Feminine gamification viewpoint: online communities
I am often asked to advise on how to make online communities more engaging and gamification is often considered as one of the means to achieve that. Typically they are also structured around knowledge sharing such as technological advice, academia, science based material and other very specialist topics people are passionate about. Sometimes the question is even more specific namely we want to encourage more ladies to share and participate in our community, we know they are members but they rarely post.
When I hear the last comment I am immediately looking for access to see what is happening in the community, what I have found in most cases where ladies withdraw from contributing is that the tone is very competitive, the language used bordering on offensive or abusive and ‘one-upmanship’ is actively encouraged. I see nothing wrong with being proud of your work and wanting to show it off, what I find unacceptable is then other community members attacking the person behind the work rather than enhancing the work itself with useful critiques and pointing out other sources which may also be great additions. Simple curation can go a long way in encouraging all your members to contribute and managing the tone is one essential for dual gender participation.
When looking at incorporating gamification, a lot of knowledge based communities look at Stack overflow as an example where you rate the contribution up or down depending on it’s merit in your view. Peer review in an academic setting is welcomed and most knowledge based communities does play a part. Ranking with stars can also add another level of endorsement to this equation apart from just the vote up or down. A 5 star rank by someone in your field that you respect may do a lot to boost your theory and application of it. As soon as ranking is introduced, you also want to give guidelines as to what is considered which level and you will by the nature of ranking also attract people who disagree and will contest the rank. Again curation will be key to keeping the community friendly and constructive.
A lot of communities use leaderboards for top contributors, which if it is an all male leaderboard will turn ladies away from sharing, because they fear looking foolish or fear being made fun of (often because they are female in a male community and know some of the not so kind behaviours that can happen). I would recommend if you are using leaderboards to make it about trending topics and conversations rather than individuals. Instead endorse individuals privately for their contributions from their first one to a high ranked one and then allow them to wear earned titles such as regular contributor, highly rated commentator, etc. Use badges if they suit your community spirit to reflect some of these earned titles, but often just the status is enough.
One online community which has most of the ladies tied in is Facebook, take a leaf out of their book and see what ladies are responding too. Typically you will find they will engage with close friends on questions, emotions and other things such as pictures or videos. The like button and the upcoming emoji’s are adding to the positive flavour. They don’t have and from what I understood from Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement will not be introducing a dislike button but rather the emotional buttons which can often be more appropriate when you want to express support for a bad situation when ‘liking’ it seems inappropriate. I really don’t understand where the media got the dislike button from, but maybe I missed something.
So how to engage the ladies in a community, make it a safe and positive place to contribute. Curate critiques that are aimed at the person and are inappropriate in nature. Encourage reporting of bad behaviour and then follow up to manage it. When implementing gamification really examine what you intend to encourage and achieve in the community and choose wisely.
What have you seen in knowledge based communities that really got ladies talking?