Recently, we needed to implement a rating system for a client’s application.  The decision came after the client agreed that the results would effectively be useless due to the potential for manipulation by users but the end goal of giving warm fuzzies to visitors is what was more important.  Unfortunately, since transactions aren’t processed or recorded through the site, we can’t limit who posts the feedback to actual, relevant purchasers. (Imagine if Craigslist provided user feedback profiles.)

The unfortunate “solution” we landed on involved having registered users fire an email to their customers.  Their customers would follow a link with a unique hash that allowed them to leave feedback about their transaction with the user.  Clearly, this has plenty of room for abuse.  Savvy users would simply create several throw-away email addresses and send themselves links.  Less savvy users would email their friends and have them give glowing reviews.  Either way, it would take an honest user to send to actual clients and even then, no user is going to send a review request to someone they just pissed off. And again, since the transaction isn’t completed on our side, we can’t simply trigger a feedback request. So you’re looking at about a 0% usefulness factor, either way you slice it. We’ll get into some of the pitfalls with ratings systems and a great piece on this by Boxes and Arrows, after the jump.

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Posted in: Design, Development