This week, request-log-analyzer obtained its 100th watcher on GitHub! Bart and I have worked hard to make r-l-a a useful product for many people in various situations. The fact that more than 100 people are following the project’s progress and that at this moment, the gem has been download almost 200 times, shows that we are somewhat successful in this regard. Numbers like these, in combination with the e-mail messages we have received, motivate us to keep spending time on the project and keep improving it, even if these improvements are not directly useful for our own projects. It has grown beyond scratching our own itch. On a related note, my Flickr photostream recently welcomed its 10,000th visitor.
What started as a convenient utility to backup and share my holiday photos with my family and friends, now has become somewhat of a showcase of what I am about and what I am up to. I would not consider myself a “professional” photographer and I am not an active member of the Flickr community, but still I get feedback on my photographs by visitors, because their visits increase the view counters of my photos. These counters have really motivated me to make more of an effort when I put photos on Flickr. I started by adding titles, descriptions and tags, so that my photos are easier to find. I also became much more critical of the pictures I upload to Flickr: new uploads have to add something significant to my collection. Analyzing why some pictures got more attention than others made me a better photographer, although there still is a lot of room for improvement. :-) Ignite the lazyweb, kick-start a quality improvement loop What interests me in these examples is that simple counters like watchers on GitHub or views on Flickr can be valuable feedback and can motivate people to put in effort. The end result is quality improvement: write better software, make better pictures, etc.. Even an inherently lazy person like me can get motivated to keep putting in effort and to keep improving myself, because of such a simple feedback loop! :-) Additionally, it creates a dependence on the website in question. I look at my Flickr stats page every day, and I am subscribed to my activity feed on GitHub to get notified when new people start watching my projects. I nowsimply have to publish tools I write on GitHub to boost its quality, immediately and in the long run. And I have to upload pictures to Flickr as it is vital for my photography learning curve. I guess I finally figured out what Web 2.0 is all about! :-) Can we use a similar technique on Floorplanner to boost the quality of the designs our visitors make?