We're Working on a Couple of Things

Here are the projects that we are currently working on:

Helfpul Vote Changes

Based on a lot of excellent feedback, we are making some important, structural changes to how we manage helpful votes.

One of the issues that I currently see with the helpful vote system is that there is only one tool to acknowledge a review. A review is posted by your friend, and your only option to indicate that you appreciate the review is to mark it "helpful."

In the world of RateItAll, "helpful" has come to mean all sorts of things. It has come to mean "I agree," it has come to mean "lol," it has come to mean "I love you man," and it has come to be a simple acknowledgement of "I read your review."

In other words, "helpful" has lost its meaning.

So, one of the things that are we are working on is to make it so there are three acknowledgement options for any review:


This will give vote givers a way to be more precise in what their review acknowledgement means, and will give vote receivers a way to get more specific feedback. It should also start to put meaning back in the word "helpful."

Of course, the lack of tools has not been the only issue involved in the abuse of the helpful button. Some folks have flat out abused it - giving helpfuls to their friends, regardless of the content of the review, and not giving helpfuls to folks that aren't their friends, regardless of the content of the review.

So, unfortunately, we are also working on adding a tool that will let us remove vote giving priviliges for those that abuse the tool. This tool will be used sparingly, and only with the goal of ensuring that folks act in good faith in awarding helpful votes.

Finally, we are getting rid of the not helpful votes. I have long resisted getting rid of the not helpful button, as I felt that it was necessary to retain a why to indicate disapproval of a review. I know that there are some of you that still feel this way now.

However, there IS a tool to express disapproval - the commenting tool. If a review rubs you the wrong way enough to make you want to take action, you are more than welcome to comment on the review and indicate exactly why. No longer will there be anonymous "trolls" dropping unhelfpuls with no explanation or reason given. We're going to try it this way and see how it goes.

Home Page

The second major project that we're working on is a revamping of the home page. I don't know about you guys, but the big yellow block of real estate on the home page sort of bugs me. We're making too much of an effort to explain what the site is about, as opposed to SHOW what the site is about.

In the coming weeks, you're going to see some changes to the home page with an emphasis on providing all sorts of fresh content that shows what's hot on the site at any given time - most active raters, hottest lists by category, hottest items, etc. I think it's going to be pretty cool.

Stay tuned.


  1. Good luck on the revamp; I know it can't allieve everything (that's up to the participants more than anything else), but here's to hoping that it'll do some good!

  2. So when does the funniest reviewer list go up?

  3. First we need to add the "funny?" buttons. Hopefully, that will be today.

  4. How about a feature to edit testimonials?

  5. Yep, that's something we should have.

    Also, we've run into some issues with the helpful / funny / agree - eta is mid next week.

  6. Hey Lawrence, both are good ideas. The look and feel of the homepage seams to be really important in this competitive environment. I hope you find the right way to display all the features that the site offers....

  7. Here are my thoughts.

    This is an idea with some merit, although I'd suggest two things.

    Firstly, add a disagree button, which would enable that to be registered without the nebulous "unhelpful" connotation.

    Secondly, scrub all existing helpfuls, and start everyone from scratch. While this would probably provoke a mini-orgy of reposting, it would at least serve to level the playing field, at least to start with.

  8. In terms of disagree, I'm thinking that I'll let folks "man up" and use the comments section.

    And did you really say "start from scratch?" I think I'd have to go into hiding, as I would be a marked man.

    We're definitely going to do a pretty thorough audit of existing helpfuls, that may involve capping those that have abused things... that's about as close to a restart as I'd feel comfortable with though.

  9. My thought is that "disagree" unlike "unhelpful" is clear, and could serve as a quick feedback. After all, "disagree" does not mean "you're a jerk" although undoubtedly some people will see it that way.

    Yeah, I said "Start from Scratch." I can imagine that it would cause some grief, and probably not just to you. Oh well, its a thought....

    And do you mean "capping" as in "pop a cap in his ass"..... LOL

  10. No caps in anybody's asses. Although we took a careful look at this as a disciplinary tool, our lawyer determined that it could be seen as excessive.

    I'm talking caps, as in ceilings. So we (I) might pull an arbitrary number out of the air for the max number of helpfuls that a single person could have reasonably given to another person by this date, and vaporize all other helpfuls (from that invididual, to that individual). On a going forward basis, we'd have the loss of voting privileges penalty for the abusers. I'm going to get this thing under control one way or another.

  11. Typical lawyers, messing up a perfectly simple solution.....

    Seems like a reasonable enough way to go about things, although the thought of the chaos and breastbeating when several hundred thousand helpfuls vaporized gives me cynically gleeful amusement.

    I can see where you might not share that opinion though.....

  12. It's really interesting to look at the data. For the most part, for any reviewer, the distribution of where the helpful votes came from is pretty similar. It's a standard distribution, driven by how active the vote giver and receiver are. But in a few cases, there are some MASSIVE outliers. The purpose of this exercise - we'll call it the "cap in your ass" exercise - would be to normalize this distribution, and try and bring the impact of the outliers into the range of normal distribution.

    Who knew there would be so much math involved in this job?

  13. Since my helpfuls almost doubled since January, I expect I've been the recipient of some of the abnormal distribution.

    I'll be curious, and more than slightly relieved, to see it corrected.

  14. To further comment on the concept of a "disagree" button:

    While it may be an interesting idea to have reviewers "man up" and use the comment section, this is likely to lead very quickly to flame wars, particularly with some of the more volatile reviewers. For example, if reviewer A leaves a review. Reviewer B disagrees, and leaves a comment saying "I disagree". Reviewer A then leaves a comment demanding an explanation. Reviewer B replies that he has made his opinion clear in other reviews and he isn't interested in a debate. Reviewer A calls reviewer B a cowardly dog, and so on and so on and so on. A disagree button, on the other hand allows a simple registration of opinion, without the likelihood of being bullied. And lets not pretend that there aren't a few bullying reviewers on here.

    Second point: To "get control of this thing one way or the other" why not have a click down menu that shows which reviewers clicked "helpful" "funny" or "agree." If that process was transparent, then it might well limit the "Bulk rating" tendency that some reviewers have.

  15. I'm all for transparency, but I think it's less important if the only votes will be positive (helpful, funny, agree). In this scenario, I worry about public back scratching... we see a lot of that as it is, I think it would be counterproductive.

    I'm not against a "disagree" button - in fact, I'm one of the few that LIKES the not helpful button. But with three buttons down there already, it becomes sort of a clutter issue.

    I'd like to try out the positive vote only + comment option and see how it works out.

  16. Don't think that adjusting to the Helpful, Agree and Funny format will be all that inconvenient.

    Have already started going back to my earlier ratings and, where 'Funny' or 'Agree' are more apt than 'helpful,' have begun making changes.

    Who knows, maybe this will eventually remove from the RIA scene the competition in showing the rest who among us is more deserving or popular ('helpful').

  17. I will state this for the record:

    I was trying to be funny all along. If you think something of mine is funny, go change your vote, even if it costs me the most helpful spot. I'd rather be funny in most cases...

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