A while back I posted about karma whoring and its detrimental effect on Mapraider.com. In any self-moderated social web site, if there is a ranking system of any kind, a significant percentage of users will eventually behave in a way that helps them score higher, usually by gaming the system. Of course, if you don't intend for this outcome, the behavior will probably have a negative impact on the site.
I thought it worth mentioning that I was recently able to see this same social behavior in yet another web site.
The infamously popular Digg.com, where users submit news items and members vote to determine which of those get promoted to the home page, has historically had a ranked user listing. This ranked user list displayed which users contributed the most stories that were promoted to the home page.
While Digg's popularity grew over the past year or so, the number of submitted stories promoted to the home page skyrocketed as users tried to increase their ranking in the user list. And not surprisingly, a large portion of those submitted stories were duplicates, contained key-words in the subject tied with gaining votes, and/or were junk or lame stories to begin with.
To many users, the site was evolving from a social bookmarking site (as some call it) to a game, and even a story about "The Game of Digg" was promoted to the home page.
Within the last few weeks or so, and with much grousing from the users, Digg.com made the surprise move of completely removing the ranked user listing. Like Mapraider.com, it's clear that the creators of Digg.com never intended for the site to become a game in itself with users pitted against each other.
What's reassuring is that there has been a noticeable positive shift in Digg stories almost immediately after the change and although not completely compareable, will hopefully be the same for Mapraider 2.0.