Top X

Working Solution · Last modified July 15, 2009

Group contributors, numerically, by performance, and acknowledge top performers for their superior achievements. Top 10, 50 and 100 are some commonly-used groupings.


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What Problem Does This Solve?

Participants in some communities welcome the challenge of striving to enter the top tier of competitors.

When to Use This Pattern

  • You want to encourage top, top contributors to continue to provide high-quality content (and continue to serve as examples to the rest of the community of valued community behaviors).
  • You want to motivate heavy (but not yet top) contributors to increase the quality and frequency of their contributions.

Don't use this pattern when

  • Introducing an 'elite' designation could produce an unwanted community divide. (For example, in a community who's spirit is more about collaboration, or nurturing.)
  • The context for the Reputation would be unclear. For example "Top 10 Shopper" on Y Shopping is confusing, and doesn't provide any useful interpretation, but "Top 10 Reviewer in Books" is better - it's more specific and lets consumers know this person's area of expertise.

What's the Solution?

Group contributors, numerically, into "buckets" of performance, and acknowledge top performers for their superior achievements. Top 10, 50 and 100 are some commonly-used groupings.

Consider providing some additional award for the Number One contributor in the community. A special, especially ornate badge; or even a blog announcement on those rare occasions when the top slot changes hands.

Exclusivity

The exclusivity (basically "how many of these should be awarded?") of this reputation type is somewhat self-explanatory: there would be ten community members in the Top 10, and ninety more within the Top 100. Consider, however, the upper threshold that you're prepared to reward - you may want to go no higher than a Top 100 designation, for example, regardless of the actual size of your community. In comparative studies, we've heard several users state that "Top 1000" badges are silly, or seem frivolous. ("They're just givin' em away" is a typical reaction.)

Examples

Amazon's Top Reviewers program is long-standing and much-emulated. Questions abound, however, about the motivations (and ethics) of contributors at the highest levels of the leaderboard. The FBI's 10 Most Wanted List almost never came to be. When it was suggested, J. Edgar Hoover was worried that criminals might be motivated by the notoriety to perform even more spectacular crimes! It has been a long-running and succesful program, however