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The Downside of Positive Feedback

It is well known that anonymous and pseudo-anonymous feedback forums online, like Yelp and Craigslist, have a negativity problem. In emotionally disconnected and consequence-free environments, users tend towards over-the-top and unhelpful negative feedback, and just plain meanness.

I am starting to believe that apps whose services involve human interaction in the real world, ranging from Uber and Flywheel to Instacart and Postmates, suffer from the opposite problem. Feedback forms on these apps are designed in a way that people have incentives to be too nice, not too mean.  This niceness destroys the value of the feedback and makes it hard for these marketplaces to measure the quality of their service.

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It is possible that this isn’t a problem that the real world service platforms really care about yet. If I learned that the real reason for feedback was to give users a place to vent steam about bad experiences and make users feel like the company is engaged and listening, I would more than accept the current way in which feedback works; however, I do think there is a big opportunity to dramatically improve the effectiveness of feedback for users, the marketplaces, and workers to drive engagement and quality.

Hendrik Laubscher and Alex Kruglov commented on this article.
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It is as hard to be negative about a person you have interacted with in the real world as it is easy to be mean to someone you have never met.