I’ve been trying to provide some general blog updates over the past few days, including a commitment to more trip reports, and my overall take on the state of points & travel blogging.
Several months ago you may have noticed that we introduced different “tiers” for commenters, including Gold and Diamond “status.” In this post I wanted to provide an explanation of that — why did we introduce this, what are the status levels, how do you earn them, what are the benefits, etc.? I’m sorry, as I should have explained this a long time ago, but frankly there has been a lot going on in life, and we run a lean operation.
Why we introduced OMAAT user tiers
Obviously this blog would be nothing without readers, and beyond that I also hope that some feel that OMAAT is a community. While some sites have moved away from having a comments section, that’s something I’m 100% committed to maintaining. While the internet sometimes brings out the worst in people, it also sometimes brings out the best in people, and leads to some very interesting conversations.
As we redesigned the comments section, we thought of how we can encourage positive interaction between people. That’s where the different user tiers come into play. No, this isn’t at all about picking “favorite” commenters, because that’s not how this works.
Rather it’s about recognizing those who (for the most part) positively engage in the community. This is intended to address a few different things:
- First of all, in our community people love elite status, so I thought that was a fun angle
- Blogs get a ton of spam comments (we get several thousand per day, most of which are caught by a filter), but even beyond that we feel more comfortable giving certain permissions to people who comment more often (including not having to moderate their comments, allowing them to post links, etc.)
- This system is intended to encourage people to interact nicely, and I’ll explain how that’s the case below
What are the tiers of OMAAT status?
There are five tiers of users on OMAAT:
- Guest — this is someone who just comments without registering for an account
- New Member — this is someone who registers for an account, but hasn’t interacted that much yet
- Member — this is someone who has interacted pretty significantly in the community, and has earned 25 points
- Gold — this is someone who is very engaged in the community, and has earned 250 points
- Diamond — this shows the highest level of interaction in the community, for those who have earned 500 points
For what it’s worth, status is “lifetime,” so you don’t have to requalify every year. At least that’s the plan as of now. 😉 And no, there are no status match opportunities… yet!
How do you earn OMAAT status?
Earning status is based on how many points you accrue. How do you earn points?
- You earn points with each comment
- You earn points for each person who marks a comment you made as helpful
- You earn points for each comment of someone else that you mark as helpful
I’m sure people can appreciate the intent behind this — the more you comment, the more other people find your comments helpful, and the more you find other peoples’ comments helpful, the overall friendlier the community it is. At least that’s the goal.
For now I won’t share exactly how many points (or fractions of a point) each action awards, since we all love some good gamification, right? I don’t want to encourage people to just mark hundreds of comments as helpful without reading them.
What are the benefits of OMAAT status?
We’re starting slow here, and for now the perks of OMAAT status are simply about commenting permissions:
- Member comments are auto-approved, so you don’t have to wait for a comment to be manually approved
- Gold members don’t currently have any additional benefits, other than having elite status, and that’s worth something, right? 😉
- Diamond members can add links to their comments without them needing to be manually approved (again, this limit is in place to make sure the comments section doesn’t get spammed)
In the future I plan on adding some additional benefits and experiences based on status, but to be perfectly honest, it just hasn’t been a priority right now, as there has been a lot going on in life. Nonetheless I at least wanted to provide an explanation of the system for now, for anyone who is curious.
I think the comments section is a vital part of the blog, as users share all kinds of awesome tips, constructive feedback, misrepresentations of Hilton Honors’ upgrade policy, etc. 😉 Of course the internet can also be an unfriendly place at times.
Our OMAAT “elite” tiers are intended to make the community a nicer and more engaging place, by encouraging people to leave comments, and also recognizing those who like other peoples’ comments, and have their own comments liked by others.
As of now the perks of this are limited to user permissions (including having comments auto approved and leaving links), but in the future I hope to be able to better recognize frequent readers for their contributions to the site, which I appreciate more than I can put into words.
Hopefully the above all makes sense. Let me know if you have any questions or ideas related to this. As always, thanks for reading!