Foodspotting Using Scarcity to Increase Quality

Using Scarcity to Increase Quality from UX Magazine

“Foodspotting is a site where people share photos of their favorite dishes. Rather than review a restaurant, you can see and share favorite dishes at a restaurant. You like the Pad Woon Sen at that Thai place? Let people know by taking a photo of the dish next time you eat there. Foodspotters, as Foodspotting users are called, love sharing these photos. In fact, before there was Foodspotting, there have been photo groups on Flickr where people shared interesting photos of dishes.

So how is Foodspotting using scarcity?

If you’re making the effort to photograph your dinner, you probably at least enjoy that dish. But what about your favorite dishes—the ones you rave about to your friends? For these, all users get “noms”—special ribbons reserved for those dishes you’ve tried and loved best. But there’s a catch: Foodspotting states, “You only get 5 noms to start with and must earn the right to nom more foods after that!”

Foodspotting using restricted Noms
“Noms” are reserved for my favorite dishes.

By limiting noms, Foodspotting encourages people to be more selective about which foods deserve special recognition. The site claims “the blue ribbon (the ‘nom’) means more because it’s hard to get.” People won’t give every dish a nomination lest they have no remaining noms to give to a dish that really is exceptional.

This idea could be applied in other, more familiar contexts. Imagine YouTube limiting each person to a handful of five-star ratings per month. Or what if Facebook limited the number of “likes” a user can use per day? While this isn’t the behavior Facebook wants to encourage, introducing a limited supply would change how people use the “like” button.”

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