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Top Contributors in Communities on Lunch

A ranking of the Top Contributors in Communities on Lunch.

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Getting to the Top

  • Jul 3, 2010
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As communities grow more and more on Lunch, one things that's becoming amusing is watching as Top Contributors begin to work their way up the community ranks.  Now, I don't know about you, but I don't particularly see the community ranks as a bad thing.  If anything they can be encouraging in the same way that rankings on websites sometimes can be.  Let's not mince words here... people like to receive recognition.  It's human nature.  When we do good... we like to know we did good.  It's why giving someone three thumbs may mean a lot to them... even if you don't comment.  It's just one of those reinforcing things that let us know we're doing a good job.  Or that at least someone thinks we're doing a good job.  We enjoy this and there's no shame in admitting that you feel good being recognized for doing a good job.  That's just how we as human beings are.

There are, of course, bad things to ranking as well.  And we'll get to that later on.  Let's talk about the positive stuff.  Ranking, of course, is based in two ways.  The first is how much you contribute to a particular community.  The second is how many thumbs up you get.  Particularly for writing a helpful review.  You've no doubt seen those thumbies at the bottom of every review. 

Here's how rankings can be a good thing.  They give you an idea of how good of a job you're doing.  Sometimes it's helpful because it gives you a sense of how well you're able to write or, at the very least, connect with people.  As of writing this, I've got several high ranks in a few communities and under a few tags.  For those who helped me get there... thanks a ton, you will not be forgotten.  On the other hand, it can also serve as a motivating means to better your writing.  This is a double-edged sword of course.  Sometimes the reason you're not raking in a lot of helpful votes or what have you comes more from the fact that your review either gets buried or you're just not that well known from the outset.  You're apt to garner more helpful votes and feedback if you start rating and commenting other peoples work.  Typically when you do, many of those whom you supported will return the favor. 

On the other hand, for some it just MIGHT be motivation to do better.  Or to get more involved on the site.  It can either be like a pay raise (for looking at it in a positive light) or as a dangling carrot to a horse on a tread mill (for a more negative light).  Either way, sometimes it's motivating.  And sometimes it's what you have to do to get people to want to do better and get involved.  I'm actually quite serious.  If you look at it from this point of view, someone who logs in and sees that he's rank 140 when he or she knows he or she is a better writer than the guy at rank 50... it just might help.  That sounds terrible to say.  In some respects it IS terrible, but it's motivating nonetheless.  Other times it isn't even like that.  Other times rising in the ranks only serves for the reviewer to reaffirm that they really CAN do it when they may or may not have been so sure that they could in the first place. 

In the long run, of course, ranking doesn't mean much of anything.  If you love to review... you do it.  Regardless of what your ranking means.  Ranking doesn't even mean whether or not you're actually good at it or not.  This is where I get a little miffed by Lunch's "Top Contributor" system.  It's not exactly about being "good" all the time.  It's also about how fast you can pump out reviews.  This has caused some members of any particular community to take the rankings a bit too seriously.  Because why worry about the quality of your review to get high in the rankings when you could easily just write 400 or so quick reviews and get yourself up there?  This is where the small problem with rankings comes in.  When people take the rankings too seriously and get too competitive they forget that we're ALL contributors and we're ALL working to build the communities and the site as a whole. 

When I write a review... I like to give it my all.  I like to put in as much effort as I can possibly put into what it is I provide for my audience.  As far as I'm concerned, it takes a lot of work and effort to write a good review.  The quality of that particular review will always be voted on by you.  So far I've written some pretty good things according to the community (The Art of Reviewing, Avatar, Toy Story 3) but I've also written reviews that I think are fine reviews that may only have one vote.  Either effort is fine with me, but I'm not particularly comfortable with this idea that members who take the rankings too seriously decide to game the system by going the "Quantity equals quality," route. 

It's hard to tell what has a bigger impact on your ranking.  The number of reviews you write, or how many helpful votes you get.  I've written less than 300 reviews but have garnered over 2600 helpful votes.  That's a lot of work and a lot of contributions.  But someone with fewer votes but twice as many reviews might rank higher.  It's just hard to tell what you're being given more credit for... and how the system is balancing these two things. 

There are two types of people in the world.  Qualitative and Quantitative people.  Qualitative people (such as myself) are much more concerned about the quality of your work.  It's why I like Lunch's thumb system.  Because you can give more or fewer thumbs based on how helpful the review was or not.  Quantitative people typically tend to be more concerned with how MUCH you can do... not exactly how well.  I don't dislike the Quantitative approach.  I just don't like the idea that those who work hard on their reviews are overshadowed because someone just happened to be able to pump out MORE reviews.  More doesn't always mean that the review is an awesome review.  And yes, you WILL get votes.  Of course, you will.  It's pretty standard stuff.  The more you review the more apt someone is to read it.  You'll eventually garner votes because someone has to stumble on your writing eventually.  That's how most of us became known around the site to begin with.  Again, it says little about how well the review was written.  So yes, you do have members who move up not because they did good... but because they were able to pump out more.

In some ways I can understand this approach.  We are, after all, talking about contributing.  Not "Who is the one who can get the most votes."  It's not that sort of thing.  And that's why I can deal with it.  I just think that if you're going to rank contributions it's got to be about making an effort on those contributions rather than simply contributing.  I could easily write 800 reviews... all of them four words long.  I'm confident enough that doing something like that wouldn't fare well on the site (likewise, if it were just four words... they'd be better suited for quick tips) but you can sort of see the animosity I have toward this, "If you can pump out a ton of reviews you'll be rewarded for it." 

There are problems with the Qualitative approach too, however.  That being that what one person deems to be "remarkably" helpful or what one deems to be real thought provoking may not exactly be seen the same way by another member.  On the other hand, the biggest problem with the Qualitative approach is also that, for the most part, people rate your review based on whether or not they agree with you more so than the helpfulness of that particular review.  On Lunch it's not really all that bad.  But I have had a moment or two where someone decided I deserved a thumbs down not because what I wrote was bad... but because what I wrote was something they didn't agree with.  It happens.  I still think that's better than pumping a billion reviews to game the system, but it's only to say that the voting aspect is less problematic than the, "If I write 450 reviews I'll rank in the top 5 for sure!"

I do enjoy the ranking system.  Obviously rankings aren't that important.  If only because they still don't say a lot about the quality of what you do.  It's nice, however, because it gives you an idea of how well you're doing in some cases.  Because that qualitative part does actually come out.  If you've got 700 reviews and only 1300 votes for example... well, you might be high up because of how much you've produced, but someone with only 100 reviews and over 2000 votes will still rank higher, for the most part.  As I said... the problem isn't actually that you can get higher through writing a billion reviews... it's actually more based on the fact that the balance is unknown.  It actually is about both.  I don't want to keep sounding like it isn't.  I'm just unsure which is more important in the long run to your ranking.  It can be a good motivating tool... it's just a wonder as to what respect you'll be motivated.

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July 04, 2010
I think that we should keep the thumbs, kudos, and compliments, but remove the whole ranking system. The site's goal is to bring people together using their similarities as well as their distinctions. This can be done through mutuality, diversity, but ultimately through equality. You can't have a ranking system without caste, and that violates the very concept of equality. I think getting credit for your contributions is essential, but encouraging competition is contrary to egaliatarianism and defeats the entire purpose. I've been on numerous sites where they've used ranking and this has been an issue on all of them.

Firstly, because when competition in any of its forms is promoted, people cheat. They post reviews from other sites that weren't theirs, they set up ghost accounts to vote on themselves, and they systematically give negative votes and flag others as spam based upon their placement in the ranking system. It's counter-productive.
Finally, the people who are here because they love to write aren't going to care about some number next to their names. What they want to see is that people are reading their content and giving them intelligent and hopefully heartfelt responses. Numbers are soulless and have no greater meaning in this context. We're not here to form a structured community with certain members holder greater influence than others, but to communicate with everyone and show everyone that we appreciate their creativity.
July 05, 2010
For your first paragraph, you do have a point. But you have to remember, it is oftentimes human nature to seek out some reward for their hard work. So while I believe that any ranking system will be flawed in the long run, it remains to be seen if its isn't necessary. In a site like this, people need motivation. Also, how can the site categorize the list of reviewers? Ranking isn't bad as long as it is watched over and not promote caste. I do think number of reviews should be put against number of hits. If you have 300 reviews but no one reads them, why advance in rank?

I for one, is all for "number of hits" because like I said, not everyone votes. I think this should be included. I know a site where a reviewer has been there since 2008 and only got over 1000 hits while someone who works hard and has been there for almost three weeks got almost 600 hits.

Rhodes brought up a great analysis; happy he did it.
July 06, 2010
When you say hits, what do you mean?
July 06, 2010
I think you've got awesome comments, but to add... all the things you listed can happen even without a ranking system.  It depends on how many people use the site and to what they think they're competing against.  Certainly the rankings can encourage people to compete and such (and sometimes competition DOES bring people together) but that doesn't mean Lunch put them there so that their members would.  A members motivation to review is their motivation.  When i first joined Lunch it's not like they then sent me a message, "Now let's see how awesome you can get... GO!"  No, I never felt like Lunch was ever "encouraging" me to review based on that.

As I said, if it weren't rank I'm positive people would find other ways to compete.  Competing is just one of those things human beings like to do.  Whether it's an argument (people like to "win" arguments) in the comments or trying to see who can produce the biggest number of content or get the most hits.  Those are three competitions that would happen regardless of whether a ranking system was in place or not. 

As far as "cheating" goes, though... if ranking doesn't matter, then I don't really think I'd be too bothered by someone cheating to boost his numbers either.  If they want to do that for boosting their hits there's not much I can say.  If ranking doesn't matter then I don't think the hits would really matter either.  Again, taking away the ranking system you'd probably still see that.  But even then... if someone cheated to boost their numbers on Lunch I'd probably laugh more than get upset.  We're not playing a sport, rigging an awards show or doing some write ups for the Newspapers and Magazines.  We're just a bunch of people who got together on a website that allows us to post reviews.  If someone "gamed" it I'd be more likely to laugh.  Because it's LUNCH for god's sake, not exactly a website where the stakes matter.

Do I care about the number next to my name?  Nope.  But I certainly don't mind that it's there.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment knowing that I wrote something somebody liked (at least to some degree).  I don't think there's anything wrong with motivating people.  But I think you have to understand that people like numbers.  As "soulless" as they are.  But we like many soulless things.  Toys, Computers... Megan Fox (bad joke time over now). 

But as far as "greater" influence is concerned... that also happens regardless.  When I first came back in March of 2009 I would've been an idiot (or very clueless) not to notice Woopak's influence.  He'd have it if a rank weren't there too.  Individuals can influence a site and it doesn't take ranking to do that either.  Sometimes people become influential on a site and they don't ask for it and others want to be so you start to see them everywhere.  Not sure which category Woopak falls in, but I like being a bit more laid back at times.  I've probably complimented hundreds of reviews but left no comment.  Sometimes I just have nothing to say.

So I can agree that rank encourages, but I think it's important to understand that this kind of behavior can be encouraged by other factors and that the individual reviewer is the one who takes something and runs with it.  Again, it's not like Lunch said, "Your job is to compete with one another."  If it happens (as it will anyway, regardless) it happens.  But I'm almost certain that several members, like myself, just come here because they have fun being here (and for me that's A LOT to say about an online community, HUGE step forward for me).

I think the only thing I disagree about is why people come here who love to write.  Call me a pessimist, but for me personally that has little to no motivating merits for me to be here.  Some of it (in the short passage you provided) might be factors... I'm not sure.  That's really not important at this time, however.  I can only say that for me personally... no I'm too pessimistic about that aspect of it. 
July 06, 2010
When has competition ever been a good thing? Cooperation and collaboration are positives, but not in the long history of the human race have I ever seen a single example of competition causing anything other than the belief in one individual or group's belief in their own superiority over another.

Without the ranking, I don't think that people would necessarily find something else to be competitive about. Arguments are put forth not in attempt to be the winner so that the other person will become the loser, but arguments are part of our fundamental nature to find mutuality with another person and to share our perspectives in the hope that one day, as a human race, we can collectively experience more than what our singular worldview would allow for. It's simply a necessity for our continual emotional, spiritual, and intellectual evolution. In that regard, conflict is good because it teaches us to be more accepting and to allow our perception of reality to grow, as well as keeping us intuitive and reflexive so that we can adapt.

On a lighter, and far less philosophical note, since when do you like Megan Fox?! LOL!
July 06, 2010
Sometimes competition has caused us to build some great things, you know.  I think you and I are looking at it in two very different ways.  To me, for example, competition is about winning or being the best, it's about using it as a means to better yourself.  Sometimes it can do that.  It isn't always about being "better" to me.  But sometimes it has helped me do better.  I'm not actually competing with anyone here, but I most certainly wouldn't be the writer I am today without it. 

I have a buddy that I've been friends with for about thirteen years now, and we used to see who could write and get more responses to his stories (the internet was fairly new to us back then) and we took it to one of those fanfic websites (we were pretty damn young, I can't stand fanfiction to save my life now).  Even then it wasn't about "superiority," it was actually a friendly grind with someone I knew when it happened.  We both became better writers as result, I think.  I guess I fail to see how bettering ourselves through out of our pitiful competition is bad.  We had a similar grind on Amazon.com, but then he left.  We're still friends we don't think any one of us is better than the other either.  I think he's a very talented writer.  I don't actually care if he's "better" than me or not.  But we did compete and we turned out just fine.  That's on a personal level, though.

Other than that, I think competition has sometimes made people create good things.  Without someone deciding to compete against the Super Nintendo there's no Sega Genesis, for instance... and that means there'd be no Sonic, Vectorman, Shinobi games etc., to give you a gaming analogy.  Gamers would've had in a word... no other choices... in that particular competition it isn't about who came out on top it's more about the fact that it opened up the world to gaming beyond Nintendo at the time and allowed gamers to explore so much more.  Going deeper in the gaming analysis the competition between the cartridge or the disc allowed us to find out that using the disc format allowed for more space and smoother textures (not to mention multiple discs) and it allowed game developers to be more innovative because they suddenly realized they could also save money to be more creative in what they did.  If no one had decided to compete against the cartridge... it might've been a long time before gaming EVER progressed forward... and gamers would've had to suffer through fewer choices.  That's not to say negative consequences didn't come about.  The home market for gaming lead to the decrease (and nearly the death of) the gaming arcade.  Other times we've gotten some good games.  Without Mario, as I said, there's no Sonic.  They don't really compete anymore (except in various mini-game collections) but the whole concept of Sega creating a gaming system in the first place was to compete against Nintendo.  It's not exactly a very GOOD example, but at the moment it was the first one that came to mind. 

Another example might be literature.  If someone didn't think they could do better than someone else, you might not have some of the nifty stories you read.  Although you sometimes get something worse (James Patterson thinking he could best J.K. Rowling, for example) that doesn't mean that nothing positive ever came of competition.  And sometimes when competing we're not always inclined to think about being better.  Sometimes it's just for the fun of doing it.  And whoever comes on top just comes out on top and the guy who doesn't isn't usually bothered.  At least I've seen many cases where one isn't bothered and another doesn't feel empowered.  And sometimes it's quickly forgotten.  Again, I'm not talking about giant corporations (though I guess with the Sega vs. Nintendo I am) I'm talking about on a small scale in most cases.  Gaming is just one example I know works because without the competition there's no innovation and nothing that pushes the entertainment value forward.

Without ranking, I think people WOULD find other ways to compete, though.  It doesn't mean it WILL happen, but it has.  Remember when "Myspace Whoring" was a fad?  Seeing who could get the most friends?  Or the most blog views?  No ranking there, but competition still ensued for those who wanted to get in on it. 

And sometimes friends like to have competition.  Like me and my friend when we grinded on Amazon.  Caused us to want to better our writing skills.  He doesn't write for Amazon anymore, though we have talked about collaborating on reviews here on Lunch if he ever wants to get back in the game.  And if he wanted to do a friendly competition I'd probably shrug my shoulders and say okay. 

On the lighter note... I'm actually not a fan of Megan Fox, I just know that's a name that grabs peoples attention, LOL.
July 06, 2010
LOL! Dropping Fox's name in a conversation is probably a good tactic for distracting your opponent more than getting their attention, but I see your point. You online still? I wanted to talk with you about that writing project with Adrianna.
July 06, 2010
Yeah I'm still on and around.
July 04, 2010
Very nice job! Sheesh! Someone told me before that the rankings are motivated by human instinct to be narcissistic LOL! But it should only be a driving factor to make yourself write better. I agree with you, for me it should be quality over quantity. I really wouldn't care much if the ranking system wasn't there but I admit, it is necessary to get some folks motivated at times. You should see EPINIONS, those people do not mess around, they have leads and advisors to get you to write better. I was a top 300 reviewer in amazon (at 209) when I left; I didn't care about the rank but I cared about the fun and comments.

I've seen people do "express" reviews with 2 sentences as paragraphs and then place it nicely where it will get votes. I hope the site make adjustments on "minimum words". As Yoda said: "There is no try...either you do or you don't."

I sure hope that people do get more honest in the way they leave the thumbies, sometimes it can be a double edged sword; some vote to be nice, some vote negatively because they don't agree and some just don't want to see you advance--me, I vote 3 whenever I haven't heard of the thing being reviewed. I do what I do for fun and if I entertain some folks then I am happier. I'll be happy with just "number of hits" even without the ranks.

The ranks in the site react to how you also make wiki's and stuff. It depends on how active you are; but number of votes and reviews play a heavier factor. I do hope the site begins to assign advisors; I guess in a way the community founders/ambassadors are almost like 'advisors'.

Great Review! Keep them coming!
July 05, 2010
I'm just curious as to how it all balances out.  I don't like the idea that the guy who writes 700 reviews but only gets around 800 thumbs per review (that's barely ONE thumb per review... so the guy isn't even getting three thumbs... and if he is it means a good deal of his reviews have no votes at all!) can get way up there. 

Also, like you said, some people don't vote.  And, of course, most of us lost votes when certain members left. 

I don't think ranking is a bad thing.  I just wish there was more balance.  I get that it's top contributors.  I just don't understand the balancing act the site is trying to pull.  Let's also not cut hairs here... some people just stop contributing after a while.  But they hold on top of where they are because of their previous contributions.
July 06, 2010
I am with you of course. There needs to be a balance, or a # of reviews to thumb ratio. I know I lost more than 3000 votes when three of our friends left but that is alright. But it is also a good thing that they keep how the ranks are done under wraps since if folks found out, some would cheat; believe me, they caught a couple. I am all for # of hits other than actual votes.
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Top Contributors in Communities on Lunch are the most helpful and active people within their Community. The Top Contributor rank is calculated by both the quality and quantity of a wide variety of activities on within the Community.

To view Top Contributors in a Community, locate the Top Conbributors box on the right side of the community home page.  At the bottom, click on "see all" and on that page, Top Contributors can be sorted by all-time and this week.
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