Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What's the best rating system for social content?

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Some time ago (probably over 2 years ago), our internal blogging system changed their rating mechanism. Now, instead of giving 1-5 stars to a particular entry, you could only give it a star or not. In other words, we went from having 6 choices, to two choices (to give or not to give a star).

At the time the decision was explained with some internal metrics.. basically, a "big majority" of people were rating content with 5 stars or none at all. It was mostly a binary decision.

More and more this decision has been validated by other social networking providers like Facebook and YouTube. Several months ago, Facebook added the ability to 'Like' a post, thus giving users a binary decision.. Either you like it or not.

Now, it looks like YouTube is looking to abandon this 5-star rating system. As posted in their blog:

Great videos prompt action; anything less prompts indifference.

I think that's how I feel most of the time. It's not whether or not I like the content. It's whether the content is really worth recommending to others or it was so good that it deserved "a reward". Plus having a 5-star rating system gives me too many choices (specially if you can do stuff like 3.5, 4.5, etc). It really requires some thinking to decide between a 4, 4.5 or 5. That's why I like the "binary" rating systems better. It's easy. It's fast.

Still, I see a lot of Enterprise 2.0 RFPs asking for a 5-star rating system. I wonder if that's a hard requirement or just based on what the RFP writers see out there. And wonder if this requirement will soon start disappearing.

How about you? Do you like 5-star rating systems? Or do you prefer binary rating systems? Or perhaps trinary rating systems such as Digg/Bury/No action, Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down/No Action? Does it matter if it's inside the firewall vs outside?

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