Skip to main content

How To Like What You See on the Frontpage

Some suggestions to improve a content voting system sparked some thoughts about the idea and I wanted to write them down to record my thoughts. The initial move was to remove down voting. No one uses it and negatives are, well, negative. So we'll drop "vote down" and replace "vote up" with "like", because what is more friendly than liking something? You know, its like you're in first grade and the article is that cute girl eating paste.

At the same time we were discussing sorting. Everything is chronological, but people might want to see popular things. Is it popular because people vote up on it or because lots of people read it? Of course, lots of places weight these today (like Reddit), so that was discussed.

Third, given the relatively higher traffic we're seeing on video content (duh, Youtube generation), adding a second row of video thumbs to the front page makes sense. I also rolled the idea in my head of adding a little randomness into this section, to get more mileage out of old videos.

Resulting conclusion: we don't care about sorting, we care about clicks (duh, again).

In other words, I shouldn't be looking for how to weight the sort order of videos and stories by popularity, which is the first obvious thing to do. What I need to ask is "which videos, placed in this section on this page, will have the highest chance of being clicked?" The first thought I had going down this road is the two obvious classes of users: new and existing. New users need to get caught, so show them something flashy. Show new users pillar content, a nice video introducing the site, and generally popular things. Existing users, most easily identified by having them log in, have already had the candy and now they want some potatoes. Show them new stuff, things being discussed, and things based on their preferences, if you've got that kind of thing set up.

Another consideration is the predictability of item selection. If I'm going to show eight videos on the front page, why should I pick eight of them? Why don't I pick sixteen and alternate? Not back and forth, but moderately random selections each page load. Really good videos might always be there, and "bottom of the top" videos might show up just now and then. For frequently anonymous users, who think "I'm not sure I like this site enough to sign up yet," get a better range of videos they're exposed to and hopefully more inclined to stick around and sign up.

In the opposite manner, can we figure out what to start excluding? After seeing the same story twenty times and not clicking on it, maybe you stop showing it to them. That space could be used for something they might be interested in.

Of course, I know I'm not inventing everything here, but I wonder if anything is a fresh idea. Obviously plenty of sites are learning to keep popular things around. Is anyone hiding ignored items? I don't know if the things I'm talking about are just "things some people are doing" or if there are real maths behind it and hard terms and concepts I can study to do it right. Hopefully, I'll be able to write more about solid results soon.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

On Pruning Your Passions [MOVED]

We live in a hobby-rich world. There is no shortage of pastimes to grow a passion for. There is a shortage of one thing: time to indulge those passions. If you're someone who pours your heart into that one thing that makes your life worthwhile, that's a great deal. But, what if you've got no shortage of interests that draw your attention and you realize you will never have the time for all of them?

If I look at all the things I'd love to do with my life as a rose bush I'm tending, I realize that careful pruning is essential for the best outcome. This is a hard lesson to learn, because it can mean cutting beautiful flowers and watching the petals fall to the ground to wither. It has to be done.

I have a full time job that takes a lot of my mental energy. I have a wife and a son and family time is very important in my house. I try to read more, and I want to keep up with new developments in my career, and I'm trying to make time for simple, intentional relaxing t…

The Insidiousness of The Slow Solution

In software development, slow solutions can be worse than no progress at all. I'll even say its usually worse and if you find yourself making slow progress on a problem, consider stopping while you're a head.

Its easy to see why fast progress is better: either you solve the problem or you prove a proposed solution wrong and find a better one. Even a total standstill in pushing forward on a task or a bug or a request can force you to seek out new information or a second opinion.

Slow solutions, on the other hand, is kind of sneaky. Its insidious. Slow solution is related the Sunk Cost Fallacy, but maybe worse. Slow solutions have you constantly dripping more of your time, energy, and hope into a path that's still unproven, constantly digging a hole. Slow solutions are deceptive, because they still do offer real progress. It is hard to justify abandoning it or trying another route, because it is "working", technically.

We tend to romanticize the late night hacking…

Finding "One Game A Month"

I was really excited about the One Game A Month challenge as soon as I heard about it.
For about two years I've struggled in fits and starts to make my way into game development. This hasn't been productive in any of the ways I hoped when I started. Its really difficult to be fairly experienced as a developer, which I believe I am in my day job as a web developer, while struggling really hard at an area in which your experience just doesn't exist.
Its like being a pilot who doesn't know how to drive.

But this challenge provided a new breath to this little hobby of mine. It gave me a scaffolding to experiment, to learn, to reflect on finished projects. I had spent far too much time on game projects that stretched on far past their exciting phases, bogged down by bad decisions and regret.
And it has worked.
I have a lot to learn. I have a lot of experience to gain through trial and error and mistake and discovery. I have a lot of fun to be had making more small games t…