What is it about Kudos?

March 26th, 2009 Leave a Comment

Photo by takingthemoney on Flicks used under Creative Commons

Photo by takingthemoney on Flicks used under Creative Commons

Last week, Paul spoke on a webinar panel hosted by Communitelligence about social networking inside the firewall. Also on the panel were Lee Aase of the Mayo Clinic and Polly Pearson from EMC.

I didn’t attend the webinar, but Paul mentioned that Kudos was well-received. We did a follow-up meeting with some folks from EMC, Jamie Pappas and Len Devanna, and they were also interested to hear about Kudos.

By Kudos, I mean the drive-by thanks/you’re awesome/great job feature we have in Connect, not the granola bar covered in chocolate.

We added Kudos to Connect very early, so long ago, that I can’t really remember all the specifics. Basically, it’s profile comments, very much like Facebook’s Wall, but we used Kudos to guide people to saying nice things. The original boilerplate said “We don’t praise each other enough for the good work we do. Here’s your chance…”, and the goal of Kudos is to give people a really fast way (ahem, drive-by) to pat someone on the back for a job well-done.

The distributed and virtual nature of product teams makes it very easy to forget what you did and with whom you worked when appraisal time arrives. With Kudos, we wanted to make compliments: a) fast, b) easy, c) public.

The implementation is specifically not like LinkedIn’s endorsements, which feel way too formal to me. We already have a formal appraisal process. The public piece was important too. Since we all get too much email, it’s tough to find those attaboys when review time arrives, even if your manager was copied. We list both kudos received and kudos given in an attempt to show that each person is a valued asset and a team player.

Kudos always resonates with people we talk to about Connect. I’m not sure why, but I think the simplicity and public nature of the feature make it seem really smart.

I say “seem” because in retrospect, we didn’t plan for it or design it very purposefully. It was a throw-in feature that turned out to be a lucky lottery ticket. Go figure.

And people use it quite a bit. My, ahem, “reports” tell me that several hundred Kudos are sent each month, which is higher than I expected. Then again, as Chet pointed out, my SQL is pretty rudimentary these days, so it’s entirely possible that I’m having a query fail.

Or maybe people are using Kudos for other things, driving up the numbers. Like many of Connect’s features, people have found new uses for Kudos.

For example, two people have left Kudos on Larry Ellison’s profile.

Slow down. He doesn’t use Connect. Everyone has a profile, by default, because Connect is as much an employee directory as it is a social network. I don’t think he’s ever logged in or even knows Connect exists. I do know several brave souls invited him to join their networks, but he did not accept.

The people who left Kudos were expressing pride they feel working at Oracle in a very sincere way. This is not a use case I could ever have imagined, which incidentally is another reason to develop iteratively.

Kudos has crept into the Connect dog and pony because people find it interesting and useful, and now, we have found uses cases for it. I love that stuff. Paul uses this example when he talks about Connect, and I like to mention it in community management discussions.

Sometimes a feature just clicks.

Kudos doesn’t apply to everyone universally; for instance, I’m told the word kudos doesn’t translate well into other languages, which definitely hurts it overall, since we have a lot of traffic from non English-speaking countries. Even so, if we could find equivalent translations, I’m pretty sure the feature would still be popular.

Mix calls the same feature Comments, and I wonder how they’re being used there. I don’t recall any discussions about it when we built Mix, but Kudos doesn’t have the same easy application among a loosely affiliated community. So, Comments makes more sense.

So, if you use Connect, what do you think of Kudos? If you don’t/can’t (because your not an Oracle employee), what do you think of the idea? Find the comments.


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