In a word, no.
We can work to encourage and facilitate quality content and discussion, but ensuring it is more than I can pledge. IMO it would be dishonest to do otherwise. I can honestly tell you that a quality experience on Hubski is my goal, and my desire for quality content and discussion is why the site exists. I will work hard to foster and preserve it. But, I can't guarantee that I won't fail. If I did, I would be me BSing us both.
Hubski's de-centralized design is part of an effort to make the site scalable. In general terms, we are trying to give users the ability to determine their own Hubski experience. You decide who you follow, and you decide who you share posts with. The working hypothesis is that Hubski will scale better as a platform rather than a place. If it is easy to find quality content, and easy to ignore unwanted content, organic and dynamic communities may emerge. We are going for stability via flexibility. Your experience may overlap with some of these communities, and it might not overlap with others.
IMHO, bottom-up approaches can be elegant, whereas top-down ones typically cannot. When problems arise, I'm always thinking about bottom-up solutions first.
As an aside, I think clarity of vision is what often makes or breaks these sites.
BTW, it's Hubski, not Hubuski! :)
Let me temper that hypothesis a little.
OS/2 kicked the shit out of Windows. Hands down. Windows had the installed base.
BeOS kicked the shit out of System 7. Hands down. System 7 had the installed base.
A rich feature set is great and is definitely something to strive for. However, without having a community in place to use that feature set, no one will ever know about it. I think it's an optimization problem: you need the right balance for peak adoption.
Nuking /all was worthwhile. I like the approach you've taken (I think radio buttons would work better than a pulldown but that's ergonomics). I just want to caution you that if you don't focus at least a little on protecting the content that attracts your early adopters, their content may eventually disappear.
Frankly, I think you're miles ahead of Reddit. My personal suspicion is that Alexis stumbled upon a social networking structure that refines conversation and Steve just barely managed to code it together and they succeeded in selling to an ossified media giant that didn't know what the fuck they were looking at while all other buyers went "WTF is this shit" and walked on. Reddit is every bit the profit center 4chan is, which damn near bankrupted Chris Poole. Hubski, on the other hand, seems like a thoughtfully-crafted and deliberate place. I feel as if development is most assuredly in good hands.
I just wish to caution you that if you attempt to solve "community" problems with "coding" solutions the outcome won't always be as desired.
Agreed. It is tough to say something meaningful about these matters, and yet drop enough qualifiers in order to convey that everything is game for reassessment given that trouble arises. I suppose that's why I mention that 'clarity of vision' is the one thing that a necessary component to avert disaster. It won't guarantee success, but lack of it will guarantee failure in due time.
I've spoken with Alexis and communicated with him a few times via email. I don't know him well, but I do get the sense that he puts a lot of thought into what he does. For better or worse, I don't think Reddit would have followed the same evolution if he remained at the helm.
BTW, it's nice to hear some feedback on dropping the 'all posts'. It took a bit of getting used to, but it feels like the right direction. The new user experience is something that I am thinking on quite a bit. http://hubski.com/lurk was a first step. More is necessary. Also, there are a few UI tweaks in the works that will hopefully make the existing site more intuitive. There is a bit of redundancy about this place that could use some attention.
I, too, get a sense that Alexis thinks about stuff a lot. However, I think that Alexis mostly thinks about Alexis. My personal opinion is that he's back at Reddit because it increases his street cred as a pundit.
There was an interesting discussion on Reddit in which the question was "how to improve the default subreddits" and the overwhelming response was "eliminate the default subreddits." I'd link to it, but I can't find it, even though it was like three days ago.
Says a lot.
Yesterday I went swimming and thought about tags the entire time. Don't think there aren't times that I click on the tag field and think: "WTF should I tag this as?!" Some creative tension is a good thing. Too much is a bad thing. I admit it is debatable.
To me, tags represent more than the name implies. They have editorial, subscription, grouping, creative, and temporal (i.e. trending) components, and I'm thinking on these. If tags do change, they need to bring an improvement measured in terms of all these components, what users want to do with them, without breaking, or encouraging gaming of them. And, they also have to be weighted against current content management. Following a tag means that you get a post from anyone that used that tag (barring ignored users). It's a huge effect. Yeah, we can have that tag thread soon. But I need a swim or two more first.
"Tech" and "Technology" on the other hand have a lot of overlap by definition, and a little overlap with, say, "coding" and "gadgets" and "3d printing." With user following, you have affinity. With tag following, you have taxonomy. Affinity is the subject of poetry. Taxonomy is the subject of doctoral theses.
How are you doing the recommendations? Just thinking aloud, but it seems to me that if whatever analysis you're doing can "fuzz" tag boundaries the way it "fuzzes" your recommendations, if I subscribe to "#tech" and the commenters, sources and vote profile of "#technology" is similar, I should automagically get a few, some or all "#technology" posts as well. The onus should be on the system to provide the user with content, not on the user to determine the appropriate tag for submitting or subscribing.
Take it one further - allow multiple tags, but give each succeeding tag half the weight of the previous. If I tag a post about Rupert Murdoch's twitter feed with #business, #media and #murdoched, anybody who subscribes to any of those three tags should get it in their feed. However, since it was tagged #media second, it should be half as likely to end up in someone's #technology feed than if it were ranked #media first. This gives the user an incentive to be thoughtful about his tags, rather than scattershot - by the time you get to the fourth tag you have 12% the influence of the first tag and by the fifth tag you're in the noise. Until, at least, you have several tens of thousands of users and an equal number of tags, and then that statistical noise becomes more relevant.
Eventually, a solid subset of "tags" will build... but if people start tagging content with a new phrase ("#occupywallstreet") it begins "trending" just like a twitter hashtag. I'm no coder, but here from the cheap seats it seems like an approach that doesn't require tending, has room for growth and works the way I think you want it to work.
Now go swimming.
Yeah, more swims.
Aren't they both content management?
If I found Robert Silverberg because I love science fiction, and then read "Book of Skulls" which is anything but, that doesn't mean I've transferred my love of science fiction into a love of Robert Silverberg. Likewise, "books about monastic orders" would include "The Name of the Rose" as well as "Canticle for Liebowitz" and "The Book of Skulls" which gives you three different authors - I can follow Umberto Eco and Robert Silverberg without worrying about how they're connected or what impacts they have on each other. Likewise, following UmbertoEco is likely to lead me to Carl Hiassen or Milan Kundera much quicker than #MonasticOrder is. Meanwhile, #Roadtrip would include "Book of Skulls" but neither of those authors and neither of their books - but it would lead me to "The Road" and "Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance" where I can accept or reject Robert Persig and Cormac McCarthy on their merits, not their relatedness. Should I decide to follow Cormac McCarthy, it's going to lead me different places than if I follow Robert Persig, and that's appropriate. The two functions are intertwined, they do not compete.
I think you see it as an "either/or" proposition while I see it as an "X/Y" proposition.
As far as "finding their own uses" I think you'll discover that those uses have been found. "Tagging" is not new, is widely accepted, and has a pretty broad featureset that has been adopted across many industries. It just seems to me that the uses your users have found don't entirely jive with the ones you want them to find. ;-)
I'm just saying that's part of what I am weighing in any possible tag redesign.
As you might recall, I was vocal about keeping the "all posts." I didn't like it very much and had to get used to "lurk." Now that time has passed, I find myself not even using "lurk" much if at all. I've made it a habit to just login and my customized feed with "many external posts." I now see the benefits of the implementation. If the "all posts" was still around, I can see myself being vociferous about hitech24, grupocm, and MahRanch and their spam polluting "all posts." Whenever I see what I consider to be spam, I simply add the user to ignore and be done with it.
I like the new light blue color. The gray one was hardly showing up on my LCD screen. I didn't used /all all that much, so it's nice to have a feature that changes my feed instead of a link. I have it set on "many" for now. Of the 34 posts on my feed, 4 are "external". I like that number. It's manageable.
I worry that, some day, there could be so much new posts even "some external posts" won't be manageable. I ain't always looking for new users though. And there's always "no external posts".
So, I like it! :)
Either that or you re-jiggered things so I'm seeing more people that I'm not following. I have been playing with the "some/many" thing a bit.
Appreciate the explanation.
"I live in Durham NC. I like it here in my neighborhood. I feel safe, I have thoughtful and intelligent neighbors that I enjoy talking with. The people around me are creative doers and I learn a lot from them. There are great restaurants nearby and plenty of recreation. About 8 miles away there is a completely different kind of Durham, with crime and crappy restaurants and people that I am not overly interested in talking with. I would not want to spend much time there. It may be the same city but they are two different experiences entirely. I almost never have to interact with the shitty side of Durham (unless I chose to). Just because they are both in Durham doesn't mean that I experience both.
If Hubski ended up having tens or hundreds of thousands or even millions of users there is no doubt that the level of content (overall) would likely wane. However, I may not even notice because I can turn off "external posts" and still just hang out with the people in my neighborhood (, , etc.. you know who you are) Perhaps I have external posts on low so as to get a taste of the ghetto from time to time too :) the point is I continued, You get what you want and you can avoid what you don't want".
Do you agree with the analogy?
This is much less of a problem when there are no downvotes but it's still something to consider. There's nothing stopping a troll from coming in and disturbing conversation.
There is the "flag" button. But then that will require moderators and would be labor intensive and by the time it was handled, the damage is done.
Flags could also be weighted. A flag from a brand new user might mean very little, whereas a flag from a long time user might carry more weight.
I will probably also be working on different comment sorting options in time.