Saturday, 30 May 2009

omg You're Like Such A Loser: Competition & Curating Your Community

I love Tumblr. Maybe it's because I work in a creative field where visual design is so integral, but discovering the tumblr community has been a blast. To some extent, it's my own personal image/txt/video repository. A snap shot of things I have found and loved. I actually think if someone wants to get to know me without meeting me on a more emotional level, my Tumblr site is the place to go.

A few weeks ago, Tumblr introduced something they called Tumblarity. Tumblarity, simlar to popularity, is a rating system that tells you where you are in relationship to other Tumblr logs as far as how many followers you have, how many people have reblogged or liked your Tumblr posts. etc.

Ok. I get it. They want us to use it more. They want us to start getting all competitive and trying to get our Tumblr site higher up on the top 100 list. But here's my problem. Competition has nothing to do with Tumblr. In fact, I would say it's more of a sharing community.

The Yahoo pattern library (h/t to Craphammer) on community says it like this:

"When a new or existing community requires a reputation system, the designer must pay careful consideration to the degree of competitiveness the community ought to exhibit. Haphazardly introducing competitive incentives into non-competitive contexts can create problems and may cause a schism within the community."

When competition is introduced into a sharing community what you are trying to achieve may have the opposite affect. In the case of Tumblr, I've noticed people are reblogging less and I sometimes just feel like a loser when my Tumblarity goes from 100 to 10 over night. This hasn't added to my experience at all and I for my part just try to ignore it.

The lesson? Know the dynamics of the community you are curating. And create features and functionality that will support it vs. distract from it.

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