As a level 5 Local Guide, I’ve hit the cap on Local Guide tiers. What if there were a level 6?
I’ve become a bit of a Local Guide addict lately, and I’ll admit it. I’m roaming the downtown Spartanburg area pretty much every day on my lunch break to take pictures of businesses and places. I review any new place I go to, even if it’s as trivial and inconsequential as a gas station or convenience store. When I’m not exploring, I’ll skim over Google Maps to find parks or other attractions that haven’t been turned into searchable locations. It’s an obsession, no doubt.
Because of this steady stream of points, I’ve climbed far above the level 5 threshold of 500 points. At the time of writing this, I have 752 points, and I have plenty of tasks in mind to handle when I get time. As the program currently exists, there are no benefits or rewards for climbing above 500 points. What happens when more and more users reach level 5? How is Google going to encourage continued participation? Will there eventually be a level 6?
Let’s take a moment to break down the progression from a new user to a level 5 Local Guide.
Seems fair enough: higher levels yield greater rewards, but entail a bigger point gap above the previous level. We can take these growing point values to estimate a minimum point requirement.
|Level||Required Points||Point Difference|
Alternatively, if we examine the multiplier gap, we see that the gap gradually decreases. Provided things remain the same, we can use this to find a theoretical maximum point requirement for level 6.
So with some basic trend analysis, we have a theoretical point threshold for level 6 between 800 and 1250 points. Since previous levels have all been very nice, round numbers, I think a solid estimate would be 1000 points. That’s a 2x multiplier, and 500 points higher, which seems to fit right in with the trend from level 1 to level 5.
Looking at these numbers based on the amount of effort to reach them, however… holy crap. In this blog post from about a year ago, I was hovering around 100 points. Fast forward a year or so, and I’ve gained roughly 600 points. That’s a collection of roughly 600 reviews, photos, and more. That’s a TON of material. Skimming through other reviews on businesses I’ve contributed to, I’ll see a good number of level 3 Guides and a few level 4 Guides, but I don’t think I’ve ever stumbled across another level 5 Local Guide besides myself. It’s a lot of time and effort to get to level 5, let alone any further than that.
Maybe Google intended it to be a bear of a task to reach level 5. With as much weight as it carries on reviews and such, it makes sense that you don’t want every average Joe with a terribly biased opinion showing up on the top of the search results. You want to know that the top Local Guides are as unbiased and informative as possible. Still, it’s nice to have a goal to reach for that isn’t impossibly far away.
While I think the program is fine as it stands, and doesn’t need a rework, I think additional tiers above level 5 could be implemented. Instead of following the trend of points up to level 5, however, I think it should be smaller gaps with less of an increase in rewards between each. The 300 point gap between 4 and 5 seems both fair and sustainable for continued levels. Instead of a flat 2TB of Google Drive space for level 4 Guides, maybe there could be tiered storage rewards for higher levels. Instead of just a t-shirt, maybe offer several pieces of apparel such as hats and jackets, and allow higher level Guides a better selection of rewards.
The entire Local Guides program is still in relative infancy. Google has reworked the point/reward system once, and they may do it again in the future. My only concern is that there be continued incentive for Local Guide activity, with an explicit threshold on what is considered an active Guide. I like the program and I want it to do well, and there needs to be procedures in place that prevent the stagnation of reviews and such.
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