Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The temptation of one star.

No, I don't have any juicy confessions of a one star rater, but I have a good idea what's going on in their head. If you don't frequent the Second Life Classified forums then you probably have no idea what I'm talking about at this point. Since the ability to reply to product threads in the classifieds was taken away, people have resorted to "rating" the threads anonymously. A five star rating means excellent and then it's downhill until you hit one star which is terrible. It may seem like a harmless idea but in the hands of certain "lurkers" it becomes the weapon of choice.

Not long after the rating party began there came a noticible trend, one star rating. A product of decent quality with an average of four stars or higher would always take a sudden nose dive. Some products never got above two to begin with. Before long people began to post threads with cries of outrage at the one star attacks. Some argued that the low ratings could be the result of honest opinions and admitted to a low rating if an item wasn't "their style". There were more arguments that certain items were obviously high quality regardless of a person's taste or style. One thing is certain, keeping a rating of four stars or higher has become a rare event, especially if you're an established name or a newcomer.

Is the temptation to lower someone's rating without them knowing too great? I doubt any resident will disagree with the fact that jealousy and hostility are alive and well in Second Life. Many business owners and content creators have run into both head first, including myself. I believe the mask of anonymity allows people that would never openly show bitterness, the freedom to do so without consequence. We have been left to wonder about the one star raters and when or if they will grow tired. I know the majority of our virtual community is made up of people who like to encourage the creativity of others and this is why I won't wonder for long.

Creators in Second Life will continue to reach for the stars, though we may look at them a little differently from now on. Some residents have created other ways for people to offer feedback and it seems to be working out well. Perhaps this will lead to a break from the trigger happy raters. We'll just have to wait and see, meanwhile I'm going to enjoy Christmas. Happy Holidays everyone!

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