Karma-lization! The Pros & Cons…

The concept of karma was first originated in India to describe a relationship of cause and effect; “the effects of all deeds are viewed as actively shaping past, present, and future experiences“. Hundreds of years later, the social media karma idea emerged heavily relying on the same traditional trend that goes: “Do onto others as you would do to yourself.”

karma

What goes around comes back around!

In a vast virtual world where each of the online users aim to seek recognition, be known, be heard, and be “someone” who people desire to be associated with, karma seems to be a fine defining ground of online intentions! Karma comes across as having the power to add balance to online relationships and differentiate between spammers, heavy advertisers, blabbers, time-wasters and those individuals who are really looking forward to make a change, invite others into their world and make them a part of it while being a part of theirs as well.

In life, there is always give and take! Karma ensures, to some extent, that this kind of relationship exists and persists between the members of social media communities therefore, good karma can only be earned by dedicating free time to positive community activities such as:

  • Submitting content that the community values
  • Initiating and relating relationships with other community members
  • Contributing to blogs of community members via comments, linking and guest posts
  • Reading and voting for your friends’ content
  • Adding meaningful insights to conversations within the community
  • Asking for nothing in turn for your positive contributions

Amongst the famous social media sites that utilize karma, the following list comes to mind:

While reading “Social Media Karma: Be Proactive! you can easily see how valuable karma can be not only in bringing people together to share arts, culture, music and ideas, karma could also open windows of opportunity for businesses aiming to create long lasting relationships with potential clients as well: “Prior to now, business reputation could often be made through advertising and public relations slight-of-hand.  But the world is becoming more and more transparent and, simultaneously, elephant-like.  It sees more and forgets less. Karma is certainly not an invention of social media.  But social media highlights how people react when healthy social reinforcement is in place.”

So how does karma work?

Well, basically, like everything else on the web, karma has certain calculations, an algorithm based on variable factors such as:

  • Duration: The period of time the user has been a member of a certain network or community
  • Contributions: The overall number of contributions he/she shared
  • Activity: How active the user was
  • Rankings: Positive/Negative rankings by other community members
  • Rejection: Number of people who have blocked the user or his/her comments
  • Communication: How active was the user in communicating with others

This all seems way too simple. But it never is!

Apart from the fact that trying to fulfill karma requirements consumes great amounts of time and effort, it doesn’t always work and it certainly won’t always pay off! There are always hidden rules, here and there, that will prevent you from reaching, as Plurk calls it: The Karma Nirvana! You may be following the social media commandments to the bone by empowering others and yet lack their support in return for any reason!

So the 8 principles of Karmic Communication doesn’t always work? The answer is affirmative! No, it doesn’t!

As I have noticed from my endless research about this topic, karma might be a reason why the phenomenon of  blind voters came to play and why some people actually try to play around the system in one way or another to earn karma they are not worthy of!

“Karma ain’t that good!” And I must agree! For such a great, peaceful concept to be transformed, or worse yet mutated, into a discrete yet gruesome competition is just sad!

To conclude, allow me to ask you something: Is social media karma all what it’s blown out to be? Or is it just an evil plot to alter behavior and manipulatively condition online users? I urge you to think about it.

** Great thanks to Man With Dominos / Web link: The Middle Way for the image :)

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    What goes around comes around :)

    I think that is even clearer with the open communication of social media. The move you give, the more you get… the way you give, the way you get as well. A person with a longer time over a social network would sure be noticed more than someone else who barely shows up. And a person who lends a helpful hand can be remembered more than someone who posts a useless comment.

    It may not go 1-1, direct cause and effect, but sure it is out there… clear and effective… let us use it to our advantage, and be good people :P

  • http://autom.x.iabc.com Autom

    indeed, the Golden Rule is a longstanding axiom. Due to social media's open and often unmoderated environment, the transparent quality that is the effect (more than the driving force) of the open community exposes varying motivations and behaviours from users. My sense is that we must be careful not to interpret attempts at 'mapping out' behavioural patterns into a formulaic scheme that implies a measure of karmic value. Otherwise, as you pointed out, the measurement would be skewed. Perhaps the focus is to keep in mind that our intents and interactions are relative to our own sense of integrity and good will (or lack thereof). Thanks for giving this concept some thought, Fadi. Cheers! Autom

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    Great post, Beirut. I like the concept since I started noticing it on Slashdot a year ago. And, come to think of it, I think the good old forums such as 'PHP Bulletin Board' and similar projects had this, too. I mean each user had levels (junior, senior and so on), the number of posts he contributed with is shown on each post, member-since date is public, too. All this, plus the online reputation he built for himself can be considered Karma. When I surf a forum, I trust senior member's opinions and do not even read junior members ramblings, most of the time!

    My quote of the day is: “Karma helps make social platforms more effective!”. :)

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    Autom, thanks for the comment. I think that any open and transparent platform needs some sort of activity meter. Not to decide on behalf of the users who's good and who's bad – so to speak, but to show them what they can expect from this user. For example, a user with very low feedback count on eBay can be expected to commit fraud more than a user with a 2000+ positive feedback ranking. At the same time, this does not mean that the 2000+ fb user is always honest, but he's got the 2000+ feedbacks he collected over the last year at stake!

    By the way, Beirut wrote this article. Fadi is cooking one for us as we speak :)

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    hey autom, welcome to thoughtpick :). Actually those were Beirut's thoughts, my last post was about Ford Feista's social media campaign.

    I see the karmic value very simple, just do good and you'll feel it instantly yourself. I think this works, even online :)

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2009/05/are-social-media-users-schizophrenic.html Are Social Media Users Schizophrenic? « Thoughtpick Blog

    [...] seems to be interested in almost everything on the Internet, so does rmuser! With karma of over 14,000, BrainBurger appears to be a well-rounded person whose interests expand and go [...]

  • AngelinaBellew

    The downside to this process is one that can be the most frustrating. No one can interpret ‘chemistry’ between two people on blind date uncensored any level except for the individuals themselves. Friends or family can make a guess based on who you have dated in the past, but there is no clear definition of what any one of us finds as far as the ultimate attraction.

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