Posted 15 May 2009 - 05:12 PM
Okay, I'm near spent on this topic, having been through these discussions elsewhere several times before. So this will be the last post I intend to make in this thread unless someone asks me a question about something I've said.
More data = good. That's the core of my thoughts on this whole subject. More variations on feedback method = more data = good. Not just for the content creators, but for visitors of the site who are looking for something to watch.
For creators, having more info about what people think of your work is good. I believe that providing the audience a variety of ways to express what they think is the best way to gather the most information. Suppress avenues, you suppress the feedback that travels on those avenues. This site has a good balance of "easy" feedback methods and more advanced ones. The easiest method is showing up to VIEW the video, though that's not technically feedback data but more of a reflection of how successful the creator or the hosting site has been at making their video known. Easy methods = one or two mouse clicks, perfectly suited to the viewer always on the move. A single-click rating system. A way to add a video to one's favorites in a click or two. Plus or Minus ratings on comments themselves, this simple innovation has proven a very effective way of giving power to the viewers to police themselves when comment idiocy arises. Easy all around.
Right on the borderline between easy and advanced would be written comments... because those can kind of be used in either way, a simple "Awesome!" or a more complex critique / review. Advanced methods would be options to add videos to playlists or groups, ability to embed offsite (the act of embedding itself being a form of feedback), etc. For creators, this means one has more info about what people think of your work. One can always ignore a specific type of feedback, or turn off some of the types for their film... it's easy to move from a position of more data to a chosen one of less data. It is impossible to move in the other direction, to create feedback data ex nihilo when you've cut off the collection of it.
Vimeo gathers less data from its viewers, having chosen to allow users less ways of expressing their feedback. After all, their "Like" is really just a "Add to Favorites" with a different label. All their other forms of feedback are analogous to those on other sites, they simply chose to turn off a rating system with degrees. And if we accept that more data = good, well...
Moviestorm had a "Like" button on the old site, it was a Thumb. The new site has a "Like" / "Thumb" - it's now called Add to Favorites. The five-star rating system is an addition to - not a replacement of - the thumb. More data = good.
Now, there comes a point where the data in question bumps up against privacy vs. accountability issues. For example, on YouTube, one can turn on a feature where others can see in real time what you are watching. Here at MS, that kind of feature is turned on with regard to ratings. That was the reason for starting this thread. The new site was obviously designed with a more data = good philosophy, but where more data ceases to be good is when the data in question is something the viewer doesn't want to share about themselves. Offsite examples of this would be Facebook using your personal profile data to sculpt which ads show up for you, or Amazon.com using your shopping / browsing habits to formulate recommendations for you. Here, it's having your name associated with ratings that you give, just like comments.
Me personally, I don't mind people knowing what ratings I give. In fact, if that data were harnessed properly, it could eventually evolve into a Contact-Referral system that even exceeds Vimeo's functionality in that regard. Wouldn't it be nice if the site could aggregate into a meaningful form not just what your Friends liked, but with degrees to convey the level of enthusiasm with which they liked it?
But maybe some people prefer the idea of rating in private, a secret ballot of sorts. It's less data, but if the collection of that additional data feels invasive to people, then more data ceases to be good.
So that's really what we need to voice an opinion on here, that's what's on the table for possible change. Ratings themselves, they can be examined or ignored, they can be turned on or turned off, they are an addition of function not a replacement of one. It's whether or not ratings should have nametags, that's what needs determining. The site can absolutely be modified to accommodate a consensus. It's not a quick and easy mod, but it's doable, Yolisa has made that clear. But there is no impetus to action on such a time-consuming task when there's no clarity from us on what we think on this issue.
I entered into this discussion wholly on the side of privacy (even though I've never minded my own ratings being known); but some folks have made a good case for accountability, and I'm finding that I've been persuaded in favor of keeping the functionality. The data of who rates what is going to be present anyway, whether or not it's made available for us to see is the question. I'm going to go ahead and say, I think yes, we should see it, I think it's valuable to creator and fellow viewer alike. How about you?