You may have noticed that with each type of user-created content in IFADAsia, we tell you how many comments have been made about it, and also display the star rating. I just wanted to add a few words about why this is there, why it's important, and how useful it can become for our community.
Undoubtedly social media has many benefits - it's democratic, cheap and makes communication with our geographically remote colleagues easy. However, many social media users experience the same challenge of dealing with the sheer volume of content out there. And as social media becomes more popular, the rate of content creation is increasing all the time, for example:
In terms of the entire web, there are sites such as Google, Reddit, Tumblr and Stumble Upon who all try to make sense of this overwhelming amount of online content. When it comes to IFADAsia, as a young community the portal may not yet be crammed with content, but with a community of over 1000 individuals, all producing content, documents, events and so on, it is becoming richer each day, and so the risk of missing out on interesting content increases.
Studies show that all of us are more likely to take the time to read and absorb content if it is recommended to us by our peers. That's why we encourage anyone posting a document to add some kind of description about what it is, what you found interesting about it, maybe what parts you didn't find useful and why you're sharing it, so that the reader deciding whether the document might be useful for them has something to go on. Comments mean that others within the community can also have their say, responding, adding their voice to the conversation, which becomes richer and more interesting as it grows.
Star rating is an incredibly easy, quick and anonymous way to add your opinion, If you read a content article it literally takes a second to click on the stars at the bottom of the piece and rate how interesting or useful you found the content. For anyone who has used a site such as TripAdvisor, you will know how this simple rating process has revolutionised the finding of hotels. Once we (soon) add the ability to filter lists by rating it will also mean that content which is deemed by our community to be especially useful and interesting will rise to the top and become more prominent.
Likewise, if you have clicked into an article only to read it and feel that it was a complete waste of your time, giving it a low rating is a form of altruism towards your fellow community members, warning them before they click. And as with real life communities, online communities thrive when we treat each other altruistically.
So even if you're not yet confident to start creating content on IFADAsia, and if you don't feel ready to comment...please do give everything you read a star rating!