Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Internet Users Want a Voice

From wired.com:

In its latest study of Americans' online habits, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that a substantial chunk of internet users want to voice their opinions online. Websites that want to remain relevant should strongly consider building in ratings systems that allow visitors to leave input about what they find on the site.

More than 33 million Americans, or a quarter of all adult internet users in the country, have rated a product or service, the study said, underscoring the value of ratings systems that give users input about content or products they find online.

One of the most interesting findings for website operators is that the survey "speaks to a large number of online Americans who are interested in contributing," said Lee Rainey, a director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

As part of its ongoing project, Pew recently distributed a questionnaire asking whether individuals took part in online rating, or reputation, systems. The most recent study follows a previous
report that showed that 44 percent of American adults had contributed thoughts or content online.

Rainey said the new study shows that a growing number of Americans want to have their opinions heard online, and are willing to put their money where their mouths are. Thus, an increasing number of commercial sites are following the lead long since set by Amazon.com, eBay and others that allow users to weigh in on the value or reputations of products or other users of the service.

And while it's possible for users to game such reputation systems, Rainey said, the systems' value cannot be underestimated.