Whilst not a prolific reviewer myself, after joining dooyoo just over three years ago I soon found myself addicted and rather fond of this old website and its community. Two years later, after resigning from my job, I decided that helping out on my favourite website might be one way of putting my extra free time to good use. So I volunteered to be a guide.
I will get this over and done with as it would be remiss to write a review on guiding without covering off that old guide and crown chestnut, a famous conspiracy theory started by one of our more devilish members way back when. I do not tend to scrutinise the crown statistics as some do, but I think there is probably some truth in the observations that guides receive more crowns than the average member. But what came first, the chicken or the egg? One of the criteria for being a guide is having an ability to write good reviews, so it seems reasonably likely that guides will tend to receive crowns. From the top of my head, I can think of half a dozen regular writers in Travel (my) category that probably have more crowns than the average member too. Nobody is claiming crowns are evenly distributed.
I do not expect to debunk the myth, but decided to analyse my own crown statistics by way of example. Well I have written 64 reviews before this one, the first 42 were written before I became a guide and 29 were crowned. Since becoming a guide just over a year ago, I have written 22 reviews and of these 11 have been crowned. Well you do the maths. Becoming a guide was certainly not lucrative for me. It would seem like terrible bad luck if I am the only guide not to have profited from this conspiracy, but I have seen other guides report the same as I. Perhaps there is not a great cover up after all?
Guides do not award crowns nor are we party to any debates whatsoever
concerning what reviews should be crowned. But I do believe that a guide nomination for a crown means more than a regular member nomination, particularly today when so many members will reciprocate nominations just as they reciprocate ratings. Unfortunately for guides, if they take over the guiding of a category they write in a lot, it can mean that that there is no guide to nominate their reviews. Whilst I have a Travel co-guide, we focus our efforts on reading other peoples' reviews before each others' and this, could be one explanation for my falling crown ratio since becoming a guide. Then again, perhaps the quality of my reviews has dropped, I hasten to add this before some kind soul points it out.
As of right now, I have earned just shy of £150 since I joined dooyoo three years ago. If I were in it for personal gain, I would write more, I would not guide. I guide because this is a site I care about.
But guiding is certainly not without any tangible rewards whatsoever. I was sent a nice (but waaay too small) t-shirt and a baseball cap shortly after I became a guide. I have heard that other guides received coffee mugs and one even claimed to have received a Porsche but I do not think there was any truth in that. Overall, I have found the main rewards and motivations to guiding are intangible ones.
My guide role~~~
My main activity as a guide on dooyoo is reading and rating reviews in Travel. As I go along, I nominate some for crowns and I will report those that appear in breach of the dooyoo rules. I read other categories too, although as the site has got busier, I have found it increasingly difficult to spend time reading in other categories that interest me. I rate as I see fit and this can mean my rating will be lower than many others, especially these days when there can be such a violent backlash to anything less than VU, I don't worry about the backlash. I do give out plenty of VU's though, I don't rate less to make any kind of a weird point.
I don't follow any hard and fast rules over commenting. Sometimes I will leave a comment and sometimes I will not. Some members like to have comments left and some do not. Unfortunately there are times when the member's preference might not coincide with what I happen to do on a specific occasion; I am not psychic after all. If a comment is desired, then the member can seek feedback and I will happily provide it. As a guide, I will even explain Useful ratings, although I feel other members should not be expected to do this. If I have left an unwanted comment, then there is not a lot I can do about it retrospectively. I have had my share of, shall we say, lively debate with some members and I put this down to being inevitable on a review / opinion site with lots of us opinionated people around. Few people get along with absolutely everyone and universal popularity seemed like an unachievable goal to me so I stopped trying.
The most common queries I deal with relate to matters such as product suggestions and moving or deleting reviews. From time to time a member will PM and ask for my opinion on their reviews and my thoughts on how they might improve. I always respond as honestly and as well as I can, although I don't know the magic formula for crowns either and don't pretend I do. It would never, in a million years, occur to me to PM somebody with review-writing advice on an unsolicited basis. Having said that, I recently approached a new member who was writing high quality travel reviews but was not being read as they did not appear to have realised that the community expects people to read around as well. I pointed out the merits of reading around and was glad I did as the misunderstanding was genuine. I have since contacted about five new members writing in Travel with similar advice and feel pleased that they all responded well and I hope dooyoo has gained some great new writers that will stick around. For me, this is one of those intangibles I talked about.
My fellow guides~~~
A closed forum is available to guides and is a means of communicating with each other and with Dooyoo HQ. We don't always agree with each other on the forum, some guides have more to say than others and if anyone saw our debates they would probably find it as funny as I do that some members would believe guides to be a tight unit who spend their time plotting against members. I don't even know the first names of 50% of the guides, I rarely read other guides reviews (not deliberately, they just don't tend to write in Travel or on topics that interest me terribly) and likewise I am rarely read by guides myself.
That is not to say there is no cohesiveness at all. We seek out and are respectful of one another's opinions and there is agreement on many topics. For example we are not that impressed with the new "dooyoo loves" feature and at the moment many are concerned to see the ugly and slightly hysterical campaign of intimidation and bullying that has hit our once serene community.
Dooyoo and the community~~~
I first became aware of potential issues in the community several weeks ago, when a new member loudly protested about being targeted by a small group of members simply because (he claimed) he had rated a review he thought was overly long and rambling as Somewhat Useful. A few weeks down the line and the audit trail established that the claims were based on fact and more troublingly he was not alone. It transpired that other individuals (especially new and unestablished members, you know, the easier targets) have been subjected to abuse and revenge rating for their failure to rate certain individuals' work as VU too, even if they deemed U to be appropriate.
It would appear to be beyond the comprehension of a few egotistical individuals that anyone, never mind more than one person, could fail to find their written work anything but VU. And so lately we have seen almost daily accusations of conspiracy, plotting, systematic bullying, victimisation and revenge rating on site. The egos involved being so large, that they honestly think people have nothing better to do that devote their spare time to campaigns aimed at them. Interestingly, as it has been observed elsewhere, it is often the bullies who will make the accusations of bullying as a sort of smokescreen.
So how do guides fit into this? Well as normal members would appreciate, guides do keep an eye open for possible trouble on the site and it is to be expected that some guides will look at the contentious reviews in order to make a balanced assessment of the situation. As an aside, several guides firmly believe that if you read you should rate and in this case, duly did so along the way. Cue more histrionics.
In recent days the guides have maintained a dignified silence throughout the ranting and raving and accusations levelled mainly at them, which were getting more and more hysterical with each passing day. Guides are thick skinned creatures and well used to a little bashing and although the drama queens were starting to look really quite daft, I nevertheless felt that a line had been crossed this time.
Regrettably, the clinical efficiency with which spammers, plagiarists and sub standard writers are dealt with by dooyoo is somewhat lacking when it comes to community matters. Dooyoo is a business after all but I am disappointed at the realisation that they really do not care about the community. Dooyoo does not care about issues that concern me and the private soothing and head-patting of the volunteer unpaid help is simply not good enough. This guiding lark is starting to feel like a mug's game.
So is it time for a change..?
I think dooyoo needs to consider whether they truly want community guides on the site. These days, they only seem to pay attention to guide notifications concerning copiers, spammers and missing product images. Community and other matters affecting the members (and I do not only mean the one discussed earlier) seem to be swept under the carpet or ignored altogether in the hope they will go away eventually.
If dooyoo only wants to know about, and will only act upon, matters affecting the bottom line, then I would suggest it is salaried employees that are required and not unpaid community guides.
Never mind MP expenses claims, rigged elections in Iran and a pandemic of swine flu. The topic 'du jour' around these parts for some time now has been the Dooyoo Guides. Bullies, egotists, victimisers extraordinaires and so on and so forth, the allegations come thick and fast on what seems like a daily basis. Sour grapes or honest experiences? You decide.
For some, there's a suggestion that the site doesn't really need guides at all, and, certainly, for new members at least, there seems to be a misunderstanding about the guide role in general. Guides are appointed (either via invitation or application) to support the permanent team of Dooyoo staff in some of the simpler duties around the site. Allocated to one or two specific categories, guides are asked to read and rate as many of the reviews in their category as possible, nominating the best ones for crowns, weeding out plagiarists and cheats and helping out members with category-specific questions along the way. Guides don't actually wield any 'power' in comparison to other members. They simply point things out to the Dooyoo team privately (via an additional dialogue box available only to guides) and then let the Dooyoo team act (or not) as they deem fit. They can't, for example, move or remove reviews. They can only request that the Dooyoo team does so. They can't award a review a crown; they can only nominate reviews for crowns. They can't remove cheats from the site and so on.
It is often argued that the community in general could easily do all of these things without the presence of members identified specifically to do so. There is some truth in this. A cheat is a cheat, for example, and it should make no difference whether reported by a guide or a non-guide. However, the reality is that experience has shown that the community * in general* does not normally do this kind of thing unless incentivised to do so in some way and it therefore falls to a designated group of individuals to maintain the focus in these areas.
There's some element of recognition in being asked to become a guide, albeit a reasonably modest one. It's an indication that the site trusts what you say, has some faith that your reviews are of a standard that others might draw from and that you are respectful of the site's rules. This doesn't mean that you are a particularly prolific writer, for example. Indeed, many guides write very few reviews, spending most of their time reading and rating others. I hold a personal view that guides should be readers and raters primarily before anything else and that by agreeing to take the role, this fact is recognised. It's unfair to make demands of what is essentially an entirely voluntary role, but there is an expectation from members that the guide in a particular category will at least read and rate their review if they write in that category, a reasonable expectation as far as I'm concerned.
Conspiracy theories have long abounded (and probably will do so forever) that guides are prioritised in the award of crowns on this site. Statistically, this appears to be the case but the conspiracy theory seems to ignore the fact that the selection of that member was originally based on the individual's ability to write crown-worthy reviews. The site support team is adamant that crowns are awarded based on consistent criteria for all members of the site and I would say that I'm confident that this is the case. New members, for example, with just a handful of reads and possibly only one or two crown nominations are picking up awards as easily as established members with hundreds of reads and armfuls of nominations. That doesn't, however, mean that guides are not influential when it comes to awarding these crowns. It would be a foolish man who said that you could easily get a crown without a guide nomination. Categories that have no guide or very inactive guides bear testament to this fact, with very few (if any) reviews receiving one of the little yella fellas until a guide is found. This is a symptom of the community's inability to nominate sensibly, more than anything else. It's all very well and good suggesting that Dooyoo simply look at nominations received by the community as a whole, but when that community simply nominates within a close circle of friends or simply nominates everything in sight, it's difficult to suggest this should form the basis of an award. As such, the guide role is required because (theoretically) it brings an element of non-bias and objectivity to the process.
This isn't, by any means, a perfect recipe. Guides are, when all is said and done, subjective humans in their own right and they will have their own preferences when it comes to what they believe is crownworthy and what is not. This is why it is important to have a large number of guides working at any one time, as, like any other community group, you should expect that the different of opinion would lend itself to a fairly balanced view. This isn't always entirely effective and it's encouraging when the Dooyoo team 'injects new blood' into the team as this will very often add a new perspective to the group. The Dooyoo team runs a private forum for guides on which various site-based topics are discussed and this is a surprisingly self-regulating tool. Don't be fooled into thinking that there is very often a strong consensus on anything, with frequently protracted debates about site-based issues. All that aside, to suggest that a guide can operate without any bias whatsoever is almost entirely unrealistic. If I personally think that a style of writing is at odds with what a consumer might want to read, I'm hardly going to recommend it for a crown. It wouldn't make sense. This doesn't make me right but it does make me incontrovertible.
This, in turn, more and more is leading to allegations of bullying and/or harassment from individual members. In my experience, it's nearly always the bullies who make the accusations of bullying, particularly on an online forum, but that type of person barely warrants a mention and should be filed under 'nutcase'. It seems to be the case that, for a small percentage of the community at least, if you express an opinion that differs from everybody else's then you are a bully or a pedant. It doesn't matter how you express that opinion; you can be 'Simon Cowell' blunt or 'Lorraine Kelly' sickly-nice and the reaction is entirely the same. This is one of the most difficult parts of the guide role but is easily balanced by the vast majority of members who respond very well or whom you have been able to help in some way. Personal attacks, hysterical 'All About Me' messages and campaigns to have you publicly flogged are not necessarily uncommon, but experience has taught that the larger percentage of the community is unhindered by shoulder chips and recognises this as disproportionate in the extreme.
This, of course, doesn't mean that guides are perfect. They are as imperfect as everyone else. I've seen guides leave comments that seem very harsh; indeed, I've left plenty myself. This isn't something that I would try and justify. Where offence is caused, I'll happily go and apologise to an individual without hesitation and, very often, this is something that I may ask a second opinion on from another member of the guide team. This is something, however, that I would normally expect to do in private and the rest of the community would be blissfully unaware that this is happening. It's possible and entirely reasonable, therefore, to see one or more guides suddenly reading a review in a short period of time. I will personally often alert discuss a review with other guides if I am unsure whether my rating is too harsh (or too generous) and logic would dictate that this will result in them reading and rating the review in question. This is not bullying or harassment. It's very visible when guides do it because they are labelled as such on the site. It's not so obvious when other groups of friends do it but it's really only the guides that get bashed for it. Such is life.
You might reasonably ask yourself why you would agree/wish to be a guide in the face of all the grief. As far as a small percentage of the community is concerned, it does become a very thankless task after all. Critically, however, the site support team is extremely appreciative of the work undertaken by guides and in fairness, the majority of the site seems to work on the same basis too. It may sound (unintentionally) sycophantic but personally, I feel that the site has been quite generous towards me and I routinely feel the need to try and pay some of this back with a bit of my time. Guides find literally hundreds of cheats and liars every month, ensuring that the site is able to maintain a strong reputation for originality and excellent writing, which is something that everybody benefits from. There's also a strong likelihood that any crowns that you received this month were supported by nomination from a guide.
There's an unfair pressure on Dooyoo guides to be 'perfect' in some way. In my latest incarnation as a guide, I can't say that I've changed my behaviour in any way to when I wasn't a guide. I hold the same view about how to rate opinions and the same view about what I will nominate for a crown now as then. That doesn't mean I always get it right - none of the guides do. There's also an unfair pressure to expect guides to support everything and everyone. If guides, for example, don't favour members that write hundreds of reviews per week, then they are entirely entitled to hold and express that opinion, as is any other member of the community. Guides are also criticised for believing that 'their way is the only way'. This is a bit of a flawed concept. I don't, for example, see the point in holding an opinion if you don't believe it to be the right one. There's a difference between respecting somebody else's opinion and bowing to it, after all. I would certainly, for example, oppose any situation where a guide was to suggest/insist that another member were to change to something simply to accommodate the guide's preference. It's a difficult balance to strike and I guess sometimes we will get it wrong.
If, after reading all this, you might feel inclined to try your hand, I still wouldn't suggest that you apply. The site team now seems to prefer inviting members rather than responding to applications.
Ideally, guides wouldn't exist. The community would self-police, self-regulate and nominate its best work appropriately. The reality is, however, that this doesn't happen consistently and, until it does, the community can only really hold itself accountable for the presence of those it would seek to vilify.
For each Dooyoo category there is a guide. Guides are non paid member of Dooyoo who are resposnible for positing comments and advice on the reviews posted in each of the available categoriee. The idea is to provide feedback (and off course, it should be constructive feedback) to the fellow colleagues on Dooyoo.
I have noticed that MOST of the guides are competetent, although I found some discrepancies between them and on a couple of occasions I wondered if they have the relevant background and experience to be a guide for that specific category.
In my humble opinion, a guide should fullfill some pre requisites.
He/she should have at least an equal number of readings and reviews rated in his/her profile. I was supriszed to see that for a couple of guides the number of reviews they have written and whihc have been rated is double the number of reviews they themselves have rated.
A guide should also have some direct knowledge of the cateogry he/she is responsible for.
All comments should be constructive and contain a sentence focussed on what the opinion is worth reading for, what is the added value of that opinion. If there is no added value, as sometimes happens, the guide should make it clear, without offending, for example by saying "we appreciate your effort to contribute to this community, but I fail to see where is the added value of what you have written"
If there is one kind of review that's likely to pull in the reads it's a navel-gazing opinion on dooyoo or its members. Seeing as I've now been a member of dooyoo for exactly 7 years (as of the date of this opinion) I thought it about time for some navel gazing but I want to do it properly. We could all write 150 or even 500 words on dooyoo and its members and earn our 50p (or not, in this case as I've purposely chosen a Speakers Corner topic). In fact, these topics are probably about the easiest to churn in (and, because of the memberships love of navel gazing, will earn read miles too) but, quite frankly, I'm getting rather tired of reading the same negative moans about this and that, reads, miles, so-called abuse, real abuse and invariably guides. Sometimes the guides get off lightly with a "and there are guides around to help" statement. At other times guides are accused of being underhand, biased, rude, unwelcoming and nepotistic (if that can be applied to a bunch of people who, in the main have never met and certainly are not related!). So, is there a positive spin to guiding? Are guides needed? Could YOU be a guide?
Of course, this opinion will be far too long for any self-respecting skimmer so if that's you then move on now but don't forget to hit the NU button before you go because (a) as far as you're concerned any op that's longer than 10% more than the minimum word count is too long to bother with and (b) it'll have shown me that you've read at least this far.
Although I've been a member of dooyoo for 7 years I've probably only been really active for a portion of those years. I seemed to miss out 2004 entirely and my first 6 months or so on the site saw very little activity. That was me being stupid really - dooyoo paid per op back then (as they've just started to do again) and also per read at a much higher level than now. I could have raked it in if I'd wanted to. However, I have been an active member of various opinion sites throughout those 7 (or more elsewhere) years.
I am currently, at the time of writing, the category guide for Banking & Finance and Campus & Careers. It's a role I enjoy immensely and one which lets me feel that I'm giving something back into the community that has made me, in general, so welcome.
It was my indecision that resulted in me guiding two categories. I said that I had no preference for one over the other and so was given both! In fairness, both categories are quiet and so it's not too hard to keep up with all of the opinions that are written in them. In fact, I'd love for there to be more!
OK, so I may be biased, but I think that guides have an invaluable role within the Dooyoo community. To my mind they are the visible presence of Dooyoo on the site on a day to day basis and provide eyes and ears to a corporate entity that, until of late, has remained rather obtuse. The appearance of an active "DooyooTeam" as a member of Dooyoo has brought that corporate entity further into the public eye, but, with the greatest of respect, there's only so much the folks behind "DooyooTeam" can do.
Guides, at least in theory, should provide an easy conduit between members and Dooyoo and vice versa. In the past guides have been referred to as the Dooyoo police, and, whilst I don't like the connotations of that, it is a description that fits a little part of the role. So, what do we do?
"The Police Role"
Dealing with this one first, and, quite frankly, it's the bit I hate most not because it's hard but because it makes me cross just how many people see fit to abuse the site. All guides have an "abuse link" at the foot of all opinions that can be used to alert Dooyoo to fraudulent or troublesome use of the site. We can't ban members, delete reviews or anything like that, but we do report breaches of the rules, particularly plagiarism and offensive material. It's then up to Dooyoo to do what they will. Dooyoo can't read everything that's posted on site and so the guides are invaluable in this role. Be very aware that there are some great noses for an opinion that is plagiarized or is otherwise not what it seems and Dooyoo do know about them!
"Making Opinions Useful to the Consumer"
A role that is almost a bit of site policing is that of notifying Dooyoo when things are in the wrong place. Often new members can get in a fix here (and I often see it in the Careers section where people review McDonalds food in the category for McDonalds as an employer). Guides help sort this out. Sometimes it's just sheer laziness that sees opinions in the wrong place - the category you want isn't there so you dump it somewhere vaguely near. If you have trouble getting an item listed then do speak to any of the guides. They can find out if there are any problems (eg there have been issues in the music and film categories) and will help you get the miles you deserve from making the suggestion. An incorrectly placed opinion is of little use to the consumer!
Wow! What a wooly category! It could cover so much, but in reality, it covers so little. You see, members don't often use us! Guides are, in the main, genuinely there to help. If you're not sure where to put an op, if you don't know how to make a suggestion, if you've got some feedback that you'd like to make, if you just want to know how to get a member to stop pestering you, speak to a guide. We'll all do our best to try and help you out and, if we can't, we might know a man (or woman) who can.
My - here's a controversial one! Guides are selected by Dooyoo for being good writers and members of the site who are willing to take on additional roles. At the bottom of each opinion we have an additional "nominate" message box that we can use to alert Dooyoo to good ops. This is in addition to the standard "nominate" button that all members have. I'm guessing that it helps Dooyoo to distinguish guide nominations from others, but I don't know. One of the accusations often leveled at guides is that they have too much power when it comes to crowns and that personal differences between guides and members can get in the way. Well, who knows what Dooyoo do with the information that they get but I do know that (A) it's possible to get a crown without a guide nomination and (B) it's possible (although more unlikely, I think) to not get a crown even with a guide nomination. As for guide bias I think it safe to say that it's an argument that no guide can ever win. Of course we're human. We have our style preferences but I think most, if not all, are objective in their crown selection, at least so far as is possible. Personally I don't look at the identity of the author and I try and see the opinion with fresh eyes, attempting to put myself in the position of a consumer of the product in question. In this regard I'm lucky as my categories suit down to the ground. As a former finance lawyer in the City there's little in the banking category that will throw me and of course, I have accounts and insurance like everyone else. In the Campus section I know what I wanted to know when I went to Uni and what I want to know of an employer. I also used to interview at student and qualified lawyer levels and so again remained in touch with the "youth" of today. I can't state I'm 100% bias-free but I'd like to think I was as near as damn it!
So, why do we do it and would you?
Personally, I am happy to help Dooyoo keep the site in as good a state as possible. It lets me give something back to a site that I love. Tangible rewards are almost non-existent. You might get a mug or a t-shirt on agreeing to be a guide but that's really not going to sway you. There'll be those cynics who read this and say the reward is in extra crowns and so on but you're wrong! Yes, guides do get a fair few crowns but remember, Dooyoo have already selected them as being good writers so it's not that surprising. We certainly don't get extra ones (I think my own experiment partaking in the 30 in 30 competition showed that!). It's also harder for a guide to get a crown in the first place as the number of nominations has, in general, to be higher to prevent any nepotism. Dooyoo do have a bit of a formula for this.
There are some negatives to being a guide. You'll be expected to be whiter than white and the members will routinely remind you of this. You'll get the odd twat who decides that it's fun to try and abuse you, rate down your ops or bad mouth you here or elsewhere. A thick skin sees that off! In truth though, the level of abuse of guides has dropped and, with the support of Dooyoo, is pretty much a thing of the past.
So, do you fancy guiding? You don't need to be the best, just willing and suitable in Dooyoo's eyes (NOTE, not the guides!). I think it helps if you have an interest in a category and some kind of "expertise" as a consumer but this could just be the fact that you wash your hair everyday for the cosmetics section or that you love sport for the sports category. You don't have to be brainy or qualified in anything! Dooyoo are spectacularly bad at advertising guide roles despite repeated requests from the current guides. The best thing to do if you fancy a guide role is to contact Dooyoo (either by email or PM to DooyooTeam) or, if you want to learn more, contact one of the current guides. Don't be put off by the fact that the category you fancy has an active or established guide in the role already. Many of us would be only too happy to hand over the reins and/or to co-guide in busier categories. Many guides have more than one category and, ideally this wouldn't be the case.
Oh, and what about that mythical guide group?
Yes, there is a forum just for guides (and a few ex-guides). This exists really as a sounding board for Dooyoo to gauge opinion on a few things (often too late as they implement the ideas within minutes of asking our opinion) and as an easy conduit for guides to ask Dooyoo questions the answers to which might be relevant to other guides. There is a "no tales off the group" kind of rule to prevent certain information traveling into general circulation before it's ready (eg we had a bit of a heads up on the new reward system but not much detail) but really there's not much said on there that you'd want to take off anyway. Contrary to opinion in some corners it's not used as a place where guides slag off members and, in general, naming of members does not happen (through the choice of the guides, not at the behest of Dooyoo who'd be more than happy for us to name). I say generally because, of recent times and since the change in the rewards system, guide have been highlighting a few members for systematic abuse of the site simply because, in the early days, Dooyoo were struggling to keep up with the churn. We're more likely to have a go at Dooyoo here than the members of late! There's a degree of frank talking and, to Dooyoo's credit, they listen, even if they don't act on it. We do discuss improvements to the site, trying to get categories cleaned up, and whether certain things are within or outwith the terms of the site. It's not compelling though!
I do think that the guide's role is an important one and I'd love to see more people guiding. If you love the site, write reasonably well and think you have the time to read all or most of the reviews in a category on a regular basis (if there are loads then co-guiding is the way forward!) think about applying. We'd love to have you on board.
I have stumbled across this topic by chance, but what interesting reading all the reviews and comments has made!
So I have decided to add my own two-pennorth to the reviews about Dooyoo guides.
ARE GUIDES NECESSARY?
I am a fairly new member to Dooyoo and have already asked myself this question several times. I really cannot see that the guides serve any useful purpose but I am willing to be corrected if anyone can prove me wrong.
The guidelines on Dooyoo for reviewing are pretty straightforward, surely the guides are not required to help us write our reviews. If we are capable of writing a review, then we are equally capable of reading the guidelines!
When I first joined Dooyoo I found some of the comments from the guides very scathing and negative, this was not what I expected. In fact, I felt quite hurt (sob, sob) by some of the comments that were written in response to all my hard work.
But now of course, after a few weeks, I dont care anymore. I know other Dooyooers read my reviews and I read their comments with interest and really only care about whether they, not the guides, find my reviews useful or useless.
That is what really matters isnt it? Helping others to make an informed decision about some product or service or whatever we are reviewing? Some might disagree with what I have written, but they usually manage to tell me that in a nice way, unlike some of the comments made by the guides.
WHAT ARE GUIDES SUPPOSED TO DO?
Ah well now, that is a good question! Isnt a guide supposed to guide you? Perhaps take you by the hand and lead you gently along that previously untrodden path, helping you overcome any hurdles and pointing out your mistakes? All this should be done in a kindly way of course, isnt that what a guide is for? To act as an adviser perhaps?
DO THEY GUIDE or CRITICISE?
I dont think guides should merely criticise our reviews. Some other reviewers on here have likened the guides to teachers. Oh dear, this is very misguided (excuse the pun) of them!
Any teacher knows that it is a definite No No to make any negative comments on the performance of a pupil or student. They have to write their school reports in such a way that only positive comments are made. It should be possible to find something good to say about everyone.
So maybe Dooyoo guides should learn from this. I have been on the receiving end of several of their comments, which amount to nothing more than negative criticism. As a newcomer I would have much preferred some assistance from them, instead of that they got my back up by making quite scathing comments sometimes.
I apologise if this review offends any of the hard working guides on here, I am sure there is a purpose in having you on Dooyoo, if only to sort out any unsuitable postings. (And we all know you are hardworking because you have probably got more crowns than any of us will ever have.)
In my first few days on Dooyoo I received several negative criticisms from one guide in particular and I felt these were completely unjustified. I did in fact send an e mail to the Help section, but never received a reply.
I could have left Dooyoo straightaway and decided I was writing utter rubbish that nobody would want to read, because the guide obviously thought it was not worth reading, or I could carry on and take more notice of the ordinary dooyoo members. I chose to continue, but I do wonder if others have left Dooyoo shortly after joining after being unduly criticised.
I would like to see the guides adding their comments to reviews, offering constructive criticism if they have to criticise at all. Maybe that way we can all continue to get along happily together!
~ ~ There are few other topics of conversation here at dooyoo guaranteed to raise the ire and hackles of some members than the thorny question of Category Guides, and more specifically what role (if any!) they should play here at the site.
Guides have in the past (and Im sure they will be again in the future!) been accused of all sorts of foul play and conspiracies, from monopolising the Crown awards to operating a sort of secret society to which the ordinary dooyoo member has no access and can never aspire to joining.
If this were the case, then the title of my review, self-centred, selfish egotists, would be entirely accurate. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
~ ~ Before I go any further with this review I should state up front that I am a Category Guide of some years standing. I cant precisely recall when I first became a Guide, but it was back in the mists of dooyoo time when the site was still in its infancy, my first category being Speakers Corner. Since then I have been the Guide in Sports, and am currently the Guide in Motors and also Sports. (Sports is only temporary until another member can be found to take on the Guide role. Anybody fancy it, then apply to dooyoo)
~ ~ So what do Category Guides here at dooyoo actually do, and why are they necessary at all? To answer that question you have to go back to when Guides were first appointed.
When dooyoo first began back in 1999, the Internet in general was going through a boom period, when venture capital was quite literally being thrown at small start-up companies, and especially at any websites that were in any way connected to what was then perceived to be the next big thing in world commerce, online shopping. Dooyoo fits snugly into this bracket, and hence in its early days there were vast amounts of capital available to develop the site. As well as paying contributors far more for writing reviews and for members reads than they do now (I think it was 10p a read, but Im not 100% sure) people were even paid a small sum for reading other members reviews. To keep an eye on things dooyoo had a large full-time staff looking after the site. Each Category had its very own full-time Category Manager, who was responsible for ensuring that nothing underhand was occurring and for the development of their own particular Category.
When the Internet bubble finally burst, and investors began to realise that they werent going to literally treble their money in the first few months, then the amount of cash available to dooyoo was obviously severely curtailed, and things had to change. Hence the rewards for the members were reduced, first to 5p per member read, then to the current 3p per read, and the old Category Managers were given their jotters! (Paid off) This left a huge void for dooyoo, as it was quite literally impossible for 2 or 3 full time staff members to look after the whole site efficiently. And so the Category Guides were born. (Around 2001 if memory serves correctly)
~ ~ Initially, dooyoo emailed members of the site who were good writers, had won many Crown awards for their reviews, and who were consistently active around the site reading, rating and commenting on other members reviews. They were asked if they would consider taking on the position of a Category Guide and looking after their appointed Category for dooyoo on a part-time and unpaid basis. This was an ingenious idea, as it meant that in effect dooyoo had now replaced the old Category MANAGERS, who they were obviously paying large salaries, with unpaid volunteers called GUIDES who for all practical purposes were fulfilling the same role as the old Category Managers for them but for FREE!
You might well ask why people were prepared to take on this role, especially as it brought them no extra rewards. The answer to that is complex, and Im sure every individual Guide had/has their own reasons, but for myself the reason was simply that I had come to love the site, that I didnt want to see it closing down for fiscal reasons, and it was no particular strain for me to report to dooyoo on a daily/weekly basis what was going on in my appointed Category as I was very active about the site in any case.
I think that answers adequately why Category Guides were/are necessary here at dooyoo. (Some might even say a necessary evil!) Quite simply, the chances are high that without their assistance the site simply wouldnt have survived. We now move onto what it is Guides actually do.
~ ~ One of the most important functions of a Guide is reporting back to the dooyoo staff on a weekly basis any reviews in their appointed Category that they consider might be good enough to be given a Crown Award. This function is very important for any number of reasons. Firstly, it ensures that good writers get an extra £1.50 for taking the extra time and effort to write a review that is informative, well-written, and with that extra X-factor that singles it out from a review that is very useful. This not only keeps the members happy, but also singles out the review (with the small Crown icon) so that it is more likely to be read by a casual visitor to the site looking for consumer information. (Not necessarily a member) Youll usually find that Crowned reviews are listed at or near the top of a particular Category list, so are easy to find for the casual visitor to the site. There are no particular guidelines written in stone by dooyoo for Guides as to what constitutes a Crownable review. Some Guides nominate every review they consider even remotely Crownable, while others only nominate reviews they personally enjoy reading. Either way, the important thing to remember here is that its NOT the Guide who awards the Crown but dooyoo themselves, and that a review can be Crowned even without a Guides recommendation (and often is) if it gets enough nominations from other members. However, it would be disingenuous of me to say that a Guides recommendation doesnt hold a lot of sway with dooyoo when it comes to dishing out the Crowns every week.
Many of the conspiracy theories that do the rounds at the site are based on the principle that Guides obtain a disproportionate amount of the Crown awards simply by dint of the fact that they are Guides and for no other reason. Quite frankly, this is simply rubbish! Certainly Guides are awarded a lot of Crowns. One of the main reasons they are Guides in the first place is BECAUSE they are above average writers with a lot of Crowned reviews. (I myself have 179 Crowns at the last count) But in point of fact it is now actually HARDER for a Guide to be awarded a Crown than a non-Guide, as dooyoo changed the criteria a while back so that Guides now have to obtain MORE nominations than the average member in order to be considered for a Crown. (Personally, I dont agree with this policy at all, but its an on-going debate between the Guides and dooyoo.)
~ ~ Another Guide function is to report back to dooyoo if they spot anything going on about the site that would constitute abuse, or which goes against dooyoos Terms and Conditions. This could be anything from some members forming a clicking cartel, (where they all routinely rate each others reviews in order to gain extra rewards) to setting up spurious accounts with different usernames in order to rate their own reviews, (again for extra rewards) and simply copying reviews from other sources that aren't their own work.
Just a wee word of warning here for any newcomers reading this review. Theres nothing new under the sun here at dooyoo, and the vast majority of the Guides (and dooyoo staff) are very long in the tooth when it comes to spotting something like this going on. Try it, and I absolutely guarantee that youll eventually be found out, and not only lose any rewards youve already reaped as a result, but most likely end up getting your membership revoked. Its FAR simpler to concentrate on improving your writing and the quality of your reviews. Thats the best way to make dooyoo both an enjoyable and profitable part-time hobby.
Along with abuse, Guides are also expected to notify dooyoo staff if they spot any reviews around the site (not just in their own Category) that have obviously been posted in the wrong Category. Sometimes this is deliberate on the part of the member who simply cant be bothered suggesting a new product and waiting for it to be added to the database. In most cases though this is accidental, and happens because of a new members unfamiliarity with how dooyoo actually works.
We also have to keep our beady eye on reviews for anything that might land dooyoo in trouble in the courts for libel, or for anything of a racist nature, and on comment boxes to make sure nobody is getting too heated or personal with their comments. This used to be a big problem for me in the past when I was the Guide in Speakers Corner, which was for a long time the single most popular Category here at dooyoo. Some of the slagging that used to go on had to be seen to be believed, and moderating the comment boxes often took more time than actually reading the reviews!
~ ~ Another Guide function is to be available when required to assist other members, especially newcomers to the site. Dooyoo can be a fairly intimidating place when you first join and dont know the ins and outs of the site. The Guides are always available to help, and can be contacted either through their tooyoo guestbooks or by email. (Most Guides have links on their homepage.)
This is something that most members and newcomers under use here at dooyoo. A Guide usually knows their way around the site backwards, and can give valuable assistance to another member whether its with a particular problem they have with navigating the site, where to post a review, or if they are having some sort of problem that they cant get sorted out with the dooyoo staff. Dooyoo runs with a very small full time staff, and Im sure they have to often prioritise what they do in order to get through their large workload. This can often lead to a members email not being answered for a long period, or even worse, being forgotten about entirely! Obviously, this can leave a sour taste in the mouth, (nobody likes being ignored) but a way around this problem is to contact a Category Guide. Very often, well be able to answer your particular query or problem straight away without even having to refer it to the dooyoo staff. If not, our emails tend to be answered fairly quickly, and the Guides also have a forum where we interact with the dooyoo staff on a daily basis.
One feature I would like to see dooyoo incorporating would be some sort of small icon both on a Guides home page and when they rate a review or leave a comment that shows they are a Guide at the site. This would make it easier for members to actually identify the Guides and to contact them. At present, I tend to tell members in brackets after my name that Im the Category Guide when I leave a comment on a review in my own Category.
~ ~ So how do you actually become a Guide at dooyoo, and what (if any) are the rewards. To become a Guide youll most probably have to have been a member of the site for some time, and to consistently write good quality reviews (many of which are Crowned) to even be considered by dooyoo. You also have to be perceived as a fair rater, and helpful to other members when required. Obviously it also helps if you have a fairly extensive and comprehensive knowledge of the Category you are applying to be a Guide in. For example, Im a bit of a dope when it comes to the ins and outs of computers or software, so ergo I wouldnt make a good Guide in either of these Categories.
Theres a link on the News and Competitions page of the site where anyone who fancies being a Guide can drop an email off to the dooyoo staff.
In the past, the most usual method of a person becoming a Guide was either for them to be asked directly by dooyoo, or for them to be recommended by an existing Guide. Some might say this stinks a wee bit of nepotism. (Sook up to a Guide if you want to become a Guide!) But the truth is that the existing Guides probably know better than anyone what is required for a member to become a good Guide through hands on experience of doing the job. So, for example, if I was to be considering giving up guiding in the Motors Category for some reason, then I might well directly email certain members who had consistently written excellent reviews in the Category during the time I was guiding there and ask them if they were interested in the position. If they were, and dooyoo agreed theyd make a good Guide, then theyd be offered the position.
Dooyoo used to ask existing Guides directly (at the Guide Group) whether or not they thought a Guide applicant was suitable Guide material. But after an unholy bust up a few months back when an applicant was rejected by dooyoo after this method was employed, this system has now been dropped, although dooyoo may well still ask an individual Guides opinion about a proposed applicant by email. On mature reflection, I think this new way is probably better than a persons credentials being examined openly at the Guide Group, as that way feelings can tend to get hurt and tempers frayed.
Dooyoo are always open to suggestions on how the Guide selection process or function can be improved, and if you have any ideas then you can either email them directly or perhaps even post your own opinion in this Category.
Currently, there are only a couple of categories without Guides.
~ ~ As for the rewards for being a Guide. To be honest, theyre few and far between. As the conduit between the dooyoo staff and the members we sometimes come in for some unwarranted stick from disgruntled members who are unhappy about certain aspects of the site. But you have to be prepared to put up with this, as put simply, you cant please all of the people all of the time.
There are no financial benefits, other than having a very slightly raised profile at the site, which possibly gains you a few more member reads for your reviews. Once, in the distant past, I received a £20 Amazon voucher from dooyoo as a wee Christmas present for my efforts throughout the year, and Ive also received a present of a dooyoo mouse mat and tee-shirt.
But despite the lack of financial rewards Im still happy to go on being a Guide for dooyoo for as long as Im able or for as long as they want me, simply because I love the site and want to see it prosper.
© KenJ September 2006.
I've updated this review as there was some criticism (probably justified) that it was a bit of a rant. I've taken that on board and removed some of the more off-topic references.
The review might still be considered off-topic - it's more of an advert for guides than an explanation of their function.
What's the function of a guide?
"...members who enjoy helping to run dooyoo...expert writers who have been involved in all aspects of the community...volunteered to donate their time to helping dooyoo become a better place for other users.
Guides are aware of their categories...and help reshape it by making suggestions. They read reviews and recommend crowns. They recognise abuse and help educate other users. They offer advice and help us make decisions that will affect the community. They guide new members and help them understand how dooyoo works and how to write the most helpful reviews possible."
Helping to run Dooyoo? - Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Although, who do you think notifies Dooyoo of the plagiarised or offensive reviews? Who do you think notifies Dooyoo when a review is posted in the wrong place and searches for the correct place for it? Who do you think notifies Dooyoo of the reviews which (in their humble opinion) are crownworthy?
So, I suppose they DO help run it.
Incidentally, guides DON'T decide a review should be removed because it is plagiarised or offensive - they notify Dooyoo who either remove it or not as they see fit.
By the same token, they DON'T decide if a review is crowned or not (although their opinion might carry some extra weight), they recommend it, and Dooyoo decide. You see, guides DON'T just say they are nominating a review in order to get reciprocal reads/rates/recommendations.
Now, I can't speak for any other guides, nor would I presume to do so, but I defy any member on this site to say that I don't act in the above manner. No, I don't leave encouraging comments on every single review in my category, but I try and encourage members when they write their first review in my category, and other times as an when suitable.
I offer advice but try NOT to be 'in yer face' about it. Some people don't take advice well.
I always try to be available should a member have a question or need some help with the site - and NOT just in my own category.
I also avoid talking down to members and getting involved in arguments in the comment threads.
To me, and I could be wrong, this is what a guide's role is.
So, that's what guides are and what they do...allegedly. Obviously, this isn't a perfect world and people make mistakes. But the crux of the matter, for me at least, is the fact that this is voluntary. If Dooyoo were to reward the guides in some way, then they could expect a more professional response. That's not to say that I don't try my very best (as, I'm sure, all the guides do).
There's a lot of discussion at the moment about changing the guiding system. Now I don't for one minute suggest that it's perfect, and some of the suggestions seem like good ideas to me, but not all.
For instance, this idea of rotating guides doesn't seem the smartest of moves. As if people are breaking down the doors to become guides (I'll come to that later). This is SO New Labour. In fact, why don't we go the whole hog and insist on 50% being female...not to mention significant proportions from the ethnic minorities...and let's not forget the disabled.
I took this position because no-one else wanted it at the time(I assume), and to the best of my knowledge no-one has since applied for it. Who am I going to rotate with?!!!
I think I do a reasonably good job as the guide for UK & Ireland. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I don't see how anyone could do significantly better. I'm knowledgeable on the subject and travel around the country quite a bit - there are few places I haven't been to. I read every single review in my category, and I always try and leave constructive criticism where possible and I'm always available to help.
Of course, I could be miles out here, but I don't think so.
Having said that, fresh blood (as opposed to spilled blood) might be the order of the day.
But I'm nothing if not pragmatic. So why don't you leave me a comment and you can put me straight by telling me I'm NOT suitable!
In fact, here's an idea. If you'd rather see someone else guiding UK&Ireland, why not leave a comment and we can let Dooyoo decide who to appoint.
At the moment, because of one thing and another, there are quite a few guide vacancies.
Fancy the 'job'?
Just think, you get to give up your time for no reward and as a bonus, people queue up to question your integrity!
Seriously, there are vacancies at the moment and, contrary to what might be suggested, it's NOT a closed shop. In the current situation, or at any time really, it would be good to have a full compliment of guides.
So, how do you become a guide? Well, it's pretty simple really, but to save anyone the trouble of actually looking around the site to find out, here's what Dooyoo say:
"If you feel you would make a good Community Guide you will need to:
Show you rate fairly
Have a passion for helping others
Understand how dooyoo works
Try to read all the reviews in your chosen category
Be prepared to volunteer your time and energy
Have written a good number of reviews with crowns* in many of them.
If you are interested in being considered as a guide and believe you have the time and enthusiasm necessary then email --- firstname.lastname@example.org ---- outlining why you would like to guide and which categories you would be best suited to."
* As you can see, being able to write crownworthy reviews is a pre-requisite - not a 'perk'.
One last thing. Current guides do NOT decide who is appointed. They have input certainly, opinions even, but the final decision is Dooyoo's.
Anyway, the bottom line is this:
I have no intention of resigning as guide for the UK& Ireland catgory....at the moment. However, I certainly don't want to hang around where I'm not wanted. That being said, I'm a sticker. So until someone else takes over as guide for UK&I, I won't be going anywhere. Of course, haein' a guid conceit o' yersel' means feckall in the grand scheme of things,
so...come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!
What I'm saying is this: If you'd like to guide the UK&I category, then go for it...I won't stand in anyone's way. That goes for any and all categories.
Anyone who is interested can apply and dooyoo will decide whether or not to appoint them. If someone applies for UK&I category, and dooyoo think they're suitable, they're welcome to it. But until the position is filled, I won't resign. I don't see that leaving the category guideless helps either dooyoo or the membership.
So, after reading all this, do you still want to be a guide? Well, you know what to do.
Go back 5 years in time in the wonderful world of Dooyoo if you will, a fresh-faced 21 year old Mr T.C.Thegame made his first foray into the world of guiding, taking over the internet category, a few months into his tenure he transferred over to sports before leaving it all for not enough time back in March 2002. I did make a brief comeback early 2004 as Software guide but got screwed out of that position quite quickly and was actually replaced without ever receiving an e-mail from a Dooyoo member of staff.
Having been offline for a while I came back to the site in the middle of last year and found it in a disarray, I didn't have any inkling to really get involved in it all again seeing how bad it was, then the awesomeness that was Sebastian started implementing some changes and the site got a lot better, I came back on and everything seemed good, but the public profile of the Dooyoo guides, seems to be a bit different, in this following opinion what I hope to do is give you a look at the differences between the system back in '02 and now (some for the good, some for the bad), followed by how I'd like to see the guides system ran in whole.
Before I start needless to say I don't know the whole ins and outs of everything that happens between Dooyoo and the guides behind the scenes now, I can remember what it used to be like, and make comment on what it appears is happening at this moment in time, but when it comes to my comments, anything I say appears happens between guides and Dooyoo today don't take as fact, t'is just my opinion.
Back when I first guided Dooyoo obviously had a lot better resources than they do right now - instead of one personal point of contact for all guides, categories had their own managers and guides reported to their own categories manager, and if needs be there was JP who was a 'general manager' if you will and covered all category's, this was great as it led to a degree of variety in what each different category manager thought was crown-worthy and it challenged the members to really try with their opinions.
Nowadays the guides are (wrongly I might add) sometimes seen as the equivalent to a category manager where-as they still do what they did back when I did my guiding, they check their categories for crown-worthy opinions, abuse, useless opinions and general areas that could be kept tidy, whilst being a point of contact for the more general of queries that a member has, well at least that's how I'd hope they are.
In my second spell as a guide I was introduced to a Dooyoo guides group on Yahoo (albeit by another guide - not Dooyoo themselves) that although not compulsory made for a great tool for keeping a team mentality and also a great place to rely on if a guide was ever unsure of what answer to give when asked a question or how to react should a strange situation occur. You'll notice in the last sentence that I made point that membership wasn't compulsory, that's because in my time there were a couple of guides who refused to join up as they don't participate in forums, now fair enough a forum isn't everyone's cup of tea, but what if something was to come up that needed open discussion between the guides, if you're not a member you can't have your voice heard, Secondly what if a problem/query comes up that you don't know how to answer to? Perhaps another guides already had experience of it and they could help you out a bit, even without active participation in any chat that happens I see no reason why a guide shouldn't be a member of the group - surely if nothing else its going to aid better team-work?
Looking at the process now, I know the group exists and that Dooyoo use that as a means to communicate with guides where they feel a group discussion would be appropriate and I for one applaud this, it means that there's a regular place of contact that can co-exist e-mailing back and forth between guides and Dooyoo and shows that the Dooyoo staff are at the very least on the face of it willing to listen to their guides.
Now onto what I see of the guides today, my first thought is one that's going to bring up a bit of contention I think, y'see back in the day when I was guiding it was a widely accepted expectation that a guide would read every review that had been submitted in their category, and if for any temporary period of time you couldn't do that then another guide or a pre-approved non-guiding member covered you until you came back. If it turned out that this was a more permanent thing or you did it a lot, then most guides would actually quit. Turn this to nowadays, there's several categories that I regularly read when I get chance to have a perusal around, and quite often I'm finding some categories where a guide hasn't read the review.
Now I'm not saying that a guide has to read every review posted in their category, I'll be one of the first to say that traffic on the site has upped in the years since Dooyoo started but I'd still think it was only fair to expect a guide to read the majority of opinions posted in their category, and when it gets to a point where I can go into double figures of opinions that haven't been read by the relevant guide then I feel personally that that guide either has someone covering them or isn't giving the category their all.
Another thing that seemed to be a given in early time guiding was that a guide would have a bit of a public profile, by that I mean they'd post on the forums that were there for opinion writers, places like the now defunct chatterweb and OpCom and the current main forum of opinionators.co.uk, again this seems to have fallen by the wayside over the years.
TC's suggestions for the future then? There's a lot I'd like to see happen with the guides now, a lot where I know I'm not Dooyoo and its their site so they can run it how they see fit, but y'know member input and all that, it never hurt anybody.
Firstly I'd like to see a bit of a rotation within the current guiding system, there are members who've been guides quite literally for years - not that I'm saying they're not right for the job but how is that fair on the newer members who may be just as if not even more qualified to do the job? What I'd like to see Dooyoo do is every 6 months all guides position's come available for members to apply for them, yes the guide can re-apply for the job, but they're not guaranteed they'll get it again - the outcome of this? It gives everyone a chance to give guiding a go without forcing people out of their job - surely this would be good for the site and make for a more member-friendly Dooyoo.
Guides to be a bit more active on the community side of things. I just think this one would make the guides more approachable by members, if you've got a query about the category and the guides a member you've never read before and they don't post anywhere but the main site itself then its going to be a bit daunting for the shier members to ask a question - and surely thats detrimental to the overall feelings that Dooyoo is trying to convey on site.
Guides to read the majority of reviews in their categories - As said before, the traffic on-site is immense at the minute, Dooyoo themselves can't be expected to read every single review and as such won't be able to pick up on all abuse and crownable opinions on site, but if a guides there to point them in the direction of anything they actually need to give their attention to, you should see the abuse/awesome opinions slipping through the net kept to a minimum.
Guide's to be covering categories they actually have experience of - I can remember a while back a guides blurb openly stated they had no experience of the category they were guide of but they enjoyed reading reviews about it. That to me is wrong, if you've no experience of a category then factually incorrect opinions could end up being nominated and getting crowns, members should only become guides so long as they've been affluent in the categories they're guiding.
When a job becomes available through a guide resigning, it should be made as an announcement on the community page, that way you dont need to be chummy with other guides to be in the know of whats available and what isnt sadly thats how it appears to me at the moment, fair play Dooyoo ask the outgoing guides if they have any recommendations but be aware that the guide may then use their influence to get their friend into the guides rather than offer someone whod actually be good at the job. Youd think this hasnt happened but it did in my second tenure as guide at least on one occasion a member was announcing themselves as the new guide for a category purely through being told theyd got the job by their (then a guide) friend, however the current guide in that position hadnt even left the job and was merely on holiday!
Guides to write around a bit more maybe not an actual stated requirement of the job but perhaps a recommendation, naturally a Guide is going to be expected to be able to write crown-worthy opinions in their own category, but then if a Guide starts writing constantly in their own category and regularly getting crowns for it its going to look to Dooyoo members like theyre abusing their position just to get a bit of extra cash (I know its only £1.50 but still a few of them a month soon adds up to a lot), where-as if they write around and in several different categories it may seem as if theyre trying to contribute more fully around the whole site, then theres the added bonus that Members are going to have less chance of claiming that guides get all the crowns.
So Im done, As you can see I like parts of the Guides system but feel that at this moment in time it is ultimately flawed, theres too many chances for members to accuse guides of either favouring their friends or of hogging all the crowns, also if you make the opportunities more open to every member then it gives everyone a reasonable chance to show how good they can be in the guide and will knock out the image of the old guard. Eliminate all of this and you may find that the site will run a lot more fluently.
After sorting out the formatting of this review I was going to leave it for a while, There was a thread that I was aware of (and has been alluded to in the comments on this review) that wasn't painting the current Dooyoo guides system in the greatest light, however it wasn't with any concrete evidence so to speak, that has now changed - Dooyoo have now confirmed that the guides have the ultimate decision, which in my eyes is just wrong. Rather than just say this the best I can do is show you the evidence, go to http://www.opinionators.co.uk/mainboard/viewtopic.php?t=2064 and read through it, but be warned - its 15 pages long as we type, but in my eyes it does show another part where the Dooyoo guide system is just wrong.
This review is part of the Open Universities series of programmes on Dooyoo and is suitable for those who have a working knowledge of Dooyoo. Youre bearded; jumper wearing sandal loving liberal minded presenter is Professor FDH.
The Guide or Guideous ratemus opinium for its full Latin name is a rare breed often found lurking in the dense world of the German state of Dooyoo although some migratory breeds can be found as far a field as the Italian friendly fiefdom of Ciao or the more demanding and hostile Epinions located in the Mid West of the United States of George W plc.
The guide is happiest whilst hunting through the many reviews on Dooyoo particularly those in their own category. Each guide tends to have their own specialist area and in certain cases where there are a large number of reviews and hence a plentiful supply of food then this is often sufficient to support two guides who will work together to read and rate the reviews in their category. To see these fine specimens working in harmony is certainly a site to behold.
Some guides have been known to become quite territorial and will actually stalk not one but two categories however these tend to be smaller in size.
Each guide will often have a home that they return to, this is called a Tooyoo guestbook and can be accessed from their home page and is the best way of making contact with a guide and getting into a conversation.
The guide survives on a diet of reviews and rates no different to a normal inhabitant of Dooyoo and they do receive the occasional crown as a reward for their writing however to earn such a reward they rely on the nominations of the other inhabitants. Folklore used to have it that it was the guides who were responsible for the awarding of crowns however this myth has been shown not to be true and it is in fact the gamekeepers in the Dooyoo office who awards the crowns. The guide does nominate those it believes deserve a crown however the game keeper does not always follow this advice and will also reward those reviews not nominated by the guide but nominated from others.
This urban legend of the supposed additional powers of the guide has long been in existence and propagated by a few on the site claiming that they are more likely to receive crowns however the overall evidence does not lend support to such a view.
The guide is a friendly species by nature and is always ready to help others who are in need of assistance. They ensure that the lost and confused reviewer gets the help that they need as often it is easier to contact them than the Dooyoo office. They are also useful at providing advice on how to improve reviews for those that need it and generally set an example through their own work.
Traditional folklore held the guide to be a superior specimen although sightings have tended to challenge this assumption. Some guides are mostly nocturnal although a few do venture out during the daylight hours and some can be found at an oasis called opiniators where they join in the general debate on a range of topics. Mass sightings of the guides are rare however the guide homepage which can be accessed from the members page on Dooyoo does provide a rare sight of them all gathered together however be warned this might be a bit upsetting for those of a nervous disposition or young children.
The birth of a new guide always comes after the demise of an old one. The creation of a new guide is clouded in a certain amount of mystery as the job is a voluntary one. Fortunately, as some would argue, no one has ever claimed to see a guide mate however it is believed that the Dooyoo game keepers have to provide support and approval to allow this to happen.
This inability to mate without help means that guides have their own form of Viagra known as a Sebastian whose intervention is important to the whole process. Indeed the potential loss of the Sebastian has been seen as a loss both to the guides and the whole of Dooyoo.
Although reasonably high up the food chain the guide is not without threats against its survival. As always it is man that poses the greatest challenge.
Loss of habitat can put individual guides under threat from a lack of reviews starving their category of inspiration and life.
The greatest threat could be the whims of the Dooyoo office itself however the fact that the guides provide an unrewarded and important administrative function which reduces costs to Dooyoo and hence more money to reward us all mans that this threat is a small one.
As reviewers we ourselves have a role to play to enhance the life of guides. Boredom and sheer frustration at the number of reviews can put pressure on the guides indeed recently one guide came under huge pressure when a vicious outbreak of Whats in my bag? swept through her category for weeks on end only to be followed by My New Years Resolutions which was a very trying time.
On the whole the future for this rare breed of individual who gives up some of their time to support a website we all enjoy and receive some benefit from looks pretty positive. Do make use of their assistance if you need it. If your review did not get a crown it is not their fault however if you ask they will probably be able to give you an opinion of why it did not get a crown.
Certainly I have found it far better to contact a guide first when I have a problem or a question as the response time is a lot quicker.
Thanks for reading and rating my slightly tongue in cheek review.
Update April 2006
Since writing this review I have become the guide of Banking and Finance so I guess it is now about me.
When I first joined Dooyoo the whole concept of the guides was a strange one to me as I could not really see what they actually did. It seemed to me that the role consisted of having your picture pop up occasionally on the front page, dealing with the odd question from members and nominating reviews for crowns.
The cynic in me saw the role as one that allowed Dooyoo to have a group of members who acted as the first point of contact and reduced the need for the office staff to have to interact with the members of the site and also as these people were unpaid it gave them a cheap resource.
After a couple of unanswered e-mails direct to Dooyoo it soon became apparent to me that if you wanted something doing, like getting a review moved or chasing up a voucher then it was better to contact a guide in the first instance as they certainly appeared to have a more direct means of communication with the office staff. To be honest this has proved the most successful route on the both occasions that I have had a problem and the guide in question has been very helpful and always got back to me within a couple of days with an answer.
One of the biggest debates that appear to surround the role of the guides is their influence over the awarding of crowns. Anyone can nominate a review for a crown, and crowns are only awarded by the Dooyoo team. It is my understanding that as part of their role guides will also nominate reviews for crowns. Whilst these nominations are not guaranteed to be accepted I would assume that they carry far more weight with the Dooyoo team than a nomination from a normal non guide member. It may be intentional but there is a certain lack of transparency about the crown system, members do not have anyway of knowing whether their review has been nominated or not, indeed the only way you find out is when a little crown appears against your review usually at the start of the working week.
On the whole the guides serve a useful purpose on the site and can offer good advice to new members and can usually sort out any problems that you have. If you follow the link at the bottom of the members page you will find a rogue gallery of guides that would not be out of place on Crimewatch and most of them would be recognizable as being very active on the site however there is the odd exception to the rule and perhaps this is potentially one of the problems with the system, if you have some guides that are not seen to be active on the site in either reading reviews or writing them.
If a guide is not active then you can wonder why it is they are carrying out the role, it may be that their category is not very active with reviews written however looking at the faces I do not recognize and the categories they cover that is clearly not the case. My personal opinion and Im sure one that will be challenged in the comments section is that to carry out the role of a guide you should be active on a rating and comments basis at the least and preferably also contribute the occasional review, after all a guides writing should in theory offer an example to others of what makes a good review.
Overall the guide system serves a purpose for Dooyoo and I would imagine can be quite time consuming for those doing the role. For those of you do not know who they ar follow the link from the members page.
When I joined five years ago, dooyoo had gurus, not guides. Guru was more an honorary title for outstanding members writing consistently VU ops who would give advice to other members should they ask for it, but they did not check the categories, look for crownworthy ops and send nominations to dooyoo. Why should they? Those were the days when there was not * one * overworked staffer responsible for the German, the British, the French, the Spanish and the Italian site, oh no, the British site only had several staffers responsible for the different categories, always ready and willing to help and on the look-out for crownworthy ops.
I dont recall when dooyoo decided to sack them and talk the gurus into doing their jobs but without being paid, just for the honour and the glory of it all, the scheme worked, the term guru was dropped and the guides were born. One day one of them who had watched me writing and commenting for some time asked me if I wanted to become a guide, some categories needed one and she thought I might be good at the job. The scheme worked (flattery does it!), I contacted the one remaining staffer (he was sacked later) and decided to take over Campus&Career this being the category I understood most of. Unfortunately most ops didnt deal with universities, faculties or curricula as I had assumed but with life on the campus, clubbing and the places in the vicinity where one could get pissed during the weekend, they soon bored me stiff.
I had always been interested in the travel category, from the beginning I posted many travel reports, so when I noticed that many brilliant ops in this category werent crowned I was troubled, I didnt know what was going on. I knew the guide to be a committed dooyooer, why didnt he nominate any more? It was impossible to contact him, he didnt respond, later I learnt that he was miffed about something dooyoo had done to him and because of that he stopped caring. I found that unfair towards the members who had put much effort into their ops and so I sent the IDs of the ops I thought deserved a crown to dooyoo headquarters without anyone asking me to do so, when the guide handed in his resignation at last, I took over from him. I found a student who was happy to guide C&C and all was well.
Travel can be quite a busy category, especially in the holiday season, so I got myself a partner, when he left dooyoo for good, I found another one, collingwood21 (hi!). We do two weeks alternatingly, the partner whos off duty can also read but doesnt have to, in case one of the two is away on hols the other partner covers, if there are probs with an op or a writer, we discuss it/them. I wouldnt want to be the only guide all the time, if guiding became a duty and stopped being a pleasure, I wouldnt like it any more. I wouldnt like to be active * together * with my partner, either, I need my two weeks off to relax.
When its my turn, I read all the incoming ops, I think the mere quantity of ops Ive already read guarantees that I know by now what is a crownworthy op and what isnt. Ive seen it all, the one paragraph oppie on a hotel which doesnt even mention where in the world we are up to the more than 8000 word long op on Tokyo and the plagiarised pieces. When a newbie posts a brilliant travel report as their first op or a writer whos got a long list of SU ops suddenly posts a brilliant one, I google the text in question, sometimes with astonishing results! Only last week I landed on the site of a hotel and found the * brand new * travel experience (Ive just returned from my summer hols etc. etc) to be a four year old entry by a guest.
What do I do when I feel an op is not perfect but near perfection and some alterations could lead to a crown? This is the trickiest part of the job, its a tight rope walk, we dont see each other, we dont hear each others voices, cant watch each others body language, how do people react to my virtual suggestions? Im always the same and I always write in the same way, its interesting to see how differently the recipients of my advice react. I can say that most members have reacted positively, they have thanked me for hints on how to edit, which mistakes to correct, what to add, a few, however, have emptied a bucket of manure over my head, either in the privacy of my guestbook or openly in my comment thread. Well, if they need that to feel better . . . I can live with them, they dont make me cry in my pillow, thank God, my self-confidence doesnt depend on whether dooyooers love or hate me.
When I write an op myself, Im an ordinary member just like anybody else and I dont like the suggestion that it should be more difficult for a guide to get a crown, I put much effort into my writing and I want my ops to be judged by their quality and not by the status of their author. Im not a saint like some of my fellow guides who arent interested in the financial reward, I * am * interested in the financial reward, I dont think this is something to be ashamed of. I was picked as a guide because I had a lot of crowns, its not to be expected that the writing of a member deteriorates once theyve been made a guide, is it? I wrote well before becoming a guide, I write well now that Im a guide and Ill write well when Im not a guide any more, sorry, cant help it! :-)
As to the introduction of a set of rules for the guides no, thank you! Were all sensible grown-ups doing our jobs conscientiously, arent we? If an issue comes up, we can discuss it in a civilised way without having to follow rules as has been done recently with the DVD issue. Logically, where there are rules, there must be sanctions, whos going to impose them, whos going to execute them? Dooyooland a police state? What would be the appropriate sanctions for guides anyway? The loss of the guide status, the deletion of the account, permanent exile to ciao?
Can I imagine not being a guide any more and handing over the baton to someone else? Yes, I can, but people who discuss a rotating system should know that the number of members who really want to commit themselves to the cause of dooyoo is limited, many make a lot of noise, but when it comes down to the realisation of their theories, they arent heard no more.
This is what I think about the matter. I imagine some members are wondering if Ive told them the whole truth. Do the chosen few really get nothing out of guiding? They must be incurable nutters to sacrifice their spare time and to stand on a pillory voluntarily. Well. Im going to fess up: in the course of four years Ive receives two polo-shirts and one mousemat from dooyoo. Now its out.
"Run for the sun little one..." Ahhhhh, you cant beat a bit of Bucks Fizz can you? So anyway, I suppose in many ways I shouldn't be writing this? Well, I am a guide and I think that the actual reason for posting this new category is to gain feedback from the members about guides. Hmmm...well...I'll write this anyway and see what happens. Im a devil arent I?
Lets start by saying that the clue is in the question or in this case, the title. A guide is just that: a guide. A bit like a museum guide, a good pub guide or even a girl guide. No, no...maybe not a girl guide then. Yep, a guide is meant to guide the members. Of course, this presupposes that the members want to be guided in the first place but here in lies another nuance.
So in amongst all this guiding what does that actually entail? Well, my own interpretation is thus:
First of all recommending opinions for crowns. Yessiree, tis the most popular subject on Dooyoo and the most contentious. A guide is meant to recommend the best opinions in their category each week. Dooyoo then award crowns to the top 10% of opinions posted. So if 10 opinions appear in, say, motors category, and 3 get recommended then only 1 should get a crown in theory. Now there has been some speculation over guides influencing their own crown awards and picking up more than their fair share. Even now to the point that the guide group feel it necessary to infer that it is now harder for them to win crowns than the rest of the members by having to be nominated by a non-guide member click to be eligible. There's a whole subject here in its own right but 2 things stand out for me. Firstly, if the guides are meant to be the better writers hence them being guides at all wouldn't you expect them to be regular crown winners? Not because they have a divine right to win crowns or even because of their guide status but merely because they tend to be good writers. Secondly, if we differentiate between guides and non-guides e.g. by saying "It's harder for me to win a crown than it is for you, governor, because I'm a guidester" then isn't that putting a group of people on a pedestal? I mean, I dont like pedestals. I like kicking pedestals from underneath people. Is that an evil act? I dunno. For me, all members should have the same opportunity to win crowns regardless of whether they are guides or not and it's this aspect that sets Dooyoo aside so much so from sites like Ciao. OK, insist on a member click for eligibility for a crown but make it for every body and not just for guides.
I guess the acid test is as to whether there is a whole cache of illicitly crowned opinions by guides on the system somewhere that would prove foul play. I can honestly say that I haven't read a crowned opinion that didn't deserve it and that's a big up to Dooyoo HQ and a small up to the guides that have made the recommendations. Unless you know differently, of course...
So apart from crowns what else? Well, guides really should read all the opinions in their category as far as I am concerned. When I say that, I do admire the movie guide and others that work busy categories. You have to take your hat off to them for all the reading they do but it's only by reading every opinion that you can achieve consistency and fairness when it comes to crowns and stuff.
I guess guides should set an example although I think it's easy to overplay this. We are simply unpaid helpers on an Internet site and not an aide to the United Nations or summat. If members want help then fine, just ask. In my experience, I can't recall the last time someone asked me for hints and tips on how to write better opinions. I have done this in the past myself and found the advice invaluable but nobody seems to bother these days. I dunno, maybe I'm being presumptuous that I have the ability to give folks this kind of guidance *sigh*
There are other things within the subject of setting an example too. I guess the old chestnut of rating is in there. I certainly try to rate with my head rather than my heart but I do maintain that rating written work is not an exact science. One person's "VU" may be another person's "U" and there will always be differences at the margin. I guess the biggest lesson I've learned over the years is that a rating is a personal rating and should mean something to the person rating. What I mean is that if someone feels that a piece is "not useful" because they don't find it useful then so be it. I know that there are guidelines as to how to rate and there is a perceived ambiguity over off-topic opinions but the best example I can give is my last opinion was crowned and yet someone rated it "NU". Now I know the person rating and did query it ever so politely but that's as far as it goes. The "NU" is still there and if they feel it's not useful then it's not useful. This principle can apply equally to any other form of rating. The majority of members will always be reluctant to vary from "VU" for lots of reasons but the old mantra "rate the opinion not the author" really is true and a rating other than "VU" really isn't a personal sleight on the author (mostly!).
Oh yeah, guides really should be on the lookout for abuse too. We now have a nifty template that makes it quick and easy to report dodgey dealings and I reckon I use it to report abuse half a dozen times a week. *Sheesh* This site has become decidedly dodgier over the last few weeks.
To be honest, I think that covers it mostly but it is interesting to know what most folks think. As for the other topical guidey issues then:
Yes, I think guides should be rotated 6-monthly. If only there were enough people wanting to be guides to make this work though!
Yes, I think nominations for guides should come from members. I'm not really sure where else they would come from to be honest and it's how I started when Ken the mad_cabbie suggested I apply to Dooyoo a few years ago. (Yes, it's Ken's fault!)
Yes, I enjoy being a guide at times.
Yes, I also hate its sometimes. The site has been very frustrating over the years with all the technical problems it has endured and the occasional on-site spats that become personal and flare up in threads makes my heart sink when I think about the effect it may have on new members. Fortunately, this is relatively rare.
No, I won't be a guide forever. In fact, after doing my third or fourth stint (I forget) I think I'm close to the end of my current tenure. I'm sure that after reading this then there will be thousands of readers wanting to step into the breach (Yeehah!).
Ho hum...there you have it. My opinion for what it's worth but isn't that what this site is all about?
Thanks for reading
Note/update Jan 06: I am no longer a guide although I stand by the comments in this opinion. However, I would stress that it is important to enjoy the site so try never to get *too* serious.
Why have any guides at all?
Well I think lack of people paid by Dooyoo to look after the site make guides a good way of ensuring the site runs properly. Ideally guiding, monitoring for abuse and nominations should be carried out by Dooyoo employees but at the moment that is not possible so guides are here and here to stay.
THE ROLE OF A GUIDE.
Ive been the co-books and magazines guide with Sarah (Calypte) for a few years now and as far as Im concerned
1) The guide is there to make it possible for Dooyoo to run more smoothly for the benefit of Dooyoo management, members and users.
2) To this end guides should read and rate the review in their category and nominate the best reviews for crown awards. They should be on the look out for abuse and report this when spotted.
3) They should be there to help members when required but should not take a condescending or patronising tone with people.
4) They should have a visible presence on the site and make themselves available for advice and comment but they should avoid any confrontation with members as this while sometimes justified just serves to put many other members off the site.
5) They should when possible be active in their respective categories and the site as a whole and lead by example in writing well, rating fairly and acting firmly with abuse.
Ever since I started on dooyoo Ive heard people moaning about the way crowns are awarded. People feel particularly strongly that guides have an advantage over other people in getting crowns and if you look at the stats it does seem that guides do get quite a lot of crowns. However there are some things to bear in mind. By definition the guides are picked from a pool of experienced writers who BEFORE they become guides have achieved a fair amount of success in getting crowns for their work simply put they tend to be fairly good writers, so if the guides are picked from this group it doesnt seem surprising that they should get plenty of crowns.
The other flaw in the conspiracy theory argument probably stems from a misunderstanding of how the crowns are awarded. The guides nominate the reviews they feel are crownworthy (any member can and should also do this) these nominated reviews then go to Dooyoo and the crowns are picked based on what Dooyoo think not simply on what the guides have said. The second point to remember is that guides CANT nominate their own reviews and they only get a crown if they have at least one NON-GUIDE nomination. Thus in theory it is slightly more difficult for guides to get crowns.
The flip side to this is that I think guides should be treated the same as any other members and that a bias against the guides is unfair in principle, it could also be counter productive since it could suggest to others that guides can't be 'trusted' to nominate fairly and extra controls have to be set up for them.
IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE
Ok we've had a few days since this category went up and so far a few reviews have been submitted. The suggestions that seem to have surfaced up to now relate to a rotation system, rating and the crown awards for guides.
Two heads are better than one! Yes I think ideally this is true. Ive been co-guiding with Sarah and it works well however we do guide separately in two-week stints so that we share the workload rather than getting together and discussing nominations. We do on occasion consult each other over particular issues and this has been helpful and sometimes we will ask each other to have a look at a review that might be difficult to rate nominate etc. So for us it works and works well it also makes things easier when one of us is away, the other takes over.
Now of course this is only one way of doing it and it is only partial co-guiding. Another way would be for each co guide to read/rate/nominate separately in the category concurrently, again this might work but care has to be taken to avoid disputes between what is considered as a good review or one that deserves nomination. The co-guides idea of what they think makes a good op/abuse or right advice must tally to a great extent to avoid confusion for members. A third way of co guiding is to literally co- rate and co-nominate so that at the end of the week the two guides get together and discuss the reviews posted in their category before nominations are made. This might be interesting but it might also be time consuming and possibly divisive. I think a certain compatibility between co-guides would be essential.
Of course any form of co-guiding relies on having a big enough pool of potential guides to choose from.
One other aspect to be considered is having one person guiding in more than one category. In the past this has happened because there was a lack of people willing to guide certain categories and thus some kindly offered to step in. I think this should only happen in an emergency and should only be short term. Guides should take care of their category and only their category otherwise the perceived influence they have over the site will become a problem.
Rotation Of Guides
On the face of it this would seem like a good idea, guides should not be seen as having a job for life and it seems desirable for the site to have a few new faces once in while. However there are difficulties as well. The first and most obvious is that there isnt a huge pool of members that have the commitment experience or are simply willing to guide so having a rotation might not be that easy. It also depends on how such a rotation system in implemented
You could ask all the guides to swap categories every so often, this wouldnt require a big influx of new guides but it would mean that a guide who has performed well in one category say Food and Drink will find themselves in charge of Motors and might not be as effective. I think there is a lot to be said for having people guide in categories that they know something about and feel comfortable with.
You could give a guide a fixed term in the job, say six months. This would mean that a guide does the job for this period and then retires for a time at least and would not be eligible to take that category again until a few other people have had their turn. This probably appeals more to me than the first proposal but again it requires a large pool of potential guides to choose from.
Of course you could argue that many guides dont stay in the role for very long anyway, there does seem to be quite a turnover of guides on site and maybe the system doesnt need changing. It seems to work well on the whole the way it is so why change?
Appointment Of Guides
At the moment this is carried out by Dooyoo, it has been suggested that members should be able to nominate who they would like to see as a guide and that member should have some say in the process even to the extent of voting. I can see problems with this; certainly we dont want to turn the whole process of picking guides into a popularity contest. The system at the moment means that anyone can put themselves forward as a guide or nominate anyone informally to Dooyoo. Dooyoo (Seb) then makes the decision based on what he knows of the person record for reading/rating/writing on site and may ask informal advice from the other guides and other experience members, I think this is a sensible approach and on the whole it does seem to produce good guides.
Another point of contention is the way guides rate and the inconsistency over rating. We all know that rating however many guidelines you have is going to be to some extent subjective and so a VU to one might be a U (or even SU!) to others and there is nothing wrong with this however when it comes to review that are clearly off topic or lacking in some aspect then you would expect the guides to show a united front and rate accordingly. This was the case in the DVD category where reviews of films only without DVD extra details where being submitted in the DVD and getting VU from some, while others where rating them down because they were incomplete for the category in which they were posted. This cause a lot of grief on site and produced some quite entrenched positions, so finally Dooyoo acted by providing clear guidelines as to how such reviews should be rated SU! It seems that now all the guides will rate in this way and consistency at least will be achieved. On the basis of this example some have argued that similar rules should be introduced for other or all the categories. While I think it would be a good idea to have clear rules on some things I wouldnt like to feel that guides or members in general have little or no flexibility on how they feel they should rate. We dont all want to be come clones of each other.
Crown Awards Again
One further suggestion that many would dismiss outright (I did initially) is that guides should NOT be eligible for crowns. This might seem very restrictive and it may limit the number of people that put themselves forward for guiding BUT many of the guides have said that they dont guide to get crowns or more reads so this shouldnt matter You might also attract people to guiding who do have this attitude and obviously the accusations of bias in the awarding or crowns would stop! I can see that it would be inherently unfair to exclude the reviews that guides might write from crown nomination and they would not be highlighted as Good Ops either but they could still be crowned without payment as the discussion reviews do.
One final thought would be to combine the fixed term rotation system of say three months with the guides not receiving payment for crowns since the period of guiding would only be short the lack of payment for the crown would not be enough to put many off and the system would address peoples concerns over the bias of crown awards to guides.
I think the crown system on Dooyoo works fairly well and compared to some other sites like Epinions it seems fairer and less autocratic. I dont think many changes are needed but its always good to debate things and not to get too complacent. The main thing I would say to any guide is
Be patient with members
Be fair with members (even the ones you dont like!)
And dont get bigheaded! Youre guiding to help people and the site not to impose your ideas on others!
Please feel free to comment!
the good old Guide system. I'm a big fan of the Guide system on Dooyoo and a large part of that has nothing to do with Dooyoo, but the people who been in these roles over the past, what, five years?
Recently, I was in contact with Dooyoo (or rather, their current public face, Sebastian) with regard to the Guide system. The Guide system is a fairly simple affair if you look at it, which explains why it has largely remained unaltered during Dooyoo's life. Changing it wholesale has never been an option, but there are some relatively minor alterations that I believe could work to the site's advantage given the changes that can happen (sometimes within a short space of time). What follows below is a large portion of the email that I sent to Sebastian, although with a few extra comments where necessary.
The aim of these suggestions is to hopefully update the Guide system to bring it in line with the new Dooyoo that's been in operation since July and to help deal with a (hopefully) growing, active membership. Some of these suggestions actually rely on Dooyoo getting a bit busier, but I think it's only fair that since Dooyoo has been reinvented (for the better) that the Guide system is, too.
The basic system where Guides can help members by showing off good behaviour around the site, making sure things are posted properly, acting with integrity, advising members when they're stuck etc. should remain. I'm a big believer that the members (not just Guides) can help each other out, leaving Dooyoo with more time to continue to improve the site (add suggestions, do technical stuff etc.) and the Guides are a large part of that.
So, on top of the current Guide system which I've already explained still works exceedingly well, I'd like to suggest these additions or alterations to how things are currently done:
1. All Guides should be seen to be following a set of Guidelines set down by Dooyoo. These guidelines do not have to be overly complicated, but should set down a standard of behaviour that's expected of all members (and as such, the Guides should be setting this example and acting with integrity). These guidelines may or may not be displayed publicly for the rest of the Dooyoo members to see if they solely apply to Guides, but I think it would be a good idea for a general set. These guidelines can, of course, be updated should the needs of the site or the roles of the Guides change.
[The recent announcement regarding the differences between the VHS and DVD category is an excellent example giving Guides (and users) something to refer to when rating. Other such guidelines might be how to rate 'off-topic' reviews (and I'm not getting into the age old argument here of what constitutes off-topic in the various categories) and other things. I can't think of what these other guidelines might be, but the DVD/VHS thing was becoming an issue and the off-topic thing is always an issue.]
2. At least one person should Guide a category. In busy categories, perhaps two people should Guide. I don't think, though, that it's productive to have one person Guide more than one category. Also, unlike the current system of co-guiding, both Guides should be active every week, nominating Crowns etc. in tandem, rather than taking it in turns.
3. Guides shouldn't have a "job for life". There should be a system in place where Guides can be removed and/or replaced if various factors are brought into play e.g. a Guide is inactive (not reading or rating) on the site for a period of time (e.g. one month) without prior notice, a Guide fails to follow the guidelines set down, a Guide is behaving in a manner that does not encourage "proper" use of the site etc.
4. All guides should be rotated on a regular basis anyway e.g. six months. My suggestion is that two groups of Guides are created equal numbers in each. One set gets rotated each March and September and the other gets rotated each June and December. This ensures that the Guides are always fresh and provides an incentive for those who behave well and want to take a more active role around Dooyoo. By staggering the rotation of the Guides, you're ensuring that there are always experienced Guides in place to help the new ones with any issues. This can be done by category or, in the event that each category has two guides, one Guide is rotated in March, the other in June, etc. Unless there are no suitable candidates, Guides shouldn't be able to Guide the same category on consecutive rotations.
4b. If the rotation system is unworkable (and I think it would be the hardest suggestion here to implement), what about a suggestion where a Guide's position is safe for a period of time (e.g. six months) as long as they're fulfilling their roles properly. However, after this set time period, anyone else can apply for that job, and if they're suitable enough should be given a shot at Guiding.
[Again, perhaps Dooyoo would like to specify what exactly they're looking for in Guides. I know there are FAQs out there which kind of deal with it, but I'm not sure how old they are, and I can't be arsed to go and check. I remember back in ye olden days, users had to have at least 50 reviews written with a goodly number of Crowns (and some of these had to have been in the category you're looking to Guide) before being considered as a Guide. I think this kind of system might well work again.]
5. Members should be able to nominate people for a Guiding role. There could perhaps be a form in Dooyoo's member centre where a member can nominate another as a potential Guide in a specific category. If this person is seen by Dooyoo to be a good member (see above), then they could be approached if a Guide is needed in a category. I think that this would help, as the Guides would still be seen as ordinary members. Failing that, ask people for email nominations which would mean no development time for a form and Dooyoo would just have to post a message in the member centre.
And ummm that's it, really. The last three suggestions I've made are pretty much all along the same lines to keep the site fresh, but the first two could be a real boon to the site as a whole, I think.
I've been a Guide twice (Internet and Computers) and enjoyed every minute of it. I only gave up each of my two stints as I was leaving the country for a long period of time and couldn't devote the regular time necessary to keep such a role. Guides are important to the site and it's up to us to help them help us. It's also up to Dooyoo to back up their Guides where and when possible. A few years ago a member took it upon himself to abuse a Guide because he was not getting Crowns. He kept this up for almost a year and Dooyoo at the time, while being aware of it, did nothing. Thankfully, such abuse is not common, but the actions of Dooyoo at this time meant that not only did they lose a Guide, but they also lost an active member which no-one likes to see.
That wouldn't put me off applying to have another go though as Guiding was fun and I learned a lot from it, too.
Keep up the good work guys 'n' gals.
Hello there, for those of you who do not know me I am dididave, dooyoo member and more recently dooyoo Guide of the audio/hi-fi and video categories. I have been a member of consumer opinion sites for years and an active member of dooyoo since June 2005.
Now that the boring stuff is out of the way let us get down to the nitty gritty. I am going to try and answer a number of questions that may or may not be of interest to you. These include how I perceive my role as a Guide and what benefits I receive. What do I think of Guides in general and what would I change?
Dooyoo's current stance on what a Guide is and does can be found at http://members.dooyoo.co.uk/community/_page/faq#23. My own personal take is that a Guide should:
1: Try and rate as consistently as possible (we are not robots and as such cannot be expected to be infallible).
2: Help members as much as possible particularly in their own categories in terms of advice and guidance.
3: Explain any ratings that veer massively away from the "norm".
4: Be transparent and honest in dealings with dooyoo members.
5: Remain friendly and approachable to all, as any member should be.
6: Rate all reviews in their category.
7: Report abuse or nominate for a crown as appropriate.
8: Be the go between for members and dooyoo staff.
For me this is all straightforward enough, after all the majority of these are nothing more than common courtesies. However, I think what can give Guides a problem is the transparency and honesty others, and I try to maintain. Guides seem to become unpopular due to our unswerving nature regarding ratings and a tendency towards what some seem to think our harsh comments. The most recent example of this is in the case of DVD reviews. As a group Guides have discussed the tendency for DVD reviews can often contain no information on the DVD. In conversation with dooyoo staff (or their spokesperson Sebastian) the outcome is that dooyoo policy states all DVD reviews with no mention of the extras OR lack thereof are to be rated SU with an explanation of why. Hopefully this will lead to a consistency across the board. Much has been made of reviews previous to this rated VU by Guides and others and all I will say is that re-rating is at a members discretion but I personally am happy to receive re-rates or SU's on my previous DVD reviews were no extras are mentioned.
Members often talk of the hidden advantages to being a Guide. Well, all I can say is they are bloody well hidden because I cannot find any! The supposed "Golden Ticket" or preferential Crown treatment I have heard bandied about are ludicrous to anyone who has a look at my own statistics. Since becoming a Guide my Crowns to reviews ratio has actually decreased. This can only be for one of two reasons. One, my review standards have slipped (possible of course). Or two Guides are no more likely to get a crown than anyone else is. The official line from Sebastian at dooyoo is that it is actually less likely for a Guide to receive a Crown than any other member is. Apparently a Guide needs a nomination from a non-guide before they are considered whereas anyone else needs a nomination from anyone.
So, if this is the case why do I guide? Well, I have a genuine interest in writing consumer opinions, for me it is something I am passionate about. Sad or not (you be the judge) opinion reading and writing is one of my main interests. As a father of four going out is seldom on the agenda so I find dooyoo gives a constructive pastime that is less damaging to my wallet than ebay while providing a little money for my other hobby of book collecting. For me Guiding is an extension of this and is my chance to give something back. I guide because I want to help people enjoy reading and writing consumer opinions and reach their potential. Would it be corny to say by guiding it also helps me to reach my own? Probably but I do think I have learnt a lot as a Guide. If I can point members in the right directions if they get lost and confused on dooyoo I consider it a job well done. This is why at times it would be nice that what other Guides and I do is entirely voluntary. In a largely thankless role we do our best and if that is not good enough then I will still sleep at night but I have tried.
This is not to say I am not willing to listen. Indeed as one of my few skills besides writer's diarrhoea I would hope all members feel I am available to them on tooyoo or via email or simply within comments. I am always happy to receive queries be it general guidance or questioning a rating and as a Guide I do have a directish line tot he powers that be so can pass anything I cannot deal with up to those on high.
My personal feelings on the future of Guiding are that Guides on the whole do a good job (some will say I would say that). It has been discussed that Guides should be rotated to keep ideas fresh and their should be at two Guides per category and I am all for this if there are enough members willing. However, I would be more interested in what other member's views are. Consider this your chance to guide the Guides. Without naming specific Guides how do you believe Guides should and do behave? Are we on a power trip or are we doing okay? What would you change? I throw the floor open to all dooyooers. Comment, agree or disagree, as always we are all entitled