Posted on September 22, 2011 by david-zhou
I’m super excited today to unveil a feature that the team here at Disqus has been working on lately. We first started experimenting and testing this feature privately earlier this year, and have since been continuously iterating and streamlining the overall concept.
Today, we’re making Disqus Ranks (beta) available to all users with the Pro or VIP add-ons. Over time, we intend to make this feature available to everyone. I think what we ended up with achieves a great balance between flexibility and simplicity, and I hope you all share our belief in its potential.
Disqus Ranks allows site administrators to reward active and loyal users with special ranks. Ranks are fully customizable by administrators, and are made up of three main components.
This includes the name of the rank, a description of the rank that is sent to users when they gain that rank, and an optional rank icon that is displayed in the comment system in lieu of a rank name.
By default, these ranks are reflected in the comment system in the style shown above. However, administrators are not limited to the default look, and can customize the appearance through the standard Disqus custom themes interface.
Conditions are the heart and source of the flexibility I touted above. Each rank created by the administrator is made up of one or more conditions. These conditions are matched against a wide range of user selectable metrics, and lets the administrator maintain precision in how user engagement is rewarded.
There are two special conditions that we encourage administrators to try out first: “absolute leaderboard position” and “relative percentile”.
To better understand how this works, imagine a rank using absolute leaderboard position labeled “Top 100”. This rank applies to all users who are positioned within the top 100 of your community’s leaderboard.
In the rank’s creation form, the list of conditions would look something like the following:
It’s also possible for administrators to rank their community based on relative positions. For example, to create a rank that touches the top 20% of a community’s leaderboard, the “relative percentile” can be used. In this case, because the metric is expressed in percentile, the top 20% is equivalent to the 80th percentile:
The two conditions illustrated above measure against a Disqus generated “user score” that is derived from a customizable list of metrics found under a site-specific scoring page.
The importance of every available metric can be changed according to each site’s specific needs. Metrics that are less important factor less heavily into the score that we generate, while favored metrics measure more heavily. This allows administrators to tune the user score to reflect the specific types of user engagement they wish to encourage on their site.
For example, a site that wanted to encourage “likes” as the currency of discussion could set the sliders for all metrics other than “likes given” and “likes received” to Not Important.
Disqus Ranks will be initially available as part of the Pro and VIP add-ons. All current and future subscribers of the Pro and VIP add-ons will gain this feature.
This is a big feature, and one that has the potential to significantly improve the level and quality of communities. But as with all things, there can always be improvement. The team at Disqus is keeping a close eye on feedback and usage patterns, and have many more enhancements to ranks we hope to add in the days and weeks to come.
This is an exciting first step for a feature that I think will be genuinely beneficial to conversation on the web, and I cannot wait to see it in action across our communities.
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