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Showing clickthroughs?
February 3, 2006 5:37 AM   Subscribe

I don't know how technically difficult this is but... can I ask, is there ever any intention to show clickthroughs? I think it would enhance the site because a post without many comments but many clickthroughs indicates that it was a worthwhile post. I know this could be gamed... but would anyone bother (not a tracker just a count)? [excuse me if I have used clickthrough incorrectly, I mean how may times a post/link has been clicked on]
posted by tellurian to Feature Requests at 5:37 AM (43 comments total)

Hm, that might be interesting. Then again, I'm a numbers nerd (self-link) and there probably wouldn't be a heck of a lot of real value in this. I could get behind this pony, mainly because (IMHO) it wouldn't be a huge amount of coding.
posted by Plutor at 5:48 AM on February 3, 2006


Can't you see any real value in it? 5 comments, 200 views. 5 views, 200 comments. I would post the former type of post more often.
posted by tellurian at 6:02 AM on February 3, 2006


I like that idea actually. Like somebody said a while ago, the really good (non-politics) FPPs only get only a few comments. But there's no way of knowing how popular the links are.
posted by keijo at 6:10 AM on February 3, 2006


Also, a post with many clickthroughs and many comments also (would for me) confirms its worthiness [imho].
posted by tellurian at 6:14 AM on February 3, 2006


What do you mean "clicked-on"? When one of the embedded external links is clicked, or when someone views the comments by clicking on the "x comments" link?
posted by smackfu at 6:22 AM on February 3, 2006


Clicking the external link(s).

I like the idea.
posted by taz at 6:26 AM on February 3, 2006


What do you mean "clicked-on"? When one of the embedded external links is clicked
Yeah, I meant that one, not the comments. So that you have some idea of how many people went and looked at what you had found.
posted by tellurian at 6:28 AM on February 3, 2006


From a technical standpoint, Matt would have to rewrite all the links that people enter so that they go through a local redirector script that would do the counting. And then add some javascript to fix up the status bar so it shows the correct URL when you hover over the link. This isn't hard but it is a bit of a kludge.

From a design standpoint, how do you deal with FPP's with multiple links?
posted by smackfu at 6:47 AM on February 3, 2006


Maybe count only the first link? People (should) usually lead with their best shot.
posted by taz at 6:50 AM on February 3, 2006


I've actually posted a few links on here with redirects through my own site just to see the clickthrough rate, so a feature like this would be somewhat desirable, if the added bounce against the server/database could be justified, along with the time to write the code.

Smackfu brings up some good points...

Basically, I'd envision a simple checkbox ("Track this post's clickthroughs."), if we want to make it an option. When clicked, there'd be a simple regex replace that would prepend anything beginning with http:// to a local script that would track the clickthrough and send the user on their way.

The status bar tweak isn't necessary, and is near-impossible for Firefox users--Firefox doesn't by default allow Javascript to mess with window.status, so any "onMouseOver, window.status" tweaks would fall on deaf ears. Instead, they'd see the MeFi local address with the external URL at the end. For a quick sample, click here.

I think the most graceful way to deal with presenting the information would be on mouseover, either as a link title or as the DHTML thing that's an option some users turn on. There could be some text that says the total clickthrough count for the first link, but mouseover'd be the best way to go. It'd also be a much bigger pain for Matt.

I think there are definitely more pressing feature requests that Matt's working on (read: "bookmarking" threads, etc.) that easily take priority over the hour or so he'd have to throw towards something like this, but it's a fun idea, nonetheless.

Also consider the possibility that Matt may not want those numbers to be public, although I can't really imagine why not.
posted by disillusioned at 6:56 AM on February 3, 2006


Slightly different, I've been curious about what the read/write ratio is for posts. How many people click in to read the comments on a post? Does that correspond at all to the number of comments left?
posted by alms at 7:03 AM on February 3, 2006


but it's a fun idea, nonetheless.

I agree.
posted by matteo at 7:04 AM on February 3, 2006


The status bar tweak isn't necessary, and is near-impossible for Firefox users

That's interesting. I saw Google doing it and assumed they were changing the status bar. But they're actually using a straight href link (so the status bar is correct), and then adding an onmousedown handler to change the href right when you click it. Clever.
posted by smackfu at 7:12 AM on February 3, 2006


Nice idea. There was a post the other day where I was the only commentator and I'm sure many other people had "clicked" on it. It wasn't a bad post at all, but maybe the poster felt very disheartened at only having one not very brilliant comment.
posted by adamvasco at 7:13 AM on February 3, 2006


Like somebody said a while ago, the really good (non-politics) FPPs only get only a few comments. But there's no way of knowing how popular the links are.

Well, there is Metafilter: Remixed. Not as useful for this purpose as a clickthrough counter would be, to be sure, but better than nothing.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:21 AM on February 3, 2006


Who wants to turn MeFi into more of a popularity contest than it already is? I am against it.
posted by caddis at 7:45 AM on February 3, 2006


I like this idea too. When I first began posting on Mefi some of my posts had very few comments and I thought maybe they just weren't well recieved. It was discouraging to see double posts that seemed to elicit more interest than what I was posting. At the time, a Mefi monthy log used to be available, and in looking at that, I was heartened to see how many people had indeed clicked on my posts. That and some kind encouragement from veteran members was what kept me motivated.

No matter what people say about comments not being a barometer of quality or interest, it can sure feel that way. There isn't a lot of positive reinforcement for a newcomer to post the unusual or truly wonderful but esoteric find, let alone, craft a more detailed post a la matteo or y2karl. Not when you can post a CNN article on a hot topic and feel like you really hit a chord. I often wonder if lack of positive reinforcement is what makes great posters like plep, hamas7, and others just disappear after prolific posting.

As for Remixed, great idea, but very few poeple seem to use it.

On preview - caddis, I think it would do the opposite. I think it would foster and encourage people to post the unusual but not necessarily the most popular things.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:50 AM on February 3, 2006


Smackfu—nice pick up on that. I was wondering about that awhile ago... Everything is handled through their nice little clk Javascript function...

Turn off Javascript and watch your status bar.

Very nice catch. Crazy Google bastards.
posted by disillusioned at 8:06 AM on February 3, 2006


I dunno. The fact that somebody clicked the link doesn't mean they necessarily liked what they saw on the other end of it, does it? That is, it would show they were interested enough to check it out, but the only way to know whether they liked it or not is if they comment. I'm not sure that would really serve as positive reinforcement, but who knows.

Back when I first started to take the FPP plunge (right around the time of the mushroom debacle, actually), interrobang made this really great comment that I found very encouraging. And that's what I keep in mind when I make a FPP, because I don't post on Important Issues (which always get the most comments). I figure, as long as no one's shitting in the thread or calling it out on MeTa, you can be pretty sure that it was a good post and interesting to at least some people, although I agree that more of us should step up and say "Thanks" or "This is cool" or "Great post" when we see something we like.
posted by Gator at 8:09 AM on February 3, 2006


If we posted big, fat clickthrough numbers on the site, self-linkers would be even more attracted to the site.

How about a rating bar, ala hotornot? That way, people can register their opinion without bothering to type all this qualitative stuff.
posted by delmoi at 8:21 AM on February 3, 2006


I agree that more of us should step up and say "Thanks" or "This is cool" or "Great post" when we see something we like.

I really agree with this, for precisely the reasons that mjj (who make the most fabulous posts) writes.

I would like better a separate page that can be looked at, and even better, one that's delayed a little bit, like a monthly log.
posted by OmieWise at 8:26 AM on February 3, 2006


tellurian: "Can't you see any real value in it? 5 comments, 200 views. 5 views, 200 comments. I would post the former type of post more often."

I'd just like to clarify: I think it would be awesome to look at and think: "Huh, cool, I got n clicks". But real use? Would it make the site more usable? Would it make the average FPP or thread any better? I don't think so. I think we would end up being surprised how popular Newsfilter, Iraqfilter, or Farkfilter really are, despite thread-crapping.
posted by Plutor at 8:34 AM on February 3, 2006


I've actually posted a few links on here with redirects through my own site just to see the clickthrough rate

Did anyone notice? Because I can imagine that went over like a lead balloon.

I don't think click through is really all that meaningful a metric when it comes to MeFi. I can't tell if I liked a post until after I've clicked on the link. So a clickthrough measure just indicates that you wrote a good post, not that you had a link worth looking at.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:36 AM on February 3, 2006


true that, jacquilynne, but it indicates some level of interest in your topic - something that may not be known on low comment threads.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:39 AM on February 3, 2006


How about a rating bar, ala hotornot?

Looks like Matt was thinking along similar lines a while back (especially note this comment, indicating that it would be a strictly "props only, no minuses" feature). But you know, we do have that handy-dandy "flag this post as fantastic" feature. I know it's been suggested before, but I do think that already-existing feature would be great if we could just see the results (like we already can for AskMe).
posted by Gator at 8:43 AM on February 3, 2006


I like this idea. In addition to raw numbers, how about a popularity rating? E.g. a given very actively clicked-into MeFi thread could be "top 5% popularity."

A future page could rank MeFi posts/threads by popularity (all time or by date range).
posted by killdevil at 9:09 AM on February 3, 2006


74% of white urban mice clicked on your post, while only 11% of brown rural bovines visited your post. metafilter recommends more cowbell.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:22 AM on February 3, 2006


please to explain the more cowbell thing, oh ye Web habitu├ęs... kthxbye
posted by killdevil at 9:54 AM on February 3, 2006


disillusioned: "I've actually posted a few links on here with redirects through my own site just to see the clickthrough rate"

jacquilynne: "Did anyone notice? Because I can imagine that went over like a lead balloon."

I seem to remember someone bringing it up within a MeTa thread, but it didn't really make a big impact. Apparently the links must have all been in comments - disillusioned has made no FPPs in the blue. Although it was used once in a question in the green. I'm sure if you tried this in a blue FPP, the site would implode.
posted by Plutor at 10:09 AM on February 3, 2006


Instead of redirectors and rewriting every URL on the site, I'd rather just use a javascript solution, like some of the weblog stats trackers use, since it doesn't disrupt the behavior or utility of the site.

Though I must admit I'm not super into the idea of tracking clicks so I'm not really throwing hours into researching it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:13 AM on February 3, 2006


A simple voting system as used in Projects could accomplish much the same thing.
posted by MetaMonkey at 10:17 AM on February 3, 2006


redirects to track clicks are a pain in the ass for the user. You get a mangled URL if you attempt to copy the destinition URL with a right click and I haven't seen one that doesn't degrade the usefulness of your status bar. Plus if MF goes down you can't continue to browse the links on your already loaded main page without a bunch of tedious copy/pasting.

The numbers produced aren't accurate either because any site that gets decent traffic also has greasemonkey scripts to remove the redirects.
posted by Mitheral at 10:36 AM on February 3, 2006


Please do not add scoreboards of any kind to MetaFilter. It'll encourage gaming them, and consequently reduce the quality of the site.

I can't see why I'd care how many other people have clicked a link. That's the kind of information you see on spammy "top 10" link exchange pages, not on useful sites.
posted by majick at 11:36 AM on February 3, 2006


I like the idea, but isn't metafilter slow/buggy enough as it is?
posted by empath at 12:10 PM on February 3, 2006


Just accept that the rest of us love and care about you very, very much, and all your links are as golden petals that flutter your unique and specialness down upon us. Now how can you quantify that?
posted by crunchland at 12:17 PM on February 3, 2006


*flutters some specialness and golden petals crunchland's way*

Well I don't want anything tacky, obtrusive or speed-sucking either, but I have unlimited faith in mefi's collaborative brainpower for producting a magical pony within such constraints. This is just my usual drum-beating about positive reinforcement as a means to make the site better and encourage better posts. Maybe as some have suggested it would simply be doing something like adding visibility for "x posts as fantastic" or adding positive votes as in projects.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:39 PM on February 3, 2006


Someone clever, i.e. not me, could write a Firefox extension or Greasemonkey script that could transparently log clicks and report the results back to metafilter (or some trusted third party's server). It'd be completely opt-in, it'd have little or no apparent effect on the user, and there would be little for matt (or the trused third party) to code to support it. The downside is that the stats would only be from those who use Firefox and who choose to participate.
posted by TimeFactor at 12:41 PM on February 3, 2006


Something like this?
posted by madman at 1:31 PM on February 3, 2006


Please do not add scoreboards of any kind to MetaFilter. It'll encourage gaming them, and consequently reduce the quality of the site.

Second!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:11 PM on February 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Who wants to turn MeFi into more of a popularity contest than it already is? I am against it.

Agreed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:45 PM on February 3, 2006


Please do not do this, for the love of god.

It munges the URL for little benefit, breaking copy/paste. Or if Javascript is used the way google does it, it results in inaccurate counts since users that disable JS or use a greasemonkey script won't be counted -- and inaccurate counts are worse than nothing.

It makes the link take longer to load since everything first has to hit metafilter and then be redirected.

It makes the link fail to load when Metafilter is gone or down. [which it is as I am trying to post this]

It makes it into more of a popularity contest.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:58 PM on February 3, 2006


I dunno. If the system were setup properly, gaming the system would equal writing a more interesting post. [MI] would become ubiquitous, but that's no bad thing as far as the front page is concerned.
posted by Ryvar at 8:14 PM on February 3, 2006


mathowie: Instead of redirectors and rewriting every URL on the site, I'd rather just use a javascript solution, like some of the weblog stats trackers use, since it doesn't disrupt the behavior or utility of the site.
I have no idea what that means but...
I'm not super into the idea of tracking clicks so I'm not really throwing hours into researching it.
I guess that means no, fair enough.
posted by tellurian at 10:07 PM on February 3, 2006


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