At many of the seemingly constant all-hands meetings we’re having lately, one of the buzz-phrases that i keep hearing bandied about is the desire to have “Passionate Users”.
Needless to say, “Passionate Users” scare me. i don’t want passionate. Passion driven individuals are folks who are lead by emotion rather than reason, who are blindly committed to something, who are by definition too stupid to use the higher functions of their brain.
Case in point, the most recent fiasco. Several months back, Yahoo! launched a suggestions board. It was a way for their users to not only leave suggestions and ideas, but for others to “vote up” an idea so that it gets higher priority. Folks could also comment on them, and Yahoo employees could not only respond, but were highlighted so that folks knew they weren’t talking down a well. To make things easier for folks to get, it was modeled after one of the most successful news and article discussion forums, that also allowed it’s users to vote on ideas, digg.com.
The idea worked out amazingly well. Folks got it. There were dozens of great ideas suggested by folks, and it allowed Yahoo! Autos to have a dialog with their customers. Things became less Papal (think Pope on a balcony pontificating to the crowds) and more Soapbox (think guy in Hyde Park on a soapbox).
Well, until a few passionate users saw it.
Remember, passionate users don’t bother with ration and reason. They saw the words “digg” and “yahoo”, a thumbs-up button, and immediately became convinced that “OMFG! Yahoo! is ripping off digg!!!1!1!!” They attacked the suggestion board viciously, decrying how it will never be the news and interest aggregation site digg.com is. They filled it with spam and graffiti along with calls that “someone needs to be fired!” for daring to use pastel colors, gradients and a TiVO like thumbs up button.
Fortunately, clearer, calmer heads eventually used the digg only “bury” button on a lot of the passionate users, but the damage was done. In a sprut of unbridled emotion, the most passionate of digg’s users rampaged across the boards. i fully expect those comments to be removed by the end of the day (although i do feel sorry for the moderators)
i don’t want passionate users. Passionate users are morons. i want engaged users. i want folks using products because they find them useful, beneficial and interesting. i want folks to tell us what they like, what they don’t like, and what would make their lives easier. i want users that regularly check out our competitors and choose us again. Sometimes we’ll be better, sometimes they will. Blinders only mean you miss the advantages when they happen.
i’ll leave the passionate users to the porn sites.