These are just my fairly sparse notes and commentaries.
It is very different designing for multi way communication systems like Social Web sites than the traditional one way or two way communication approaches.
Josh highlights 5 key rules to getting it right:
1. The Del.icio.us Lesson
Everyone was talking about tags. But in reality the user’s weren’t using it for the the folksonomy, but about saving bookmarks.
“Personal value precedes network value.”
You have to provide a valuable service even if no one else uses it. This makes sure that people start creating content and come back. The social aspects build on top of that and not the other way around. YouTube and Flickr are also great examples of this.
2. Tie Behavior to Identity
Josh gives an example of 2 different Amazon reviews with one person using real name and other made up. The real name is more trusted. So make sure that the things your users do are tied back to them.
The Ebay Feedback Profile is a great example. The whole thing is tied to a users behavior, they manage this without users using a real name only screen names.
3. Give recognition
It’s important to recognize and award your top users, to give further encouragement for users to interact.
Classic example were Digg’s Top Diggers page. This was eventually removed as top diggers essentially kept digging each others stories. This was good for early growth, but not all that good when they had a large user base.
“Recognition seems to work better when it comes from the group and isn’t permanent.”
To avoid Digg’s situation it is important that your algorithm puts priority on new contributions.
Threadless is good at ensuring this by having set end dates.
4. Show Causation
Netflix are great at this. Show effect of what actions. Do this explicitly.
Basically spell out what your users need to do to get benefits of the site.
5. Leverage Reciprocity
Make the interaction itself rewarding.
“Why do people leave reviews?”
First response from many people in interviews are “I like to help people”, but dig down and you find that people are interested in other aspects such as “I like to see how many people read my reviews” etc.
They are not just giving, but receiving a lot in return. Some of this is the input of other users, but also
LinkedIn: Very high percentage of people who you review review you back.
Top Amazon reviewer Harriet Clausner has reviewed 14000 books. 7 books a day. While Amazon doesn’t expire reputation, it is putting more and more emphasis on high quality revies.
Josh has a new book coming out called “Designing for the social web”. I’m sure it will be a worthwhile read. He also twitters at bokardo