Hardly a day goes by when I don’t come across someone posting on SCN about how they lost points, their content was rejected, they didn’t get points for a post, etc. Each time I typically think “so?!” Probably 80% of the time, the OP persists down the “where are my points?” line of questioning rather than listening to advice, reading the numerous SCN guidelines & blogs suggested and generally just accepting the constructive criticism given to them. (I’ve promised myself I won’t mention good old Hari in this post…) I am sure it is very annoying to lose points – I am struggling to switch to a new S-Number because it will mean I reset back to 1 SCN point, however really my issue is that I will reset back to zero content, which is what really matters here, so I have some empathy with the problem.
Today, I’ve just read this thread by Gaurab Banerji along a similar line. No offence to Gaurab and sorry to single you out like this, it just happens to be the thread I’ve read that has triggered me to quickly write this post – I don’t mean to single you out! There are numerous examples I could have picked, your’s just happened to be in the right place at the right time 😉 I started to reply on that thread but as usual, it grew to be too big so instead (and hopefully so others will read and digest my thoughts) I’ve created this ‘blog post.
My response for these sort of posts
Firstly, lets get some perspective – they are just points. They don’t mean too much and certainly don’t pay the bills or put food on the table. They are the output of a Gamification system – I’ve highlighted the first three letters as they are the key to this, they are short for Game. It’s all about fun…
An underlying principle of any gamification system is to encourage people to do something (that maybe they wouldn’t otherwise do) by adding some sort of incentive, recognition or reward. Here on SCN that mechanism is delivered via the points system linked to content that is created (remember this linkage, as I’ll come back to it later on…)
But lets not forget the whole point (sorry) of SCN isn’t to gain points, it is to collaborate and share knowledge and information. The gamification system is simply a way of encouraging that, to hopefully give a small incentive to people to create and share content with the rest of the community – I’ve acknowledge before that I possibly wouldn’t have started posting as much as I do if it hadn’t been for the revamp of the gamification system last year. The point though (again, sorry) is that I don’t do it for the points, I do it because I want to share and have stuff to say I think others might be interested in (sometimes, maybe I’m right?) The points are a side-effect.
Sometimes, users of SCN can simply misunderstand the point of the site. Gaurab mentions that he posted all of those personal blog entries not to share with all of SCN but just for some specific people – in that case, SCN isn’t the right place for that content. It should go on your company intranet, personal webspace, etc. The whole point of SCN is that content on here is open to anyone. Which leads us back to this post by Laure Cetin from earlier this year. One of the key messages in that post is about the “punishment” side of the gamification system being introduced (Laure calls it accountability – potato/potato 😉 ) and this is where we have that link I mentioned before to focus on – between content and points.
Now, lets take a step back and look at the SCN site as a whole for a minute, lets try to think of it from an admin perspective and focussing on the content, not the points. If you were solely responsible for curating, moderating and managing all of the content on here, would you be happy with duplicate posts, meaningless blog entries, spurious spam postings, repetitive marketing dribble, etc? If this was your own website that you had lovingly and painstakingly built up, adding custom design and guidelines and content, would you be happy if members of your site ignored your house rules?
The link between content and points is an important one and I’d argue (sometimes for, sometimes against) it being responsible for driving the vast amount of content we have here. However everything needs balance. You can’t just expect to receive constantly – sometimes something has to be taken back. The accountability that Laure talks about is key to this, in that people who don’t abide by the rules (whether due to ignorance or intention) are suitably gamified.
Now it’s time to highlight a link that deliberately does NOT exist – the one between points gained and points lost. Gaurab’s unfortunate situation exemplifies this perfectly – just because no points were gained to begin with doesn’t mean you can’t lose points. If this were the case, the accountability driven points loss wouldn’t work in many cases, as newcomers to the site couldn’t lose points they didn’t have. It is a shame for Gaurab to lose these points but I bet it won’t happen again in future – hopefully many others can learn from this mistake and how the system works.
I’ve said before and will say again, accept constructive criticism for what it is; learn from it and grow; use it as an opportunity to gain followers, to refine your content creation and your approach to knowledge sharing. Take it on the chin, move on and don’t lose any sleep over it. There’s no point… 😉