Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A note on community SPAM - There are better ways to get feedback in today's Web 2.0 world

Tonight, I opened up a line of communication with some members of our community, those who had participated in our latest Hawaii competition.

In the last couple of competitions, we have noticed a trend of a small group of competitors who thought it might be useful to use the messaging system within the community to write a canned message to everyone soliciting votes and feedback on their own competition entry.

This post is a comment on that practice.

Basically, this practice is SPAM. Not that there is any iron-clad definition of SPAM, but in this case, the message sent out has been one of impersonal, copy/paste, verbiage aimed at the most base form of communication. A basic example:

"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"

Since this is the age of Web 2.0, everyone's communication is open for everyone else to see, and therefore unlike email, everyone can see you SPAMMING. For this reason, the effect that this behavior has can easily be to turn others away from you, your work, and your desired feedback.

"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"

.....I hope you can see my point.

Though we currently permit this form of inner community SPAM (in the interest of community self-regulation), it is not beneficial for a designer or his score. I would like to suggest a different tactic, and I would ask each competitor to try it earnestly.

1) Make a value added comment on someone's work, and then
2) ask them to respond by commenting on your design.
Note: Your comment for them ought to be specific, insightful, well thought out, and something ACTIONABLE. Any thing else (even simple praise) is, more often than not, discounted heavily.

Basically, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained". If you help someone else meaningfully, they are far more likely to respond to you and to give you honest critique. Try it and I guarantee you will like the response.



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