog, but also takes into consideration their behavior across different blog platforms.

How many community managers have had to deal with trolls? I’m sure most community managers’ hands went up when I asked that question. Here’s a first step in letting your own community decide the reputation of such trolls. It’s democratizing the whole process of tracking user feedback on community blogs (which I’ll get into shortly), based on who said it.

The thing about it is, most trolls don't care about their reputation, which is part of what makes them trolls. But to the bigger point, should commenters be rated and their 'reputation' ranked? Not sure I agree, but then again I'm extremely lucky in that all the readers here leave great comments.

Mario also talks about another possible benefit:
Once these comments based on readers ratings, other readers can then sort the comments based on reputation (assigned by readers). This would be useful when I’m trying to read the “best” comments from a blog like TechCrunch, which has 50 - 100 comments on some posts. However, I’m still not sure how the ratings of the raters works.

I think that's a better benefit to readers, but the problem is, with this you won't have the context of the comment. You won't be able to see the post that prompted the supposedly 'good' comment.

So far it looks like this is only available for WordPress and Movable Type blogs.

But would you guys like the ability to rate every comment here? Would you like to see a widget on the sidebar that ranks say the Top 10 commenters by their 'reputation'?

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Anonymous said...

I actually would like to see the ratings of those who leave comments, but as Mario said, the ability for trolls to disparage anyone and everyone is troublesome.

Mack Collier said...

Cam my fear is that it might bring out everyone's competitive side. Like if Blogger A has a ranking of 4.3, and thinks he leaves better comments than Blogger B, which has a 4.9. But in this case, I would go with the feature if it was one the community wanted, as I love anything that puts the focus on readers and commenters, such as the MyBlogLog widget.

 Ryan Karpeles said...

Comments are so versatile, so unique, so timely and so different from post to post.

A rating tries to change all this. It tries to make consistent something that is inherently INconsistent.

The beauty of this space is that it levels the playing field. At any moment, ANYone can say something brilliant. What happens when someone with a rating of 1.3 says something profound? Does it fly under the radar because his or her rating is too low?

If anything, the COMMENT should be rated, but the COMMENTER should not. If people start being assigned numbers based on their commenting history, things could get ugly. The future is what matters. Changing. Adapting. Learning. Growing. Ratings keep up stuck in the past.

If we turn something as beautiful as commenting into a competition, I fear we'll be embarking on a dangerous journey.

(Sorry I deleted the first comment. I forgot to add a few lines :)

Mack Collier said...

And more than that, what if someone says something that doesn't seem that significant at the time, but that shifts the conversation down a completely different, and more exciting path? Often times the best comments are ones that are in response to another comment. Which one is more valuable?

I'm in favor of putting more emphasis on the readers and especially the commenters who contribute to the content created here, but I'm not sure this is the best, or fairest way to do so.

But back to Mario's original point, I can see where it would have some utility at a blog that has 50,000+ visitors a day, as there will likely be a ton of spam/borderline spam comments to wade through to find the good stuff. Just not sure how beneficial this service would be to your standard marketing/business blog.

Anonymous said...

Hm. Interesting points from both of you. Perhaps if users had a designated number of votes to cast per day. Or, perhaps only positive votes would be counted ("42 people have found this comment helpful" vs "1 of 42 people found this comment helpful.").

Or, perhaps voting history can also be reviewed, so that people who leave comments will be held accountable for their voting habits, much like Congress is supposed to be held accountable for theirs.

Instead it seems, as you fear, it might become sort of what happened with the Z-List on Squidoo.

The only way to find out for sure it to try it, though. You can always take it down later, can't you?

Anonymous said...


I'm with you and Ryan on this one. My commenters have a right to be heard without their comments being judged by a rating. I welcome all comments and will let my readers decide those that are relevant to them.

jitendra said...

Great discussion...to restrict the influence of the trolls/spammers or other people of ilrepute, SezWho weights the ratings by the reputation of the participant...This benefits the people who are good members of the community and enables them to exercise more influence.

I tend to disagree with Ryan...In real world whenever you participate in a community, what ever you say, people use that to form an opinion about you...Having a similar mechanism in virtual community builds a similar mechanism of accountability and I think facilitates the discussions.

Mack Collier said...

"In real world whenever you participate in a community, what ever you say, people use that to form an opinion about you...Having a similar mechanism in virtual community builds a similar mechanism of accountability and I think facilitates the discussions."

Again, I can see how this could work for sites like TechCrunch where 50+ comments a post is the norm, but for most blogs that have a core group of regular commenters that mostly know each other, I just don't see the real benefits to the community.

But hey, the big boys can use it, and the rest of us can go with something else, if we want.

J.D. said...

If you want a good microcosm of how "comment rating" works, go take a look at the User Reviews on IMDb. I don't think they work particularly well. Even if there does exist a truly objective way to rank comments, the chances are that the vast majority of readers/bloggers are going to rate with a heavy prejudice, be it based on their own opinions, beliefs, or just simply the fact that someone peed in their Cheerios that morning.

Personally, I see the comments as a rating of ME the blogger, and I see no reason for the people reacting to my stories to have to face any sort of reckoning for their input.

Alan Wolk said...

Mack: Do you remember ePinions?
(I think it's still actually around)

They were hot for a while because it was one of the first sites that let consumers rate products.

But then they started letting people rank the comments and all hell broke loose.

You got more points (I forget exactly how the system worked) if your comment was rated higher and of course all the power users would go around giving each others comments high ratings so the whole thing failed

I see a similar hell for any blog comment rating system

jitendra said...

Another benefit for the commenters is the recognition via the red carpet widget (see it at http://www.sezwho.com/blog).

Also we provide context on the contributors that helps users sort out the good contributors from the bad...See an example for the context widget by hovering on the commenter names on the red carpet widget.

For the raters we weight their ratings based on their reputations and that reputation is based on their participation history and their contribution history (comments/posts and ratings those comments received)