In early June, we will launch a new social software service for technical professionals called Claimspace (codename, "Rapport"), which will join Tagspace, Blogs, and Forums as the newest member of the Microsoft.Community family. Our development lead, Doug, mentioned Claimspace a few weeks ago so I figured I'd follow up.

Tagspace enables you to say, 'I found this resource and it appears to be worthy of my attention.'
Conversely, Claimspace will enable you to say, 'I created this resource, wish to be recognized for it on these terms ___, and I hope you find it worthy of your attention. What do you think?'

What is Claimspace, exactly?
Claimspace is a decentralized, folksonomical resource* evaluation and recommendation system for technical professionals. Claimspace will enable you to take credit for your great ideas and gain recognition for yourself and your valuable contributions, wherever you go**, on the Web. Claimspace will provide a structured and simple way to build social capital, quantify its value, and establish credibility, on your terms. To participate in Claimspace, all you have to do is create and deploy or respond to an xClaim, anywhere on the Web.

*In this context, a "resource" is any item on the Web that is URI addressable. Conceptually, we divide resources into two groups: static and dynamic. A static resource is a resource that does not change. Static resources include Web pages, podcasts, videos, & etc. A dynamic resource is representative of a resource that produces static resources. Dynamic resources include such things as people and RSS feeds. How is Claimspace "folksonomical"? You can write anything you want in an xClaim; absolutely anything. We're not your parents and we do not impose a claim taxonomy.

**In our first release, Claimspace will be usable only in the context of our new Blogs and Forums. 6-8 weeks later, we plan to extend support for the creation and deployment of xClaims on practically any Web page to which you have write access, on the Web.

What is an xClaim?
Claimspace will be powered by legions of interactive widgets, which you and other Microsoft.Community members scatter across the Web. These widgets, which we call xClaims, are portable polling stations that you will be able to create and paste into or alongside practically any blog post, threaded discussion, podcast, code snippet, photo, video, or anything else that has its own URL which you wish to be recognized for, anywhere on the Web. Here's an example of what an xClaim might look like, in the context of a blog post that I wrote a few months ago: Friend-o-Gen, for just $.99/month. This is a mockup and only a mockup. Since Claimspace is a service, the look and feel of xClaims will vary on a site-by-site and client-by-client basis.

xClaim_1 

In the xClaim mockup above, the 'up arrow', 'down arrow', '?', and other little icons constitute an interactive voting panel. xClaims have three core vote options: '+', '-', and 'WTF?' These vote options are client-extensible and can be rendered as anything, including text descriptions like 'aye', 'nay', 'abstain' by the client application.

Why participate in Claimspace?
xClaims will enable you to call attention to and provide your readers or viewers with an easy way to vote and comment on the statement your xClaim contains; your claim. After responding to your xClaim, members can visit Claimspace to see how other members responded (or the client site can pull down and display vote tally information, programmatically). They can also view a list of all claims that you have created over time and navigate to the Web pages where those claims are posted, if they want.

xClaims will not only dress up your online contributions, they will drive traffic to them! More importantly, xClaims are designed to give your readers the information they need (the recommendations of other members) to comfortably and confidently heed your advice, act on your good counsel, download your goodies, and otherwise consume the resources you so graciously provide, on the Web.

If you would like to harness the simple power of Claimspace to your personal benefit, here are a few ideas and examples of how you might use xClaims to your advantage...once we release;-):

  • Blog and Forum Posts
    Read a few of your most recent blog and forum posts. If you don't yet have one, you can read this or this or this, instead. In each post, I'm betting that you'll find one sentence that articulates a central idea or thesis. This is the punch line. This is the meat. Everything else is supporting evidence. When you wrote your post, you may even have considered making that sentence bold or calling it out in some other way (e.g., "I'm going to make a catorical statement..."). When Claimspace is released, consider placing your meaty theses in an xClaim, instead. An xClaim is an IDEAL way to draw your readers' attention to the heart of your blog posts and other online content submissions and obtain laser-focused reader feedback and recognition for that which matters to you most.
  • Aggregating Praise and Building Credibility, Across Multiple Venues
    Most technical professionals who participate in online communities participate in and contribute helpful resources to two or more online community venues. Sometimes, you post relevant and useful information on a blog. Other times, you answer questions on forums.microsoft.com. Occasionally, you pick some low hanging fruit and answer a recently posted question on tek-tips.com or another independent forum or newsgroup. Once or twice, you may even have posted photos of whiteboard diagrams on Flickr or Live.com and pointed to them from elsewhere. Wouldn't it be great if you could aggregate all of the "thank you" notes you receive across all of those venues and give future recipients of your assistance a sense of your credibility and trustworthiness. xClaims allow you to do just that.
  • Code Submissions
    If you are a programmer, there's a 99.9% chance that sometime in the last week, you stumbled upon and considered copying and pasting or downloading and compiling a code snippet or set of source files from the Web, perhaps an entire open source project on CodePlex.com. But you hesitated, didn't you? You hesitated because you had no idea who the author was. You feared that the code might contain a line or two of GPL code that might create costly problems for you or your company, in the future. For all you knew, the author, "a8vs_hippo" may have laced the source file you considered re-using with malicious code. Wouldn't it have been nice if you could have learned more about a8vs_hippo's from other people who you know or believe to be trustworthy and "real". In the future, when you post a snippet to a forum, upload a sample to ProjectDistributor.net, or check in a changeset to CodePlex.com, we hope that you will consider associating an xClaim with it. If the only thing notable about your code is that "This code compiles," make that your claim. xClaims are good etiquette.

Claimspace is designed for technical professionals who want to:

  • Reward and Be Rewarded
    Build social capital and reap the rewards. By associating xClaims with your technical contributions on the Web-your blog and forum posts, podcasts, code samples, diagrams, photos, videos and any other URI-addressable item-you will enable your readers to give you the running bear hug you deserve and increase the visibility and credibility of you and your valuable technical resources.
  • Discover and Connect
    Tap into your social network. Claimspace will enable you to tap into the power of a vast social network of technical professionals on the Web who share your needs, interests, and concerns and who can point you to the resources you need to get the job done.
  • Evaluate Credibility, Quickly
    Consume community resources with greater confidence. Claimspace will enable you to rapidly ascertain the probable credibility and relative value of many technical resources on the Web-people, blogs, forum posts, RSS feeds, etc-by consulting the vote tallies (and voters) of their associated xClaims.

Key features of Claimspace that we are planning to include, over time:

  • xClaims
  • Your name, picture, and member since [date]
  • Your group affiliations (e.g., if you are a Microsoft MVP, your xClaim will be adorned with an "MVP" logo, if you want)
  • Vote on claims
  • Leave a comment
  • Suggest a claim
  • Subscribe by RSS to a claim by member or all members
  • View xClaim Vote Tally for:
  • A member's claim, for a particular URL
  • A member's claim, across all URLs where they posted it.
  • All of a member's claims (lifetime rollup)
  • Member Directory
  • Search and Browse Claimspace for claims, by keyword
  • Tight integration with Microsoft Tagspace
  • Tight integration with Microsoft Forums
  • Tight integration with Microsoft Blogs
  • REST API - Integration with your favorite community sites and services...

[xClaim placeholder]
Korby Parnell xClaims: "I created Claimspace."*
[xClaim placeholder]

I bet the developers and testers on the Rapport team wish they could take issue with this unilateral and egoistic claim, TODAY. Huahahaha. Ship it boys! Ship it! Whereas this claim is technically true, it belies the co-creative nature of any serious software development effort. Props to the core members of the Rapport team: Eric Mahlberg (lead dev), Jason McCullough (lead test), Ben Martin (cat herder in chief), and David Waddleton (dev). Special thanks to Bob Rebholz, who had the vision to spin up our project and plant the seed of "personal recognition elements", an idea which has grown into xClaims.