Online Communities – Recognizing and Rewarding Participation through Reputation

Reputation, gamification, badges and rewards are all hot topics these days, especially in the context of online communities. By recognizing and rewarding community participation, you foster a valuable cycle of engagement. Your customers, partners, prospects and even employees create content (ask questions, start discussions, share thoughts via blog posts, build collaborative information in wikis, upload documents, photos and videos, etc.) that others within the community view, rate, like, comment on, download, subscribe, tag and share.

You must recognize the authors of this content so that they develop a reputation on specific topics and in groups or micro-communities within the broader community. With this recognition, they will be motivated to create more content. And so the cycle continues. Then other community participants will see the recognition that these content creators are receiving, and as a result, they will jump into creating content as well.

Not only do you build your knowledge base quicker than you ever could by just relying on internal resources, but you also create a very high quality source of answers and support. This content can be appropriately targeted to each new prospect, partner or customer who uses your product or service to increase conversion. If your community is public, you reach a new and broader audience via search. How exactly? Watch as answers in your community start to bubble to the top of search results for the topics most prevalent within your community.

Underlying all these benefits is Telligent’s dynamic reputation engine. Put simply, it assigns a value to every piece of content within the community – from blog posts to wiki pages – as well as any custom application built on the platform. Scores are calculated based on how community participants interact with the content (e.g. liking and commenting). Community managers have control over the weight each interaction has on the score, as well as how quickly the score for each type of content declines over time.

We use dynamic content scores in many ways within online communities:

  1. Provide answers. When people search for specific topics within the community, the highest quality content shows first. This helps people find answers or the information they need to make an important decision quickly.
  2. Recognize authors. At both the group level and the community level, the reputation engine rolls up the score for each piece of content a person has authored in order to showcase group expertise and top contributors. 


  3. Keep the community clean. The community uses each individual’s overall quality score as an input into the abuse management system, which reduces costs by distributing the moderation load across all community participants. (I will share further details about Telligent’s abuse management capabilities in another blog post coming soon.)

One of the beauties of the Telligent solution is that you can expand on these capabilities to address a wide range of needs that may be unique to your online community. You can add new ways of rolling up dynamic content scores to reward and recognize. You can add new interactions that weigh in on what quality means. And the use of reputation within your community is not limited to just earned expertise:

  • Assigned. You can assign permissions and badges to individuals or groups of people who have a specific role to play within the community. For example, employees are uniquely identified and can see private content that your customers, prospects and partners cannot see.
  • Self-Identified. You can empower your community participants to self-identify their unique expertise. Members can showcase their area of expertise on their user profiles which enables them to be found by people who are interested in or searching for specific topics.
  • Earned Engagement. You can encourage the interactions that have the most impact on your business objectives by using our points system.

Reputation can be used in myriad ways to drive the quantity and quality of content, feedback and social engagement. I encourage you to experiment with the different forms of reputation to determine which is the most effective for growing and evolving your online community.

[Gold Compass image source:] Big Stock Photo