online reviews

Project update: What’s new in May?

by admin on May 22, 2011

It’s been a few weeks since our second expert workshop, so here comes a brief update on what has happened since:

  • As you might have noticed, the announcement for the one-day conference on 28 June is out. We have a stellar line-up of speakers, including Malcom Ashmore, Andrew Balmer, Alex Wilkie, Ian Stronach and Stefan Schwarzkopf. While they all come from academic backgrounds, they promise to give some interesting (and, I have been told, entertaining) feedback on the project and issues of online evaluation more generally. If you would like to participate, please register soon. The event is free, but places are limited.
  • We also have been around a bit to talk about the project. Two occasions have been particularly interesting. On 19 April 2011, I participated in a panel discussion at the Internet Freedom Conference in Strasbourg organised by the Council of Europe. ‘Multistakeholderism’ is a popular idea in this context, and the group was particularly interested in the potential of web-based reviews and ratings for fostering participation and engagement in policy-making. The video of Panel 6 is still online.
  • Harvard-MIT-Yale Cyberscholar Working GroupOn a very different occasion, I presented the project at the Harvard-MIT-Yale Cyberscholar Working Group at the MIT Media Lab. This was a great opportunity to get feedback from a very diverse crowd of people, including media designers, HCI researchers, lawyers and social scientists. There was also a second presentation by Nick Bramble, which very nicely highlighted the important legal issue of third-party liability for content posted on review and rating websites.
  • Of course, we have also been working on the prototype. It has been far from easy, given the shoestring budget and tight timeframe we are on. However, while things are moving slowly, they are moving and we hope to have something to tinker with soon. If you think you can contribute anything to the process from design skills to a developer brain, it’s not too late.
  • Finally, a lot of people got in touch and offered their support or simply showed interest in the project. In this context, have a look at other initiatives, such as Eric Goldman’s and Jason Schultz’s new project Doctored Reviews that aims to help people deal with restrictions on online patient reviews.

More updates soon. Again, don’t forget to register for the conference.


Registration is now open for How’s My Feedback? – The Technology and Politics of Evaluation, a one-day international conference at the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, Oxford University.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011
9.00 – 17.30
Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

About the conference:

There is hardly anything these days that is not being evaluated on the web. Books, dishwashers, lawyers, teachers, health services, ex-boyfriends, haircuts, prostitutes and websites are just some examples targeted by novel review, rating and ranking schemes. Used in an increasing number of areas, these schemes facilitate public assessment by soliciting and aggregating feedback and distributing it as comments, ranks, scales and stories. While some have greeted this development as an innovative way of fostering transparency, accountability and public engagement, others have criticized the forced exposure and alleged lack of accuracy and legitimacy, pointing to the potentially devastating consequences of negative evaluations.

Now research is under way to tackle these issues head-on and evaluate the various types of review, rating and ranking schemes in a collaborative design experiment. Under the title ‘How’s my feedback?’, a group of experts, including designers, managers, reviewers, policy-makers, consumer spokespeople, academics and users are currently exploring the idea of a website that allows users to publicly assess their experience with review and rating schemes – a feedback website for feedback websites.

The goal of the conference is to reflect on this process and the emerging prototype. How are we to judge the effectiveness of these schemes? What modes of governance are implicated in their operation? What strategies and methodologies are employed in their development, maintenance and use? How successful is this project as a design intervention? What is it to evaluate the evaluators – and will this business ever end?

Speakers include:


Malte Ziewitz and Steve Woolgar, University of Oxford, in cooperation with James Munro, Patient Opinion


The event is free of charge, but registration is required: REGISTER HERE

Project website:
Download poster:
How to find us:

For more information, contact

The conference is generously supported by an ESRC Knowledge Exchange Small Grant and the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society.

UPDATE 27/5/2011: We just moved registration to a new site. If you already registered, no worries. You are still signed up.