Vie's Inn of Wonders' Awards

Ratings as a way to self-improvement.

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Every award program owner will find him or herself at one time wondering whether or not to get their Award Program rated by one or more of the award indices present on the net.

And it is a reasonable question!

Let's first start by asking ourselves what do ratings stand for. In other words what does having a rating mean?
The obvious answer most of the award givers and index owners will give, is that it grants credibility. Because your Award Program will undergo a series of processes and evaluations where the index staff will test your program against a fixed set of criteria. This is most definitely a valid argument in a world where give away awards pop up like mushrooms in the sand.

Well, what kind of ratings are there and what impact do they have on their member Award Programs? Aha! Now we're getting to the heart of the matter...
All ratings can (more or less) be divided into 3 categories: the certification/listed-rating, the "transparent logic"-rating and the "point level"-rating.

A) the certification/listed-rating

This kind of indices will simply list the Award Programs. They offer mostly only 1 badge called listed or certified and they have a basic list of criteria that each program has to fulfil before being accepted. The reason an award program would join this kind of indices, is to answer that fundamental need for credibility we mentioned before, but without having any real responsibility towards improving their Award Programs.

B) the "transparent logic"-rating

What do we mean with "transparent logic"? Well, because the applicant can have a good idea what rating they'll get when he or she applies or asks for an upgrade. Beside the basic criteria as listed in the rating above, these indices will offer an echelon of levels with rather vague or unclear criteria but will also add (often indirectly) a logical or transparent element. Now it's not only a listing of Award Programs anymore, but an element of division has come in the equation. This kind of indices will stimulate the Award Program owner to self-improve but without really giving information about what exactly needs to be changed in order to advance.

C) the "point level"-rating

This kind of ratings is the most interesting as here true efforts are needed to advance. The criteria are transparent and very detailed by means of a clear point system in which the applicant will have to reach a certain score in order to attain a specific level. These kind of indices will often give substantial feedback and clear indications as to what areas need to improve in order to greaten the chance for a higher rating at the next upgrade application.

Now that we know the different kind of ratings available, should an Award Program owner limit himself to one kind only? No, not at all. There are a multitude of reasons why any of the different kind of ratings listed above can be chosen at one point: be it to get a higher ranking in search engines, or the need for solitude and non-interference, perhaps even a bit of ego boosting is involved or the "transparent" element might be exactly what one needs. None of the above are bad arguments…We are all only human and sometimes that is what we need to keep us going, as we should not forget that giving awards can be a very ungrateful task.

What about the feedback of the latter kind of rating indices? Is it always correct and should it always be followed? It is clear that none of us have the eternal wisdom in hand, so a 100% error free or objective result can never be guaranteed, and the truth is also that even indices are influenced by changes in mindsets of the award community at large.
On top of that, one should never act blindly on feedback given…Only when the Award Program owner him/herself can find a way to live with the suggestions made, should these be implemented. Radical changes made too quickly and too many at once, will often cause a feeling of alienation of the own Award program that will have negative consequences.

Of course: one needs to know what's wrong first to allow change to happen… So remember that it never hurts to listen.

Written By Tony Duthoo
© Tony Duthoo, 2007. All rights reserved.
This article may not be reproduced, in part or full, without the permission of the author

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