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Rate and review everything – the decade of real user-empowerment

January 3, 2010

From the always interesting DoshDosh blog:

Why do ratings and reviews work? Social validation. People look to others when deciding what to do, especially when they are not sure of what action to take. This is part of the mid brain’s unconscious urge to fit in and belong.
When ratings and reviews are clearly displayed, they help to unconsciously trigger people’s need for social validation while allowing their new brain to rationalize that they are making a smart choice. They work on both the conscious and unconscious: to the rational thinking mind, user ratings and reviews are also more credible than profit-seeking ad copy.

[The final sentence could also add “or politicians seeking their next re-election”.]

The power of “ratings and reviews” is well known to the successful innovators delivering transformational new web-based services, so much so that it is easy to miss the significance and pervasiveness of the technique. Deceptively simple to the end-user, to be done properly requires deep understanding and intelligent system design.

But the next stage in the evolution of this approach, will see it spread from the web into mainstream business, politics and local social fabrics. Within ten years nearly all decisions, policies and product development will integrate such end-user involvement to a greater or lesser extent. This will require a new approach, culture and openness from those who would be leaders – based on transparency and humbleness. It is not (as those who struggle to understand it would claim) merely an online form of market-research, but rather a continuous, granular, real-time, detailed dialogue between all stake-holders. Business gets it first, politics is trying to catch-up, and finally, kicking and screaming behind, comes public services.

This is the decade when everybody and everything will be rated and reviewed.

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