Awards Matter

Source: woodleywonderworks
Later today I'll be attending the Government of Canada's Wiki Community of Practice group to network with peers, learn from them, and try to recognize a few of them in my own way.  Specifically, I'll be handing out the first "Gnomies"—GCPEDIA 1K Club Award statuettes recognizing 1,000 edits to the wiki.

Despite my best intentions, this garnered some suspicion and criticism almost immediately after rollout: suggestions that it recognized quantity instead of quality; that people might 'game' the process by making pointless minor edits, and that the number itself was arbitrary and meaningless—one person might need 1,000 edits to accomplish something that others could do in 100.

I agree... to a degree.  Believe me when I say I already considered these variables.  In any endeavour there is some level of risk of unintended consequences and failure.  I accepted them when I decided to create this award.  When it comes to evaluating myself and the things I do, I'm my own most-feared playground bully.  I'm relentless, but if I can still stand up again after kicking my own ass, I proceed.

From what I initially surmised and from what I've subsequently observed, these worries didn't matter much.

Where is the value in paranoia?  Audit each potential reward recipient, and you've expended a lot of personal time and effort.  Suspect everyone that you originally intended to honour, and you've undermined the good of your intentions, insulted the recipients, and embarrassed yourself.  Why did you even bother?

Colleagues: I trust you.  I respect you.  I want to do something to recognize your contributions.  By the time you've made it to the list I've already seen your work, experienced how it's made GCPEDIA better, and felt "I want to meet this person, and thank them."

A thousand is an arbitrary level: a tier where I can celebrate you for creating, fixing, and engaging.  The number is meaningless, but your involvement, my sentiment, the importance of formal recognition, these mean a lot.

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  1. Todd, I completely agree. Recognition does matter. It matters to others and it matters to me. It's human nature. As for the trust thing ... well, that's just silly IMHO.

  2. I tend to agree. The reality is that any award attached to numbers (whether the amount of edits, or how many years of service someone has) can certainly be abused. That being said, I think it's a incredibly small minority that do this. To assume otherwise is to assume that my colleagues are small people -- I certainly don't think that.

    The 1,000 mark is an interesting one. It's a mark that rewards those who are really engaged in the GCPEDIA world.

    The question I have is: How do we get people started? Are there rewards that we could create to those who bring others in (either through giving sessions to departments, etc)?

    Engaging in the community through edits is one thing, but the community also needs to be expanded.

  3. by establishing the award you recognize the work of others and demonstrate that you both appreciate and care about their efforts..

    i sign of a true leader

  4. I agree with your reasoning and trust and respect my fellow GCPedians enough to not game the system.

    Also thanks for being so awesome and coming up with this idea.

  5. Todd - glad you went forward with your idea. Why would anyone try to game the system to have more edits? What a bunch of worry-worts 'round here! ;)

    And if they do, so what?! What's the damage? Recognizing people for hard work and community contributions outweighs any potential silliness.