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We'll see if players are actually aware of this or not. It's a little like getting coupons. You know they've figured out something about you, but maybe not why. If they do figure it out, it's figuring out that good behavior leads to better deals. That should mean that the most influential, sticky and helpful people are going to be made happier, and the trolls are disincentived to be there. If that's social engineering, I'm OK with it. But to answer your question it's a little bit of both. We want to work with human nature, and help emphasize the good. I expect that as companies use these tools there will be experimentation with what works. Some interventions will backfire and some will be very successful. What I will be doing is helping with small tests in part of a network before trying things on a whole one. Happy communities are the most profitable ones, though, so I see this as a win-win.
Toggle Commented Mar 13, 2011 on Ninjas, data and my start-up at Terra Nova
Let me explain how the system works a little more and I think you'll see that the opposite is true. First, we split the player value into two components: first, their own likely future value (say their subscriptions over X months we think they will remain). Second, their influence component, which is them getting others to stay. That second component works in both directions, positive and negative. So, imagine your troll (I like to call these players asshats, but to each their own). That person enters a social network and is unlikable. Everytime he comes in and shouts "noob" and "fag," players become more likely to leave. Our system sees this and starts attributing their departures to the troll. He is causing a loss by his social influence. So, his influence component is a negative. And if it exceeds his own future value, he gets labeled as a net negative player. So, if in the unlikely event of a player "gaming" the system, what they would need to do would be to be the kind of person who keeps others around. That is not going to lead to troll-like behavior. Quite the opposite. If anything, the person gaming the system would be acting in a more prosocial way. I'd therefore expect an improvement in behavior overall, not a decline. Personally, I wouldn't build something that I thought would make the world a worse place. You probably don't know my writings and research, but it's largely focused on community, social capital and improving relationships, and that's reflected in how this algorithm was designed.
Toggle Commented Mar 13, 2011 on Ninjas, data and my start-up at Terra Nova
A bit cynical, Simon, but logical and worth talking through. Here's why this isn't an issue: the influence and stickiness we model can only come from real human connections, not spoofs of them. For example, a guild leader is influential in a subscription environment. If they stay, others are likely to stay, making them more valuable to the developer than the average player. If they leave, others are likely to leave. Pretty straightforward logic, and I think nothing untoward or unethical. That guild leader could try to "game" our system (although that seems a bit farfetched to me) by making connections to a bunch of people he/she doesn't really interact with in any meaningful way. However, because those connections are meaningless, they are unlikely to make that person any stickier. So, there would be no increase in influence on retention and the model would recognize it. We don't just measure any links. We measure links that matter over time. Simply increasing the number of them won't lead to any "winning" of a gamed system because we are ultimately detecting real outcomes over time, not fake connections that don't matter.
Toggle Commented Mar 12, 2011 on Ninjas, data and my start-up at Terra Nova
So we're launching our commercial effort in this space right now, and there are indeed some pretty cool applications possible. I wasn't sure if I should blog about it here as it's somewhat self-promotional, but also has some nifty science. Ted (and others), if you think it's worthy, I'll put it all up. We've invented gizmos that I think could have a real impact on the industry, and then in other sectors.
Toggle Commented Mar 9, 2011 on GDC: Revenue Drives Research at Terra Nova
I like the idea a lot too. I'm just super curious how it'll play out given the details. The "gaming the system" part would be if adjudicators (is that the right name?) would be trying to guess the majority vote rather than deciding based on the merits of the case. At its worst, it's a test of perceptions of others rather than substance. Then it becomes "how tough are people?" Maybe it'll be fine, but that crowd-based mechanic stuck out to me. In jury duty, we get paid (ha-ha) for coming and doing the right thing, not agreeing with others. When we get lazy and agree to get things over with you get "12 Angry Men." IANAL or a jury-selection expert, so I'd love to hear one weigh in with how this will play out.
Toggle Commented Jan 17, 2011 on Automated community policing? at Terra Nova
I can't figure out how to post an image here, so here's a link to the thing you were curious about: Love to hear your thoughts. One thing I notice is women playing more than their male counterparts, regardless of the number of children. I also added a column for what I'd call heavy duty players, or those who play over 40 hours per week. Women dominate that also, again even if they have the same number of children as men.
Toggle Commented Dec 17, 2009 on Gender differences in MMOs at Terra Nova