Pushing Buttons: Obsoletely Not Fabulous
The emergency ‘Report’ function is rapidly reaching archaic status with every nanosecond that passes. As we experience astronomical numbers of concurrent site users (many sites claim 6 and 7 figures), it is logistically, as well as physically and virtually, impossible to keep up with the number of “emergencies” reported online every minute, hour and day.
Imagine 100,000 people in a park, each with their own “emergency” button that sends their help request to a dispatcher. Now imagine 7-10% of the group pushing that button every minute. This is essentially what happens every minute in popular gaming, Virtual Worlds, and Social Networking sites. And imagine 90-94% of the “emergencies” reported with subjects such as ”I’ve lost my password.” “You stink of cheese” or “I need a boyfriend sooo much!” So, our dispatcher is having to sift through 90+ % non-emergencies to get to the 5-10% more serious issues. How should websites deal with the dilemma of a necessary but obsolete user function such as emergency reporting?
This is not a new problem. 911 (112 in the EU or 999 in the UK) report a large percentage of calls received as non-emergencies. In fact, it’s illegal to make non-emergency or bogus emergency calls in some states in the US. And in one area, mobile phone pocket misdialing led to 44 bogus calls per day to 911, which translates to hours of wasted time, which translates to a boatload of wasted taxpayer money, which leads to angry taxpayers.
Responsible sites with a social component (gaming, virtual world or networking) provide a way to report an emergency. The reporting or “call for help” system is designed to be used in emergency situations similar to the offline 911 system – for situations such as extreme bullying, personal safety issues, security threats, or the like. The emergency system is in contrast to the normal protocol provided for reporting less severe problems, such as an e–mail system, live chat, a knowledge database path or an online embedded form within the site such as a HELP area or CONTACT US page.
The problem online sites face each day is number-driven. Virtual worlds and Gaming sites, in particular children’s sites, often experience 90+ % bogus reports daily. A regular issue is when users push the button simply to see what happens (another offline problem). At Moshi Monsters we see calls for help that say “I love my monster, thank you!” or “who is this?” or “how do I catch a moshling?” Once we surpassed 1 million registered users, we couldn’t find enough hours in the day to deal with the daily emergency reports. It is impossible to deal with large volumes of reports unless a site employs a sophisticated software system. Moshi uses the Crisp Platform, which actually catches problems faster than a user could possibly report them. The Crisp platform flags potential problems in nano-seconds and allows our Moshi Public Safety team to deal with the 5-10% more serious issues by chucking the 90% “I want a boyfriend” and “I love my monster” issues into a “non-threatening or low-level threat” issue queue. It’s brilliant. I’ve said it before, I’ll keep saying it. It’s the Holy Grail for people in the online community business.
There’s a strong case to be made for removing the ‘Report’ or ‘Emergency’ button from sites, IF a site uses sophisticated software to detect behavior issues and IF a site employs professional, experienced staff to monitor the software reports in real-time. It will take time and patience to educate and convince the public that proper software is more efficient and accurate (and objective) than the ‘Report’ function and Humans watching a queue of reports. It’s easy peasy to prove that software is more efficient and accurate (and objective). But change is not so easy peasy for us, is it? And there is something compelling about pushing a button, be it online, in an elevator or just harassing your best mate
Rebecca Newton, Chief Community & Safety Officer, Mind Candy Inc. (moshimonsters.com)