The Importance of Feedback
I don't have a green thumb at all, so this plant in my backyard is perfect for me. Why? It was lush and lovely when I bought it, then after a few days of my typical neglect in the fierce San Antonio sun, it drooped very ostentatiously - I mean it looked completely dead. I watered it thoroughly, but fully expected it to die and join the group of terminal cases beside the compost pile.
But no! Two hours later, it had rebounded back to its former lush beauty. And I was proud and relieved I hadn't killed it. Instead of encouraging my bad plant care, I'm extra fond of this neglect-tolerant variety so paradoxically pay it more attention than the less forgiving plants. Because I've experienced a payoff, I'm willing to work harder.
Set Yourself Up to Win Online
This cycle of signal-action-payoff works to motivate site owners to keep content fresh on a website, and it's critical to effective interaction and game design. Signal users strongly and unambiguously with obvious changes and new content, then reward them for desired behaviors - such as visiting.
Any blogger will tell you how lonely the time is between writing a post and getting that first comment. Despite the metrics program's report of unique visitors or page reads or time on site, we crave a little acknowledgment, a little validation. When we get some love, we'll work that much harder on the next post. Conversely, when a user takes time to check in on your site and sees the same old stale content, you're signaling them they needn't drop by so often.
So make a point of sprinkling some content nuggets around your online presence and comment on those of others.