Law of Unintended Consequences

December 3, 2010

In the process of setting up to teach 50382A - Implementing Forefront Identity Manager 2010 in Phoenix, AZ (Feb 8-11 and May 23 – May 26 – registration info to follow in a subsequent post) and looking at other courses in the Microsoft Courseware library I have noticed an interesting trend – most courses have lots of very bland reviews like this:

“Good Course”

“Good one”

“Good content and best practices”

“nice course”


“Good course”


Why in the world would one class have so many reviews that just say the same thing – which is to say nothing? Why would so many courses have a similar listing of vacuous reviews? Could you imagine if the reviews on or Amazon were all like this?

The Law of Unintended Consequences: Microsoft made a change to their partner program for training centers (Learning Solution Partners). Part of the change involves how they earn enough points to maintain their competency and how they earn enough points to go from Silver to Gold. One of the ways to earn points is to submit reviews on courses. So by reviewing a number of courses people working for Learning Solutions partners can earn points for their employer. Thank goodness there is a limit on how many they can earn this way or I am afraid there would be a never ending feed of inane reviews. This actually is a good idea to encourage people to review courses, however there is not a real quality check, somehow I suspect that the reviewers who provided these vapid comments didn’t read the course, perform the labs, or at the very least they certainly lack imagination, I mean they could have looked at the outline and said oh I like module X on topic Y. At least their “reviews” would appear a bit more convincing.

Having these idiotic reviews is worse than having none at all.

So remember this when setting up your incentive systems, lest the Law of Unintended Consequences reaches out to muddy up your system.