Women are Boring


I am promoting the wordpress account above.  Please have a read.

It is promoting research by women.

There is a really sad story behind the site.  One of the two founding members, Grace McDermott, passed away this week.  A PhD Research in Dublin City University, she was a young woman at the first stages of what looked to be a brilliant career.  When visiting some friends in Limerick there was a house fire which claimed her young life.

Nothing can console a parent who loses a child.  Nothing can console the fiancé she was to marry.  What people can do is honor her memory by celebrating her work.  Please share her blog.


Half Century


We celebrated last night to mark the passing of 50 years for one of our peer group.  Happy Birthday Andrew!

We danced to tunes that were hot stuff when we met in College back in the 1980’s.  We were the DCU Business Studies class who graduated in 1990.  Simple Minds, Don’t you forget about me, The Whole of the Moon by the Waterboys, Morrissey and The Cure, David Bowie and even some Johnny Cash.

It’s great to relive the sense of your youth.  And at the same time we can’t forget our ages.  We may have adopted smartphone technology, but half of the gang can’t read a funny text because they forgot their reading glasses.  The music is too loud for good conversation.  What hair remains is either gray or is growing in the wrong places.

The dancing was great, but this morning I have a swollen knee.  There was a remarkably high water consumption going on, as old heads assessed the prospect of a Saturday hangover and took steps to head it off at the pass.

Back in the good old days we drank like fishes and could resurrect ourselves for a Saturday morning Rugby match.  That’s really what I miss!  The recovery powers of a 25 year old body.


Dance Hall Girls; by Robert William Service

Where are the dames I used to know
In Dawson in the days of yore?
Alas, it’s fifty years ago,
And most, I guess, have “gone before.”
The swinging scythe is swift to mow
Alike the gallant and the fair;
And even I, with gouty toe,
Am glad to fill a rocking chair.

Ah me, I fear each gaysome girl
Who in champagne I used to toast,
or cozen in the waltz’s whirl,
In now alas, a wistful ghost.
Oh where is Touch The Button Nell?
Or Minnie Dale or Rosa Lee,
Or Lorna Doone or Daisy Bell?
And where is Montreal Maree?

Fair ladies of my lusty youth,
I fear that you are dead and gone:
Where’s Gertie of the Diamond Tooth,
And where the Mare of Oregon?
What’s come of Violet de Vere,
Claw-fingered Kate and Gumboot Sue?
They’ve crossed the Great Divide, I fear;
Remembered now by just a few.

A few who like myself can see
Through half a century of haze
A heap of goodness in their glee
And kindness in their wanton ways.
Alas, my sourdough days are dead,
Yet let me toss a tankard down . . .
Here’s hoping that you wed and bred,
And lives of circumspection led,
Gay dance-hall girls o Dawson Town!


Silver Jubilee

Jubilee is a great word.  Everyone should have a Jubilee from time to time.  It smacks of a celebration, a party, marking a milestone.  Silver is for 25 years.  Tonight I have a college reunion and it is a silver jubilee. I’ll get to meet my pals from DCU business school graduating class of 1990.

Wait a minute!  Whaaaat?  25 years?  Where did that go?

I was supposed to be a millionaire before I was 30.  I had all these plans to circumnavigate the world in my 70 foot yacht with a stable on board for my racehorse.  Where did they go?

Well, along came three mini-me & Louises.  Instead of a yacht we spent our cash on ballet lessons, Irish dancing lessons, music lessons, tennis lessons, golf lessons.  There was the Gaelic club, the Rugby, the basketball.  Golf clubs are pretty expensive.  How many recorders and tin whistles did we buy over the last 20 years?  The clothes, the shoes, the boots, the books, the petrol and the time.

So, would I trade one day of it for the Yacht?

Sonnet 64: by William Shakespeare

When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defac’d
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-ras’d
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the wat’ry main,
Increasing store with loss and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

Are Implicit Rewards killing your online community?

Walk of Fame

An online content manager who does not understand all the reward systems at play can lose control of the forum and the commercial focus.  Lose focus and lose the client.

We all dream of setting up that killer online community for a client.  Cold customers wander in, discuss some things in the forum, suddenly realise how great the client product is and become brand ambassadors.  It’s a nice dream, and if only life were that simple.

In truth if a forum is too product focused it turns away the kind of people who spend a lot of time in forums.  If it is not product focused at all then there is no benefit to the client.  Getting the balance right is certainly a challenge.

In order to get contributors to enter the forum, and to post to it, you must reward them.  There are two types of reward systems, Explicit Rewards and Implicit Rewards.

Explicit Rewards are the ones we set up with our client.  They can be things with monetary value like competition prizes, promotions, coupons etc.  They can also be non-monetary rewards that we set up on the forum.  Best post of the week.  Top contributor.  Bronze/Silver/Gold star member.

Implicit Rewards are harder to identify and measure.  In general what implicit rewards lead to is fame.  You need to know what it is that generates likes, shares, helpful votes etc for posts on your site.  What is the dynamic at play, and what does this say about your site and your product?

For illustration I use two examples, Amazon books and TripAdvisor Accomodation/Restaurants.

Book lovers are always looking for their next read.  I am a “heavy user” of books so I know exactly what I am talking about here.  If I am finishing a book and don’t have the next one lined up I begin to feel exposed, nervous, itchy.  Many heavy readers maintain a TBR “Pile”  literally a stack of 5 to 10 books in the corner of a room lined up ready to be read.  Feeding the TBR pile is an important activity.

Book lovers are very interested in recommendations from other book lovers.  For this reason Amazon is a gem.  You can get lots of recommendations on books from people who like the kind of books that you like.  If I read a positive recommendation for a book and decide to buy it I will give a “like” to the recommendation.  If someone writes a negative book review I may avoid that book, but I am unlikely to “like” the recommendation.

The implicit reward system at play amongst Amazon.Com reviewers is that you achieve more “Fame” from positive reviews than you do for negative ones.  Reviewing is a competition.  There are lots of reviewers out there who want to be in the “Top 100” or “Top 1000” reviewer list.  The ranking is explicit.  How you improve your ranking is implicit.  Competitive reviewers who are out for glory quickly learn to review only in a positive way.  This is not bad for Amazon.  More positive reviews will generate more book sales.

TripAdvisor is different.  There is a tradition in the media of writing colourful scathing reviews of bad holiday or dining experiences.  There is pleasure to be derived from reading a truly awful restaurant review in your Sunday Newspaper from the comfort of your couch, with your coffee in your hand.  It is a form of entertainment which has leaked onto TripAdvisor.

There is an old customer service maxim that a satisfied customer will tell 3 friends and a dissatisfied one will tell 20.  TripAdvisor has become a sounding bell for dissatisfied customers.  As they depart a hotel in anger at the service level, or the food quality, you will often hear them fire their Parthian Shot.  “I’m going to put this on TripAdvisor”.

The implicit reward system for TripAdvisor is inherently negative.  The more negative your review, and the more colourfully you express the experience, the greater is your level of attention.  Fame comes from being nasty.  TripAdvisor is not a hotel or a restaurant.  They do not suffer from a poor review.  If anything it attracts more users to the site.  If you are booking your annual holiday you want to peek behind the curtain of the hotel you are staying in to see if the worst is acceptable to you.  Also Forewarned is Forearmed.  You can avoid the noisy room beside the elevator, or the one above the nightclub.

When you are setting up your own discussion forum you need to understand the implicit mechanisms at play.  How do your contributors become famous on your site?  What does this do to, or say about your product?

Copyright D. Clancy (2014)

Donal Clancy is a digital strategist and communications planner.  He set up Ireland’s first postgraduate University course in Digital Marketing in DCU.