So these thoughts have been brewing for a minute, and Jojo’s post “Snapshot of a Newbie” catalyzed them into a more concrete idea. You can read my reply to Jojo’s Topic where these thoughts came from if you’re curious.
Value. It’s a huge part of what we do and what we think about. But value as a topic can be touchy and it can get personal. We’ve held a helpful maxim in this community for over a year now:
“We talk about contributions, not contributors.”
With this in mind, we often have much more constructive and useful conversations about the value participants are creating in our space. I want to expand on this just a little more, and I’ll try to keep it short(er) this time.
I don’t think SourceCred’s goal (as a technology or community) is ever to try and determine the value of a person. That is too nuanced and expansive to ever pin down, and I bet it would do harm to individuals and communities.
Instead, we’re learning how to determine the value of any given contribution. While value itself is really tough to measure, I think it’s made up of at least two aspects that are much easier to measure: quality, and impact.
The quality of a contribution is measured by how well it achieves it’s intended outcomes.
Let’s use the common contribution of meeting notes as an example. A set of notes is quality if it accurately captures what was discussed in a meeting and makes the things discussed/decided accessible to anyone who wants to look at those notes later. A note’s intended outcomes are accuracy and accessibility.
A set of notes could be anywhere on the gradient of low-quality to high-quality according to these two outcomes. Low-quality notes may miss important topics of conversation, or maybe they capture everything said but aren’t summarized and organized in a way that makes them easy to parse through. High-quality notes would cover the most important topics discussed and be a succinct summary that’s easy to comprehend even if you weren’t in the meeting.
The impact of a contribution is measured by the way it’s outcomes change our community and/or product. A contribution could have a positive, neutral, or negative impact. I imagine that impact could also be high or low.
To continue with the example of meeting notes: a set of high-quality notes taken for a really pivotal meeting could improve the accessibility of those ideas throughout the community. Being armed with the knowledge and decisions made at this important meeting even though you didn’t attend it, you then make more aligned and relevant contributions. These notes are both high-impact and positive-impact for the community and the product.
Imagine instead a set of high-quality notes are created for a social hang-out that doesn’t change much about how we operate. Let’s say that even those who take the time to read the excellent accounting of our discussion about puppies, are not directly inspired to make contributions to SourceCred that improve our community or product. The notes are low-impact and neutral-impact even though they were high-quality.
Lastly, let’s imagine that notes are created for a pivotal meeting, but that the notes record the information inaccurately and anyone who reads them after the fact get the wrong conclusion about something really important. Those folks then go and make contributions based on the incorrect information and those contributions really get in the way or cause great strife in our community overall. The notes were lower-quality, high-impact, and negative-impact. They actually caused more issues because they were written.
I could say more, but I’ll leave it at that.
We still need ways of measuring the connections, the quality, and the impact of different contributions; which is where the growth of our technology (both code and social) comes in.
I imagine that improvements to SourceCred’s technology will impact our ability to see how contributions are connected and record the feedback about quality and impact about these contributions provided by the social intelligence of our community.
In this, I believe two perspectives are the most relevant: the perspectives of those who do the work (eg the notetakers), and the perspectives of those who consume the work (eg those reading the notes post-meeting). If we can use our tech to make feedback from those two groups easy and intuitive, I think the accuracy of our Cred will vastly improve.
Socially, I think we can create focus for those two groups through the use of Guilds. A Notetakers Guild could become a social and technological focal point for generating ideas about what makes meeting notes both quality and impactful. More on my idea of what Guilds could look like will be coming in the future.