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by • 20 Sep, 2010 • TechnologyComments (4)2839

Rating online collections: 10+ ways to distinguish the good from the bad

Speed Devil Score Board by World of Oddy on Flickr

Photo by World of Oddy on Flickr.

Imagine visiting YouTube and being presented with a nearly endless list of videos. All presented as equally valuable. No views count, no comments count, no user rating… It would make the platform nearly useless. There would be no way to easily find the videos you like or distinguish at first sight the worthwhile from the worthless.

With some exceptions, most online collections are like this imaginary YouTube. Whereas YouTube, Amazon and others offer numerous rating systems to help the visitor find what is most relevant to him, and discover stuff he might like, most museums simply offer their online collection as a big pile of information with some metadata.

There are good reasons not to include rating in your online collection. You can argue people don’t use online collections as they use YouTube or Amazon, which is true (at the moment). There’s the issue of moderation, especially if you use user comments for rating. And, of course, online collections have a (slightly) different function than YouTube and Amazon.

However, I believe that especially with the semantic web gaining ground and more of our collections online, rating will become an important issue in the near future. For some projects I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while now. Building upon an earlier post by Willem Velthoven I distinguished at least 10 different useful ways to rate online collections.

I’m curious about your opinion about them, rating in general and how you use rating in your online collection. Please add your thoughts so I can add them to the discussion we have about rating.

10 ways to rate the value of an item in an online collection

  1. Curator rating, divided by different types (price, artistic value, etc.)
  2. User rating, at different levels (divided by age group, gender, background, etc.)
  3. Number of embeds of the item on other websites
  4. Number of incoming links from other websites
  5. Activity on an item (comments, reactions, reviews, or simply views)
  6. Freshness of an item
  7. Completeness of an item and an item’s description
  8. Openness of an item (Copyright, Creative Commons, etc.)
  9. Number of adoptions and remixes of the item.
  10. Relatedness of the item to a visitor’s individual preferences

This list is not exhaustive. All but number 8 can be simplified into a mathematical expression (usually a number) which can help you determine which item might be most valuable to an individual visitor.

Most online collections I’ve checked use curator rating (the “highlights” section) and there’s some with completeness rating and activity rating. I haven’t seen online collections using 3 or more different ratings in combination with metadata to make the collection accessible. YouTube, on the other hand, uses curator rating (featured videos), user rating, activity, freshness, number of adoptions and relatedness. Vimeo adds embeds. Flickr does openness.

Some of YouTube's ratings Some of YouTube's ratings

Some of the rating mechanisms YouTube uses (video: Bad Romance by Lady Gaga)

There’s a lot to choose from. I’m curious to hear what ratings you can think of I haven’t included yet, and what your experiences are with using rating. Any thoughts are highly appreciated! Thanks:-)

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  • 11. Site does not require any special plug-ins or programs.
    12. Site works on all browsers.
    13. Site has a mobile version.
    14. Site allows easy integration with social media.

    This is a great post.

  • 15. Pictures are of a reasonable resolution
    16. Links to items found by search are permanent, or, a permalink to individual items is easy and readily visible. Hate those expiring links within databases, they make sharing impossible

  • Thanks Larry and Quentin. I guess 14 (connectedness?) is a really important one! Not just incoming links, but valuable connections to the major social platforms. 16 (sustainability?) is a really valuable one as well. Google uses it as well, so it must be useful!:-)

  • Corina M. Paraschiv

    hm… i think rating is great but my only concern is : is something that is popular necessarily the most interesting thing? For example what if an object in a museum’s collection is “harder to understand” and visitors don’t take the time to explore it (or its presentation) before rating it, or overlook it, and rate something more “accessible” — then is it fair to have the other object overlooked? I think rating is awesome as a self-expression tool to share my thoughts with friends, but I am not certain it’s the best way to share information amongst strangers at a museum per se (ex. see all comments on an art piece or all “likes” on an art piece via a website or a mobile app)