Intro: I joined Hubski a month and a half ago, coming from Reddit. On Reddit, the separation in to autonomous subreddits mean relative isolation for each community. Sure, practically everyone is subscribed to multiple subreddits, but individual users rarely break the walls between subreddits. Some subreddits will link related ones on the sidebar, but these "webs" are very limited in scope.
Hubski has been described as a mix of reddit and Twitter. The action of following tags and users, within an overall smaller community I've found lends a sense of this just being a forum rather than a social aggregate site. A user may find themselves interacting with some people more than others, but given enough time, it seems one is likely to interact with practically everyone. This makes Hubski obviously unique from reddit or Twitter. A wonderful uniqueness for sure.
Another claim about Hubski I came across in my early experience was the lack of 'group-think.' Of course, as others were quick to point out, everywhere has 'group-think,' but Hubski's unique moderation system does allow a different approach to issue. By not having widespread consequences to being filtered or even muted, posters who may not be widely agreed with are still visible to the majority of users.
So, I ended up wondering how ''popularity" worked on Hubski. Just looking at my feed, it seemed like a lot of posts had either a few shares or a whole lot, but very few had a medium range. I was a (sort of) established user though, and I wanted to look at sort of the average experience.
Experiment: So, I made a second account, to try to replicate the average user. I believe I once saw statistics about the average number of tags, users, and domains followed, probably on the TMI page, but I haven't been able to find them since. What I remember them being though were about 15 tags, 20 users, and a handful of domains.
So, using the tags page, I followed the top 15 tags with the most followers, since I figured those would have the most meaningful activity, compared to the tags with the most posts. I figured there would be little movement in the tags that make up these 15, so I won't bother to list them.
The community page provided some more difficulties in choosing which section to use. There is no list of the most popular posters or commenters, so I decided to try split up the 20 users about evenly balanced. I followed the top five of the most badged, active posters, popular commenters, and active commenters. The most recent badged were left out, because of all the categories, this was the least likely to warrant a follow. Of course, there would be some discrimination with an actual feeling and thinking user, but I ignored this. Many users appear on multiple of these lists, and for those, I simply ignored them in their second lists. I did this around 4:00 Central Daylight Time on 7/27/2015. Looking now, a list has changed, as is to be expected, as these are more ephemeral rankings than the tags.
To preform the experiment, I was interested in looking at how many shares the posts had. Specifically, how the amount of shares was distributed across the posts. I did the first three pages of the second account's feed, by activity, rather than time, which would have skewed results towards the lower numbers of shares. Since this was rather limited, for an interesting comparison, I then did the same with chatter, again the first three pages, and by activity.
Results: For the Feed, formatted as: number of shares:number of posts-- 0:11 1:8 2:16 3:7 4:7 5:6 6:4 7:2 8:29 Total:90
For chatter, same format--
0:32 1:31 2:17 3:5 4:2 5:2 6:2 7:0 8:0
I am in no way qualified to make any conclusions from these data points, and I realize that the study is very limited in scope, so I'd like to hear any other reactions and thoughts concerning either my conclusions, the set-up, or the data.
My preliminary observations about there not being many posts with a medium number of shares seems to have been pretty much right on. Posts with 5, 6, or 7 shares account for only 13.3%. Somewhat surprising was the jump at two shares. It is twice either 1 share or 3 shares, which seems pretty significant. I'd say that people are more willing to share once they see someone agrees with their opinion.
I was very surprised by the number of posts with 8 or more shares. Almost a third of the posts; more than the next two largest points together. Combined with the low number of posts with a medium number of shares, it becomes obvious that once a post takes off, it really takes off. On reflection, this makes sense given how the user following system works. As each user shares, the post appears in exponentially more feeds. Basically, a popular post is a rumor.
This reveals something deep about the social structure of Hubski. It isn't really a web, it is mostly a pyramid. There are thousands of users with just a handful of followers, if any, at the bottom, many of who follow the prime commandment of 'lurk moar.' There is then a pyramid reaching up, each tier consisting of users with more followers. At the very top is mk, whose posts are practically guaranteed to reach any active user. On the other hand, should the second experiment account ever post anything, it would appear on relatively few feeds, receive relatively few shares, and sputter out relatively quickly.
At the same time, 'web' attributes do exist. The pyramid doesn't work one way, users further up may follow users further down. The global page is a great way around the limits of the feeds. To me, though, the data points I collected indicate that in the broad sense, for better or worse, Hubski is a pyramid. Luckily, social mobility is a simple here. Several of the users the second account followed were less than three months old.
The main thing I gleaned from the comments stats is that it seems in general, votes for comments are more meaningful than shares of posts. On one hand, this makes sense, as a user may share a post they find interesting, even if they strongly disagree with it, while they would be much less likely to vote for a comment they are opposed to. On the other hand, this seems simply weird, because sharing with your followers should be a much more important action than voting for a comment. Maybe this disparity could be explained by the sheer number of comments (which, in hindsight, I should also have collected data on, but oh well, maybe if I do this again at a later date).
So, that's what I have. It leaves some questions and interpretations open, but, personally, I found it an interesting and worthwhile study to do in some free time. I hope you enjoy and find it interesting or useful.