I read yesterday that Yahoo! launched a site called the “Yahoo! Suggestion Board“. In a nut shell it’s a message board for 14 of their web properties where users can suggest improvements, errors or complain about how it rips off Digg by using a similar voting mechanism.
The site does indeed use a Digg-style voting mechanism to promote suggestions. This seems to have caused some uproar from the Digg community. To me, the Digg-style voting mechanism is just that, a mechanism. Yahoo! needed a way to have its user-base decide what’s important, and they looked to see what existed that could help them.
As designers, I think we all look to multiple sources to see how similar problems have been solved – I consider it part of the design process. It is by no means how we solve every problem, but it’s certainly a valuable exercise. Sometimes a good idea inspires innovation. Other times, using a mechanism (in this case a voting tool) in use by another site is simply the best answer.