As promised, I am in Pittsburgh on a Friday night, holed up in a classroom on 5th-floor Wean on the Carnegie-Mellon campus. We've had a pretty good ebb-and-flow of interested student hackers.. we're down to only the hardcore now (and my eyes are gonna force me back to the hotel soon for intensive drops-and-sleep therapy.) I kinda thought I would hack around on something... maybe a little ruby script or something with Yahoo! Pipes but it's only 8:30 and I find myself with juust enough energy left to.... blog. So...
Last week was a good week for me, and a whole buncha other folks (spread across 3 continents!) at Yahoo! We shipped a project that's been in the works since the early months of this year: the addition of persistent user reputations to our UK Sports Message Boards.
Within the context of a specific message board, contributors earn reputations based on the quality of their contributions to that board. "Quality", of course, is a slippery term, but think of it as a reflection of the community's response to a message: how many ratings it gets, how high the ratings are, and the like. (There's other stuff weighed in too.) So over time, users' reputations should come to be a pretty accurate representation of how highly the community values their contributions. Those who are valued highly enough earn medals (Gold, Silver & Bronze) that are displayed alongside their postings.
These medals have a practical benefit as well: all messages posted to the UK Boards will now feature an 'Initial Rating'—from 2 to 5 stars, it's a value assumption that the system makes about your message. It is, of course, directly tied to your reputation. We assume that past contributions are a pretty good indicator of present value, and reward your message accordingly. (What I really like is that it's just an initial assumption. The community can still, in short order mod a message up or down if that assumption is incorrect.)
I'm pretty excited that we've got this baby out the door (and very excited at early returns—though earned medals are currently few and far between, the boards have gone from being a Ratings graveyard to quite a bit of rating activity in just a couple short weeks.)