"So, What's the Point?" The Genius and Curse of the ActiveRain Points System

Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

It's time once again to play our game, "Name That Guideline!" And I'm your Host, ActiveRain Community Builder Rich Jacobson!...

We've been re-acquainting ourselves with the ActiveRain Community Guidelines and dissecting each one in sequential order. This week, we come to the following guideline:http://www.activerain.com/garaughty

  • The point system is intended to recognize the top professionals in our industry. Do not try to game the system. Points for blogging will only be awarded for majority original content.

Since the very beginning of our Network, the point system has been the source of constant debate and criticism. Take a stroll with me down AR Memory Lane to help illustrate my point:






Whether you love 'em or hate 'em, you have to admit the Points idea was a stroke of genius by ActiveRain Co-Founders, Jonathan Washburn and Matt Heaton. Put a bunch of competitive Type-A Real Estate Professionals into a public forum, award them points for their activities, and establish ranking by the number of points earned. Brilliant!

Unfortunately, just like anything else in life, there are those who will deliberately set out to 'game' the system, and take unfair advantage of those who legitimately 'earn' their points the right/honorable way.

In addition, there will always be those who attempt to take shortcuts towards achieving success. These members are under the misguided delusion that racking up a boatload of cheap points by posting 'crap' is somehow going to help them gain higher ranking with the search engines, translating into more potential leads. But what they'll eventually discover is that today's sophisticated consumer isn't attracted to their cheaply contrived and hollow articles. They'll quickly move on to other member posts that contain more substance and relevant content. And all they're left with is loads of points and lots of crap! (Carnac would be so proud of me!)

But I digress...

"The Points System was originally intended to recognize the Top Professionals in our industry."

Gee, what a novel thought, huh? The Point System was designed to reward our 'professional' members for contributing/participating in meaningful ways that bring value to our community....

(I feel like the guy in the Geico commercials: "I've heard they were also quite beneficent and magnanimous")

And just what are those meaningful ways? Here's a few...

  • Writing good, quality real estate-related content articles 
  • Engaging in meaningful dialog (commenting) on other member's posts
  • Sharing our professional expertise/knowledge/experiences for the collective benefit of our Network.

Quite naturally, it would bear out that those with the highest scores would be those who had made the most significant contributions, and participated most consistently. As I look back through the ActiveRain members who have amassed over 200,000 points, with only a few minor exceptions, this certainly appears to be the case.

So what is YOUR legacy here in the Rain? What nature of blog archive have you labored to assemble? Are the points you've earned thus far reflected in the quality of your writing?

"It depends on what your definition of IS is"

Okay, so what exactly is 'Majority Original Content?' Tell me exactly how many of my own words I need to include so I can qualify for the 200 points. If every one of my articles contains the same 50 word self-promotional ad, along with all my pertinent contact info, that should qualify for the 200 points, right? What if I simply copy some statistical data from our local MLS, and paste it onto my blog. 200 points, right? How about if I post all the same content, but change the titles around? Better be worth those 200 points! At least it's MY content! If I post the same listing more than once, I should get more points, right?

Broker Byrant has a blogging mantra he refers to quite often: "ALL ORIGINAL, ALL THE TIME!"

The best way to stay out of Copyright Jail and to earn your points honestly & ethically is by posting your own original content, all the time.

Good, effective, and successful blogging takes time and energy. It requires consistent commitment. There are NO shortcuts. Dumping garbage into your blog just for the sake of garnering some quick points is....well,.....pointless.

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Rich Jacobson is a REALTOR® and licensed Broker with Fathom Realty. He's a Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, skilffuly vanquishing anything in a shell! He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.


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Gary and Shannon Kiernan
Dominion Real Estate Partners - Cave Creek, AZ
Cave Creek Arizona Real Estate Blog

It is too bad that there are people who just comment on other peoples blogs all day can get more points than people who actually put out good blogs for the AR community.  We are #3 in our area because of two such "commenters", who do not write their own blogs but are busy racking up the points commenting on everyone else's work.  What makes it more insulting is one of them did it in record time.  Just sat down and made it his goal to get the top spot by earning commenting points in less than two weeks.  Makes me crazy.

Sep 18, 2008 03:57 AM #124
Marian Gregor-Ann
Keller Williams - Ann Arbor, MI
Arbor area Real Estate

Hi Rich, I have to say that you look very spiffy in your santa hat!!!!  It's very interesting to read all of these many comments. I have to ask... is there a method for putting the 'kibash' on the gamers?  Just wondering.` Also is it OK for me to end my comments with...

The Horse Girl ~ Marian

Dec 07, 2008 02:17 PM #125
An Marshall
Berkshire Hathaway - St. Augustine - Saint Augustine, FL
Your St Augustine Real Estate Consultant

Great topic and great discussion all the way around.  I take everything I do seriously and committedly, thus so, Active Rain.  I see it as part of my marketing and lead strategy.  Thus, I have instituted into my daily routine.  Altho, still  AR neophyte, hopefully the enthusiams will last.  Also, somewhat new to the industry, I am finding a tremendous resource of real world experience  and I, by God, am an information junkie and proud of it!

May 28, 2009 08:46 AM #126
Carissa Acker
Real Estate by Design with Keller Williams Realty - Denton, TX

Great content here; thank you for taking the time to put it together.  I have stumbled across a few posts that are blatantly keyword stuffing and don't make much sense.  In my eyes, they are just trying to get run over by search engine spiders.  Is this something I should report?  If I do report it, do those people see that I did it?  Just curious as I'm new to AR.

Sep 15, 2009 11:27 AM #127
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Carissa:   Anytime you 'Report a Concern' it remains confidential. I believe in Keyword Karma. Good things happen to people who write with the same style they talk in. The search engines are becoming more and more sophisticated and are able to weed this stuff out anyway....it's old school SEO.

Sep 15, 2009 03:47 PM #128
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Like Susan's "bare naked" transparency goal in her blogging. The days of just peddling property and that is it are over. You need to blog about the area many of your buyers have never been. And in the process of promoting the sticks/bricks, the area the property is in, your brand and who the heck you are, what makes you tick should come thru in vibrant living color. That's why automation of our industry which never happen as you need the local tour guide rich in experiences, background on the property and area to pull the listings wagon.

Feb 23, 2010 03:05 AM #130
Kellie Morrissey
Keller Williams Realty Success LLC - Littleton, CO

Being new to AR your blog helped me stay on track and really think before I post a blog or comment.  Thank you for taking the time to write this.

Jun 12, 2010 04:32 AM #131
Melanie Hedrick
Elite Texas Properties, the best homes from McKinney to Dallas! - McKinney, TX

Just looking through the AR archives -- it's interesting to see the comments of AR members who are still actively participating. 

Jun 23, 2010 11:47 AM #132
Terry Kraemer
Exceed Realty - Houston, TX
Houston Realtor

I agree with the point system.  Everyone likes to be rewarded for their work, regardless of their age in life. 

Aug 08, 2010 04:09 PM #133
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

Interesting to look back at the post and comments about Active Rain points!

Sep 08, 2010 01:56 AM #134
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

You gotta wonder when you see the same comment coming up on multiple posts from a long time member with lotsa points, whether they have some new assistant commenting for them... or what?

"Interesting to look back at the post and comments about Active Rain points!" maybe I will leave it on ten posts today.... 


One time I copied and pasted in the same comment that Tom from Delaware with all the dollar signs in his signature pasted to 10 posts just before midnight.  Lo and behold one of the "ActiveRain gods"  donated me a hefty bunch of points for making him laugh.  I guess there was more to it though... I changed my comment signature to  BUY with a bunch of $$$$ too. Because we all know how Google loves dollar signs in a link. Or not.


Sep 08, 2010 02:53 AM #135
John Grasty
for real estate results in the Tri-Cities. - Port Moody, BC
Your Tri-cities REALTOR, neighbour and volunteer.

Here we are well into 2010 and it seems like I'm seeing more and more posts that are on this list.

These Guidelines are clearly not being followed so I'm hoping that there is a way to reel this in. Any thoughts?

Sep 23, 2010 07:47 PM #136
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

John:  I wish there was an easy resolve for such things. Unfortunately, the network has grown to a size where the limited staff of AR cannot effectively deal with these issues. All we can do is generate authentic content ourselves....

Sep 24, 2010 03:23 AM #137
John Grasty
for real estate results in the Tri-Cities. - Port Moody, BC
Your Tri-cities REALTOR, neighbour and volunteer.

I suppose this was the response I was expecting Rich.

I believe a check mark needs to be instituted asking if the post is real estate, Localism, original content, other, etc.. The wordless posts, groups dedicated to jokes, etc., would still continue without any problem for the enjoyment and pleasure of those who participate.

However, based on how it is checked the appropriate points would be awarded. Those posts not checked would automatically be awarded the lower number of points.

This would allow those new to blogging who will likely find it much easier to get started on topics they feel comfortable with, and perhaps that is okay. They'll quickly realize however the benefit to themself and to the network of posting on relevant topics.

BTW, I've done a few off-topic myself in the past, but I feel that we need to do what is necessary to encourage this to be kept primarily as a real estate network.

Sep 24, 2010 06:08 AM #138
Mary and Al Cardany
Re/Max Town Center - Germantown, MD

There is quite a bit to be said for the points system! I read about half the comments, but still don't understand why I need to acquire more points! Will it increase my SEO or will it just make me 'the best' blogger in my area?!

Oct 24, 2010 08:22 AM #139
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

I was waiting for someone... like Rich or anyone else to answer  #148 "why I need to acquire more points!"


"Will it increase my SEO or will it just make me 'the best' blogger in my area?!"

The number of points don't necessarily make you 'the best" blogger, it just makes you the member with the most points, in the area.

The points have encouraged participation for some (not all) members.  Points don't give SEO.   ActiveRain has excellent SEO though.    A member can have lots of AR points though and not  have their content show up at all in the search engines.

Some members use the points to gauge their progress until they can measure their progress in another way.

Oct 25, 2010 06:19 AM #140
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Points were initially implemented to stir up good, fun competitive effort. And obviously, it was a stroke of genius! However, there are some legitimate SEO benefits to be high up in the pecking order. At least, that's what I was told by Bob Stewart. It's something in the way the platform is constructed, and how content is crawled by the search engines...Plus, just by virtue of being one of the top members in your respective market area, does benefit you when people search by State, County, City, etc..

Regardless, if you're blogging consistently, using key search terms for your target market niche, the collective google juice of ActiveRain will help you to be found in organic searches!

Oct 25, 2010 08:04 AM #141
Dave Leiderman
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Ocean City, MD
ABR, SFR - Realtor - DE & MD Beaches

Rich I love the point system!  In fact, a peer and I are in the midst of trying to best the other for AR positioning in our market.  My only question is how to accumulate more points other than blog posting/responding and signing in?  I'm still surfing through AR to figure out all the bells and whistles.  Hopefully I'll figure it out soon!


Jan 22, 2011 06:07 AM #142
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

pssst Dave Leiderman invite points are great.... did you see the featured post by Bob Stewart (?)  a couple of weeks ago about how to invite members and get points.   Invite using the AR site, send an email using your link to people you know.

I just saw a guy do his invite link within the NAR group on Linkedin, will be interesting to see if the group leaders allow that. It was done tastefully but they have lots of rules in the group, are pretty strict.  Other groups on Linkedin, Facebook, etc. might work for invite points.

Jan 22, 2011 09:08 AM #143
Ed Williamson
REMAX Properties East (RPE) #1 in LOUISVILLE, KY. - Louisville, KY
Homes in Louisville, KY. RE/MAX Realtor & Broker, CRS,GRI,SFR

I see the pros & cons of points....but I also see many out of business agents with a gazillion points (that continue on autopilot, due to previous AR member recruitments)

May 26, 2011 04:31 PM #144
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