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comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  2926 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Plato's Republic: The Philosopher-Kings and Hubski

It is that you disagree with me on this, though. The way you guys run things is mk saying "hey, I don't think tags are something I want, I'm taking them away." The way you guys run things is mk saying "hey, I think I'm going to optionally get rid of ALL TAXONOMY and call it 'serendipity.'" It's not that you don't have the resources to dedicate to search - it's that you prioritize real-world, conventional search below literally everything else, occasionally injecting quixotic attempts to not only deprecate real-world search results, but to annihilate the ability to organize Hubski by taxonomy at all.

Hubski is based on this "let's follow people" model, with "ohhhhkay, if you really insist we'll let you find things that interest you the same way everyone else does it, but we want you to know we resent you for it and will thwart you at every turn" as the icing on the cake. And yeah - it works. It works because nobody has more than a thousand followers, three people have more than 500, and a couple dozen have more than 100. But there's already a class system - I gained 200 followers in the recent influx just by existing. Did you? Or did you gain a faction? I've been here a year and change and I'm already "old money." I've already got the "prime real estate." And when the last wave of refugees hit, they all chose to follow me, despite the fact that I hadn't posted anything substantial in weeks, because they had no real alternative.

Let's say the next Reddit Wave brings in ten thousand people. I can expect to get 20% of that. I could start posting gifs and they'd be visible to more than half the site - chasing away the new blood and annoying the old. Because although there are people who have been here longer than me, and although there are plenty of people who post better content and make better comments, I've got the numbers. And everything Hubski does is designed to magnify my advantage.

There's this basic idea at Hubski HQ that search and taxonomy are things you pay lip service to while dedicating your quest to improving the user-following experience. What you guys sullenly refuse to acknowledge is that user-following, the way you intend it, is already broken at the numbers you're experiencing. I'd wager that one of the reasons 90% of new users bail never to return is that their initial experience is poor and has no chance to improve without fully absorbing the folklore of the place... and who has time for that? If, instead, Hubski gave a new user the ability to craft a page based on his interests and then get exposed to new things through people they follow - now that would be something.

Where we disagree is I see the "base" of traditional search and taxonomy to be absolutely crucial to the experience. You, on the other hand, see it as a necessary evil until you find something to replace it.

I'm right. You're wrong.





b_b  ·  2926 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    If, instead, Hubski gave a new user the ability to craft a page based on his interests and then get exposed to new things through people they follow - now that would be something.

And in your estimation, this would be accomplished by the new user entering or choosing from a list tags that may interest them, which the search function would then parse and decide other related tags that have some commonality with whatever was entered in the first place?

For example, I enter science, and the engine says, "You may also enjoy these tags that have been used recently: #space, #biology, etc..."?

As to your last line, I agree with you. We tried removing tags for a while and it was a failure. I supported the idea at the time, and I was not correct. I see tags and users as basic equals. I think more degrees of freedom is better, for the most part. The two tag idea was a compromise that I would like to see abolished. Not sure how likely that is, because I'm in the minority on that.

kleinbl00  ·  2926 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Let's talk about a real world and an ideal world. Let's talk about a baseline user - we'll call him Ronnie Reddit - and let's say he's just found Hubski.

Ronnie is interested in 3D printing (he'll be perfect for this place). And when he joins up, there's a post on the "front page" about 3D printing tagged #3DPrinting, #technology and #stereolithography.

In the real world, #technology can be changed to #b_b_is_a_douche, thereby eliminating it from the #technology tagset in the amount of time it takes Ronnie to read the article and return to the comments. In the real world, Ronnie can choose to follow #stereolithography, despite the fact that this is the one post with that tag in the history of Hubski (it sounds more "science-ey" to Ronnie so he thinks it will have better discussion than #3DPrinting). In the real world, Ronnie is not encouraged to follow #3dPrinting, he's encouraged to follow thenewgreen because he posted it, and encouraged to follow me because TNG tagged me so that I could issue one of my trademark cheerio-pissings about 3d printing.

In the real world, Ronnie saw a post, added the wrong tag to his feed, and is now following two of the three biggest commenters/posters on Hubski. He has done effectively nothing - his feed hasn't changed a whit. Not only that, when he goes out to find more #3dprinting things to add to the discussion, he's howling in an empty room: he tagged his post with #stereolithography, you see, which nobody follows.

The counter-argument to this is that "the information is there, you just have to look." I fully appreciate that mk is a scientist who wanted to be an artist. It's evident in every bit of layout in this place. crucial functions are hidden in the corners. Useful toggles are buried like switches in a game of Myst. And the UI gives you two choices: asphalt or bubble gum.

Ronnie has joined Hubski. He has participated by "sharing" the most heavily-shared article on Hubski with every single one of his zero followers, and then mis-tagging the article he was hoping to find an audience with the next feckless individual who searches for #stereolithography six months from now. At which point Ronnie will be long gone. And when Hubski comes up on Reddit, /u/RonnieOnReddit will comment that he tried Hubski, discovered it was basically Tumblr but ugly, and that while AdviceAnimals are lame, at least you can figure the place out.

Now let's talk about an ideal world.

Ronnie joins Hubski. He sees a post about 3d printing. There's a button that shows him tags - he sees this article has been tagged with #3dprinting, #technology, #coolstuff, #pipedream, #MIT, #stereolithography, #b_bisadouche, #so_is_kleinbl00, and a half-dozen even-less-useful tags. As the window opens, his cursor gives him a question mark - he's being invited to try hover text! He learns that #3dprinting has 900 followers, #technology has 8000, #coolstuff has 400, #pipedream has 28, #mit has 225, #stereolithography has zero, #b_bisadouche has 2, #so_is_kleinbl00 has 55, and the rest of them are deep in the noise.

This is information that Ronnie had to ask for - but he was invited to ask for it. He now has the option of adding these tags to follow individually - or as a set. Ronnie feels like investigating, so he "adds set." A slider comes up and as he moves it, the number of tags he ends up with changes - at one end, he's adding only #technology. At the other, he's adding #IwishIHadMoreMoney (zero followers, never used before). Ronnie pares it down to three tags, but also selects #so_is_kleinbl00 because he has a hunch.

Now let's say Ronnie feels like adding a post about 3DPrinting from Gizmodo. He clicks the submit button and pastes the URL - suddenly the tag cloud self-populates with #gizmodo, #adrienchen, #MIT, #future, #3dprinting and #singularity, each with an "X" next to their name. Ronnie looks on, puzzled - the singularity is mentioned as a joke by the author and has nothing to do with the article, so he cancels the tab. Then he starts typing into the text field, and as this is his first post, he writes

"Hi guys, this is my first post. I'm still trying to figure out this site but I'm really enthused by what I see so far. I wanted to share this article on 3D Printing."

As he types, the tag cloud adds #newhere and #askhubski. Ronnie, curious and confused, moves his cursor over #askhubski - a question mark appears! He hovers a little longer and the three most recent, most shared #askhubski post titles appear, each of which he can click on to open in another window: "who thinks Hubski has too much new blood?" "Who thinks kleinbl00 is a douche?" "What is the defense of the qualia of color?" Ronnie deduces that #askhubski is an inappropriate tag so he closes it. Hubski, in response, takes note of the fact that it guessed wrong based on its presentation and rejection. However, #newhere was a good guess.

Ronnie submits the post. He's going to see it, because he submitted it... but people with similar interests will also see it because he tagged it #3Dprinting, one of the four tags he's currently following. But the system also tagged it #MIT, #future, #adrienchen, #newhere and #gizmodo.

Now - I'm not going to see his post because I have #adrienchen, #newhere and #gizmodo on my block list. But as it turns out a lot of people like the article and share it - so as soon as its popularity crests my "affinity" slider ("what 'affinity slider?'" gimme a minute) it'll pop into my feed regardless. At which point I will click "ignore" and then Hubski knows that I really mean it when I say "ignore fucking #gizmodo."

HERE'S WHERE IT ALL MATTERS

Right now, every search engine on every social aggregator is a yes/no device. Yes follow Gizmodo, No don't follow 3dprinting. Which is dumb - humans aren't binary, we're fickle clumps of decision trees. Google made a gajillion dollars by using trust to rank search results and retraining its algorithm to get better and better. Hubski needs to do the heavy lifting of knowing that #writing and #writebetterdammit are 95% related just by the content, the sites linked, the people following and the types of comments made. So while I follow #writebetterdammit and will see anything with zero shares in that tag, Hubski should know to throw anything with, say, 3 shares in #writing.

And this should be as easy to set up as the user wants, or as transparent as the user doesn't.

In the real world, Hubski is dumb. It finds you things you ask for and only things you ask for. Team Hubski attempts to circumvent this by suggesting you follow people, presuming that it will give you that "fuzzy logic" that it otherwise so sorely lacks.

In the ideal world, Hubski is smart. It provides the folklore that a "power user" would provide without giving me a platform to share my breakfast with 800 people. Not only that, "it just works" or it invites me under the hood to tweak and refine. Finally, the transition between "what is this interface" and "this is my 200th submission to #bugski" is seamless, without learning curve, and wholly autodidactic.

* * *

I recognize that what I put under "ideal" is going to require NSA-grade server power. I also recognize that with a thousand users it's wholly overkill. But I also wish to point out that when you establish your architecture one way for a thousand people, your site is going to grenade when you have ten thousand people.

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is now. I didn't wake up intending to write a manifesto on everything that's wrong with Hubski discovery, but you asked. If it would make you feel any better, I can share the manifesto I wrote for Reddit three years ago along the same lines. no one is immune.

b_b  ·  2926 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    If it would make you feel any better...

It doesn't make me feel bad to read blunt critiques (especially when they're obviously thought out). I sincerely appreciate it (but then again, I just putz around here; I'm not the one who designed or codes the site).

thenewgreen  ·  2926 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Agreed, in no way does what kleinbl00 wrote upset me, this is what we need, more feedback. Your ideal version of the site has some great ideas, some of which I think are actionable and you're are spot on that NOW is when these things need to be done -20 years ago would have been great. We have some new changes in the pipe line that I think you'll appreciate KB.

I definitely agree that if you build a site around following people and immediately expect that someone should know who to follow, well… That just isn't the way the world works. People meet around topics, we should allow people to do the same here easily. Your 3-D printing example of Ronnie is a good one. We have our team call tonight, and we will definitely be discussing this. Thank you for the suggestions and the honest feedback.

ProtrudedDemand  ·  2925 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Perhaps there could be an option to see who the most active posters in certain tags are. Sure you could scan through all the posts in a tag to see who is an active poster but new users aren't usually that dedicated.

There could be a space at the end of the "tag page" or something that would tell users who is the most active in that tag. That would help people figure out who to follow based on what they post.

OftenBen  ·  2016 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    trademark cheerio-pissings

I must read your book.

mk  ·  2925 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's late, and I'm a bit fuzzy after finishing this. Obviously, the best aggregator provides what any given user wants. I have come to the opinion that enabling is powerful, and encouraging ages and scales poorly. I think the ability to follow and ignore users, tags, and domains equally is one of the things we do right. Suggesting users on signup is a mistake, and we need to stop.

On that point, IMHO there is a valuable difference between some tags that I would not like suggestions to break. For example, #writing and #writebetterdammit overlap, but serve different purposes (you know this, I am explaining my thinking). To me, #writebetterdammit is quirky, and a bit insular. I'll use #writing for more posts than I will #writebetterdammit, for fear of diluting its quality. #writebetterdammit is somewhat shielded by folklore, which in some cases is a good thing; it's a good thing when a newbie is looking to post their 9th grade essay, but it's a bad thing when an author is looking for good content. For that reason, I think the newbie shouldn't be suggested #writebetterdammit as he tags, but the author should find it when she searches for something good to follow.

It's not necessary to discuss whether or not one should follow users or tags. We enable both, thus, one should do what one wants. Most importantly, we should enable the good stuff to happen when a user tries to make it so. Personally, I find that following a certain mix is good for me, but it's not useful for us to push that. What would be useful is for the architecture to enable someone to construct what works for them. Information is what is needed for that. Your idealized examples of what a user might see are good. Even with our limited resources, we can find places where information can be, and we do have existing relationships that have been built by real human use than we can serve up. I would point to the 'recently related' list that we recently added to the top of a [tag page]( a good thing; its a good thing when a newbie is looking to post their 9th grade essay, but its a bad thing when an author is looking for good content. For that reason, I think the newbie shouldnt be suggested #writebetterdammit as he tags, but the author should find it when she searches for something good to follow.

Its not necessary to discuss whether or not one should follow users or tags. We enable both, thus, one should do what one wants. Most importantly, we should enable the good stuff to happen when a user tries to make it so. Personally, I find that following a certain mix is good for me, but its not useful for us to push that. What would be useful is for the architecture to enable someone to construct what works for them. Information is what is needed for that. Your idealized examples of what a user might see are good. Even with our limited resources, we can find places where information can be, and we do have existing relationships that have been built by real human use than we can serve up. I would point to the recently related list that we recently added to the top of a tag page. There are more places where information can and should bubble up. The community page could be more information driven.

I am working on something related to both tags and users that will be pushed out in a week or so that I will further enable customization and organization. In general, I think we are going to be looking to pull back encouragement, and replace it with function and information.

We probably want different personal versions of Hubski, but that's a good thing. If we can both get what we want (and keep things simple), we probably have something inherently robust.

    There's this basic idea at Hubski HQ that search and taxonomy are things you pay lip service to while dedicating your quest to improving the user-following experience.

Speaking for myself, I've moved a bit. I'm more interested in the discussion, and the content needs to reach people for that. I wouldn't think to kill tags today.

Thanks for the thoughts. I'll reread this tomorrow with coffee.

mk  ·  2925 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I am working on something related to both tags and users that will be pushed out in a week or so that I will further enable customization and organization.

I did it sooner: http://hubski.com/pub?id=109530

blackbootz  ·  2925 days ago  ·  link  ·  

How did you imagine your "affinity slider" working exactly? How many of the users you follow chose to share it?

--

Also, there's something that's been bothering me that I think would help me understand this conversation more. What's the difference between following a tag on hubski and subscribing to a subreddit on reddit?

kleinbl00  ·  2925 days ago  ·  link  ·  

So Harry Hubski has been here a while now. He has tag settings.

- Follow #technology

- Ignore #3dprinting

- Follow #MIT

- Ignore #gizmodo

- Ignore #newhere

He also has some user settings.

- Follow Arnie

- Follow Bob

- Follow Charlie

- Mute Dave

- Mute and ignore Elvis

- Mute and ignore Frank

So let's say he's got his "affinity" slider set to "iron fist." Ronnie's post is going to be invisible to him - he's ignoring #3Dprinting and #newhere.

Let's say he's got his "affinity" sider set to "iron fist in a velvet glove." Ronnie's post might show up because while he's ignoring two tags, he's following two others. It's a spectrum, after all.

Now let's say he's got his "affinity" slider set to "velvet glove." Ronnie's post is going to show up in his feed for sure - while there are a number of things he's ignoring, there are a number of things he's following.

Let's make it interesting. Let's allow me to "train" the engine. I adjust my "affinity" slider and new things pop up. Some I like, some I don't. I x out the ones I don't. I move the slider some more. I x out the bad ones some more. I fiddle with that thing every day - and I'm giving Hubski input on what "affinity" means for me.

It's all data points. What matters is what you do with it.