November is National Let's Try Obscuring Favorite Counts Month
October 31, 2009 12:02 PM   Subscribe

For the month of November, we're going to try an experiment with how favorites are displayed. [Note: if this whole experiment is driving you crazy, here's a note on reverting the changes.]

One of the recurring discussions about favorites is whether or not it's a good idea to display favorite counts on comments. There have been a few proposals over the years to modify how that works, and we're going to try putting some of those ideas into action for the month of November to see how things feel.

Here's what we're going to do:

1. We're removing the number-of-favorites indicator from comment bylines.

2. We're replacing the word "favorites" with "faved" for those comments that have one or more favorites attached to them. This will link to the list of favorites for a comment just as the traditional "x favorites" link always has. [After a bunch of feedback, we've changed "faved" to "has favorites". -c]

3. We're including the favorite count invisibly in the byline still, so that those who specifically want to use that information or to write/modify scripts affected by it can do so.

4. All other aspects of the system will remain as is, so various less-visible parts of the site that deal with favorites should be unaffected.

And that's the plan. Here's where we're coming from on this:

We've talked about how to do this for a while now behind the scenes (and in previous Metatalk threads), and the plan above feels like the best compromise we could think of to address some of the concerns folks have expressed over the years while retaining what we see as the considerable utility of the favorites system itself.

Removing the count is the key thing. It's an attempt to address the concern that visible favorite counts on comments may be interpreted as voting system, while still keeping the transparency-of-favoriting function of a visible marker and a favorites list link intact.

We're not removing the favorite counts from posts; the concerns about the effects of the favorites system have almost universally been regarding comments, and so we're just focusing on that for this experiment.

The change from "favorites" to "faved" is in part a change just to make it clearer that there is a change, for folks who may not be as attentive to Metatalk or site UI details. We've also tried to come up with something shorter than "favorites" just to reduce the byline length a little bit, while keeping it clearly readable and clickable. If folks have suggestions for alternative link text to "faved", we're happy to hear ideas.

This change will probably break various scripts that depend on specific formatting of the byline, which we're aware of but don't have any real help for. At the end of the day, we need to reserve the right to tweak the site's UI. However, by including the favorite count information in the source, any script that needs access to it can be modified to get at it, and any script that doesn't need access to that info can just be modified to work with the new layout. (And given that this is an experiment, any changes to scripts should probably be treated for now as just an experimental fork.)

We think a month is long enough for folks to get more or less used to the change and develop an opinion about whether its a net improvement or not and whether there are any serious unintended consequences, etc. We're going to go ahead and launch it in the next 24 hours, and we're happy to hear feedback and suggestions in this thread now and throughout November.
posted by cortex to Feature Requests at 12:02 PM (2725 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

Huh. Okay. I'll be interested to see how this goes.
posted by rtha at 12:06 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cool, thanks.
posted by kathrineg at 12:08 PM on October 31, 2009


*faved*
posted by gingerbeer at 12:09 PM on October 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


Hmmm. Will this be sitewide? I feel like in AskMe the visible favorite count often functions as "I would like to agree with this answer" as opposed to "I would like to reward this snark".
posted by lalex at 12:16 PM on October 31, 2009 [59 favorites]


It'll be sitewide, yes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:17 PM on October 31, 2009


This will interesting to see how it plays out. Favorite counts appear to produce gameplay behavior in commenters, and those comments tend to be more "funny" or "snarky" than "interesting."

I don't think hiding the count will eliminate the "funny" or the "snarky," but it might suppress it somewhat. How will that affect comment threads? I guess we'll see what happens.
posted by dw at 12:18 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


How will we feed Astro Zombie now?
posted by cgomez at 12:20 PM on October 31, 2009 [32 favorites]


If you go for this in the long-term, I'd like to request an opt-out option.
posted by SebastianKnight at 12:23 PM on October 31, 2009 [31 favorites]


If folks have suggestions for alternative link text to "faved", we're happy to hear ideas.

How about "saved"? It's more neutral and, I think, describes more accurately the actual function of the thingy.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:24 PM on October 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


I thought for a second you were going to change it to "favourites". Phew.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:24 PM on October 31, 2009 [8 favorites]


Wah. I hate change and want everything to stay just as it was for better or for worse. *Throws rotary phone.*

Ok with that out of the way, I think this is a good experiment to try, but I think the right fix here is social, not technological. Favorites are and always have been a way to say "this comment is one of my favorites." Nothing more. Not a Yahoo Answers (blech!) style voting system. I periodically favorite posts I vehemently disagree with when their position is well argued and helps me to see a situation in a new light. If people don't understand that, they ought to be educated on that point the same way users are educated about other aspects of the site and guidelines.

Maybe a middle ground would be to give a general indication of the number of favorites without posting the actual number. It seems a tad silly to me that a post with one favorite should display the same as one with 150. Faved, faved+, and faved++ perhaps? :-)
posted by zachlipton at 12:25 PM on October 31, 2009 [10 favorites]


As lalex says, favorites on AskMe are a less noisy version of "me too", and if they remain invisible, it would be useful to have some other "me too" indicator. While favorite count visibility does encourage gaming for favorites, it also allows a shorthand that lets you know that a number of people agreed with a sentiment, or found it worthy of referring back to.

Countless times I have been skimming a mefi thread, and backed up and read a comment I had skipped or only skimmed (often a big tl;dr wall of text) because it had a buttload of favorites, and I am rarely disappointed by what I find.
posted by idiopath at 12:25 PM on October 31, 2009 [78 favorites]


It's an attempt to address the concern that visible favorite counts on comments may be interpreted as voting system

I guess I missed the conversation where it was determined that this was a bad thing. Usually, comments with lots of favorites actually ARE worth reading, because they're funny, informative, or otherwise interesting. And sometimes in a long thread it's beneficial to be able to skim for highly favorited comments. I don't think this is advisable if you plan to actually participate in the thread; in that case you should have a good idea of what the entire conversation has entailed.

Anyway, I want to go on record as saying I don't like this change.
posted by desjardins at 12:27 PM on October 31, 2009 [131 favorites]


Wow, as long as you're altering the terminology to shorten it, why not take the opportunity to remove the implications that come with using the word 'favorite'?
posted by carsonb at 12:28 PM on October 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


Favorites are and always have been a way to say "this comment is one of my favorites."

FOR YOU. We've had this argument endless times; some use them as bookmarks, some use them as agreement, some use them as "this guy's an asshole and I want to remember what he said later to use it against him."

I feel like in AskMe the visible favorite count often functions as "I would like to agree with this answer"

Yep and I will stop favoriting comments in AskMe if it won't count as a "me too."
posted by desjardins at 12:30 PM on October 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


lalex: "I feel like in AskMe the visible favorite count often functions as..."

I rarely use faves on AskMe the way you describe. The great thing about favorites is that I'll use them the way I want to use them and you use them the way you want to use them and the author interprets them the way she wants to interpret them and everyone ends up satisfied with the outcome. And we don't end up with a different mechanism for each use.
posted by Plutor at 12:34 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


I want people favoriting stuff because they like it, not because they think they should like it because others do.

That said, I've spent many favorites on awesome comments I'd found browsing the popular favorites page.

How will this affect the listings on the popular favorites?
posted by not_on_display at 12:35 PM on October 31, 2009


Self-seconding "saved" ('cause I'm classy) with a postscript:

I don't see the problem with the numbers. If they encourage anything, it's—heaven forbid!—interesting commentary. If that's "gaming for favorites," consider me pro-gaming.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:35 PM on October 31, 2009 [11 favorites]


Anyway, I want to go on record as saying I don't like this change.

Same here.
posted by Durin's Bane at 12:35 PM on October 31, 2009 [20 favorites]


I like this. But I hate the word faved. It sounds like saturday morning kid's tv.
posted by Jofus at 12:39 PM on October 31, 2009 [14 favorites]


If you go for this in the long-term

Just to be clear, we're not trying this out as a "hey we're planning on implementing this" but that a lot of people have, for a long time, been saying they think the favorites system encourages crappy behavior. We've been saying "We don't think so" without any real way to test. So, we decided to try this. And it's about that complicated. We talked a lot about the word "faved" but this isn't some major thing, just a good time for some experimentation.

Greasemonkey workarounds will be available [though we're not providing them, but I assume people will write them]. I'm totally okay with more "me too" comments in AskMe as a side effect for a few weeks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:39 PM on October 31, 2009


How will this affect the listings on the popular favorites?

It won't. All other favorites displays and functions will be the same, just no number by the comment.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:41 PM on October 31, 2009


The great thing about favorites is that I'll use them the way I want to use them and you use them the way you want to use them and the author interprets them the way she wants to interpret them and everyone ends up satisfied with the outcome. And we don't end up with a different mechanism for each use.

Absolutely, and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I meant to point out that invisibility removes an interpretation of favorites for those who use them to say "I agree".
posted by lalex at 12:42 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm just going to write in my own Slashdot style pluses and minuses for peoples comments.

-1 SPAMMY, +1 COUNTER-NERFING, -1 SNARK, +1 SNARK
posted by Artw at 12:42 PM on October 31, 2009 [9 favorites]


If folks have suggestions for alternative link text to "faved", we're happy to hear ideas.

spoused.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:43 PM on October 31, 2009 [15 favorites]


And I would like to go on record as agreeing with desjardins, which I was about to indicate by favoriting her comment, but...
posted by lalex at 12:44 PM on October 31, 2009 [8 favorites]


jessamyn: "We've been saying "We don't think so" without any real way to test. So, we decided to try this."

What are the measurable outcomes? Or is it simply qualitative? "We feel like things got better/worse/the same in November"?

(Note: I think this is a good idea and wouldn't mind it becoming permanent.)
posted by Plutor at 12:48 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about "saved"? It's more neutral and, I think, describes more accurately the actual function of the thingy.

"Saved" might offend religious folk and saying a user has 500 saves doesn't read right.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:49 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


50 users marked this comment as "Duly Noted".
posted by Burhanistan at 12:50 PM on October 31, 2009 [27 favorites]


Also, while we're at it, can youse guys consolidate the place we go to look for "most faved" things?

For instance:
• The "Popular" button (only available on MeFi, or the Blue-colored pages) leads to a page with the most popular comments and posts from all sites over 7 days.
• Whereas I have NO idea how to get to these pages, except by a link on the FAQ; and this page is really useful in seeing what has been favorited on each individual site, and I like the ability to see what has been favorited more over longer terms. But you can't do this across all sites nor with comments.

I think if you're going to tweak the way we see favorites on the frontline, you should also make it easier for us to browse through favorites behind-the-scenes via the above examples.
posted by not_on_display at 12:50 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


I like things the way they are.
posted by mmmbacon at 12:53 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm melting... meeeelllting... Oh, what a world...
posted by loquacious at 12:53 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, while we're at it, can youse guys consolidate the place we go to look for "most faved" things?

Previously.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:54 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I guess I missed the conversation where it was determined that this was a bad thing.

I know you're not being snarky and I want to be clear that I'm not at all, but if you have missed the many conversations where folks have been vocal about their concerns about this, then you've missed a lot of conversations, yeah. It's been a recurring topic for pretty much as long as favorites have been around.

There's no unanimous position on it, it's always been a contentious issue and I'm personally pretty middling on the issue, but there's been a lot of criticism of that perceived-but-not-intended function of the system, and this is an experiment to see what it feels like when we address that issue.

Wow, as long as you're altering the terminology to shorten it, why not take the opportunity to remove the implications that come with using the word 'favorite'?

A site-wide change to the terminology is a comparitively huge undertaking—we're currently only touching one small portion of the feature and not trying to change the actual terminology itself in any fundamental way even at that level. Renaming favorites is a different, much bigger discussion and one we're not really wanting to get into right now and certainly not talking about pursuing at the moment.

How will this affect the listings on the popular favorites?

Like Jess said, it won't affect those pages in any direct sense. Only the thread view of comments is changing.

If you mean in the sense of "how will this change lead to systemic effects on favoriting behavior as displayed in Popular listings", though, I'm curious about that myself. A month should be enough to let us see at least broad changes in that kind of dynamic, which should be interesting. My gut feeling is that if there is a noticeable change, it'll be in the overall volume of the favorites on Popular pages but that the curve of favorites distribution will probably stay about the same, so in theory the utility of those pages would be unaffected.

What are the measurable outcomes? Or is it simply qualitative? "We feel like things got better/worse/the same in November"?

I think it's basically completely qualitative. We aren't in a place where we feel like there's Too Much Favoriting or Too Many Favorites or anything like that, and I can't think of any direct metric we'd be looking at as the month goes by. If there were something really directly measurable, I think we would have done this a long time ago just to take that measurement and have it done with.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:55 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


It'll be interesting to see if this change results in any measurable effects on favoriting activity. I'll be surprised if it doesn't, actually, because it seems like a visible favorites count on a comment would encourage other people to favorite the same comment. So will hiding the favorites count directly alter favoriting behavior of users? Or will it result in a change in commenting style, that then indirectly changes the way favoriting statistics look?

I guess the latter point (change in commenting style) is really the point here in that some people feel the favoriting mechanism encourages the wrong sort of comments. But commenting style is awfully hard to measure statistically. So if there is an overall change in favoriting statistics, how will we know if there's been a change in commenting style behind it, or if it's just a side-effect of the count being hidden?

You'd almost have to make the favorites count visible to everyone except the comment's author to test if people are actually commenting differently, instead of just being less encouraged to favorite something because lots of other people already have.

Anyway, seems like some kind of post-experiment Infodump analysis would be in order.
posted by FishBike at 12:57 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


"How about "saved"? It's more neutral and, I think, describes more accurately the actual function of the thingy."

Plus, it's a word.

So wait, lemme see if I understand this right. If you favorite a comment, you will see "faved" the way we see "flagged" for comments we've flagged now? And no one will know if anyone else has favorited a comment, the same way you can't tell someone else has flagged something? Or will EVERYONE see "faved" if anyone has favorited a given comment? Because the latter makes no sense. If you're going to make favorites a private thing (which they should be, like flags), they should be fully private.
posted by Eideteker at 12:58 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nope, Eideteker, that's not how it works. How it works is:

If a comment has one or more favorites on it, under the new system it will have instead of "x favorites" instead just the word "faved" without a count.

If you have favorited a comment, it will have a "-" instead of a "+" so that you can unfavorite, just as before.

The only change is in the visibility-or-not, to everybody, of the fave count, and the change from the word "favorites" in "x favorites" to the slightly-less-screen-footprint-occupying "faved".
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:01 PM on October 31, 2009


I think this is a great idea. Taking a number out of the line that can very easily be put back in for those who want it (why? You won't favorite it unless it's popular enough? Feh.) by a Greasemonkey script that I'd bet my house will be out a matter of days after they go live with the change is a perfect compromise.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:05 PM on October 31, 2009


Wow, as long as you're altering the terminology to shorten it, why not take the opportunity to remove the implications that come with using the word 'favorite'?

I don't think changing the term will do much to impact any "gaming for favourites", if such a thing is actually a problem.

It could be changed to 'faved', 'saved', 'plussed', 'hippoed', or 'dildoed'; people are still going to like knowing that others have clicked their [+], and comment accordingly, if they're of a mind to like knowing that others have clicked their [+].
posted by CKmtl at 1:07 PM on October 31, 2009


I think this trial is a good idea.
Since some of the functionality people are talking about isn't implied by "faved," maybe it would be worth considering at some point trying out TWO clickers--on that would say "liked" and one that said "saved" or "noted." In askme, liked could be "seconded" or something.
(And pony requests could have little unicorns appear underneath...)
posted by Mngo at 1:07 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


It could be changed to 'faved', 'saved', 'plussed', 'hippoed', or 'dildoed';

This site has enough dildos, thanks very much.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:10 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't like the change.
posted by jayder at 1:11 PM on October 31, 2009 [9 favorites]


Every favourited comment will be equal. 8 months of Obama and see what it gets us; socialism.
posted by jouke at 1:14 PM on October 31, 2009 [35 favorites]


I'm glad this is just a trial balloon; I expect to dislike it, but I also expect the results to support the moderators' (and my) belief that favorites don't negatively affect the site, so I'm guessing after November it will go away and we can go back to complaining about memes and demanding ponies.
posted by languagehat at 1:14 PM on October 31, 2009 [24 favorites]


I'm looking forward to seeing how the experiment works out. And I also vote for "saved" rather than "faved".

Also, in the long term, a change to AskMe from "favorite" to something like "I agree" would be great. Or heck, just adding an "I agree" clicky thingie would be awesome.
posted by deborah at 1:15 PM on October 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


Put me in the don't care about the change but think "faved" is awful group. Maybe something that's an actual word like "flagged".

I'm kidding obviously, but what about "noted", "marked" or just about anything else that doesn't make us all sound like we're fourteen.
posted by ecurtz at 1:19 PM on October 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


How about "saved"? It's more neutral and, I think, describes more accurately the actual function of the thingy.

Again, like has been pointed out: The function as you see it. I seldom go back to my favorites. I'm not saving them. It's an easy way to give a quick nod to someone to say I appreciated what was written.

And I am going on the record as saying I am against anything that diminishes any external validation I receive. Ha! Just kidding. I don't really care either way.

I would like to be able to voice displeasure on a comment as well. Something other than flagging or memailing. A big thumbs down on the asshat comments. (And I'd get my fair share).

Letting people do this could go toward making a more civil site. When someone makes one of those idiotic Hitler jokes so many people hate, and they get the 15 lazy favorites, and 45 hateorites, maybe they'd realize it was time to retire that comment. I'm guess there would be a hell of a lot less rape jokes.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:22 PM on October 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


This is a great idea, especially for a month, as a trial. You cats are so freakin' awesome. I hug you all.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:23 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's Halloween, not April Fools Day.

It seems to me like the vast, vast majority of the users of the site are fine with how favorites currently work, and can handle the ambiguity, and understand that sometimes they or other people don't precisely mean, "THIS IS MY FAVORITE COMMENT" when they click the plus. The favorites system for better, and I guess for worse, is an additional vector of personal social interaction, and I find it useful and comforting. The threads where people have screamed and yelled about the favorites system have never made much sense to me.

But actually, as an experiment, I'm all for it, because hey, experiments are cool and we'll probably learn something. But I know that I will be weaseling my way around the invisibility to see who and how many favorites ('scuse me, FAVES) comments that I've made, faved, or profoundly disagreed with have garnered.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:24 PM on October 31, 2009 [17 favorites]


but, but I need that number next to my Hitler joke. For my self esteem.

oh god I'm so lonely
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:30 PM on October 31, 2009 [10 favorites]


Dogeared. Marked. Reffed. Filed. FFU. (for future use). There can me a whole taxonomy for why people would wish to mark something for future reference. Stupid. Brilliant. Complaint. Bad. Good.

Faved (let no one accuse me of old-fogeyism) is just one way. Me, I hand copy with a quill and ink on vellum by natural or candle light when I want to preserve a post.
posted by pjern at 1:31 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ugh. I really, really don't like this. Hopefully somebody cooks up a Greasemonkey script for it soon, because it is going to seriously impair the way I read the site.

I keep up with the various Mefi subsites using RSS, but there's way too much content on the average day to be able to read it all. So most of the time I'll just skim the longer comment threads, and rely on high favorite counts to jump out at me while scrolling. Like idiopath said, I'm rarely disappointed by what I find.

I know people say that favorite counts don't matter because people use them in different ways. But in practice this isn't really true.

Consider two comments, one with 3 favorites, one with 65. Looking at the first one, the favorites don't tell you anything about the comment because those three people could have done so for myriad reasons. Maybe one of them is a friend of the poster. Maybe one is writing a paper on the poster's topic and wants to save it for later. Maybe one was going to say the same thing and the poster took the words right out of their mouth. Maybe one just favorites lots of stuff, willy-nilly. Whatever.

But the second one? Even without knowing what it says, you know it's going to be worth reading. Any comment that could get 65 different people to click that [+] is going to be notable in some way, regardless of the favoriters' individual reasons for doing so. Maybe it's a lengthy and well-researched essay. Maybe it's a tears-in-your-eyes-funny joke. Maybe it sums up the popular sentiment in a pithy way. Regardless, the high count tells you that it's probably worth paying attention to, for whatever reason. You know it will be compelling, because it compelled 65 people to bookmark it/publicly agree with it/give it kudos/whatever.

With the count gone, the highlighting power of favorites gets neutered. Instead of a varying landscape of favorited comments -- some with one or two, some with five or ten, some with a couple dozen, and you can decide what to stop and read based on your whims -- long threads will turn into a binary wall of text: favorites, or no favorites. If somebody writes a brilliantly pithy comment, it will be indistinguishable at a glance from some one-off joke that made one easily impressed person chuckle.

I can't stress how big of a pain this is for people like me, completionist-types who don't have time to read everything. Up till now I've been able to use favorites to quickly digest threads -- if I'm short on time, I'll only stop for the really popular stuff, if I'm more leisurely I'll lower my personal threshold and take in more. But I won't be able to do that anymore. This is pretty much akin to scrapping public favorites completely.

cortex: "if you have missed the many conversations where folks have been vocal about their concerns about this, then you've missed a lot of conversations, yeah."

Every time I've seen this discussed, there's been a sort of vague negativity from some people about favorites, but never anything substantive. I don't think I've *ever* seen a situation where somebody was bragging about their favorites or using them as a cudgel in a debate. On the other hand, there have been multiple occasions where I've seen someone dismiss a person because of their usernumber, but you don't see people clamoring to get rid of that feature.

Basically, I don't see the utility of this. Mefi has always had snark. Favorites might encourage it somewhat, but they also elicit creative and worthwhile comments, too. I know this from experience. And getting rid of or nerfing favorites will not eliminate snark, but will make said creative comments harder to find.

This feels like a technical solution to a social problem. A social problem that no one has been able to prove even exists, beyond handwaving. Have we had a rash of crappy, look-at-me comments lately? Has the quality of commentary fallen off a cliff? I don't see the motivation for this.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:32 PM on October 31, 2009 [235 favorites]


Is it possible to increase the number of posts/comments captured by Popular Favorites during this trial period?

Many of the best comments I've found via visible favorites are in threads that are not heavily trafficked or about some super-controversial issue; threads where a comment receiving even 5 favorites jumps out. The current threshold for appearing in Popular Favorites is, of course, much higher than that.
posted by lalex at 1:39 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Have we had a rash of crappy, look-at-me comments lately?

Yeah, actually. It's hard to tell if this is because of newer users or favorites culture or what, but we delete a LOT of initial snarky throwaway comments lately it seems like. So, not certain but yeah we've seen it and it's one of the things we're looking at, whether it changes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:39 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seconding what Rhaomi says... when you're in a rush and are scanning a long thread, if you see a comment with 30+ favourites, you know that it's going to be worth a read, no matter what. I'll be sad to see that go... or hidden, I suppose.
posted by modernnomad at 1:40 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'd rather see a "hide this user from me" function.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:44 PM on October 31, 2009 [16 favorites]


Can we have poll functionality, so we can voted on whether people who whine about favourites are jerkwad losers?
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on October 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't see the point of moving from [# favorite(s) +] to [faved]. If there should be any change at all, and I'm not entirely sure where I stand on this matter, it should be the removal from public display of any level of favouriting.
posted by knapah at 1:48 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about "savored?"

3 users savored this comment. Mmm.
posted by ORthey at 1:48 PM on October 31, 2009 [31 favorites]


I have never been one of those who sees favorites being problematic in the kind of behavior they promote, probably because I tend to enjoy the kind of comments deplored by those who think that they are a problem. I will also admit to getting an embarrassingly substantial amount of gratification out of being favorited (sorry if that's TMI). So, I hope this change doesn't become permanent. That said, I don't have any problem with experimentation, and I'll be interested to see if it does have a noticeable impact on the behavior of the community.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:50 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: "Yeah, actually. It's hard to tell if this is because of newer users or favorites culture or what, but we delete a LOT of initial snarky throwaway comments lately it seems like. So, not certain but yeah we've seen it and it's one of the things we're looking at, whether it changes."

Can you really blame that on favorites, though? It seems more like a variant of the FIRST! culture. Like, oh, there are no comments yet! Let me get in my clever snark as quickly as possible so everyone will see it, instead of having it get buried twenty or thirty comments down.

Favorites might be a bonus in that mindset, in that a one-liner is more likely to get a lot of them if it is early in the thread and therefore more visible. You can see this in action in the contentious political/newsfilter threads when they first start out. But I don't think hiding favorite counts will cut down on that "look at meee" behavior. I guess we'll see.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:52 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Rhaomi: "Can you really blame that on favorites, though?"

Good question. If only there was some sort of month-long experiment they could perform to try to figure out the answer.
posted by Plutor at 1:57 PM on October 31, 2009 [14 favorites]


Don't like it one bit. makes AskMe harder.
posted by The Whelk at 1:57 PM on October 31, 2009 [10 favorites]


jessamyn: We've been saying "We don't think so" without any real way to test. So, we decided to try this.

I'm pro-experimentation so I like this. My initial expectations is that the new system won't be in any way better and will reduce the functionality for the kind of user who uses favorite counts to skim threads (personally it's something that I don't do).

My main question is how will the results be judged? How will success be measured? If there's little or no change will things go back to the old system?
posted by Kattullus at 1:58 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


*raises hand* So, if it is a test, exactly what are your plans for measuring outcomes?

While I'm not chucking my pocket protector at anyone and demanding a null hypothesis or a control group, it sounds like there's going to be a decision to keep the change or leave the change, one way or another, after November, and I am wondering on the basis of what measurements that decision will be made.
posted by adipocere at 1:59 PM on October 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


I'm one of the people who has argued in the past that favorites changed site behavior. It's really cool that you guys are running this experiment. I'm not sure we'll see much of a difference: commenting style is pretty well-established and has a lot of inertia at this point -- everyone knows that in Decemeber their favorite totals will be back up for all to see -- a few pro-status-quo jerks might be especially jerky in threads just to prove that the new system isn't any better -- but this really is an interesting idea.
posted by painquale at 1:59 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree with Rhaomi. Since the favorites system hasn't changed recently, I don't see how a lot of shitty recent comments can be attributed to it. Hopefully this is only a month-long thing, because I too like to scan really long threads for highly favorited comments. We'll see I guess...
posted by meta87 at 1:59 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


And again, even if invisible favorites do reduce the number of crappy comments that crop up early in threads, it doesn't seem like it's worth it if doing so also makes it harder to find the worthwhile comments later on. Favorites-based attention whoring is a sporadic, predictable, relatively easy-to-deal with bug, but favorites-based highlighting of great content is a much more consistent and worthwhile feature that is difficult to replicate.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:00 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Someone on one of my recent threads suggested a 10 minute post posting period before comments would even be allowed. This would kill the "First" style comments. It would also stop some threadshitting. I don't see people sticking around to make sure they get in their one line snark zinger, but they will stick around to discuss the topic. And you know, maybe even read a link before spouting off.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:00 PM on October 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


Favorites also add information to a running disagreement.

It is one thing to see

a) foo is a bunch of bunk.
b) a: you are wrong
c) a: you are wrong and smell bad
d) a: not only are you wrong, but I hate you
a) let me try to make my case a bit more clearly blah blah blah ...
b) a: you are still wrong, and stupid

and another thing entirely to see

a) foo is a bunch of bunk. [33 favorites]
b) a: you are wrong [2 favorites] (favorited by users c and d)
c) a: you are wrong and smell bad
d) a: not only are you wrong, but I hate you
a) let me try to make my case a bit more clearly blah blah blah ... [85 favorites]
b) a: you are still wrong, and stupid

Favorites can give an idea of how other people are reading a disagreement, for better or worse. The whole voting on comments thing does have its problems, I agree, but the extra information that the voting phenomenon adds help give a better idea of the opinions of a larger number of users, with less "me too" "ditto" etc. noise.
posted by idiopath at 2:01 PM on October 31, 2009 [34 favorites]


Can you really blame that on favorites, though? It seems more like a variant of the FIRST! culture. Like, oh, there are no comments yet! Let me get in my clever snark as quickly as possible so everyone will see it, instead of having it get buried twenty or thirty comments down.

We're not in a place where we're trying to confidently blame it on favorites. Whether or not a system that can reward early acting-out behavior with a disproportionate amount of apparent praise does in fact systemically encourage unwanted behavior of that sort is something worth chewing on, and in fact we've chewed on it a lot in abstract for years now. It's one thing we can look at during this experiment. We may or may not see anything significant on that front; I'm not banking on us seeing anything, and measurability in any case will be fuzzy at best, but it'll be interesting to check it out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:06 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even though it's not on the table for this month's experimentation, I'm going to throw out my support for bookmarks/marked. I generally prefer 'bookmarks' to 'favorites' (why yes, I was rooting for Netscape in the Browser Wars, however did you guess?), and I also think that 'marked' would suitably convey the slightly ambiguous nature of today's favorite.
posted by mayhap at 2:09 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree with Rhaomi. Since the favorites system hasn't changed recently, I don't see how a lot of shitty recent comments can be attributed to it.

Again, it's not something we're attributing directly to favorites, and it's not the primary motivating reason for this experiment. Whether or not visible favorite counts act in some way as an amplifying or contributing factor to independently extant behavior stuff that may come and go on its own cycles for whatever reasons is a more interesting question, and one we'll be trying to get a feel for a bit during all this. But, again: it's one little piece of the whole situation, not the reason for the experiment's existence.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:10 PM on October 31, 2009


Did the IRB have any feedback when you ran this experiment past them? Surely there's some kind of informed consent document we have to sign.
posted by subbes at 2:13 PM on October 31, 2009 [11 favorites]


December is threading month.
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on October 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


With this system in place, i'm pretty likely to just stop using favorites entirely, because I never use them to save posts I want to find later (that's what Google is for).
posted by empath at 2:23 PM on October 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


This is a great idea. The less like Digg/Reddit/Slashdot Mefi is the better, IMO

In fact, why even have the "saved" text displayed at all for anyone other than the person who saved it? What's the point?
posted by popechunk at 2:24 PM on October 31, 2009


I've never liked the term "favorite" in this context -- "marked," "noted," or even "dildoed" seem much more flexible to me. And I'd disagree that the term itself is a totally different discussion that can't happen at the same time as considering the question of how (or whether) to display running totals -- calling it a "favorite" is different than calling it a "note," and will, I suspect, produce different patterns of use.

But terminology aside, I really don't like this. I'm someone who, many days, doesn't have the time to read all (or even most) of many threads. Seeing what comments -- or what kind of comments -- are eliciting varying numbers of favorites tells me a lot about what is going on in a thread.

Simply telling me that a comment has been "faved" (gag -- couldn't you pick a better term? please?) doesn't tell me whether one person has used a favorite to mark their place or whether 60 people think it's the best thing they've read this week.

So I see this as removing information and transparency that I enjoy having access to, while simultaneously poking a finger in the eye of the English language with that cutesy term. The suggestion above rings true to me that this is a fairly crude technological "fix" for a social problem -- and one that isn't even unanimously agreed to exist.
posted by Forktine at 2:24 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I would like to see an average favorites count on those who've complained about favorites. My own is quite high, thank you very much. I guess you get your way THIS time, ugly stepsisters!! /preens
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:26 PM on October 31, 2009


Can you really blame that on favorites, though?

Nope, and we pretty much don't. But, other people have suggested, strongly and often, that this is what is happening.

A solid month of seeing if this actually does seem to occur in the absence of favorites would be good data to have. Basically there's a lot of "well I think favorites do this to the community" and "well I think they do this to the community" crosstalk with no reliable way other than saying "well it feels this way to me" to judge. So we figured we'd try tweaking something, see if people feel differently or act differently [in general hand-wavey ways, I doubt we'll do a lot of number crunching but it would be neat to see if the some of the stupid add-nothing snark goes away maybe a little].

And, nothing personal, but I'm surprised that for some people the favorites aspect of the site is indispensible or that this would make a huge difference in how the site works for them. Not like upset-surprised, just that it would have never occurred to me, so that's useful to know too.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:27 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


So who's going to step up and alter this greasemonkey script for November?
posted by flatluigi at 2:28 PM on October 31, 2009


And I'd disagree that the term itself is a totally different discussion that can't happen at the same time as considering the question of how (or whether) to display running totals -- calling it a "favorite" is different than calling it a "note," and will, I suspect, produce different patterns of use.

I'm not saying the discussion can't happen, fwiw, I'm just saying that it may be a distracting sideline in that it's a big discussion of something we're not currently going to be doing that's at a totally different (i.e. much larger) scope from what we are doing. I'm down with the conversation in general, just maybe check for whether introducing it in earnest right now is going to be a great idea with folks ostensibly discussing in here what's actually going on.

Simply telling me that a comment has been "faved" (gag -- couldn't you pick a better term? please?)

None of us are really in love with it either, but lacking something we think is a big improvement (and we are all ears on that front) we're running with it for now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:36 PM on October 31, 2009


And, nothing personal, but I'm surprised that for some people the favorites aspect of the site is indispensible or that this would make a huge difference in how the site works for them.

I don't think this change would make a huge difference in how I'd use the site, but if favorites went away entirely, for example, there are particular kinds of FPP that i'd be much less interested spending the time to make -- the kinds that don't tend to engender a lot of discussion, but do tend to quietly gather favorites. Which are the kinds of posts that a lot of people like the best.
posted by empath at 2:36 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Only an hour and a half to go. So exciting...
posted by jouke at 2:36 PM on October 31, 2009


I'll be writing GM script to get around this for my own use, but kinda wary about sharing it.. would that be seen as trying to subvert the experiment/not in the spirit of moderator intent? I understand you left the data there specifically for this, but I figure mostly to pre-empt the whining so much as wanting to encourage people to not participate. It wasn't lost on me the guy who wrote a filter-by-favorite-count script got scolded by the community for it and I hate being That Guy.

On that note, if you decide that comment quality improves and decide to make it permanent, do you plan to rip out the hidden data?
posted by cj_ at 2:38 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


1. Experiments can be interesting. This is an experiment; the results might be interesting.
2. It's been suggested that the current system encourages gaming behavior, the Easy Snark over the Hard Disquisition, etc. Thing is, a high ratio of quips to axioms seems to me not a bad trade-off; I suspect it encourages speed of response, which encourages quantity of response... and raises the chances that somewhere, someone on MeFi will be inspired to toss in something thoughtful.

While there is almost certainly some bandwagon behavior when it comes to Favoriting, well, that's how people get engaged. My guess is that without indicators as to which posts are generating strong responses ("favorites")-- without an obvious feedback and, bluntly, reward system-- there'll be rather fewer responses.

A lot of noise may be scraped out, but so, I suspect, will be a fair amount of signal.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:38 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't think this change would make a huge difference in how I'd use the site, but if favorites went away entirely, for example, there are particular kinds of FPP that i'd be much less interested spending the time to make

I'm not going to dig in either way on the pros/cons of making posts specifically for favorites, but to be clear we aren't altering post favorites for this experiment, don't really see that as being something we'd do in the future, and certainly aren't considering removing favorites entirely in any case.

I'll be writing GM script to get around this for my own use, but kinda wary about sharing it.. would that be seen as trying to subvert the experiment/not in the spirit of moderator intent?

No, we expect some folks will prefer to manually work around it (and are including the fave counts in part to make that doable). It's fine if you really can't live without the feature and want to use a script to restore it.

On that note, if you decide that comment quality improves and decide to make it permanent, do you plan to rip out the hidden data?

I doubt we would remove it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:41 PM on October 31, 2009


we are all ears on that front

You should go with something proprietary like 'digg'

filtered

meta'd

mefi'd

mf'd

or just

f'd
posted by empath at 2:41 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


And, nothing personal, but I'm surprised that for some people the favorites aspect of the site is indispensible or that this would make a huge difference in how the site works for them. Not like upset-surprised, just that it would have never occurred to me, so that's useful to know too.

Here's two examples, chosen randomly from recent FPPs. Skimming the Halloween costume FPP, it's clear that the posts getting favorited are jokey ones (in keeping with the tone of the FPP link). In contrast, many of the most-favorited comments in the FPP about searches are serious and interesting comments on the issue. In both cases, the most-favorited are not interchangeable with the large number of comments that received one or two favorites. Skimming either thread by most-favorited will give one a pretty decent sense of the tone and flavor of each, much more so than an un-ranked list of "faved" will.

So what you are doing, with this (proposed? announced?) change is to flatten the information available. The (somewhat silly) library equivalent might be to limit access to the NYTimes best seller lists and the list of nominees for major prizes, on the grounds that knowing what other readers and critics are saying is unfairly biasing the library patrons' book selection choices. And that's no doubt true -- force people to select books on their own merits only, and there'll be less Dan Brown, certainly. I don't want to belabor such a silly analogy, but I think that there is a cost to forcing behavioral change by limiting information, and I wish we weren't going down that path here.
posted by Forktine at 2:44 PM on October 31, 2009 [21 favorites]


*despondently sits in one corner of the labyrinth, compulsively cleaning his whiskers and waiting for the cheese that will never come*
posted by adipocere at 2:46 PM on October 31, 2009 [9 favorites]


We've also tried to come up with something shorter than "favorites" just to reduce the byline length a little bit, while keeping it clearly readable and clickable"

Do I understand it correctly that it will still be possible to click the "faved" and see who favorited the comment? Because that does make it easier to keep my list of whose ass will be up against the wall when the revolution comes.
posted by Kattullus at 2:51 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


not_on_display: I want people favoriting stuff because they like it, not because they think they should like it because others do.

I just can't fathom why you would care why someone favorites something or doesn't. What do you think that "jumping on the bandwagon" gains anyone?

(P.S. really not trying to be snarky today; for some reason I feel strongly about this issue, but it's not a personal thing with any user)
posted by desjardins at 2:52 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


This feels like a technical solution to a social problem. A social problem that no one has been able to prove even exists, beyond handwaving.

I have yet to see the whole social solution thing be proved to be more than handwaving at an argument, so I don't agree with the technical/social sentiment in the first place.

Do favorites affect behavior? You sure could debate this one way or the other, but my interpretation would fall on the yes side of the fence. I couldn't say by how much or in what way, but if me and you took a stroll through Vegas I could point out the small subtle things that are meant to influence others behavior (and do affect them). We could do simple things to control large groups of people if we wanted. So I think there is a willful ignorance when people say that it doesn't affect behavior, when it simply affects your behavior by the mere use of it.

Favorites can give an idea of how other people are reading a disagreement, for better or worse. The whole voting on comments thing does have its problems, I agree, but the extra information that the voting phenomenon adds help give a better idea of the opinions of a larger number of users, with less "me too" "ditto" etc. noise.

Aside from AskMe, I believe this would have a positive effect. Without the use of threaded comments, the site is set up as an ongoing conversation, and scanning for only favorited comments inherently "breaks" that aspect.
It would also seem that if you needed a count next to something to decide if it was good or not, then you really aren't trying.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:02 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damnit I love the favorites system and I think it works very well.
posted by pwally at 3:04 PM on October 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


I really like the favorites used as a popularity indicator feature. So I'm sad to hear this.
posted by phrontist at 3:10 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


What about the sidebar? Will comments that get more than 12 favorites show up there in this format: "user foo had a comment with X favorites in MetaFilter."
posted by Kattullus at 3:11 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, I'm sorry to hear this because I was going to run a little experiment where I had a bot randomly favorite a few dozen comments throughout the day, and then choose another dozen as controls, and see if the "favorite seeded" group got "bandwagon favorites".
posted by phrontist at 3:12 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


> It would also seem that if you needed a count next to something to decide if it was good or not, then you really aren't trying.

I really hate this bad faith argument made whenever this topic comes up. People aren't using favorites as a determination of what's good or not, but to find interesting comments in a pile of less interesting stuff when there's some reason reading the whole thread is a chore. I read every comment on very interesting threads, or ones I intend to comment on. I'm not going to read 500 comments of people bickering about Sarah Palin or Balloon Boy, or some fighty derail, or a bunch of snark. I'm just not. I don't have the time or inclination. Favorites let me at least see some of the best-of, whereas I would normally give the whole thing a miss. This isn't a value judgment on the less-favorited stuff. It is just taking advantage of some made available by people with more interest in the topic (or time on their hands).

I do not understand why this kind of usage bothers people so much, honestly.
posted by cj_ at 3:15 PM on October 31, 2009 [21 favorites]


* taking advantage of some data
posted by cj_ at 3:16 PM on October 31, 2009


Well, if there are people who only read favorited comments, isn't that a bandwagon effect?
posted by P.o.B. at 3:17 PM on October 31, 2009


Bandwagons are good!
posted by phrontist at 3:19 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


So will AskMe threads just be filled with hundreds of people wasting page space posting, "Nthing foo" now? I can't see how that will help. Showing favorites counts seems like a more compact, efficient way to do that. Not that I'll tell anyone how to use their favorites (because look at the favorites in this thread, that's clearly unpopular.)
Also, 'faves'? Ugh, I know language evolves and all, but I unfriend people IRL for getting their coffee from 'Starbys', and I'm not above defriending websites for the same atrociousness.
So go ahead, do your little experiment, but don't expect me to like it.
posted by baserunner73 at 3:19 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


"If a comment has one or more favorites on it, under the new system it will have instead of "x favorites" instead just the word "faved" without a count."

Why? Why not just make it fully private? I don't understand the point of doing things by half measures.
posted by Eideteker at 3:22 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really hate this bad faith argument made whenever this topic comes up. People aren't using favorites as a determination of what's good or not, but to find interesting comments in a pile of less interesting stuff when there's some reason reading the whole thread is a chore.

People openly admit to using scripts to limit comments to favorites, and only want to read "interesting" comments. This is cutting out work on your part, yes? That is not a bad faith argument.

I do not understand why this kind of usage bothers people so much, honestly.

You don't understand why it bothers other people, but are bothered by the aforementioned bothered?
posted by P.o.B. at 3:22 PM on October 31, 2009


It would also seem that if you needed a count next to something to decide if it was good or not, then you really aren't trying.

By this logic nothing should ever be sidebarred or highlighted in MetaTalk, because if you didn't come across a fantastic/interesting/useful contribution all on your own then you just aren't trying hard enough to read every single post and comment thread.

Yes, this site is set up as a conversation. But like others have said, particularly in the longer threads (which often have long spells consisting of two or three users engaged in a pissing match), favorites can serve to highlight really worthwhile contributions.

Like desjardins and Rhaomi, favorites are a big part of how I find fantastic/interesting/useful things on MeFi that I might not have seen otherwise.
posted by lalex at 3:23 PM on October 31, 2009 [10 favorites]


I also think that 'marked' would suitably convey the slightly ambiguous nature of today's favorite

I'm down with this over 'faved'. I feel like I just lost part of my IQ writing that stupid non-word.
posted by mannequito at 3:24 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


You don't understand why it bothers other people, but are bothered by the aforementioned bothered?

Well, no; as long as they stand idly by and whine in their abject powerlessness, they're fine! But now they're actually affecting things. And negatively! I too am bothered!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:24 PM on October 31, 2009


Sure, bandwagons look cool but I can't imagine that they're very comfortable methods of conveyance.
posted by Kattullus at 3:26 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


So will AskMe threads just be filled with hundreds of people wasting page space posting, "Nthing foo" now? I can't see how that will help

THAT'S a bad faith argument.

By this logic nothing should ever be sidebarred or highlighted in MetaTalk, because if you didn't come across a fantastic/interesting/useful contribution all on your own then you just aren't trying hard enough to read every single post and comment thread.

No. I'm not saying that at all. It's the limiting nature other people put on the conversation due to favorites. The logic would dictate that favorites only lead to sidebarred worthy comments existing.

I too am bothered!

We're all bothered!
posted by P.o.B. at 3:29 PM on October 31, 2009


We're all bothe

I'm sorry, I keep glossing over comments without favorites...were you saying something a minute ago?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:31 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just can't fathom why you would care why someone favorites something or doesn't.

Yeah, ditto. I use favorites as a way to agree, and as a way to say "right on!" and as a way to bookmark something. Which makes searching my favorites a total nightmare, but that's a different discussion.

One way I don't use them: to find interesting comments in long threads. I read/skim long threads if I'm interested in the topic, or I read the sidebar, or popular favorites, or I miss them entirely. The world carries on.

On a slight tangent - someone upthread mentioned threading and I'd like to say NOOOOOOOO!
posted by rtha at 3:31 PM on October 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


Anyway, this is a pretty terrible idea, and the "faves" thing has me thinking it's a prank. I mean, come on! Faves. You guys are so gullible, I swear.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:33 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wut?
posted by P.o.B. at 3:35 PM on October 31, 2009


I like "NOTED".
I like "SECONDED" for askMEs.

I misread .2 above on first reading to say ...

"We're replacing the word "favorites" with "faved" for those comments that have FIVE or more favorites attached to them."

... and I thought this was a cool idea. Disappear the low "fave" tallies completely so, upon coming in late to a long post, I could get a good summary by narrowing in on those comments which had proven genuinely popular (or unpopular).

This is a version of what I generally do anyway: scan for anything with say, 3,4,5 or more comments ... which, of course, I will no longer be able to do during this trial.

So, by one factor at least, my perception is that this CHANGE will NOT improve my enjoyment of the site.
posted by philip-random at 3:38 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I vote "meefed."

I wouldn't personally choose to make this change, but I don't understand why everyone's getting all bent out of shape about trying something different. Nothing permanent has been decreed, and it seems to me like it's really going to involve minimal effort to write (or find someone who has written) a script to keep the counts if you really want them.

I'm really interested as to how ya'll plan to measure the difference between the impact the two systems have on throwaway snark (or comment trends in general). Is it gonna be a purely qualitative kind of assessment?
posted by solipsophistocracy at 3:43 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyway, this is a pretty terrible idea, and the "faves" thing has me thinking it's a prank. I mean, come on! Faves. You guys are so gullible, I swear.

Man, they get me every fucking time.

posted by solipsophistocracy at 3:45 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


As long as we're talking about favorites an' stuff, something I asked Cortex about a while ago was the ability to get RSS feeds of favorites (mostly so I could go through, fave a bunch of stuff and have it end up in my combined inbox, streamlining my procrastination). He said that he'd be wary of opening it up so that everyone could follow everyone else's stuff, you know, because of the cyberstalking the kids are into these days, and as for just having it for your own stuff, he was like, well, that's an idea, but it's low, low, low on the list of things to fiddle with.

I just thought I'd mention it.

Regarding the overall question of favorite counts, I'd like to point out that there's a bit of the appeal to popularity fallacy being tossed around. Despite claims to the contrary, there are plenty of heavily-faved comments that are dumb or trite or whatever, and there are many, many more comments that are great stuff that don't get any faves at all. It's a bit like saying that because the Eagles sold a lot of albums, man, there must be something to them worth paying attention to, when, no, really, their album sales just represent a confluence of mediocre taste spread widely.
posted by klangklangston at 3:48 PM on October 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


Get the fuck out of my cab, man.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:51 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like "Noted" over "Faved". It's more accurate and MeFi-sounding. And changes the implication from "I like this" to "this is worthwhile."

It seems like there could be a threshold for a comment to become "noted", as the default threshold of "one lousy +" seems strange. But that just leads back to where we started, as surely it would be best to show the raw number of noteds and let the users make up their own minds.

For example I know that something with 10-30 favorites is probably worth reading, while something with 100 is probably going to be very well-written but probably not actually as good when you think about it—mainly worth reading because I know people will be referring to it later.

I guess I come down on not liking this change because it hides something from us that helps us read and evaluate things on MetaFilter, and also makes it harder to feel where the community is.

But maybe that's all unnecessary. Maybe I'm missing the point, like the addict who has his drugs taken away and then indignantly proves that now there's nothing suitable to shoot in his arm.
posted by fleacircus at 3:56 PM on October 31, 2009


Anyway what I'd rather have is a goddamn fixed <blockquote> or some other tag that nicely formats a quoted comment. </ponybandwagon>
posted by fleacircus at 4:01 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


> People openly admit to using scripts to limit comments to favorites, and only want to read "interesting" comments.

These scripts are filters that you engage on demand, such as a 500 comment thread full of mostly noise. I seriously doubt anyone uses a filtered view exclusively. Maybe there's someone, somewhere, who does that, but it's not clear to me how they are damaging the site by doing so.

In any case, the group of people augmenting their browsers with GreaseMonkey plugins is vanishingly small, and hang-wringing over it is asinine.

> You don't understand why it bothers other people, but are bothered by the aforementioned bothered?

No, I am bothered about having my own point of view misrepresented.
posted by cj_ at 4:04 PM on October 31, 2009


Suggestion: Partway through the month, give us users a way to disable this experiment. Count how many of us do so. That should provide some evidence as to how many active users care about favorite counts.

Personally, I tend to look for heavily favorited comments in long threads, because I don't typically have enough time to read everything. I find I get a good general summary of the different viewpoints this way. So I'm against this change.
posted by A dead Quaker at 4:05 PM on October 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


Metafilter comments are like Eagles songs.

So I propose a very fine-grained evaluative scale, from worst to best:

1. AlreadyGone
2. Lyin'Eyes
3. GetOverIt
4. TakeItEasy
5. OutofControl
6. PeacefulEasyFeeling
7. TheBestofMyFilter

That will keep us busy for years on MeTa.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:07 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I doubt your doubts and am bothered by your bothered.

I do my hang-wringing for 5 sets of 5 reps. It's good for hitting the type IIb fibers.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:09 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is a simple solution to get some data on how favorites are used - maybe something like this.
posted by bigmusic at 4:15 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


> It would also seem that if you needed a count next to something to decide if it was good or not, then you really aren't trying.

I really hate this bad faith argument made whenever this topic comes up. People aren't using favorites as a determination of what's good or not, but to find interesting comments in a pile of less interesting stuff when there's some reason reading the whole thread is a chore.


I think that by looking at the favorite count first before reading the comment you risk predetermining your attitude to the comment. Humans are social animals and it means a lot to us what other people think about a given thing. If you see that a lot of people are positively inclined to a comment you may automatically adopt a positive attitude yourself without necessarily reflecting very deeply on the content.
posted by Catfry at 4:17 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


> It's a bit like saying that because the Eagles sold a lot of albums

> something with 100 is probably going to be very well-written but probably not actually as good when you think about it

The more emotional the topic, the likelier it is that there'll be a big, expansive, iconic, catch-all "Hotel California"... surrounded by lots of unmemorable stuff. But that's okay. There's nothing wrong with a Hotel Metafilter effect.
posted by darth_tedious at 4:20 PM on October 31, 2009


Starred. Noted.

On threads about topics I don't know very much about, favourites are definitely one metric I use to zero in on the good stuff. I'd be sad to lose the ability to see that.
posted by heatherann at 4:21 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


My husband just will. not. sign. up. But it doesn't stop him from voicing his opinion on a website that he barely has any idea about, aside from attending two meetups and listening to my jabbering. HOWEVER: he actually had a good idea about this whole kerfluffle. Why not have "agree" instead of "favorite" in AskMe? That would discourage nthing due to favorite counts not showing. It would provide a single point of clarity as opposed to the many reasons people favorite comments. And it would provide the asker with a consensus.
posted by desjardins at 4:22 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's a Greasemonkey script to change the name of favorites. It should be easily modifiable if "faved" makes you twitch.
posted by Pronoiac at 4:24 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think it's basically completely qualitative.

On the other hand, it would be really easy (and kind of interesting) to do all sorts of statistical analysis post-november via the infodump. For instance some kind of measure of the amount/distribution of modes for the month (vs., say, previous novembers) would give an indication of how much of favoriting happens as a herd effect.
posted by advil at 4:27 PM on October 31, 2009


fleacircus: "Anyway what I'd rather have is a goddamn fixed <blockquote> or some other tag that nicely formats a quoted comment. </ponybandwagon>"

1. Have you tried blockquote recently? I know it's gotten a couple of major improvements in the past year or two, about removing extra blank lines.
2. Mefiquote.
posted by Pronoiac at 4:33 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm all for experiments, in general, This one, especially, if it quells some of the "favorites are ruining everything!!!" discussions.

I do hope, though, that if some benefit is realized, that we could discuss implementing no counts on MeFi proper exclusively. Snark isn't allowed on AskMe anyway, so favorite counts should be less of a concern there, and favorites have the possibility to function as a "me too" or affirmation for the asker. I imagine something similar could be the case on Music. MeTa, I guess I don't care either way, although it certainly seems that favoriting might be the least of your worries if you're hoping to curtail snark.
posted by donnagirl at 4:37 PM on October 31, 2009


Anyway, I want to go on record as saying I don't like this change.

I'll go on record as raising you to, "It sucks balls."

Everytime I see "It's not a popularity contest!!!" whenever someone brings up qty of favorites my eyes roll back in my head and I think of idiotic republicans who repeated "Why play the blame game?" whenever Bushy got caught fucking a toddler. Why play the blame game? Because people need to take responsibility for their actions. Why do some comments become more popular/well liked than others? Because lots of people like them. That's the definition of favorites.

This is a "solution" to something that's not problem.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 4:44 PM on October 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


You know those threads about feminism and women being hit on and 'watcha reading' and all that? Those huge, 1000+ monsters? I came to them late. I couldn't watch them develop.

With favourites, it was pretty easy to find the five or six comments out of the thousands of others that really made people sit up and pay attention. The comments that summarised concisely and eloquently what everyone else was trying to say, and the comments that offered heartfelt personal stories. Without favourites, I wouldn't have read those threads. Waaaaay too long to meander through hoping to find a gem or two.

I'm a better person because of those threads. I think I'm a better guy for it. They've changed how I think about women's experiences in the world, and opened my eyes to things I never would have considered otherwise. This was possible because the best comments were easy to find.

How about a 'show favourites' button at the top of the screen? If people don't want to see them, that's fine. If they do, that's fine. At the end of the month, you could see how many people chose to have favourites visible, which will give you a much more substantial answer than the handwaving in the few old metatalk threads.
posted by twirlypen at 4:46 PM on October 31, 2009 [48 favorites]


I am very surprised to find that I have no strong feelings about this one way or the other. Except the word "faved." Please god no. It's an irritating non-word abbreviation of something that was an irritating non-word to begin with. When users mark something as a favorite, they "mark" it, they don't "favorite" it.

Of course, maybe I'm just cranky because it's National "Not Only Are These Goddamn Kids All Over My Goddam Lawn But They Expect Me To Give Them Candy, Too. Can You Believe the Goddam Nerve?" Day
posted by dersins at 4:48 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


The question everyone is ignoring is: Who is going to explain this to It's Raining Florence Henderson and tehloki?

Not it!
posted by cjorgensen at 4:50 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


nobody really cares what I think.
posted by Edward L at 4:54 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, 'faves'? Ugh, I know language evolves and all, but

The OED has citations for fave-as-shortened-favorite dating back to 1938, for what it's worth. Language was evolving in this case before most of us were born and before a lot of our parents were.

Which is really just tug-of-war on the peeve front, because I'm not in love with "faved" or "faves" or even the general choice of "favorites" lo back when, but, eh. I'm enjoying hearing the other suggestions folks have brought out so far and would love to hear more, but for the moment the choice of "faved" works pretty well in that it's (yes, really) a real word, one directly related to the previous word we've been using, and one that actually works semantically as a natural inflection of the already-familiar vocabulary of the site, which adds up to it being good enough for the experiment unless and until we find something we think works better. I'm sorry if it makes anybody puke, but I promise we won't change it to "totes faved" or anything.

And whether or not the foreshortening turns out to be worth much, I dunno, but this is a chance to try it out. A shorter byline may be meaningfully friendlier to the growing ubiquity of lower-resolution devices (netbooks, iPhones, etc) or it may not be that useful after all and we might just change it to "favorited" or something to let go of the space-saving and prevent quite so much vocabulary-induced upchuckery, but for the moment we're experiment with a slangy shortened version.

I'm really interested as to how ya'll plan to measure the difference between the impact the two systems have on throwaway snark (or comment trends in general). Is it gonna be a purely qualitative kind of assessment?

Yeah, I think we're pretty much looking at it qualitatively. Not that I'm not interested in potential quantitative lenses on the whole thing, and if folks have specific ideas about measurability I'm all ears (and the Infodump is available in for the self-starters among us).

One thing I may look at personally is if there's any net change in flagging behavior over time—do we see less or more "noise" flags on comments, say, by the time November is coming to a close—to see if there's any significant indication there of a change in folks' perceptions of the content going up.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:56 PM on October 31, 2009


The problem with Favorites?

It's a one-size-fits-all designation that covers several different things.

"Noted or Bookmarked" for future reference, no opinion, positive or negative, should be assumed.

"I like this" for comments (or posts) that earn a smile or head-nod of acknowledgment.

"I agree with this" with the frequently unstated "you said it better than I could (I'm gonna use it the next time the subject comes up)".

"I LOLed" for funny comments that succeed in being funny.

"I LOVE this" for absolute awesome breathtakingly high quality content.

"My Favorite" meaning the singular best thing I've seen on MeFi today/this week/ever/as far back as I can remember (may be <>
I wouldn't mind having a split between the Good (first 4 categories) and GREAT (the last 2). Maybe add an All Time Favorite designation with a limitation of the number of times you can use it (once a week/10 times a year/100 times lifetime/whatever) requiring the un-favoriting of something if you attempt to exceed the limit. Now THAT would be an experiment.
posted by wendell at 5:01 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Without my public display of favorites, I'm just another asshole on the Internet.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:05 PM on October 31, 2009 [9 favorites]


...but you're one of MY favorite assholes on the Internet, Flo.

And that part of my previous comment that got munged because I improperly used a 'less-than' sign should read: "today/this week/ever/as far back as I can remember (may be less than 1 week)/since the Big Bang (or the last episode of Big Bang Theory, bringing us back to 'this week')"
posted by wendell at 5:13 PM on October 31, 2009


I love this experiment. Excellent!

To all of you that have said that without favorites the site would be hellish to use, where the heck were you before May 10 2006? There were no favorites for those first seven years of the site's life and it seemed to work out pretty well.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:15 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't have a problem with either faved or favorited. It retains the ambiguous quality of the myriad reasons people use favorites, even in AskMe.

In AskMe, when I favorite a comment, it usually does mean, "Yes, I agree and second this suggestion".

But I know a lot of times in book threads or cooking threads, I'll favorite comments, thinking, "Oh that sounds cool, I'll have to try that". It it not an endorsement, because I haven't yet cooked or read whatever the writer was suggesting. In those instances, it is really more of a bookmark. Of course, it's rare that I remember to go back and act on those favorites, but, that's life.

And as far as not showing number of favorites, I'm just barely willing to go along with this for one month, but I agree with the majority of posters that I'm not exactly embracing this with enthusiasm, and am already eagerly waiting to get my good old MeFi back in December, and very much hoping that we WILL revert back to the old favoriting system in 30 days.
posted by marsha56 at 5:17 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can we have an opt-out checkbox in our personal options?

I personally would definitely opt out, because -- as others have said -- this will negatively impact how I read the site.
posted by Simon Barclay at 5:32 PM on October 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


'Noted' or 'marked' rather than 'faved', please. I also think 'peed on' would be great, but I acknowledge my minority position.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:35 PM on October 31, 2009


I think public sharing of favorites in-thread (but not favorites themselves) should go away in general. If you agree with something in AskMefi, just say so. If I bookmark something for later perusal, why should random internet strangers have access to that fact? I do like the functionality as a bookmarking tool and definitely would not want to lose that. But I don't understand why other members of the community have access to a list of what I've marked.

Also, I hate, hate, hate the meta conversations about number of favorites and the games that people play with them. I'm a curmudgeon, what can I say?
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:35 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, and I'm very much in favor of suppressing the favorites count, so I'm glad you're giving it a try.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:37 PM on October 31, 2009


think this is a good change for metafilter -
I'm in the camp that the numerical score below each comment was a distraction more than some open market model for encouraging great comments
(although I'm not a fan of the shortening to the unnecessarily juvenile sounding "faved" - is favourites really that long?)

But I'm not sure about other parts of the site...

Should AskMe get it's own system -
where people can more or less agree/disagree with other people's comments?
As the moderating is so close there, favourites are pretty much used that way there already - and I think it's pretty useful.
posted by sloe at 5:37 PM on October 31, 2009


If you agree with something in AskMefi, just say so. If I bookmark something for later perusal, why should random internet strangers have access to that fact?

Ostensibly, favorites in AskMe can help reduce the amount of "nthing" redundant answers. I agree with the second part. Maybe only mutual contacts can see a list of what you marked as favorite.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:39 PM on October 31, 2009


But then I wouldn't get to see that phrontist marked his own answers as favorites!
posted by P.o.B. at 5:44 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


"But I don't understand why other members of the community have access to a list of what I've marked."

Because the flavorites are del.icio.us.
posted by klangklangston at 5:46 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


And as far as not showing number of favorites, I'm just barely willing to go along with this for one month, but I agree with the majority of posters that I'm not exactly embracing this with enthusiasm, and am already eagerly waiting to get my good old MeFi back in December, and very much hoping that we WILL revert back to the old favoriting system in 30 days.

I predict most of my time here for the next month will be spent reading this thread. I mean, it's Saturday night, and Halloween, and it's already got over 100 comments. Most people don't even look at MetaTalk; when they wonder what the hell happened tomorrow and come here looking to find out, this is gonna turn into one very long longboat.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:05 PM on October 31, 2009


Why not have "agree" instead of "favorite" in AskMe? That would discourage nthing due to favorite counts not showing.

Not so great if you ever use favorites in Ask to mean something other than "I agree". There are people that say smart or interesting things that don't necessarily represent my point of view, but I'm pleased or grateful that they've been said.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:20 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regarding wanting unshared bookmarks: right-click the time stamp on the comment, and select "bookmark this link", and for extra fanciness make a "metafilter" folder in your bookmarks menu. It is pretty easy.
posted by idiopath at 6:25 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


But then I wouldn't get to see that phrontist marked his own answers as favorites!

Who favorited a particular comment still should be visible in that scenario, just if you go to phrontist's profile page you wouldn't be able to peruse his favorites unless you were a mutual contact.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:25 PM on October 31, 2009


I've updated my "The Meef" UserStyle to replace "n favorites" with "meefed". Note: this will obscure the count forever, whether or not this experiment is active. If tomorrow's change breaks the style, I'll update it again ASAP.
posted by potch at 6:30 PM on October 31, 2009


This change also removes a considerable amount of the social networking that goes on to the site. A comment interacts with you, you click on favourites, and you see other users. You might interact with them by email, web or memail, and form lasting associations. This adds value to the site. That impacts my community, and I have significant concerns about that. How do you address the community implications?
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:34 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, I can try anything for a month. Let's just see what happens. Thank you for deciding to float it like a tester balloon, rather than flat out making it permanent. I appreciate it.
posted by anitanita at 6:38 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


"This change also removes a considerable amount of the social networking that goes on to the site."

I'm pretty sure that user list link isn't going away, it looks like this is primarily just removing the count from the byline.
posted by potch at 6:40 PM on October 31, 2009


OMG I turn my back and there is a MAJOR change and we are already 160+ comments in.

OK. If you had brought this up three years ago, then yeah, that is right. However, what happened is that you left opened the favorites to be not markers to what we want to find later but indicators of support, at least as it pertained to comments. I, and very many other members, used favorites on posts mostly to essentially bookmark interesting posts for future use, with plenty of favs for great posts per se as well. On comments, who really needs to go back to them, unless perhaps you want to remember how to dispose of the body? Those favorites were almost all about support. If you didn't want this, and I didn't want it when the favorites were instituted, then you should not have allowed favorites for comments as it was clear within months that this was the game. Now years later you want to change the game? I don't want my fucking cheese moved, sorry, even if my heart is with your motive.
posted by caddis at 6:52 PM on October 31, 2009 [9 favorites]


you wouldn't be able to peruse his favorites unless you were a mutual contact.

Ah, I see. I think I agree with you on the personal profile stuff. To be honest, I rarely ever check to see who favorites something (mine included) as that's they're personal preference, but sometimes my curiosity get's the better of me and I wonder "who favorited that?"

Really I probably shouldn't have called him on that but I just thought it was odd, and I'm not sure if he enacted the random bandwagon favoriting experiment or if it was some kind of sarcastic qoutation marks. Maybe we do need a *hamburger mark.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:57 PM on October 31, 2009


x users made note of this comment for whatever reason it is that they make note of comments.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:00 PM on October 31, 2009 [8 favorites]


It's November and I still see numbers. So I assume you mean your November? (not that I care, I'm just impatient)
posted by shelleycat at 7:08 PM on October 31, 2009


I want to throw myself onto the bandwagon against this. Sure, it's going to happen, but I don't like that it will. It seems like a small, but vocal minority (and yes, I have read a lot of the threads arguing about it, and they are pretty tedious) has gotten their way around a problem only they seem to notice. The majority of the community didn't think or feel there was a problem, and as mentioned above, MeTa isn't as heavily visited.

People with an axe to grind have, by being vocal, gotten a change that I believe most members won't like, or, depeding on how often they visit MeTa, even understand.

It feels like a PTA moment where a couple of angry parents have managed to ban books because they don't like the message they send. The other parents didn't know about the meeting, or didn't see a problem.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:22 PM on October 31, 2009 [21 favorites]


What I hate about the internet in general is this compulsion to fix things that are not broken. Facebook does it all the time, and now YOU GUYS.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:22 PM on October 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


The alternative term that I think fits very well is STARRED (with a star?), like gmail. It's safely ambiguous, and no baggage of the favourites.
posted by dhruva at 7:32 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


That gives me an idea. We need facebook-style poking.
posted by cj_ at 7:33 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Just to be clear, we're not trying this out as a "hey we're planning on implementing this" but that a lot of people have, for a long time, been saying they think the favorites system encourages crappy behavior. We've been saying "We don't think so" without any real way to test. So, we decided to try this. And it's about that complicated. We talked a lot about the word "faved" but this isn't some major thing, just a good time for some experimentation. (Jessamyn)

I don't think this two-month experiment will tell you much about how favoriting has impacted the site. People's behavior is pretty ingrained at this point, and the experimental solution isn't really much of a difference (readers still see what's been favorited, just a click away from seeing how many people did so).

Still, nice of the mods to give something like this a try, given that the anti-favorites folks are a small (if vocal) minority around here.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:35 PM on October 31, 2009


You could just as easily argue that "fixing things that aren't broken" should have applied when favorites were first implemented three years ago. Everybody has a different idea of what "aren't broken" means.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:45 PM on October 31, 2009


I want to throw myself onto the bandwagon against this. Sure, it's going to happen, but I don't like that it will. It seems like a small, but vocal minority (and yes, I have read a lot of the threads arguing about it, and they are pretty tedious) has gotten their way around a problem only they seem to notice.

This is an experiment. It says so in the very first line of the post, actually. It's temporary. It's to see if anything changes when the system changes. If nothing is different, the small but vocal minority you refer to (and anyone who posts on MeTa is in a small but vocal minority no matter what they believe, seeing as how the large majority of users don't post any opinion here at all) will have less of an argument. Honestly, this is the best way to show the people who think that a visible favorite count detracts from the site that they might be wrong, if that's what you believe.

I suppose it might prove that they have a point, too, but even then there's no guarantee that the change will continue after a month.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:49 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the suggestions for multiple kinds of favorite are begging for unnecessary complexity.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:00 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


That's it. I'm out of here.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:00 PM on October 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm back.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:00 PM on October 31, 2009 [17 favorites]


I like the ambiguity of "saving" a comment as opposed to marking it a "favorite". I know that it's just semantics, but "favorites" sounds, well, favorable wheras "saving" just says "I may want to re-read this at a later date".

Otherwise, I have no opinion of the experiment.

I may have one tomorrow, though.
posted by dogmom at 8:01 PM on October 31, 2009


so, dumb question, but if you favorite yourself, it looks identical to someone else getting 100 favorites in a thread, unless someone goes through and checks every single comment to see who favorited what.
posted by empath at 8:11 PM on October 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


11/1 NEVAR FORGET!!!!!
posted by pyramid termite at 8:13 PM on October 31, 2009 [10 favorites]


How about "plussed" instead? It's already the symbol we click on and, besides, we could say that comments and posts that hadn't gotten any are "nonplussed."
posted by Kattullus at 8:14 PM on October 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


My problem with this is that a lot of the time when I don't have the time to read an entire thread (like this very moment, so someone has probably raised this exact objection already), I'll scan a thread I'm interested in for any comments with more than a certain number of favorites to get a jist of what's going on with the discussion (and also get the really good bits of snark). This change takes that ability away from me, and a month is unlikely to change my dislike for that.
posted by Caduceus at 8:25 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like "saved." It's neutral.

On comments, who really needs to go back to them

I search comments I've favorited all the time. In IRL conversations I'll often say, "Hey, there's this online board I hang out at where someone analyzed exactly this point. The way they unpacked it was damned interesting. I can't remember the details now, but I'll go look it up later and send it to you."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:26 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


All in all, I'd rather have candy corn.
posted by heyho at 8:31 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think this is a good idea. However, one note:

a lot of people have, for a long time, been saying they think the favorites system encourages crappy behavior.

That's part of it, yes—that favorites indirectly hurt the site by 'encouraging' crappy behavior. But the other part of the complaint is that favorites directly hurt the site by 'endorsing' crappy behavior.

It sucks that JohnDoe might poison a thread because he's hoping to boost his count. But it also sucks (worse?) that when readers encounter his rant, it's been 'endorsed' by a dozen MeFites—many of whom probably wouldn't go to the effort of posting their own flame/rant into the thread, but are happy to click a button and add-on to JohnDoe's. In which case, it's not that favoriting is 'encouraging' bad behavior; rather, favoriting is the bad behavior.

That part, this experiment solves. Regardless whether, in a month, you're still deleting tons of throwaway snark.
posted by cribcage at 8:32 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


lalex: I feel like in AskMe the visible favorite count often functions as "I would like to agree with this answer" as opposed to "I would like to reward this snark".

Frankly, that's the one use of favorites that's most destructive, and a good reason (I think) to at least contemplate completely removing favorites from the ask subsite. Most people are usually wrong; especially people that either don't have time or don't have enough information to actually put a comment in the thread, but choose instead to skim and click the plusses.

There is no democracy of truth. Just because 500 people thought an answer was worth favoriting doesn't mean it's actually a good answer or will help the poster. In short, I strongly encourage people not to view favorites in ask as having any weight beyond "lots of people liked it." It's hard to keep this in mind sometimes, but the majority makes massive mistakes constantly, and extremely popular answers are often wrong.
posted by koeselitz at 8:34 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, I like this. We're clearly a fickle bunch – last few times this has come up, I remember a bit chunk of us have been adamantly against favorites, but now it seems like nobody likes this effort to figure out if they're actually a problem. I'm looking forward to seeing how this works out.
posted by koeselitz at 8:36 PM on October 31, 2009


That gives me an idea. We need facebook-style poking.

oh my god. no.
posted by beandip at 8:40 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


... and by the way, to those who think this will negatively affect their browsing experience because it'll remove a vital filter they have: is that really true? My experience is that not that many comments get favorited except in a few 'epic' threads where everybody's sharing stuff. For me at least, knowing that one or more people marked something as a favorite is enough for me to filter through. That's what I like about this system: it preserves the marker that says that a comment has been favorited at least once while obscuring "massively famous" comments. Sort of a leveling thing, I think, that will probably help a bit. And if you only read favorited comments in a thread, you still only have to read about a quarter of them, so how bad can it be?
posted by koeselitz at 8:42 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: How about "saved"? It's more neutral and, I think, describes more accurately the actual function of the thingy.

"Ooh, look – that comment is marked 'saved.' I'd better read it; I guess it was by somebody who's Born Again just like I am. Praise Jesus!"
posted by koeselitz at 8:44 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


How about 'loved'. Which could be further refined through various levels of irony. -5 irony for, say Pixar stories, all the way through to +5 for abortion screeds. That could be modified by 'I'm Serious' ratings, which could be subtly defined by a 'But, No' scale, followed by some smilies to take the edge off.
posted by stavrogin at 8:57 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


[THIS COMMENT WAS INSPECTED BY USER #19935]
posted by koeselitz at 9:09 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


People with an axe to grind have, by being vocal, gotten a change that I believe most members won't like, or, depeding on how often they visit MeTa, even understand.

Yeah, I'm honestly less annoyed by this because of the loss of a feature (although, generally speaking, removing features from anything? not just this site, but any site? especially when it's something that users use all the time? it tends to go over pretty badly, and I'm a little surprised to see a site as typically sensitive to such things as this one suddenly start 'spergin' in such a fashion) than I am because (a) this is something that apparently almost no one actually wants except some people who bitch about it all the time, and (b) no one actually asked the community at large in any meaningful way whether they thought removing the feature was really this awesome idea but instead just kinda did it. I'm kind of surprised by just how seriously this is all rubbing me the wrong way, but it's rubbing me the wrong way. I just don't like the rationale or the implementation. It's just, guhhh.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:18 PM on October 31, 2009 [17 favorites]


I love that you are trying something. I think Eideteker is right though, might as well treat it like flagging--invisible entirely, not just invisible count--it is a far more pure experiment that way.

Overall, I can see benefit in treating AskMe differently from other sub-sites. Also, I think the worse problem (or at least equally bad) is having a favorite count visible in user profiles. Popularity contests are lame.

I keep up with the various Mefi subsites using RSS, but there's way too much content on the average day to be able to read it all. So most of the time I'll just skim the longer comment threads, and rely on high favorite counts to jump out at me while scrolling. Like idiopath said, I'm rarely disappointed by what I find.

Yes, and this is a huge part of what's wrong with favorites. And for the record, I just skimmed your comment for a pull quote, sorry if I missed anything of value you might have said.
See what I did there? No, obviously not, because I won't get enough favorites. Alas...
posted by Chuckles at 9:28 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


as typically sensitive to such things as this one suddenly start 'spergin' in such a fashion

Our basic feeling is that we have no idea whether the people who complain about this often represent a lot of people or just themselves. This month all we're doing is removing public favorite counts. Your favorites still show up on your page, you can still see who favorited you, popular favorites are the same and accessible, greasemonkey scripts will be available to make the site look like it did before.

It's a month and we figure this way we don't have to have the same back and forth argument every few months. We have a way to show the site with this same user population and without the little numbers next to comments. It seemed like a good compromise to try out. We're really seriously not removing favorites or planning to.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:28 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


> and by the way, to those who think this will negatively affect their browsing experience because it'll remove a vital filter they have: is that really true?

This breaks down on threads where two people going back and forth on some stupid thing (the stuff I usually like to skip) get 1 favorite every time they restate their point. Just putting "faved" instead of showing the count might actually give stuff like that more weight than it normally would.
posted by cj_ at 9:32 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: It's a month and we figure this way we don't have to have the same back and forth argument every few months.

My feeling is that the end result will be that those who are against favorites will see the experiment as proof that they're right and that those who like favorites will see the experiment as either inconclusive or proof that they're right. I have a hard time seeing what this experiment will demonstrate.
posted by Kattullus at 9:34 PM on October 31, 2009 [24 favorites]


Frankly, that's the one use of favorites that's most destructive, and a good reason (I think) to at least contemplate completely removing favorites from the ask subsite. Most people are usually wrong; especially people that either don't have time or don't have enough information to actually put a comment in the thread, but choose instead to skim and click the plusses.

Good point. Adding favorites takes away a lot inane me-tooing, but it also takes away from intellectual rigor..
posted by Chuckles at 9:34 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


kittens for breakfast: Yeah, I'm honestly less annoyed by this because of the loss of a feature... than I am because (a) this is something that apparently almost no one actually wants except some people who bitch about it all the time, and (b) no one actually asked the community at large in any meaningful way whether they thought removing the feature was really this awesome idea but instead just kinda did it. I'm kind of surprised by just how seriously this is all rubbing me the wrong way, but it's rubbing me the wrong way. I just don't like the rationale or the implementation. It's just, guhhh.

I think that there's a very significant number of us who are concerned about the problems favorites might be creating. That significant number of us hasn't necessarily just 'bitched a lot' and gotten our way.

I know you're not really saying that – it sounds like you just don't really like the idea – but actually I think it's sort of typical of Metafilter that we're like this. A bunch of us have been agitating for this for years, and you're right, some of us have been whiny bastards about it, and what do we all do when this finally gets changed? Nobody likes it, and everybody hates it. I think it's a sign of how careful the mods are that they didn't just bow to pressure. They would've been bowing to pressure if they'd rushed to remove favorites right away after one of our big complain-fests; instead, they held back, considered it, and decided to do this test. All in all, that's the best way.

Look at it this way, and it'll make more sense: this isn't an outright change, it's a scientific test. The question is whether favorites encourage crappy commenting. Even if you redefine "crappy commenting" as "comments that end up needing to be deleted," there's virtually no way to test this; it was so long ago that favorites were implemented that you can't use that time period as a control. This is the least obtrusive way, I think, of trying to discover what the answer to the question is.

And on the plus side? The next time somebody complains that favorites are ruining the site, you can say "actually, no they're not. Remember? We tested it."
posted by koeselitz at 9:34 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Put me in the "this will seriously impact the way I read the site" camp. The concept mentioned above that "the highlighting power of favorites gets neutered really bothers me.

What about making it a scale? Like "faved" for less than 10 favorites, "many faves" for less than 25, "tons of faves" for less than 50 etc. Just a thought.
posted by Big_B at 9:35 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


For the record, Rhaomi's awesome comment had 41 favourites before favourites disappeared. Which probably indicates that 41 people agreed, which is actually useful to know in the context of this conversation.

As long as we're experimenting with "small but vocal" minority ponies, could you please show me how many Best Answers I've had on my own Profile page? You can display my total number only to me, and that's fine - this is not a request for public Best Answer tallies. Thanks!
posted by DarlingBri at 9:36 PM on October 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


Kattullus: My feeling is that the end result will be that those who are against favorites will see the experiment as proof that they're right and that those who like favorites will see the experiment as either inconclusive or proof that they're right. I have a hard time seeing what this experiment will demonstrate.

That brings up a good point. Mods: what data are you collecting, and what kind of parameters are you going to focus on? I assume that the number of comments that have to be deleted is going to play a big role, right?
posted by koeselitz at 9:37 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


DarlingBri: For the record, Rhaomi's awesome comment had 41 favourites before favourites disappeared. Which probably indicates that 41 people agreed, which is actually useful to know in the context of this conversation.

Interesting: so this is rolling out in a time-zone-specific way? Because I'm still seeing favorites right now. Of course, I still have almost an hour and a half before November 1 where I am.
posted by koeselitz at 9:38 PM on October 31, 2009


By the way, you know what would work a lot better than the word 'faved?' A symbol of some kind. It sort of works better orthographically, I think, with the [+] [!] already there.

How about a gold star? Seems positive, but still somewhat neutral.
posted by koeselitz at 9:42 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: That brings up a good point. Mods: what data are you collecting, and what kind of parameters are you going to focus on? I assume that the number of comments that have to be deleted is going to play a big role, right?

Well, cortex said above: "One thing I may look at personally is if there's any net change in flagging behavior over time—do we see less or more "noise" flags on comments, say, by the time November is coming to a close—to see if there's any significant indication there of a change in folks' perceptions of the content going up."
posted by Kattullus at 9:46 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about a gold star? Seems positive, but still somewhat neutral.

You mean Stan Chin can get his gold star back?
posted by Chuckles at 9:46 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ah, I hadn't seen that, Kattullus. Thanks.

That seems like a pretty reasonable way to measure public perception of quality. Though you're right; people will always draw their own conclusions first and try to annex the evidence to their side somehow.
posted by koeselitz at 9:48 PM on October 31, 2009


I finally get it. MetaFilter is my generation's comics page. God help you if you change a thing. You take out a single number of limited usefulness for reading the site -- no, you don't take it out, you just obscure it a teeny bit, in a manner that a single mouse click or, worst case scenario, a Greasemonkey script will de-obscure -- you announce that you'll do this for a single freaking month, and people go out of their way to tell you what a horrible thing it is before you've even tried it out.

No wonder the site redesign contest led to absolutely nothing. I both do and do not envy you your jobs, mods.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:49 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've never liked favorites much anyway, and hardly ever use them. That said:

I think noted, saved, or marked are all perfectly good options. Faved, on the other hand, is horrible.

Also, I'd hate to see AskMe get special treatment; there too people use favorites for all kinds of reasons.

Mostly I'm just curious to see how this all works out.
posted by tangerine at 9:51 PM on October 31, 2009


It's already started and i don't like it, NOT ONE BIT!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:51 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Does somebody have some hard numbers on who resides in the minority or majority...any numbers?

oneirodynia: If nothing is different, the small but vocal minority you refer to (and anyone who posts on MeTa is in a small but vocal minority no matter what they believe, seeing as how the large majority of users don't post any opinion here at all) will have less of an argument

I suspect this is right about on the money.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:53 PM on October 31, 2009


Oh sorry, that was the candy talking.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:55 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


the small but vocal minority

NOT SMALL
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:57 PM on October 31, 2009


I like the idea of displaying + for 1 to 5 favorites, ++ for 6 to 12 favorites, +++ for 13 to 29 favorites, ++++ for 30 or more favorites. That gets rid of the word favorite altogether and it is useful for people who skim threads for highly favorited comments.
posted by water bear at 10:01 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think that there's a very significant number of us who are concerned about the problems favorites might be creating. That significant number of us hasn't necessarily just 'bitched a lot' and gotten our way.

I know you're not really saying that – it sounds like you just don't really like the idea


Can't it be both? Because I'm really pretty sure it's both. I don't think much of the scientific test aspect of it, because there are a million and one factors that could affect the number of flags in a given month (a good Palin thread that dovetails into members giving vent to their more unlovely, usually well-buried misogynistic tendencies could produce many flags; a month of slow news and generally genial FPPs could produce an unusually small amount of flags), and I don't see anything else that could be used as much of a metric, really. I don't see the state of site discourse as being especially poor right now -- quite frankly, there were some real shitbags who used to haunt this site who seem to have largely vanished in the last year, and I'd have to say that if anything, site discourse has improved in the absence of their frequently-shown, bafflingly-unbanned asses -- so I don't see the need for any measures to be taken at all; and I also see uses for the favorites feature; and again, not really any for the no favorites non-feature. And the word "faves" just makes me feel like I'm suddenly in some awful Diablo Cody movie, but that's neither here nor there, I suppose. Most of all, though, like I said, I feel like the implementation of this was a big fumble, and a weird fumble, since it's just not how the site normally rolls.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:02 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


The glyph used by The Artist Formerly Known as Prince would work.
posted by lukemeister at 10:08 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


You really think this was a big fumble? Hmm. I guess I just didn't see that.

Then again, it hasn't happened for me yet (won't apparently for another hour) so I guess maybe MeFi will become much less usable for me, too.

As far as the discourse being pretty good lately, I don't know how much I agree. You're right, there seem to be fewer stand-out jerks; but there do seem (to me, anyway) to be more pile-ons than ever before, more situations where three dozen people feel the need to make that obvious joke or call out the clearly out-of-line whiny asker. I know that's anecdotal, and the mods probably have a much better sense of it because they see the figures day to day of how many comments they end up having to delete. But I think that that observation is at least supported by the evidence: there are more users every day, many more users every day; Alexa has us still has us adding about 20% more unique hits every three months. That's likely to keep causing scalability problems.

I know that's something that seems to be on the minds of the mods. I know they're probably at least still seeing a steady rise in how many long threads they have to slog through and delete pointless or offensive comments. Anything that helps them do that seems like a good idea to me.

However, again, clearly I didn't appreciate how much this really makes browsing MeFi less functional for a lot of people.
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 PM on October 31, 2009


Brandon Blatcher,

I favorited your comment

invisible favorite count
posted by lukemeister at 10:13 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


NOT SMALL

...and handsome?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:14 PM on October 31, 2009


Wait that should be:

NOT SMALL but vocal and handsome minority(?)
posted by P.o.B. at 10:18 PM on October 31, 2009


You really think this was a big fumble? Hmm. I guess I just didn't see that.

I think the "oh hi, we're doing this" approach was the fumble. The actual act I don't think is a good idea, but considering it's a major change to the site, and it's a reduction rather than an addition...well, anyhow, I'm just repeating myself now. I'm just surprised by how it was handled.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:22 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now I'm seeing it. Hmm.
posted by koeselitz at 10:27 PM on October 31, 2009


Woah. This is interesting. Bit of a different dynamic.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:32 PM on October 31, 2009


This is live now. If you want the old counts back, you can use a custom user stylesheet (or Stylish to make it easy) and add the following styles:

.faved{display:none;}
.oldFav{display:inline !important;}

Please post here if you spot any problems.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:33 PM on October 31, 2009 [14 favorites]


Cue the 'WTF how can this be "faved" when I haven't even favorited it?' MeTa post.

I don't mean to sound like such a downer about this whole affair, but that was my first reaction when I saw it implemented just now: "faved? I didn't do that!" Maybe I'll get used to it.
posted by carsonb at 10:34 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh shit, I was going to work on this tomorrow. Why you gotta break all my scripts when I'm drunk?
posted by ryanrs at 10:34 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's like we all have to pretend we don't know how to right click ...
posted by pyramid termite at 10:36 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ok, fixed. Back to drinking.
posted by ryanrs at 10:40 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like the idea of displaying + for 1 to 5 favorites, ++ for 6 to 12 favorites, +++ for 13 to 29 favorites, ++++ for 30 or more favorites. That gets rid of the word favorite altogether and it is useful for people who skim threads for highly favorited comments.

Then there would be no link to see who marked it as a favorite. The word is kind of necessary for that, with the symbol being an action.

I'm just surprised by how it was handled.

How could it have been handled better (no snark, seriously wondering what went wrong in your mind)? Not enough lead time?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:41 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I regularly use the number of favorites on a post or comment to determine which ones are more likely to deserve my attention when I have limited time to browse.

Having "faved" for 1+ votes is fine and dandy, 100%, except that we can favorite our own posts and comments. So now I don't know if "faved" represents at least one other mefite judging it worth attention, or the person favoriting their own stuff. Prior to this change, I set my personal bar at 2 favorites to address this.

So please remove our ability to favorite our own stuff, then you can keep this new system forever if you like as far as I'm concerned.
posted by davejay at 10:47 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


To answer my own question... yes, you can click "faved" to see how many people've faved the comment and who they are.

my list will remain updated
posted by Kattullus at 10:51 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


How could it have been handled better (no snark, seriously wondering what went wrong in your mind)? Not enough lead time?

Maybe a proposal rather than an announcement?

I'm totally unclear as to who is in the majority/minority/whatever on this issue, but I'm less than thrilled at having the change announced on about 12 hours notice, all TAH-DAH!!! here's the way it is! And as a sorta "experiment" except one that isn't going to be measured in any clear way -- so at the end everyone can still feel that they are "right", and even more so in that there are, I guess, already work-arounds, so how the hell can anyone tell if the outcomes are different or not because you can't actually control what people are actually seeing?

It's like, the intentions are clearly good, but the implementation was pretty turdly, and all this drama for something that probably isn't even going to provide any clearly useful information.
posted by Forktine at 10:52 PM on October 31, 2009 [8 favorites]


Legacy Favorites GreaseMonkey script. Bookmarklet for it here.
posted by cj_ at 10:53 PM on October 31, 2009 [26 favorites]


How could it have been handled better (no snark, seriously wondering what went wrong in your mind)? Not enough lead time?

Well, I think it could have been posed as a question: Hi, this will change the functionality of the site for you...is this something with which you feel you would be down? Y/N With all the things that are endlessly beanplated on the site, I'm a little taken aback to see something that's actually meaningful just...instituted. Or, I guess, uninstituted, to be exact. I wasn't really crazy about the similar institution of that, um, interests feature a while ago, either, but at least that went away...but it's kind of the same thing, where you just get stuff sprung on you that (a) isn't really anything you asked for and (b) isn't really anything you want and (c) totally affects you as a user, and not positively. I guess that last is a subjective call, of course.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:54 PM on October 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


[one favorite +]
[some favorites +]
[many favorites +]

The last two put a single and double line border around the comment, respectively. Great for skimming long threads.
posted by ryanrs at 10:54 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm also saddened that a small and vocal minority has gotten its way here. The way favorites work now is a big part of my enjoyment of the site and I don't like it changing. Seriously.

Look at it this way, and it'll make more sense: this isn't an outright change, it's a scientific test.

I am a scientist. There is nothing scientific about this test. That is, in fact, what I object to the most. It will settle nothing—few people will change their minds as a result of this test. But no matter what is decided, it will be used as a rhetorical bludgeon against those on the wrong side of the decision. It seems like people are really looking forward to use this to shut them up.
posted by grouse at 10:55 PM on October 31, 2009 [33 favorites]


I'm an anti-favoriter. I know, though, that the vast majority of MeFites like favorites. This month won't change that, imo, and favorites will return as usual (I'm 100% certain of this). In the end, this will just be a way to "end" the conversation: People will be able to point to this month and say "look, hiding favorites didn't change anything" and the proof will be that the mods decided not to change anything. It's a foregone conclusion that favorites are here to stay, more or less as they've always been.

But I still don't like them and I still think they've had a negative impact on the community and how people use and view it--especially outsiders. Favorites are too much like voting systems. I've said my piece, though, and am by no means of the opinion that a site with nearly 100,000 registered users should give a shit about what one schmuck in Seoul thinks.

Again, nice of the mods to give this a shot, but nothing will come of it. No way, no how.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:55 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think it was handled just fine. Jesus, people. It's just a minor tweak that may end up being tweaked back in 30 freakin days. It's not like they took anything away from you (yet).

Honestly, this is a bright bunch of people; you really can't just hold off the "I hate it!" for like... 48 hours of actually seeing it in action? No wonder they didn't make an early announcement -- it would have been a massive headache to have this conversation for an extra week. Yikes.

It's not like they switched the language of the site to Ket. Seriously, have some candy and sit back like me and just wait for all the immediately-stricken MetaTalk threads to start stacking up. Fun times! MmmmmmmCANDYCORN!!!
posted by heyho at 10:55 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, I think it could have been posed as a question: Hi, this will change the functionality of the site for you...is this something with which you feel you would be down? Y/N With all the things that are endlessly beanplated on the site, I'm a little taken aback to see something that's actually meaningful just...instituted. Or, I guess, uninstituted, to be exact.

Exactly what kittens for breakfast said.
posted by grouse at 10:57 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Honestly, this is a bright bunch of people; you really can't just hold off the "I hate it!" for like... 48 hours of actually seeing it in action?

Uh, it's the removal of a feature. There's nothing to see in action, because there is no feature now.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:59 PM on October 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


But I still don't like them and I still think they've had a negative impact on the community and how people use and view it--especially outsiders. Favorites are too much like voting systems

I'd be ok with reverting to the old days of no favorites (which might predate my joining MeFi? I honestly can't remember). But if we are going to have them, I object to hiding the information about them. Have them or don't have them (and for goodness sake please stop calling them "faves" -- there have been plenty of good suggestions here, like "marked" or "noted" or "mefied"), but don't be coy about it.
posted by Forktine at 11:00 PM on October 31, 2009


There is a feature. It's just different.
posted by heyho at 11:00 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mathowie, when I first read about the change I did feel, "Well, 12ish hours is kind of short notice for such as drastic change", but now that I think about it and see the comments on this thread, it seems like 36 or 168 hours would have been 36 or 168 hours for us to imagine and grouse about how bad we think it would be, rather than just jumping into it and seeing how it actually unfolds (poorly or well).

Sometimes you just gotta jump into the breach.


*but right now, I really, really wish I'd bothered to pay more attention to learning whatever the hell 'greasemonkey workarounds' are, because it's been 6 minutes and I'm beginning to miss favorites already. Courage.....courage......*
posted by anitanita at 11:01 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


To answer another of my questions, comments with 12+ favorites still show up in the contact activity sidebar with the number of favorites listed.

grouse: It will settle nothing—few people will change their minds as a result of this test.

My feeling is also that this experiment won't settle anything but I'm glad that at least they're attempting to fiddle around with it. Giving it a month to work might possibly throw some light on what has been a rather tiresome debate through the years. Even if nothing is gained I have a hard time seeing what will actively be lost by this experiment.
posted by Kattullus at 11:01 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe a proposal rather than an announcement?

I can't speak for everyone but I think our feeling was that every time a "FAVORITES SUCK" thread comes up in metatalk, someone mentions doing something like this. I feel like I've read a proposal similar to what we're trying here several times in just the last year.

It's also important to mention that overall, we haven't changed much on MeFi or tinkered with anything in quite a while, and that's part of the problem -- that nothing can change because all change is bad. We've been adding new stuff to the site in every spot imaginable and we keep piling on the features. This is one instance were we've had the same arguments over a feature that though overall is a good thing, has some serious unintended side effects.

As much as it might pain people to see subtle UI changes, I feel like we've rested on our laurels with regards to the UI. We have too much going on in many places. The Favorites listing pages are kind of crazy and in several places and linked in different ways. One example is the page somewhere on this server that lists all the things my mutual contacts marked as a favorite. It's actually a great filter for finding interesting things from people I trust and most often know in real life and I can't for the life of me remember how you get to it from whatever crazy three-deep user page link offers it.

So yeah, I hope we can improve the site through subtle changes (some could argue this isn't subtle, but it is only for a month and you can turn it off easily) going forward in the future.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:03 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I really, really do not like this change. When I don't have a whole lot of time and am trying to get the lowdown on where people stand on controversial or complex posts that I'm not well-versed in (such as ask.mefi and the blue), scanning for high favorite totals gives me a great starting point. Yeah, it's probably used inappropriately for favoriting snark, but that's not what I get out of it.

If this is how it will go then we might as well just delete "faved" altogether since "1 favorite" is essentially no different from a non-favorited post, but those are worlds apart from a "32 favorites" post.

Rollback please!
posted by crapmatic at 11:03 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


There is a feature. It's just different.

Yes. OMG, I have been faved. *hroom*
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:04 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nthing hatred of change.

Why not eliminate the ability to look at your own "popularity" on your profile? Maybe once a month send out a popularity statement instead. That softens the desire to check how your "performance" is progressing on the site.
posted by jefficator at 11:06 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Legacy Favorites bookmarklet is cool. It's like it's 31 October all over again! (Oh, and don't forget to set yer clock back an hour.)
posted by heyho at 11:06 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Legacy Favorites GreaseMonkey script. Bookmarklet for it here.

any "scientific" data that could have been gotten from this are now totally invalidated and it only took an hour into the month
posted by pyramid termite at 11:06 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, my thoughts on it:

Not a big fan of the test but understand the motivations.

Less of a fan of the implementation notice, but understand that proposing it would have just spawned the debate we're going to have anyway, so we might as well get on with it.

I fucking hate the word "faved". Really. Makes me cringe. Old favorites greasemonkey script is being installed just to get rid of that word.

Happy Halloween!
posted by iamabot at 11:07 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rollback please!

Workarounds have been posted in thread in two places so far:

1) using Stylish for Firefox

2) using Greasemonkey for Firefox or using a bookmarklet
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:07 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I hope someone writes a greasemonkey script to restore visible favorite counts. If it takes down the servers then all the better as this is an incredibly shitty change and the mods should be punished.
posted by bunnytricks at 11:08 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


and there we go!
posted by bunnytricks at 11:09 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


any "scientific" data that could have been gotten from this are now totally invalidated and it only took an hour into the month

We deliberately kept the old information in the HTML to make this easy and the lead programmer on this site explained how to restore it. There's no gotcha, we wanted people to have the option to turn off the change if they really wanted to.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:10 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't speak for everyone but I think our feeling was that every time a "FAVORITES SUCK" thread comes up in metatalk, someone mentions doing something like this.

Yes, and almost every time someone does, someone else points out the pointlessness of doing something like this.
posted by grouse at 11:12 PM on October 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hiding this information is done to protect me from myself?
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:13 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


If it's any consolation, I dig it!

Less QQ people.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:14 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's no gotcha, we wanted people to have the option to turn off the change if they really wanted to.

Then I'm genuinely confused -- what is this supposed to tell you? What information are you going to look at that will tell you if this is working? Why not just build it in as an opt-in/out button on the user profile page?

And please please please find a better word than "faved". Please?
posted by Forktine at 11:14 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Faved"? Really?

What are we, twelve year-olds?
posted by bardic at 11:16 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Forktine, our hope is that only a small number of people turn it back so we can still see if there is a change.

And as we mentioned in the original post, we're not 100% wed to the word "faved" but it was the best candidate from worse options. Keep in mind it should be shorter than the word "favorite" and you can't use an obscure symbol, nor can you use a graphic. fav'd is worse. noted or saved aren't too descriptive. We're open to other ideas.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:17 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's no gotcha, we wanted people to have the option to turn off the change if they really wanted to.

and by doing so, the data you're going to get is contaminated because people have the ability to override what you wanted them to see

you want a real test of how favorites affect the community? shut them down for a month, period

the test you're making is half-assed and won't prove a thing
posted by pyramid termite at 11:17 PM on October 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


Then I'm genuinely confused -- what is this supposed to tell you?

I think it's a plot to make you figure out how to use...whatever the hell this thing is that seems to keep timing out whenever I try to register for it.

Why not just build it in as an opt-in/out button on the user profile page?

Well, sure, but the PLOT.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:18 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


the test you're making is half-assed and won't prove a thing

Imperfect as it is, it is better than no test at all. We've had arguments about the feature monthly since it launched several years ago. This was a quick qualitative test to see if the more annoying aspects of it might go by the wayside since some users focus on the number so much. It's just a quick and dirty test.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:20 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Additionally, even people who don't have the same, er, technical issues that I do will likely not be able to install whatever this stuff is on their browsers at work. I of course do not use worktime to look at this or any other site, but my friend does sometimes.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:21 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


fav'd is worse. noted or saved aren't too descriptive. We're open to other ideas.

Well, personally I like "noted," I'm not sure why that's any less descriptive than "favorite" which gets used in all kinds of ways.

And I think "marked" is equally apt, and avoids some of the tone of "favorite" that has set people's teeth on edge since its introduction.
posted by Forktine at 11:23 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


. [faved]
posted by crysflame at 11:23 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


My friend does too, kittens for breakfast, my friend does too.
posted by anitanita at 11:25 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think this is a good experiment to try.

I also think it wasn't that great an idea to make it relatively easy to turn off the change for the duration of the experiment, no matter now much people wailed and pooped their pants.

I think a month is too short a time to see any real change in the way the beast waddles.

I think that it might have been better to rethink the whole 'favorites' word along with its nexus of meaning than to just chop it down to an abbreviated form that still points at the same compass point of implied approbation. Not doing so waters down the experiment a little too much -- see also thought #3.

We shall see. I hope that if you guys have devised ways of accumulating hard data in the course of the experiment, you share it afterwards. I'm curious to see what metrics you chose to look at and what happens to them.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:27 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


crapmatic: I really, really do not like this change. When I don't have a whole lot of time and am trying to get the lowdown on where people stand on controversial or complex posts that I'm not well-versed in (such as ask.mefi and the blue), scanning for high favorite totals gives me a great starting point. Yeah, it's probably used inappropriately for favoriting snark, but that's not what I get out of it.

Then fix it back for yourself.

If you are using Internet Explorer:

(1) Download this tiny stylesheet file.

(2) Click on Tools -> Internet Options.

(3) Under "Appearance," click the "Accessibility" button.

(4) Check the box that says "Format documents using my style sheet," and then click "Browse" to navigate to that stylesheet file you just downloaded (restore_mefi_fave_count.css).

(5) Click "OK" twice, reload the page, and you will see favorite counts again.

If you are using Mozilla Firefox:

(1) Install the Stylish add-on that pb mentioned above.

(2) Once Firefox has restarted, click on the tiny "S" icon on the right side of the status bar, which is the bar at the very bottom of your browser, and choose "Manage Styles." Alternately, go to Tools -> Add-ons and go to the User Styles tab. Click the "Write a New Style" button.

(3) In the "New style" box, just give the style a name (any name will do) and type or paste the following into the big white text box:

.faved{display:none;}
.oldFav{display:inline !important;


Click "save" and close the "Add-ons" menu.

(4) Reload the page, and favorite counts will have returned.

"CSS Styles" might sound kind of scary, I know, but neither of these things should take you more than five minutes.
posted by koeselitz at 11:30 PM on October 31, 2009 [31 favorites]


I have to agree that "fave" is a stupid word. It's very Tiger Beat, which might not be a good direction to go in.
posted by heyho at 11:31 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Stylish will Now Install.

O.K. Found out what the problem is and everybody take notice.
This is Not a Firefox error!
The reason why some Add-Ons, including Stylish will not install as in my case, is because my KIS Firewall was blocking the installation.
Disable your AV, including the Firewall and everything will go as it should.
Darn, so simple!!

Rated 5 out of 5 stars by Midnight1 on October 29, 2009


I...I don't think I'll be doing that at all, actually! Guess I'll come back to this later.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:34 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite: you want a real test of how favorites affect the community? shut them down for a month, period

Can we quit arguing about favorites for a second and observe this momentous event?

I'm pretty sure this is the first time pyramid termite has ended a sentence with a period in seven years.
posted by koeselitz at 11:36 PM on October 31, 2009 [8 favorites]


I have to agree that "fave" is a stupid word. It's very Tiger Beat, which might not be a good direction to go in.

If it switched to "rave," we could have a little green glowstick for every five favorites, and when you get to ten it could play The Orb! And serve you smart drinks! And...yeah, I think I'm starting to fade out a little here.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:37 PM on October 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


I had to laugh when my younger sister tried to use the word fave during scrabble tonight. Swear to god.

The laugh turned to a scowl when she found it in the scrabble dictionary. WTF COME ON!
posted by meta87 at 11:45 PM on October 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


kittens for breakfast: I...I don't think I'll be doing that at all, actually! Guess I'll come back to this later.

Seriously, have you even tried it? Have you ever installed an add-on without having to take down your firewall? A firewall generally isn't supposed to block that kind of thing, and if a lot of them do I'll be massively surprised.

Geez, man. You are seriously dead set on having your cornflakes pissed in.
posted by koeselitz at 11:46 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


...anyhow, kittens for breakfast, if you really want to do this without installing an add-on, and if you're on Windows, I can help you.

(1) Again, download that little stylesheet. (Right-click on that last link and select "Save link as.")

(2) Rename it userContent.css and move or copy it to C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\defaults\profile\chrome.

(3) Restart your browser. Favorite counts should be visible.
posted by koeselitz at 11:55 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, I really haven't tried it (apparently), and it never occurred to me that taking down my firewall was a necessary step in the process. Apparently it also didn't occur to the person who posted that message. This is going to blow your mind, but there are probably many more people who don't know these things than do, because, well, most people just aren't that interested in them. Sorry!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:56 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I know; and I should have known that right away, but it took me a second of squinting at it. Sorry if I was harsh; and I hope I was of at least a little help.
posted by koeselitz at 11:58 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know how the mods are going to decide if it's a success or not, but I dislike it. I didn't have any problem with the way it was. As others have mentioned, the new "Faved" removed one of the visual cues that I used to skim the page. Also, "Faved" is sort of a silly word. However, other than lolcats, I have a fairly low tolerance for made-for-interwebs words.

That said, good for you that you're willing to try something new to improve the site.
posted by 26.2 at 11:58 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


bunnytricks: I hope someone writes a greasemonkey script to restore visible favorite counts. If it takes down the servers then all the better as this is an incredibly shitty change and the mods should be punished.

No matter how you feel about the experiment, what a crappy thing to say.
posted by koeselitz at 12:00 AM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


I guess some people do skim more than they should. It's a real word.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:02 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


kittens for breakfast: Actually, I really haven't tried it (apparently), and it never occurred to me that taking down my firewall was a necessary step in the process. Apparently it also didn't occur to the person who posted that message. This is going to blow your mind, but there are probably many more people who don't know these things than do, because, well, most people just aren't that interested in them. Sorry!

Not trying to be snarky or anything, but I think I (along with that commenter) might have been totally unclear: you should not need to disable your firewall to install an add-on. If you do, it's because your firewall is being particularly picky; but I'm almost certain that you won't have any trouble like that. It should just install like any other add-on. I was tripping over myself to be snotty, but that's what I was trying to say: you shouldn't have any trouble.
posted by koeselitz at 12:03 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dislike.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:04 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Koeselitz, either be snotty or not. You gotta stand your fucking ground, man. Thanks for the help, though, and don't worry about it; I've been having issues with Firefox for like a week, and this is just the latest expression of them, I'm pretty sure. It's really not a big deal.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:11 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


looks like somebody other than me has bombed at midnight...
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 12:13 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Heh. You're welcome.
posted by koeselitz at 12:13 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


meta87: The laugh turned to a scowl when she found it in the scrabble dictionary. WTF COME ON!

Which just goes to show: 'official' Scrabble dictionaries are the devil.

Merriam-Webster or nothin', mofos!
posted by koeselitz at 12:16 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Still against this, and aware how silly the faved hatred is (I don't like the word either, but it's not like it killed my dog or anything). But, anyway, here's a suggestion: kept. As in, 27 people kept this comment. It could go along the lines of what matthowie said about trying to improve functionality on the site. Perhaps a beefing up of our listing of favorited/kept comments to be a bit more user friendly/notebook like. That way, we're keeping comments, for whatever reason we have, and we might (at some point) have an easier/cleaner way to reference them.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:20 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I totally agree. I can't believe some of the bullshit words I've seen people pull out of the scrabble dictionary.

I'd have to go back and look, but although fave is in there, I don't think faved was an accepted past tense. Faves is probably fine, but if this was a scrabble game, I'd have challenge faved.
posted by meta87 at 12:21 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Experimentation is one thing, but breaking a feature for the benefit of a handful people who whine about favorites seems like a bad idea, especially given the heavy-handed site-wide approach being taken that ignores the utility of favorites for AskMe.

Even that aside, the testing scheme is not going to end up proving much either way, for the reasons grouse outlined above. At the risk of voicing an opinion that pushes the mods to do the exact opposite, the sooner this gets reverted or the experiment redesigned, the better for Metafilter.

Finally, proposing a Firefox-proprietary solution also is kind of not really much of a solution at all for people who use platforms on which Firefox either does not work or does not work well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:26 AM on November 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


You're all missing the real point, that Scrabble is a terrible, badly designed game that's left behind it an endless expanse of scarred souls and horrendous arguments. As far as I'm concerned Scrabble is convincing proof that there is a God who hates us and wants us to suffer forever.
posted by Kattullus at 12:26 AM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


> any "scientific" data that could have been gotten from this are now totally invalidated and it only took an hour into the month

Oh, whatever. If they don't want people doing this, they wouldn't have left the data in, granted explicit permission to post the workaround, and write a primer on how to subvert it using a stylesheet plugin. The idea there's anything scientific about comment quality is laughable anyway. Even if there's some measurable change in commenting style, no one will be able to agree if it's for the better or worse.

I'm not even sure what the contention is: That it encourages one-liner/snarky comments? But clearly people like those kinds of comments, or they wouldn't favorite them, no? I don't see why some humor/snark/sarcasm can't co-exist with the 3-page-long touching personal stories, or whatever it is you guys feel makes a worthwhile comment. I mean, if the consensus is snarky one-liners degrade the quality of discussion, why not just delete them?
posted by cj_ at 12:30 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now that it's been rolled out, I want to ask again if anyone can tweak this greasemonkey script for November.
posted by flatluigi at 12:32 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Letting people do this could go toward making a more civil site. When someone makes one of those idiotic Hitler jokes so many people hate, and they get the 15 lazy favorites, and 45 hateorites, maybe they'd realize it was time to retire that comment. I'm guess there would be a hell of a lot less rape jokes.
The obvious flaw in this is that people who make rape jokes do so to get attention, no matter what kind. Making them click on a link to see how much attention they've received is too minor a barrier to matter.

It would be interesting to see how many people railing against this change are users who joined after favourites were implemented. My biased, lazy and unscientific method tells me that this may be the case, in general.

With regard to the implementation, the way this was done was spot-on. Any more notice would have led to an extended period of hand-wringing, any less would have had people bitching about unannounced changes. The idea of proposing the idea to the great unwashed and seeing what comes out is clearly the idea of a madman or someone who never reads MeTa. I don;t see any real problem with letting people turn it off - I'm guessing that the number who will do so is so small it won't matter too much in data terms. In the post-mortem, though, be wary of people who claim that the change made no difference to them and was therefore a failure and who neglect to mention that they undid the change via a script or style sheet.
posted by dg at 12:33 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: Finally, proposing a Firefox-proprietary solution also is kind of not really much of a solution at all for people who use platforms on which Firefox either does not work or does not work well.

Just so you know [and I mentioned this above, but this is already a huge thread] it's actually easier to fix this for Internet Explorer than it is for Firefox. What's more, the IE solution is one that anybody can use, even if their computer is severely locked-down, so long as they can download a single file to the desktop and change IE options. And even if they can't download but can save a file, all they need to do is save a file with nothing but

.faved{display:none;}
.oldFav{display:inline !important;}


as a .css file and then follow the rest of the instructions above (click Tools -> Internet Options -> Appearance -> Accessibility -> Format documents using my style sheet, then select that .css file).

That's not to say anything about the rightness or wrongness of this change; I just want to be clear for those who'd like to do this at work.
posted by koeselitz at 12:39 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hurray!

As jessamyn noted upthread, "a lot of people have, for a long time, been saying they think the favorites system encourages crappy behavior." I heartily agree with that POV, and will be watching the site over the next month with great interest.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:41 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can someone please please please PLEASE PLEASE provide a work-around for Chrome users? I prefer to use favorites when skimming long threads and would really not like to switch to a different browser on all eight computers I use on a regular basis just for the sake of this "experiment".

And if you're just going to tell people to use a script to enable the behavior they wanted anyway, why not do it right and make it a user setting? This way you can see how many people switch back, and I don't have to futz with Chrome on every single goddamn computer I want to browse the site on.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:42 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Personally, I like the approval-vote part of favorites. I do, on occasion, use them to mark a recipe or a neat link or something. But, in general, they're a way of lending my (rather ambiguous) support to a commenter without polluting the thread with, "Yo man, you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you made really cogent or witty points since I last posted a list of the people who made really cogent points in this thread."

Personally, I really appreciate the favorites I receive. I'm not in a race with anybody. However, they let me know that somebody actually read the carefully-considered wall of text or the spirited argument I wrote. It makes me feel appreciated and part of this community. If I take the time to write about being bisexual or type a whole fucking recipe, it makes me feel like my time was well-spent if a few people vote for it, or save it for later, or add it to their bookmarks, or add it to their shitlists. At least I know somebody read it and that it had some value to them.

If favorites encourage funny comments, that's perfect in my opinion. One of my favorite parts of this site is how humorous it frequently is. And, astoundingly, it manages to be consistently humorous without devolving into reddit or fark. The jokes are at a level I appreciate, and often contribute to the discussion more than they detract from it.

If favorites encourage bitchy comments, I've never noticed it. I don't see a correlation between bitchy comments and favorites... if anything, a particularly nasty or cutting comment tends to have very few favorites.

And for the people opining that a favorites-as-popularity system makes metafilter more like digg or slashdot: there is a huge difference. The site UI does not modify the presentation of a thread's conversation based on favorites. The conversation is presented as it organically occurred. Favorites merely serve the same purpose as a head-nod or a "right on" do in a face-to-face meeting.

For the purposes of my discussion above, please note that it doesn't really matter why you use favorites. Even if you use them to mark posts you really hate, marking a favorite at least shows that you cared about that comment to some degree. And if you're marking a favorite just to refer back to it later, well... then it must have some value for you, right? Is there any difference between marking a recipe for later use, or marking a recipe because it sounds tasty? The only way your favorites use does not count as a mark of value is if you favorite every comment you read. But, there's a limit on favorites... so, that's a little difficult.
posted by Netzapper at 12:45 AM on November 1, 2009 [43 favorites]


Hate. Can we have an opt-out option, please?
posted by lalex at 12:47 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


a handful people who whine about favorites faves
posted by P.o.B. at 12:58 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Faved"? Really?

You prefer "Favoriteded?" I know I do.

Just so you know [and I mentioned this above, but this is already a huge thread] it's actually easier to fix this for Internet Explorer than it is for Firefox.

No favorites count, and easier in IE than in FF? Truly this is bizzarro MetaFilter.
posted by davejay at 12:58 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


That user style sheet thing should work for all browsers, shouldn't it? I seem to recall one of the HTML standards required user agents to give the user the ability to override author styles. In Safari, for example, you can set a user style sheet in Preferences > Advanced > Style sheet.
posted by ryanrs at 1:03 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ugh, I really hate this.

3. We're including the favorite count invisibly in the byline still, so that those who specifically want to use that information or to write/modify scripts affected by it can do so.

Can you guys at least make it an option we can turn on or off in preferences? I did the stylish thing but I don't like installing extra crap on my machine for something so minor. And there are a lot of different browsers out there. What about people using opera? Or the iPhone? Or whatever. And a lot of people are just not going to figure it out. Seems like a toggle in the user prefs would make things easier for people.

I think the favorites system probably did change user behavior, but it's too late now, we're hooked. Not having the favorite count was just seriously aggravating.

Also, I do really like "savored" as label. That would be awesome. "Favorites" sounds a lot like "flavored". Makes me think fruit loops or candy or something. Savored sounds like a nice juicy steak.

And isn't that what' metafilter's all about. A nice, juicy, tender mind-steak, seasoned to perfection and savored. Not a bunch of brain candy flavored, favorited and forgotten?
posted by delmoi at 1:22 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


delmoi: "And isn't that what' metafilter's all about. A nice, juicy, tender mind-steak, seasoned to perfection and savored."

Plutor's got you covered.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:26 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not broken, do not fix.

It's also important to mention that overall, we haven't changed much on MeFi or tinkered with anything in quite a while, and that's part of the problem

Changing next to nothing UI-wise has actually turned out to be a pretty effective approach, to judge by the ongoing high quality of discussion to be found here. Favorites are useful; I'd hate to see them hidden.
posted by killdevil at 1:33 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Forgive me for only reading about half the thread, but while I know time heals all wounds and I'd get over it if this were permanent, I don't like it. And I especially don't like the favorites count has been replaced by "faved;" I'd rather delete the line entirely.

However, I'm always in favor of experiments, so carry on.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:42 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, an awful lot of nasty conjecture from the pro-favourites people about the anti-favourites people: how few of them there are; how they bitch and moan to get their way; how they're newer users, and so on. This thread has been rather gross to read over.

Can the mud-slinging maybe be taken down a notch? Even the people who don't like favouriting are doubtful it'll disappear. Heck, in this thread, jessamyn has said, "We're really seriously not removing favorites or planning to."

So chill out, please.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:45 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


With the Favorites count I could enjoy browsing threads for as little as 30 seconds, even threads on subjects I'm not normally interested in.

Without the Favorites count, I have no choice but to ignore threads that I'm unwilling to spend 5 minutes on.

I view this as a loss and I am sad.
posted by hAndrew at 1:48 AM on November 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


Alright, I have one more update to my UserStyle: If you've favortited a comment, a star (9733;) appears before the minus sign. I find it quite easy to spot.
posted by potch at 1:51 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


> That user style sheet thing should work for all browsers, shouldn't it? I seem to recall one of the HTML standards required user agents to give the user the ability to override author styles. In Safari, for example, you can set a user style sheet in Preferences > Advanced > Style sheet.

You'd think, but I couldn't get it to work in Safari. It seems to apply the original stylesheets first, so if you refresh the page you can see them briefly appear and then disappear again. At least that's how it was for me.
posted by cj_ at 1:51 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also note, the bookmarklet will work in any modern browser (as far as I know) and doesn't require any plugins. The only drawback is you gotta click the button to make the favorites show up, whereas a stylesheet or GM script will do this transparently. This might be a good solution for people who want to give the experiment a shot but still want the option for long threads. I'll be going that way myself to see how I feel about it.
posted by cj_ at 1:56 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, so you you know (much) earlier in this thread when I said that I had no opinion about this either way? Yeah, well, I changed my mind. After opening this thread and scanning through it in the post-favorites-count world, I fucking HATE it. I am finding that it completely (and, frankly, surprisingly) changes the way I read threads, and not in a good way. I realize that I'm just a single data point, and that the single data point that is me should not have a significant impact on site policy, but I want to register that data point in the strongest way I can:

DERSINS HATES.

(n.b. I am still not interested in arguing about this. Just wanted to register my opinion, such as it is)

P.S. I hope you moderator-y types are prepared for the inevitable tsunami of "FAVED? WTF? WHERE ARE FAVORITE COUNTS?" metatalk posts, 'cause they're coming. Mark my words.
posted by dersins at 1:57 AM on November 1, 2009 [19 favorites]


P.P.S. Not from me, though. I swear. Really. Promise.
posted by dersins at 1:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread is so interesting. You guys should try out one massive site-wide change per month. Threading! In-line images! Ability to edit! Anonymous commenting! etc. I'm really happy with this experiment. Like others, I doubt that anything will come of it, but it's nice to see.

I don't really see the need to publicly mark a comment as faved if you can't (easily) see how many favorites it's got. There's not very much information in that.
posted by painquale at 1:06 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I like this feature, here's why.

Often times I'll see someone make a really articulate and evocative comment and get like 50 favorites. But the thing is, I'll actually disagree with that comment. So now, thanks to the Fave, I'll be able to post my own "rebuttal" to the multi-faved comment, and then simply SELF-FAVE. At that moment, my retort will instantly be--from the standpoint of the casual Mefite--just as "favoritey" as the popular one I'm disagreeing with! Score!

Here's to Faves -- The Great Equalizer!!
posted by jeremy b at 1:11 AM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


That's disappointing cj_. But it does seem like the kind of thing Apple wouldn't even bother testing. I forked my version of WebKit long ago, so I have other ways of making Safari do what I want.
posted by ryanrs at 1:22 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Put me down for disliking this as well. (Although it does help to hide how damn often I favorite things....)

I notice the Hide Favorite Count script has been downloaded 20 times on userscripts.org, while the slightly-newer Mefiquote script has been downloaded 1,730 times. While not a scientific measurement perhaps, could that not be seen as an indication as to the demand for this change?
posted by JHarris at 1:26 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wish I could have been here earlier for the free faveds. Drat.
posted by maxwelton at 1:40 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Odd - comments since maxwelton's are showing up in Recent Activity & on preview, but not on the page. Disabling Greasemonkey doesn't help.

I've updated the script I mentioned earlier, & added a prompt for what you'd like to see in place of "faved," but it currently requires a page reload to see the change. Is that ok?
posted by Pronoiac at 1:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


How am I supposed to evaluate my worth as a person?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:16 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


In a thread with over 300 comments in it, I only by luck found Rhaomi's comment, favorited it, and discovered that it already had 65 favorites.

Rhaomi said it better than I can -- my time is limited and while I like to read every thread I can completely from start to finish, I simply cannot devote that much of my free hours on a regular basis.

Displaying favorited volume does, in fact, serve as a defacto Meta-metafilter for comments -- certainly as Rhaomi said, the difference between 3 and 60 favorites is nearly always the difference between a couple people liking a comment and a large number finding it notable for one reason or another.

Please bring them back. Removing them makes reading metafilter harder on a busy day, when I need a crowdsourced means of upping my signal-to-noise ratio.
posted by chimaera at 2:18 AM on November 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


Yeah.

To some degree, I use the indication that N other people have favorited a comment to indicate that I should read it; in oldfer threads with many comments, I tend to scan, and sometimes I'll give a comment a cursory glane unless and until I see that it's > ~5 favorite, in which case I'll gice it more attention.

Conversely, in newer threads with fewer comments, I see my role as that of an editor/filter, and favorite comments I think should be given greater attention.

This is part of the whole "community" thing: I value the judgment of my fellow users, and often but not always give more attention to what they've identified as useful/relevant/persuasive. This change takes that away, and for no good reason: bad comments and good comments will still be bad or good, even without the advantage of community recommendation.
posted by orthogonality at 2:27 AM on November 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


It seems to me that Metafilter has grown too big for unthreaded, undifferentiated comments. There are just too many comments to read on most threads.

While this may solve one genuine problem, favourite-chasing, I suspect it may introduce other genuine problems. First, readers will not be able to get as much value from the comments. Second, it will be harder to see when a bad post has been debunked, as you won't be able to see a highly-favourited rebuttal. Third, it will increase hasty commenting as you will need to get in early and high on the page to get attention.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:28 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


tl;dr

Hate it, and "faved" is absolutely awful. OED schmOED. It's stupid.
posted by kmennie at 2:38 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


After going back and reading the thread more thoroughly I can see that there are people who have posted workarounds for this.

I wish there were some means by which people could see particularly useful and insightful comments in threads, because somewhere in those comments (waves up above toward the several hundred comments above), you'd find the answer you're looking for, favorited by dozens of people.

Seriously -- the workarounds for undoing this change are lost in the thread. Is that not, itself, an indicator that visible favorite totals are a useful feature?
posted by chimaera at 2:39 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't know if this is a good permanent change, but I absolutely love this as an experiment. Though I've long been guilty of both favorite chasing snark and favorites as upvotes, those behaviors aren't my shining moments; I'm interested in figuring out if my own behavior will change. I think, however, that if the goal is to reduce the amount of FIRST!!-style threadshitting, this change would have to go hand-in-hand with slightly more draconian moderation of offending comments.

As an addendum, I nth the idea that favorites in AskMe seem to serve as a form of agreement, and in that environment it's a good thing.
posted by potch at 2:42 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's hard to tell if this is because of newer users or favorites culture or what, but we delete a LOT of initial snarky throwaway comments lately it seems like.

I was on Slashdot before they assigned user numbers, so I'm one of the original 2500 or so slashdotters. (My /. number has gotten me a job before, no lie.)

One of the reasons the vote-moderation system was put into place was a lot of initial snarky throwaway comments when the userbase started to expand. "First Post!" stupidity started on /., IIRC.

"First is worst.
Second is best.
Third is the nerd
With the hariest chest!
Hot grits!"

A system to reward good posts actually weeded out a tremendous amount of trolling and pointless snark.

I think the favorites numbers do a better job of rewarding insight and humor than they do stifling conversation. It's a nice "attaboy!" and an aspirational goal for other contributors.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:42 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Just registering my dislike as well, now using Greasemonkey for sanity.

More importantly though, if favourite chasing etc is the problem, the solution is simple - get rid of the "Favourited by others" number on user pages.

Surely even the most desperate favourite chaser will be hard pressed to care when there's not a regularly-updated counter on their page? In my opinion, this drives favourite seeking far more than anything that happens in any individual thread, and I honestly don't think most people would miss it.
posted by smoke at 2:56 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think this thread should be side-barred. It might help the users who don't normally read MeTa figure out what's going on. 'Cause I'm predicting a LOT of WTF for at least the first few days if not the whole 30.
posted by marsha56 at 3:01 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


There are a lot, lot, lot, lot, lot of words on this page. I read about 1/5th of them and my eyes glazed over, so I scrolled to the bottom to write my comment.

If we could still see the number of favorites, I might have read a few more on the way down.

Cast me as a vote for still wanting to see the number.
posted by srrh at 3:11 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I hate it. I *liked* that it functioned as a "voting" system. I usually don't have enough time to read an entire thread so I just read the favorites and got a lot of value out of that. I'm not technically savvy enough to figure out how to write special scripts or whatever. So the usefulness and appeal of this site just went way down for me.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:21 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I sure hope the experiment fails and it goes back to how it was. Count me among the few that openly thinks it's great people can pick out the worthwhile comments immediately, and I loved being able to + somebody I agreed with. The only way it could have been better would be a way to - people I disagree with.
posted by floam at 3:33 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I started reading this thread when I noticed the change in AskMe. When I came in here, the first ~200 comments were all "faved"*.

Where is the point of having favorites if they all have the same weight?
I really dislike it when "upgrades" remove or hide information that was available before; we've gone from a graduated scale to a binary, on-off-type system, and I strongly disagree that that is an improvement.
I really like seeing the number of favorites because it serves as an indicator of the perceived importance of the information contained in that post, and I would be very sorry to see it go permanently.

I think an important point that hasn't been touched upon is that the favorites lower the threshold of participation in social sites like this; I might not be inclined to write a whole written reply on a certain topic, but I could add my voice to the chorus by favoriting a post that was close to my own opinion and thus add to its weight. With the system we have now there would be no point in doing so**, so it would reduce my options to participate.

* Ugly, ugly word! Do not like!
** "But you could always click on it to see how many favorites there are!" Yeah, who is going to do that for 200+ posts?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:34 AM on November 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


I really dislike this change. I don't know if people have written good arguments for it, because I'm not going to bother to read this entire thread, and now I have no way of finding the best arguments.
posted by martinrebas at 3:40 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I rarely venture off the green side, but I sought out this thread to express my dislike of the change. I don't have time to read threads as long as this one has gotten. With the old system, I could've simply scanned it for comments that had been favorited a lot, read those, and thrown my support behind a well-written comment that expressed my feelings. Now I can't do that, which means I'm simply going to ignore most of the thread. I'm also going to make the problem worse by posting my own comment which is doubtlessly redundant.

Having written that, I look up and see that the previous comment expressed the exact same sentiment. But I'm going to click Post Comment anyhow, out of spite.

I think that the availability of favorite counts as a sort of defacto voting system is a good thing. Could it be that favorites are used differently in AskMe than they are in the Blue, and my perspective is skewed by my particular Metafilter usage habits?
posted by jon1270 at 3:49 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I really, really like this change, although it clearly won't last more than two days here considering the massive disapproval. So far, I've seen almost no actual arguments against the whole reason why a lot of us wanted this change in the first place. All of you coming in to 'register your dislike?' Try giving a rational justification that amounts to something more than "I can't stand change!" – because I've hardly seen any yet.

Most people are usually wrong. A comment is not more or less worthy of reading because it gets a hundred comments. There are thousands upon thousands of people on this web site who, through no fault of their own, will be wrong about a given thing. I'm often one of those people. And we shouldn't be weighting conversations based on the clicks of approval of thousands upon thousands of people who are essentially lurking; we should be weighting conversation on their own merit.

People complain constantly that others aren't reading through a given thread. That's a valid complaint; there's a lot of skimming that happens, and a lot gets lost. Do you know why people skim? Because they seem to think that you can jump from 10-favorite comment to 10-favorite comment, like you're skipping across stones in a stream, and get the gist of a conversation. You can't. The worst feature of the fabled-for-its-wrongness Youtube comment system, the very reason (I believe) that those comments are usually so bad, is the fact that users can click a button immediately to disappear a comment if they don't like it; and if enough people disappear it it disappears for good and nobody sees it. This is a more intellectual version of the same thing: I believe that, for the vast majority of people reading and commenting in threads, most of those comments that never get favorited don't even exist.

People are complaining that being able to see the favorite-counts on comments immediately is essential to their being able to read through threads, given their busy schedule. 'We have lives!' they say. 'We can't spend all day reading every comment – we need to be able to skim!'

This is not a valid complaint. If you don't have time to read every comment in every thread, read fewer threads. In times when I don't have the time to read all of a dozen threads, do you know what you should do? I can tell you what you shouldn't do – you shouldn't skim through all dozen threads by looking at the number of favorites. Why? Because you're not really reading; you're just getting a gauge of the popular opinion of a conversation, not the conversation itself. If you don't have time to read a dozen threads, just read one thread. It's not that difficult.

And, as I said, I think this favorite-skimming method that seems to be so very popular (more than I ever imagined, frankly) is really damaging the site by ramping up exponentially the amount of noise that happens all over the site. When everybody just skims a dozen threads by skipping through and reading 10- or 5-favorite comments, they're almost always tempted to comment in those threads. And then they're commenting without knowing the whole story. I know we're not a conversation-driven site – and that is as it should be – but it wouldn't hurt to make conversation more bearable, would it?

Finally, the site that is most damaged, I think, by the favorite-count-skimming method is ask.metafilter. Favorite-skimming just amounts to noise elsewhere, and elsewhere noise is pretty much tolerated – it doesn't matter as much if a dozen people repeat the same thing or make the same mistake in a thread on the main site or in metatalk, although those things are bad. But in ask, when there's noise like that increasing exponentially because of the people following just this technique of reading, jessamyn & co end up wasting more time deleting noise or at least having to watch those threads to keep an eye on them. Overall, questions don't get answered as well. And since ask is the most popular and fastest-growing part of the site, many people there are people who don't go elsewhere on the site at all; those people end up with the impression that this is how it's done here, that the skimming thing works and that the high noise level is just a necessary evil. No.

Please, please, please people. Give this thing a chance. Set aside the fact that you're having to pick up a somewhat different method of browsing threads; and open your minds to the idea that you might be learning a better way.
posted by koeselitz at 3:57 AM on November 1, 2009 [18 favorites]


I like it, and I also like the break with the consensus-building process on how to present the favorites feature. Bottom line is that for site behavior that members have the strongest emotional response to in one direction or the other, you're never going to see consensus, so if you're curious about the impact, the only way you'll ever find out is to try changing it and hearing the unhappiness from people who liked it better before. IIRC, adding the inline favorite counts in the first place was a similar process.

People convinced that this is definitely feature removal, you're not hearing that some members see the way that favorites are presented as a bug. There's no objective truth on it - if the idea is that any function, good or bad, for which code has been written and made live on the site has to stay there until the end of time, the site will cruft up/stagnate (given that everyone involved in the site is a human being it's unlikely that all decisions have been perfect). A lot of Metafilter UI has been the result of an accretion process and I think it's good for them to critically evaluate things from time to time in a planned way without too much cloth-rending. I think a planned UX review of Metafilter would be a great thing, just a review of the informational graph of the site that fixes redundant or hidden connections, and the way that typography is used to present the functions of the site.

One criticism: I think that if the inline favorite counts affected behavior on the site, the change probably crept in slowly but accelerated over time because the role of favorites in a conversation creates a feedback loop the more that people use them, so I don't think you'll see it reverse in a month, and from the mod explanations so far it doesn't really sound like you're collecting data either, so unless I'm mistaken, you're relying on your perception which you've all already said is biased. I think this will result in the return of inline favorite counts in a month, which doesn't bother me, but I think it will leave the interesting question still in the vague place in which it started which seems wasteful given that you have to absorb the negative reactions to it and site members have to adjust to the change either way.

Hiding this information is done to protect me from myself?

I am not saying this with snarky intentions at all, but this is an unavoidable aspect of the functional design of things that people interact with. Ideally, it's invisible.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


jon1270: I rarely venture off the green side, but I sought out this thread to express my dislike of the change. I don't have time to read threads as long as this one has gotten. With the old system, I could've simply scanned it for comments that had been favorited a lot, read those, and thrown my support behind a well-written comment that expressed my feelings. Now I can't do that, which means I'm simply going to ignore most of the thread. I'm also going to make the problem worse by posting my own comment which is doubtlessly redundant... Having written that, I look up and see that the previous comment expressed the exact same sentiment. But I'm going to click Post Comment anyhow, out of spite.

Wow – dropping favorite-counts actually already forced you to notice a comment you wouldn't have already. How interesting.

Every time somebody else comes in to register their dislike of this, it's just another proof of my point. I don't have reading habits that are better than anybody else's, but you know what, jon1270? If you don't have time to read the whole thread, just skip the thread and move on to one that's shorter. Trust me, this works just fine.
posted by koeselitz at 4:01 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I do not like this.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:03 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I hate favourite-whoring as much as anyone but I've found in using this for the past hour or so that it really degrades my enjoyment of the site.

For me, this is a pre-requisite until the site gets back to as it was.

It will be interesting to see what happens as people wake up from their post-Halloween hangovers.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 4:04 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


PontifexPrimus: "I started reading this thread when I noticed the change in AskMe. When I came in here, the first ~200 comments were all "faved"*."

Looks like lalex went on a spree, favoriting everything that had no favorites -- I'm assuming she did it to illustrate how empty the "faves" are now. When every single comment is so marked, they might as well not be there at all.

In fact, this arguably emphasizes the non-favorited comments in a negative way. Instead of a visible range of favorites, you simply have the faved and the non-faved, which clearly delineates comments with zero favorites while lumping everything else into a separate group. It sort of forces one to wonder "Why isn't this comment faved when so many others are?" The difference wouldn't be as noticeable if you could see that most of the faved items only have a handful of favorites.

Also, for anybody using multiple computers or having trouble with the workarounds, I've discovered that the new favorites system is only shown to logged-in users. If you *gasp* sign out, the favorite counts will display as normal, making it relatively easy to scan longer threads in a pinch.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:09 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


How could it have been handled better (no snark, seriously wondering what went wrong in your mind)?

Do something positive, such as move the "manage recently removed posts" to the top of the Recent Activity page, as previously suggested, but nixed because Matt didn't like it.

There's a bit too control of the UI going on from this user's perspective and it's being done over silly things. You can't move a a single link to help people manage their experience better, but it's ok to fuck with a major feature like favorites and then put it out with the lamed "faved" which makes it appear as the user has done something when they haven't? I did not fave those comments so there's no reason why it should be reading "faved".

And yet posts still have "favorites", but comments are faved. WTF? and you've stripped comment count from the front page, so now the community site looks empty?!

Seriously, if you can't be bothered to add a simple fix, then don't fuck around with anything else.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:11 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, providing mockups of what the change would like BEFORE you did would have been nice.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:15 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Rhaomi: In fact, this arguably emphasizes the non-favorited comments in a negative way. Instead of a visible range of favorites, you simply have the faved and the non-faved, which clearly delineates comments with zero favorites while lumping everything else into a separate group. It sort of forces one to wonder "Why isn't this comment faved when so many others are?" The difference wouldn't be as noticeable if you could see that most of the faved items only have a handful of favorites.

Whereas before you wouldn't have noticed the non-favorited comments at all. Noticing them now is a good thing.

If you *gasp* sign out, the favorite counts will display as normal, making it relatively easy to scan longer threads in a pinch.

... in a pinch in which you can't stand to read carefully. Reading badly leads to commenting badly. This hurts Metafilter.

How could this be any more simple? I know I do it just as much as anybody, people, but I know that when I do it it's bad. Isn't that obvious?
posted by koeselitz at 4:16 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Koeselitz:

Wow – dropping favorite-counts actually already forced you to notice a comment you wouldn't have already. How interesting.

To what benefit? Is the goal here to make threads as long as possible?

Every time somebody else comes in to register their dislike of this, it's just another proof of my point. I don't have reading habits that are better than anybody else's, but you know what, jon1270? If you don't have time to read the whole thread, just skip the thread and move on to one that's shorter. Trust me, this works just fine.

Unless I ask, please refrain from telling me how to use Metafilter. I can figure it out quite well on my own.
posted by jon1270 at 4:26 AM on November 1, 2009 [27 favorites]


Readers of posts and comments can no longer add value for other users. That's a pretty big thing to forego. If commenters are responding problematically, attack their ability to do so.

That said, I liked the discipline of not knowing whether I was the second or seventieth person to fave a comment.
posted by hawthorne at 4:27 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


And, as I said, I think this favorite-skimming method that seems to be so very popular (more than I ever imagined, frankly) is really damaging the site by ramping up exponentially the amount of noise that happens all over the site.

Indeed. The evidence for this is in this very thread. The following pieces of data have been submitted multiple times in this thread by the mods: Yet people are still popping in to ask questions or register their displeasure about stuff the mods have been explicitly saying isn't going to happen. And I'm sure the trend will continue. Because regardless of whether the count of favorites appears or not, the same people are not going to read the damn thread.
posted by Ritchie at 4:35 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


So far, I've seen almost no actual arguments against the whole reason why a lot of us wanted this change in the first place.

They probably got lost in the noise. It's a long thread, with lots of repetition and lots of uninteresting babble. This thread could be full of good arguments, and it would still be next-to impossible to find them. Even if you try to read it all, after a while, your eyes start to glaze over.

Seriously, all threads aren't discussions where it's important to read all of it. Lots of threads are full of general, mediocre comments and then a brilliant anecdote, a really funny joke, or an insightful allegory in the middle. Without a favorites system, there's no good way to find them. Only reading short threads is not an answer in any way -- I'll miss all the interesting comments in long threads and what I read in the short threads will largely be noise.
posted by martinrebas at 4:37 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


jon1270: Unless I ask, please refrain from telling me how to use Metafilter. I can figure it out quite well on my own.

I'm sorry if I sounded controlling or gave you a vibe of telling you what to do. That's the last thing I want to do. I only want to highlight that – well, that first Christmas you come home and Mom skipped the awesome turkey she usually cooks and instead cooks a fish she raised in the bathtub, I know that seemed totally out of line and not really acceptable. I know that giving that neat thing that seemed like a real luxury was painful. But I'm just saying that if you try the fish you might find out it's actually awesome; you just have to give it a real go.

This is exactly the same. I was a little to zealous in saying it above, but really my message is: it seems scary, it seems completely counter to everything you've ever done on this site, but try it. I'll try it too. I'll work on learning to check that little comment-count underneath the post and say "screw it" when there are two hundred comments and I only have ten minutes. I think we might find it's a really nice change in its way; sort of like saying "no cell phones in class," even though that's a 'limitation' and a 'removal of a feature.'

Maybe we'll discover we still can't stand it after a month. But I'm more interested in seeing what new habits we all pick up. This turned out to be a big enough change that I think it will be intriguing. If you're forced to read metafilter this way for a whole month, what will happen to the way you read metafilter? None of us knows yet whether this will turn out to be positive or negative.
posted by koeselitz at 4:40 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like the fact that you guys (mods) are experimenting with the site, but I don't like this. Seeing the numbered favorites, at the very least, often separates the wheat from the chaff...now it will take a longer time for me to get through a long thread.

Thumbs down. I can live with it for a month, but please please change it back.
posted by zardoz at 4:40 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


martinrebas: Seriously, all threads aren't discussions where it's important to read all of it. Lots of threads are full of general, mediocre comments and then a brilliant anecdote, a really funny joke, or an insightful allegory in the middle. Without a favorites system, there's no good way to find them. Only reading short threads is not an answer in any way -- I'll miss all the interesting comments in long threads and what I read in the short threads will largely be noise.

The point that I'm arguing, the theory that I have, is that this and other threads are fully of general, mediocre comments largely because of the favoriting system. When you skim via favorites, you tend merely to get a general gist of the conversation; and when everybody does that, then all of the comments turn out to be general and sort of distant and never build off of what other people have said.

It's pretty clear that the number of huge threads has risen greatly since we instituted favorites. Yes, I know that's because the user-base has grown; but I also think that, in an atmosphere without favorites, huge threads tend to kill themselves. That's a good thing. Since nobody wants to read four hundred comments, the four-hundred-comment threads just die a natural death. I think that's a far better thing for our conversations.

I know you don't want to read all those comments. Nobody does, And the net effect is that people will comment less in ridiculously long threads they can't possibly have read (a good thing, I think) and will move on to threads where there's still something to say.
posted by koeselitz at 4:47 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I fucking hate this. "Faved"? Really? That's not even a fucking word.
posted by Liver at 4:49 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


zardoz: Seeing the numbered favorites, at the very least, often separates the wheat from the chaff...

I don't mean to pick on you, zardoz, but lots of people seem to be saying that favorites help them pick out the comments worth reading. Can anybody actually offer evidence that favorited comments are intrinsically more worth reading than unfavorited comments?
posted by koeselitz at 4:49 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just came in here to comment that at the moment I am not a fan of this new system. In a 300+ comment thread I find favorites a good way to catch up, even if there is a lot of snark getting favorited, oftentimes it's really well written comments that also get favorited.
So now I've skipped reading after about 50 comments and came down here to comment. I don't know if that's the desired behavior but there you go.
posted by like_neon at 4:52 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, if you're going to do this it would be nice if self-favourites don't register, otherwise any unscrupulous, mediocre poster can make his pathetic comment look like a fave.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:56 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


What is "Internet Explorer" of which you speak?

Just kidding. I'm sure we'd all be happy to go back to Netscape too.

I don't really care about this change one way or the other, just to weigh in. If it improves the lives of the mods, it's fine with me. We'll get used to it just like we got used to favorites in the first place. I sometimes use my favorites total (approaching 6300) to remind myself I've made some kind of contribution here when I get slammed or feel like a jerk for a thoughtless comment. And I favorite others for the same reason -- hoping they will make their new owners feel appreciated by me.

I wrote a long comment on the favoriting system back in February (in one of the many "Favorites Suck" threads) that came at the end of a long thread and as a result had few readers (and no favorites, sigh). It was something of an essay on the social dynamics of the favoriting economy here, and I was somewhat proud of it. I submit it again for your approval or disagreement herewith.

The bottom line was that we had adjusted as a community to the vagaries of the favoriting system, and that our use of it had become naturalized for many readers. It's always upsetting to have something one takes for granted suddenly changed. So I think giving the experiment at least a month is necessary before we pronounce judgment on the change.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:57 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, I think self-favorites should never register. That's ridiculous. It's a big part of the confusion between "favorites" and "placeholders."
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: And, nothing personal, but I'm surprised that for some people the favorites aspect of the site is indispensible or that this would make a huge difference in how the site works for them.

We don't need favorites in the sense that the site wouldn't be worth using without them. But the fact is that there are favorites, so they've shaped the way we use the site. Website users tend to organize their activity around a site's most prominent features. So it's a little weird to be told that we weren't expected to actually use favorites in any significant way.

For that matter, I do think introducing favorites in the first place was a big improvement. Before favorites, there was no indiscreet, standardized way to keep track of amazing comments or express any kind of interest in them. Presumably someone thought there was a real need for them; otherwise, why were they even introduced?

As noted above, there's a good reason why one comment in this thread has at least 75 favorites. Don't you want to know which one it is? Yes, in fact you might be even more curious about it than if the number of favorites on all comments were visible.

And that's why the November experiment is counterproductive. You're not deemphasizing the numbers of favorites. You're giving them a new lure. There's now an added game-like element to the site: see if you can guess which faved comments are the most popular! Then click on "faved" to reveal the answer!

It's also hard to believe that no one will "cheat" by calling attention to the fact that a comment that has 40 favorites supports their point of view. Surely there will be more explicit praise of certain comments. For instance, I'll tell you directly that I like like_neon's comment, whereas in the past I would have just favorited it and moved on.

I'd prefer being transparent and not requiring the extra click. I agree that this is somewhat problematic: the snarky one-liner or the book-length comment will sometimes get more favorites than are really merited. But I just don't see a better alternative.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:02 AM on November 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


The rancor that was being directed at the "small vocal minority" is because, through complaining, this experiment is happening, and as has already been mentioned is interefering with many members enjoyment of the site. I like Metafilter. It's a nice place to come and hang out. One of the things I like has been taken away (for a month), and it hampers my enjoyment of the site.

And as the comments saying that, now that the favorites are gone, and snarkily pointing out that people actually have to read threads? Just stop. Some people read Metafilter in different ways than you do. Your way fits you. It's not necessarily the best fit for me, or for many other people. Telling people to read less, if their too busy to read in your preferred no-favorites way, is basically telling people to be less active in the site. Read fewer threads = take less of an active role in the community that you love enough to read as much as you can.

As for evidence, koeselitz, the sidebar. Favorites tend to get noticed, and it's a useful way of finding out what people have said. It also lets you know about what your contacts have written recently, and it's quite helpful. Yes, I could directly mail a mod, which would take more time, and make it much less likely that I'd try to get in on the groundswell of saying "This comment is fantastic."
posted by Ghidorah at 5:09 AM on November 1, 2009 [15 favorites]


" Because regardless of whether the count of favorites appears or not, the same people are not going to read the damn thread."

You know what? That's exactly what should happen here. At this point it's a 350 comment thread, most of which consists of:
I dislike this because as a Digg voter Slashdot commenter Metafilter popularity contester I feel disenfranchised!
posted by Dude With Long Phrase For A Name Because I Guess That's Popular With The Kids These Days at 8:19PM
And you know what? I just ran into this post this morning, and there is literally no way I'm going to wade through a bunch of pointless "me too" trash from random people just to try to determine that our esteemed administrators seriously think "faved" being used with such enormous repetition isn't grating. If you hadn't happened to mention this somewhere near the current end of the thread, I'd have no clue that 40 horizontal pixels per comment were somehow worth sacrificing my very sanity as a reader.

Anyway, I think the potential exists for the site to be improved with the feature functioning this way, but goddamn "faved?" What the fuck? Does it turn to "wevs" when you want to un-favorite your accidental click, too? *shudder*
posted by majick at 5:10 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Koeslitz, I really appreciate your clearly written, step-by-step how-to guide for fixing this. I flagged it as fantastic, and wish it would get sidebarred for the people who aren't going to read every post of this long MeTa.

That said, could you maybe tone down the "you are doing it wrong, dummy" patronization that your last few comments have drifted into? I'm not sure that that is the tone you intend to be setting, but it's coming through loud and clear.
posted by Forktine at 5:11 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Of course, there's the "This comment is fantastic flag." Aside from that, I stand by my other points.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:14 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dear mods;

I have opted out of this experiment by installing the custom CSS snippet. Therefore, when tabulating the results, please throw out any data relating to me that has been tainted by this choice.

Wevs,

- subbes
posted by subbes at 5:18 AM on November 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


Not everybody uses Firefox (my husband's job requires we run Windows.) :-(
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:19 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I installed a CSS script that substitutes "faved" for "Flaved", and switches the post time for a giant clock showing the time.
posted by qvantamon at 5:21 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Not everybody uses Firefox (my husband's job requires we run Windows.) :-(

The how-to guide I linked a few comments above explains how to do it both on Explorer and Firefox -- assuming you can make those kind of (minor) changes on a computer used for work.
posted by Forktine at 5:23 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I saw that...still trying to figure out how to download the little script. The rest would be doable!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:24 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now that this is live, I'm confident in saying I hate it even more than I expected to (which was a lot). It makes me much less willing to try to read comment threads at all. Wake me in December.
posted by shammack at 5:27 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Okay, done, and done!!!!! Thanks koeselitz and forktine!!!!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:27 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Guys, if I can fix this, piece of cake for the rest of you!!!)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:27 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Forktine: That said, could you maybe tone down the "you are doing it wrong, dummy" patronization that your last few comments have drifted into? I'm not sure that that is the tone you intend to be setting, but it's coming through loud and clear.

You know, there was a time when I wasn't sure enough of myself to say this, but:

I wasn't patronizing anybody. I was arguing my side in a debate. If you can't see that – if "I disagree with you" and "I think this encourages us to read badly" can mean nothing but "I reject you" and "I think you're a bad reader," then we can't really have a debate at all; you've effectively made it impossible for me to disagree with you.

Seeing your comment, I just reread this whole thread, and you know what? People are being ridiculously rude. The number of people who have flatly referred to the mods and their work as "shit" is insane, and the number of people above and beyond that who (as they themselves admit) merely came here to complain and not to add anything substantial to the discussion is off the charts for us here. This is really the most extreme Meta thread I've ever seen in this regard; yeah, we have our disagreements here, but this is the first thread I've seen where literally dozens of people have come in here solely to say "this is shit."

So, yes, I was firm in saying that there hasn't been any real debate whatsoever in this thread, and I was trying very hard to respectfully call people into the discussion and ask them to give their reasons. And I'm trying to engage them. What's more, I'll continue to try to make sure this doesn't become personal whilst trying to get people to explain their positions.

I agree that it's unfair to be patronizing or rude. I take your point, and I mean it when I say that respect for others is a real goal for me; but my comments don't exist in a vacuum. I'm trying to react to what people are saying here.
posted by koeselitz at 5:29 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I guess I'd like to hear some of the mods elucidate on what it is, exactly, that makes "favourites as a popularity contest" so very taxing on their time and resources? I'm not being snarky but what does it matter, exactly? It feels very jobsworthy.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:30 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


1. I don't like this change. For the record, I read metatalk fairly frequently and this is the first I have heard of the supposed issue, so I don't know the ins and outs, but it strikes me as more of a vocal minority complaint, to be honest. So I am sharing my feelings as, theoretically, part of the vocal majority here.

2. I agree with Koeselitz that the word 'faved' should be replaced by a symbol. For me, it's just a damn unpleasant word.
posted by miss tea at 5:35 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


koeselitz : "the number of people above and beyond that who (as they themselves admit) merely came here to complain and not to add anything substantial to the discussion is off the charts for us here."

Perhaps this is because they'd normally just favorite the comments they agree with, but that's no longer a useful way of registering support. This thread is for feedback; even if the feedback is just someone saying they don't like it, that's still a datum the mods should have.
posted by shammack at 5:43 AM on November 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


Ghidorah: And as the comments saying that, now that the favorites are gone, and snarkily pointing out that people actually have to read threads? Just stop. Some people read Metafilter in different ways than you do. Your way fits you. It's not necessarily the best fit for me, or for many other people. Telling people to read less, if their too busy to read in your preferred no-favorites way, is basically telling people to be less active in the site. Read fewer threads = take less of an active role in the community that you love enough to read as much as you can.

One last comment, and then I'll go. I want to focus on this issue briefly, because it seems to be rankling a lot of people:

I know that in our day and age there's a lot of cruelty and hatred in the world. Those of us in the developed world have managed to insulate ourselves from that cruelty and hatred to a large degree, and that's helped; but people still feel the hurt that other people do to them. I don't think that will ever go away.

But sometimes I think we insulate ourselves too much; sometimes we reject anyone and everyone who thinks differently from us simply because we don't want to experience the discomfort of accepting that we might be wrong. This is especially easy when we tell ourselves that the highest value is tolerance; accepting that we might be wrong, letting go of our personal stake in discussions, is tough. Hell, just look at my comments here and you'll see plenty of examples of a guy personalizing an argument.

The key is that we don't have to do that. We can walk that fine line between intolerance and incoherence by depersonalizing discussions, by not making them about us. And, yes, it seems like I'm singling you out, Ghirador, but really I don't mean to, please understand: I only want to say that I don't think you read threads any worse than I do. You probably read them better. In any case, this is not about you – that should be out of the question – and it would be right out for me to go nuclear by saying you don't read threads correctly. This should not be a debate about who reads right and who reads wrong.

It is possible to discuss whether or not favorites lead to bad reading habits without making it a personal referendum on who's a good reader and who's a bad reader. It's not always simple to do that, but we can do it. It takes both sides working together: you agree not to read my statements that "favorites encourage bad reading habits" as saying "you have bad reading habits," then I agree not to be an insulting boor and tell you you're doing it wrong.
posted by koeselitz at 5:43 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


How could it have been handled better (no snark, seriously wondering what went wrong in your mind)?

The 12-hour window was a mistake. Plenty of site usability issues have been fixed or implemented without any notice whatsoever, only problem seeming to be you get 2 or 3 MeTa posts on it all at once as soon as people notice. Implementing this with no notification would have prompted a coupla threads at first, but the one chosen thread probably would have gone.... Actually, it probably would have gone about as badly as this one has, only you wouldn't have had as much wave-making about your delivery system. One less thing. Though it could be that because of the contentious nature of the change no path of action was acceptable/preferable.

If you're gonna see how making 'favorites' not a popularity contest works, all aspects of the system that point towards 'popularity contest' should be removed. The numerical counts were a huge part of that, but arguably the biggest part was simply calling them 'favorites.' I think that part of why you're getting such big blowback (another vocal minority?) is because faved still reads popularity contest but removing the count sort of neuters the experience. Calling it something else, in my opinion, something more neutral, would go much further towards affecting usage/participation patterns than simply removing the count. I like 'marked' because it's just as open to interpretation, but the bar is a little higher. High marks. Marked as in marred. Mark-based sockpuppets. Markers. Apostles. Who's Mark? Etc.
posted by carsonb at 5:43 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: "So far, I've seen almost no actual arguments against the whole reason why a lot of us wanted this change in the first place.

what

All of you coming in to 'register your dislike?' Try giving a rational justification that amounts to something more than "I can't stand change!" – because I've hardly seen any yet.

If anyone has insufficiently justified their opinions, it's the folks that have long agitated for this change. The rationale is always this free-floating angst about the general state of commentary instead of something concrete.

I, on the other hand, know for a fact that this is a bad move, because it is actively breaking my preferred reading style right friggin' now. Or would be, if it weren't for the Greasemonkey fix, but I'm pretty sure what you guys want is to get rid of visible favorites entirely. I don't have to hem and haw about atmosphere to justify my dislike. I just have to switch to Chrome and bam, the community filter I rely on is flattened to nothing.

Most people are usually wrong. A comment is not more or less worthy of reading because it gets a hundred comments.

I submit that you are so wrong, and respectfully request that you open a window to let some of the wrong out.

Crowdsourcing works. It's not perfect, but it's usually a good guide. That's the idea behind Metafilter, after all -- let anyone post an entry, and you'll get more and better content than you would from a staff of writers. Favoriting works the same way, in practice. Put a lot of content in front of a large audience and let them mark whatever they want for whatever reason. It's almost self-evident that the handful of items that pull in the lion's share of favorites are going to be interesting, because they motivated so many people to mark it above and beyond the others. Why they reacted that way is unknowable and irrelevant -- only the fact that it elicited such a strong reaction from so many people matters.

There are thousands upon thousands of people on this web site who, through no fault of their own, will be wrong about a given thing. I'm often one of those people. And we shouldn't be weighting conversations based on the clicks of approval of thousands upon thousands of people who are essentially lurking; we should be weighting conversation on their own merit.

Individually, no. Collectively, yes. The wisdom of crowds and all that. A small handful might favorite the "wrong" things, but as the number of people favoriting goes up, the odds of it being a fluke that doesn't "deserve" attention goes down.

People complain constantly that others aren't reading through a given thread. That's a valid complaint; there's a lot of skimming that happens, and a lot gets lost. Do you know why people skim? Because they seem to think that you can jump from 10-favorite comment to 10-favorite comment, like you're skipping across stones in a stream, and get the gist of a conversation. You can't.

Which is why I read more closely if I plan to contribute, and text-search the page to make sure I'm not being redundant.

The worst feature of the fabled-for-its-wrongness Youtube comment system, the very reason (I believe) that those comments are usually so bad, is the fact that users can click a button immediately to disappear a comment if they don't like it; and if enough people disappear it it disappears for good and nobody sees it. This is a more intellectual version of the same thing: I believe that, for the vast majority of people reading and commenting in threads, most of those comments that never get favorited don't even exist.

It's not like I'm filtering out everything that isn't double digits. I scan the text while scrolling, and tend to read the shorter comments and skim the longer ones, and stop and read if a keyword grabs my attention. It's a freeform reading style that I can adjust based on how much time I want to spend, and granular favorite counts are like handrails that help me limit or expand my attention as needed.

People are complaining that being able to see the favorite-counts on comments immediately is essential to their being able to read through threads, given their busy schedule. 'We have lives!' they say. 'We can't spend all day reading every comment – we need to be able to skim!'

This is not a valid complaint.


Lordy God, is that obnoxious.

If you don't have time to read every comment in every thread, read fewer threads. In times when I don't have the time to read all of a dozen threads, do you know what you should do? I can tell you what you shouldn't do – you shouldn't skim through all dozen threads by looking at the number of favorites. Why? Because you're not really reading; you're just getting a gauge of the popular opinion of a conversation, not the conversation itself. If you don't have time to read a dozen threads, just read one thread. It's not that difficult.

And what's wrong with getting a broad overview? I don't know about you, but I'm a little OCD about Mefi and hate thinking that I might have missed something interesting. So for me it's infinitely preferable to get the best content from every thread than to drill down into a few threads while ignoring others. It gives me a wider variety of material, and usually higher-quality material, too.

Don't tell me how to read the site.

And, as I said, I think this favorite-skimming method that seems to be so very popular (more than I ever imagined, frankly) is really damaging the site by ramping up exponentially the amount of noise that happens all over the site. When everybody just skims a dozen threads by skipping through and reading 10- or 5-favorite comments, they're almost always tempted to comment in those threads. And then they're commenting without knowing the whole story. I know we're not a conversation-driven site – and that is as it should be – but it wouldn't hurt to make conversation more bearable, would it?

These are two different issues. If people want to comment blithely without making sure they're not being redundant, that's a posting problem only tenuously related to their reading habits. They're not willing to ensure they're contributing well, and forcing them to read either everything or nothing isn't going to tamp down on that. But it will ruin the way other people read the site for reading's sake.

Finally, the site that is most damaged, I think, by the favorite-count-skimming method is ask.metafilter. Favorite-skimming just amounts to noise elsewhere, and elsewhere noise is pretty much tolerated – it doesn't matter as much if a dozen people repeat the same thing or make the same mistake in a thread on the main site or in metatalk, although those things are bad. But in ask, when there's noise like that increasing exponentially because of the people following just this technique of reading, jessamyn & co end up wasting more time deleting noise or at least having to watch those threads to keep an eye on them. Overall, questions don't get answered as well. And since ask is the most popular and fastest-growing part of the site, many people there are people who don't go elsewhere on the site at all; those people end up with the impression that this is how it's done here, that the skimming thing works and that the high noise level is just a necessary evil. No.

How are repetitive answers noise? If I have a question and get twenty variations on the same answer, that only underscores the probable accuracy of that answer. It's basically a more visible and elaborate form of favoriting-as-agreement. It can seem like a pile-on, but if the answers are cogent then they can only be helpful.

Also, there have been numerous times where a user asks a factual question and gets four or five identical answers in a row -- the echoes are never deleted. So I don't think that particular aspect is a moderating problem.

Please, please, please people. Give this thing a chance. Set aside the fact that you're having to pick up a somewhat different method of browsing threads; and open your minds to the idea that you might be learning a better way."

I'm sorry, but I just can't. It simply goes against my nature. I would never be able to tolerate having to choose between reading more than I should (i.e., almost everything) and skipping some threads altogether, knowing that I'm missing some great content. In other words, I'd be stuck between reading more than I want and less than I want, and I'd be stuck because a measure of control and guidance over how I read the site had been taken away. Favorites permeate the site and act as a sixth sense for quality if you rely on them -- taking them away would leave me feeling blind (and appropriately anxious).
posted by Rhaomi at 5:46 AM on November 1, 2009 [80 favorites]


turgid dahlia: I guess I'd like to hear some of the mods elucidate on what it is, exactly, that makes "favourites as a popularity contest" so very taxing on their time and resources? I'm not being snarky but what does it matter, exactly? It feels very jobsworthy.

Briefly, the mods have said that "favorites as a popularity contest" is more of a problem because lots of people seem to complain about it. They have said here that they don't think they'll see any substantial change, although they're open to it, and they seem to see this mostly as (a) an interesting experiment and (b) a way to put to rest a very old argument. Quoth jessamyn earlier in this thread:

jessamyn: ... a lot of people have, for a long time, been saying they think the favorites system encourages crappy behavior. We've been saying "We don't think so" without any real way to test. So, we decided to try this.
posted by koeselitz at 5:47 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


but my comments don't exist in a vacuum

This is exactly it. Yes, fully 100% of my comments are favourite-whoring ejaculations but so what? Not everybody else's are, and I sure as shit am going to pay more attention to a multi-paragraph comment with 20 favourites than I am to a multi-paragrah comment with no favourites. I come here for interesting stuff and fun insights, and yes for some snark, but for the most part Metafilter users are pretty clever and if you see a comment that has multiple faves then you can be pretty sure it's got something going for it, whether for good or for bad.

If people are so pissed off by favourites, get a fucking Greasemonkey script to get rid of them. Don't omit a feature that, I am confident in saying, fully the majority of us enjoy and find extremely useful and, dare I say it, fun.

Is this a movement to get rid of fun on Metafilter?

I really don't see what the problem is here and on top of that, from a lot of the whaah-whaah-whaah I've had before from people in Metatalk, apparently I comment in here way too much, but frankly I've not seen a great deal of "omg favourites r bad!" threads. This feels like a handful of people taking the site way too seriously.

I don't remember if favourites could be seen before I had an account and frankly I don't care enough to log out and check, but when I coughed up my very reasonable entry fee, and I saw the favouriting facility, I thought "neat!". I trawled through the most favourited comments and post and I found a lot of awesome shit.

Metafilter isn't going to change the world. It's a bunch of people hanging out, shooting shit, and showing one another interesting things. Regardless of what anybody thinks, that's what it is. For the most part, I think a great many of us have a lot of fun here. This feels like fun-downgrading.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:52 AM on November 1, 2009 [19 favorites]


(a) an interesting experiment and (b) a way to put to rest a very old argument

Hmm, fair play. If only comments of that nature had been favourited more, I might have read them a little closer ;-)
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:55 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


My vote is "Hate this. A lot."

My immediate reaction upon seeing a bunch of "faved" links was "When the hell did I go and favorite a bunch of stuff?"

You've made the UI inconsistent in its verbiage: if I flag something, I get a nice little "flagged" note. Seeing "faved/saved/dildoed/whatever" when I haven't actually favorite anything is confusing at first and just plain irritating after.

Independent of whether the number ends up displayed or not, I would suggest changing "favorites" to "bookmarks" as others have suggested over the years. You could have a little book icon, reducing the byline real estate as wished fo. It fits in with the [+][!] look better, and, if you really want to get fancy, if I bookmark a comment you can show me a nice little "saved" message.

But please ditch the [action verb] crap when I haven't actually [action verbed] anything.
posted by romakimmy at 5:55 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


But please ditch the [action verb] crap when I haven't actually [action verbed] anything.

I'll defer to the grammar authorities, but isn't "faved" in this context actually a past participle? (As in, "this comment was faved".) It's still awful to look at, and as you note inconsistent with the UI, just not an action verb.
posted by Forktine at 5:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The rationale is always this free-floating angst about the general state of commentary instead of something concrete."

Respectfully I submit my comment: Fucking bullshit.

The rationale for not having an upvote system is thus: Digg, Slashdot, And Kuro5hin all suck donkey ass. This is fact. This is concrete. One of the reasons they do is the voting system which acts as a force multiplier for echo chambering, groupthink, grandstanding, and pandering. Imitating them means making what has for a great many years been a good site more similar to shitty sites.
posted by majick at 6:03 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


koes... I don't, in any way, feel singled out. I do read threads. I've read every freaking comment in this thread. What I was reacting to was you, in your post, telling people that if they rely on favorites, that they're essentially doing it wrong. Of course, Rhaomi had a much more cogent take on that, but it's kind of hard to find, since there aren't the ridiculous number of favorites it deserves leading us to it, like a beacon in the night.

More than anything, telling people to read less, to alter their preferred method of enjoying this community, that's the problem. You seem to think that, since you like it this way, we should all come around to your point of view. I read this site differently than you do. Many people rely on favorites to get their maximum enjoyment out of this site. Now, because of a vocal, repetitive minority, a very large number of people get less enjoyment from Metafilter. They're coming here to say that this change sucks. The vehemence of their comments is, I think, reflective of just how much they love this website, which shouldn't be simply dismissed.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:05 AM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm in support of the test because whatever is decided, there will be something concrete to point to when the issue comes up in the future.

That being said, not having the favorite counts is already driving me crazy and leading me to read much less of the site than I would have previously. Like Rhaomi said above, there's way too much to read otherwise, and if a lot of people favorite something it does give you useful information. The way I read the site is to look at a handful of the first comments in a thread, then if nothing comes up to interest me I go skipping along to see what has a lot of favorites, or else what is lengthy (which is an imperfect but mostly helpful way of finding comments that either go into more detail, or make a more nuanced point). If there is a post that raises something interesting, then I will read the posts after it more closely for a stretch to see if the conversation goes anywhere.

I only make an effort to read much more closely if I'm going to contribute to the thread, because then I want to be respectful of others' time and make sure I'm not saying something that others have already addressed. I don't contribute to most threads, so the favorites function makes a big difference in what I get from the site. In a perfect world everyone would have infinite time to read every thread, but I think it's a lot better to have a mechanism that helps us get a great deal out of the site with a reasonable investment of time. Favorites let me skim a thread in about five to ten minutes and learn a lot, and while I miss a bit that way, I don't think spending half an hour to an hour reading a single thread is worth that much of anyone's time. There's a pretty sharp decline in what you get out of it; the ratio of worthwhile comments to mundane ones is much higher than other sites, but they're still the minority in most threads. Even on a site as good as MeFi people make comments that don't really say much of anything, or repeat the same points over and over, or make terrible arguments, or go off on tangents that don't have a lot to do with the tread. Favorites don't make those posts happen because those posts rarely get favorites. It's just now more people actually have to read those posts.

And then it's even more important in AskMeFi, for reasons people have already covered.

I've already noticed that this has lead to my reading much less on the site. It appears what I do now is skim the first handful of comments like always, then I'll skip down the page once or twice, then give up because I don't have much to look for except for long comments, and those are hit or miss. If anything, I would rather MeFi just have an "up-vote" system that's separate from favorites -- at the very least on AskMeFi, since we get people complaining about everyone giving the same advice -- which I know will never happen because of all the boogeymen associated with it.

I'm not a fan of snarky comments. I don't think snarky comments even get that many favorites unless they're seriously funny. I see people make snarky comments all the time even though no one ever favorites them in particular. I see snarky comments on every site out there even when there isn't an up-vote system -- check the comments on any popular blog. People make snarky comments because that's how they, in particular, interface with the world around them. If they were sucked into space, they would yell snarky comments into the vacuum in hopes that somebody might hear them. Getting favorites for it just makes them feel a little more special about doing what they'd do anyway.

The way I see it so far is this: in the past, I might have had the misfortune of reading one kind of unhelpful comment, which is a snarky comment that, for whatever reason, netted a lot of favorites. Usually those are quite short, and sometimes genuinely funny, so at the very worst I'll have wasted three seconds and come away mildly annoyed, though usually I don't feel much of anything about it. Whether or not favorites are responsible for that kind of comment is dubious, as well. Without the favorites function, though, I'm consigned to reading every possible type of unhelpful comment, ranging from lame jokes to not topical to repetitive to nonsensical to insane and combative. AND after wading through that "thread fatigue" kicks in, so I miss out on whatever good stuff people might say later because I just can't invest that kind of time; I already spend an hour or two a day on MeFi and it's just unreasonable to expect anyone to spend even more than that.
posted by Nattie at 6:16 AM on November 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'd like to add: MetaFilter isn't awesome because it lacks an up-vote system, it's awesome because it has good moderation. People have already been using favorites as an unofficial upvote system anyway. I'm confident MeFi would be just as good even if it had an official upvote system, though I realize this will never happen because everyone wails at the mention of it.
posted by Nattie at 6:19 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


DO NOT FAVED.
posted by milarepa at 6:20 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Argh, I really need to go, but one more general observation I want to make:

Entirely apart from the argument about which side is better, I think it's interesting to notice that this was probably precisely the moment when people would be least likely to appreciate this feature/bug. I have a feeling our meshing with the favorites model has really only finally solidified in the last six months to a year.

I say that because, as someone else noted above, there are fewer loud-mouthed jerks around than there used to be. I started thinking about this, and it occurred to me: I think there's been a big change in general in the way the site works as a result of favorites on that count, a change that has some bad things and some good things about it.

I may believe that favorites are a drawback overall, but it would be silly to claim that before the favoriting system everybody read every word in every thread they participated in. Before we had favorites, I have a feeling that the common system most of us Mefi-heads used was a sort of personality-based system: we'd scan threads looking for usernames we knew, and we'd take their comments as guideposts to the conversation.

I think that lead to one thing in particular: strong personalities, and a lot of people who tried hard to stand out. In fact, I think it might be rational to say that the notion that favorites have encouraged loudmouths is backwards, and that it was the favorite-free system and holdovers from those times that did this more predominantly. I know that we're dealing with a lot more users now, so there may be more loudmouths than there were before; but now those loudmouths don't have the pride of place they used to have as 'users people listened to.' It's probably a little cruel for me to call these people 'loudmouths,' and anyone who was around here before the sea-change I'm talking about will have some affection for those people. Dios; Ethereal Bligh; amberglow; hell, I probably only need to mention fish in pants for some of us to get a little weepy and start singing Mathowie's Community Blog.

Now, when I think about it, that Metafilter was a lot different from this one. Those people were all people I knew; they were my friends. If there was a post about gay rights, I knew amberglow would be there, and that he'd have interesting takes on it. EB could be counted on to make a long (and usually very intriguing) comment in any philosophy thread. I could count on their comments as guideposts, so going into a thread I knew what to look for: my friends, who already might have already noted an interesting thing about the post or otherwise established the direction it would take.

This system had obvious drawbacks. I say "my friends" and it sounds very warm and fuzzy; but the point is that it all was a bit clubbish and sometimes a bit too insider-oriented. I think we handled it pretty well on that front, but as I said about the system did encourage people to 'flame out' (anybody notice that flaming out doesn't really happen any more?) or to be otherwise very loud and often cruel. To be blunt, I think there was a lot more drama and a lot more personal bullshit and 'you are my enemy' and actual infighting in the old Metafilter.

So far as I can tell a rather larger migration started about a year ago. Most of the really strong personalities left the site through the "close your account" rabbit-hole. Before that time, of course there was still a strong resistance to favorites; when your method of 'filtering' threads is based on knowing personalities in it, of course you'll object to a more randomly democratic system. Suddenly, with favorites, a guy who's never posted a thing here can make the most important comment in a thread, and everybody will know it. The personalities don't have pride of place. And of course to people who are loudmouths (I am staring at my shoes here, believe me) a system where there's any metric beyond flashy personality will seem like it has flaws; to us, of course, it seems like what people really liked and recognized about us was our awesome commenting, and we didn't like a system where anybody could just walk in without having put in the time and get popular right away.

Of course, it's possible that this will be a good change – the pendulum swinging in the other direction, the parties switching back and forth every election, et cetera. And anyway this community is big enough already that I don't really think it could support the personality-based system anymore. But of course it's just as likely that by instituting favorites we've finally shrugged off something that was holding us back, and that we really should stick to the favorites system as it was twelve hours ago; I don't know.
posted by koeselitz at 6:21 AM on November 1, 2009 [14 favorites]


There are just too many comments to read on most threads.

It's a feature, not a bug. I'm totally with koeselitz in feeling that you should actually read the whole thread before commenting. If you want to skim and favorites help you do that, that's totally awesome, but if you're skimming... and then you add a comment... if it's a 100+ comment thread, there's a real significant chance that someone's already said that, which you won't see because you're skimming. I have no objection to skimming, but favorites really do encourage the "TL;DR - here's my 2c!" comments which add a lot of noise to lengthy threads.

You are not required to comment if you read a thread! You can read it without commenting! And you will be fine!

Anyhow. For me, this doesn't impact the way I read the site, though it does kind of look odd that there are just blocks of comments noted as "faved" without any kind of differentiation. By Tuesday, I'll be used to that.

I will say though that the "faved" notation was totally confusing to me at first. The first thing I check on the site is my own Recent Activity page, and the first thing I noticed was a comment marked "faved" which to me implied that I personally had favorited it, which was impossible because I was asleep when it was posted. I was totally, totally confused by what the shit had happened there. And now it's been explained. But yeah, really confusing for a few minutes.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:21 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


this is an incredibly shitty change and the mods should be punished.

Trust me, we have been.

I'm sorry so many people think this is going to make the site over-the-top irritable to them for the entire month of November. We've really felt for a long time that we'd been getting many suggestions to "do something about favorites" and we'd said "yeah yeah" and sort of not been able to think of what. Now we're in the awkward position like mathowie says above, of feeling slightly trapped in the UI that we have because any change makes people wish punishment on us [and yes I'm aware the exception is far from the rule].

I'm okay if people are saying they don't like this, and saying why, and offering suggestions. I'm totally fine with the workarounds people have created. What I'm not okay with is the idea that somehow this becomes less of a community because people are so irritable over a word [sorry about faved, we literally could not think of something better in the week that we were having this discussion] or a test of something that they're drawing lines in the sand and being pretty GRAR about this. I'm aware that this is somewhat easy for me to say, knowing this was coming and having a bit of a say in how it went. I know for everyone there are relationship dealbreakers and I'm hoping for people here this isn't one of them.

I don't know if it helps at all to realize that if this is something you feel this strongly about, there are probably other people on the site who feel equally strongly in exactly the opposite direction. This is their site too and we'd really like to find a way to have features that don't make anyone feel the site is being destroyed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:22 AM on November 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Phew. You know that weird feeling when you finally uncover the hidden motivations and subconscious undercurrents that were leading you to argue something that you thought was obvious? Yeah, I'm having that feeling right now.
posted by koeselitz at 6:23 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: Try giving a rational justification that amounts to something more than "I can't stand change!" – because I've hardly seen any yet.

koeselitz:The point that I'm arguing, the theory that I have, is that this and other threads are fully of general, mediocre comments largely because of the favoriting system. When you skim via favorites, you tend merely to get a general gist of the conversation; and when everybody does that, then all of the comments turn out to be general and sort of distant and never build off of what other people have said.

Ok, I'll give it shot. I've used the new favoriting system all of 1 day and do not like it. I believe the traditional numbering system does have a greater value. The reason I like the original system is a combination of usability and efficiency. For me I use the numbered favoriting system in different ways depending on what time it is, what mood I'm in, how much time I have to devote to Mefi, etc.

I take issue with your contention that threads are full of mediocre comments *because* of the favoriting system. It seems to me you're making a huge assumption about the way people use the forum. No doubt some people skip from favorite to favorite and post based on this. However, my personal model is different. Some threads I simply want to skim the favorites. Why? Because I don't have a lot of time and my goal is to read something that is interesting. It's almost like there's oh I don't know . . .a filter for popular favorites.

Sometimes, I see these popular favorites as a jumping off point. If a "popular" comment makes me want to respond, I will often go back and read the whole thread and give myself a broader context. Sometimes I ignore the popular comment thing altogether.

So, coming back to the new experimental model, seeing that a comment is faved requires me to click on it to see how many people tagged it. What a pain. Might as well abolish favorites altogether in this case. I *like* the context, usability and efficiency of the numbered favorites and I take the "popularity" of these with a grain of salt. I think your assumption that people use numbered favorites to bypass "regular" comments is overly simplistic.
posted by jeremias at 6:25 AM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


So here I am toodling along reading responses (with my trusty Greasemonkey script in tow) when I see a comment I like. I click the plus sign and SUDDENLY:
... [faved -] Favorite added! [!]
MY EYES

majick: "The rationale for not having an upvote system is thus: Digg, Slashdot, And Kuro5hin all suck donkey ass. This is fact. This is concrete. One of the reasons they do is the voting system which acts as a force multiplier for echo chambering, groupthink, grandstanding, and pandering. Imitating them means making what has for a great many years been a good site more similar to shitty sites."

I'm not familiar with Kuro5hin, but it's my understanding that Digg and Slashdot have an upvote/downvote system that actively hides content the community dislikes. Metafilter's favorites are nothing like that -- they're a simple overlay on top of the existing commentary. It's similar in a way to the Google Earth Community layer in Google Earth, which lets users leave descriptive placemarks identifying points of interest. Any one placemark may highlight something silly or non-notable, but places where hundreds cluster in a small area are guaranteed to be interesting. And, like favorites, the placemarks don't negate or alter any of the map's content, they merely supplement it and aid in its navigation. And if you find them distracting you can always turn the layer off.

(And at risk of belaboring the metaphor, this experiment is akin to hiding the placemarks and instead highlighting every city-block-sized space that contains them, regardless of density. The result would be an undifferentiated yellow coating across half the world, and my old kindergarten which I marked would be just as emphasized as Times Square or the Colosseum.)

Anyway, if the system allowed you to filter out unfavorited stuff automatically, that would be crappy and would detract from the site. But that's not what's going on.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:25 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


they're drawing lines in the sand and being pretty GRAR about this

I think that you are hearing such intense GRAR and push-back on this because (to your surprise, as you said last night) it turns out that a lot of people use the old-style favorites counts as a fairly significant part of their reading experience.

That wasn't a big part of previous discussions about favorites, because they focused on different aspects of the issue. However, by taking away the favorite counts, it became immediately apparent how useful (to some people) those counts were.

So yeah, count me in on, if not GRAR exactly, some strong criticism of "this was neither thought through very well or presented very well, and I don't like the flattening of information."
posted by Forktine at 6:29 AM on November 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


me: To be blunt, I think there was a lot more drama and a lot more personal bullshit and 'you are my enemy' and actual infighting in the old Metafilter.

jessamyn: I'm okay if people are saying they don't like this, and saying why, and offering suggestions. I'm totally fine with the workarounds people have created. What I'm not okay with is the idea that somehow this becomes less of a community because people are so irritable over a word or a test of something that they're drawing lines in the sand and being pretty GRAR about this.

And lest I forget, the new Metafilter has its drawbacks, too. The old Metafilter could get personal, cliquish, and loud; the new Metafilter is more characterized by huge pile-ons and casual, impersonal insults.
posted by koeselitz at 6:29 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Hmm, having experienced [faved +] for the first time, it has had one noticeable change on my behaviour. I'm aware this is early days in the experiment, but I suspect this is going to make me click onto the "x users marked this as a favorite" page a hell of a lot more often.

"Oh look, it's been 'faved', I wonder who 'faved' it."
*click*
posted by knapah at 6:31 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


majick: "The rationale for not having an upvote system is thus: Digg, Slashdot, And Kuro5hin all suck donkey ass. This is fact. This is concrete. One of the reasons they do is the voting system which acts as a force multiplier for echo chambering, groupthink, grandstanding, and pandering. Imitating them means making what has for a great many years been a good site more similar to shitty sites."

I would like to disagree. The moderation system (on Slashdot at least, I'm not familiar enough with the other sites) serves the purpose of filtering out noise / unhelpful comments and making useful comments more visible - at least, if it's used correctly. This is an important feature on sites where the number of commenters is too large to keep track of, so you can't judge their knowledge on a certain topic for yourself; in the case of Slashdot you will often find an "invisible" post followed by several highly visible ones pointing out errors using cites and links supporting their position.

Another thing you dislike is the "groupthink", something which is often used to ascribe a certain bias to a website; I would argue that making this bias visible through supporting a comment with favorites / upvotes is a Good Thing™. Why? Because, to be honest, the old adage about Arguing on the Internet being like Winning the Special Olympics is true. I don't want to go to a site that is clearly hostile to my opinions and argue my position in front of an audience that is clearly not interested.
Favorites are a good way of seeing how popular an opinion is, and seeing controversial opinions similarly favorited means a website allows for discussion and a certain amount of diversity.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 6:33 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm not familiar with Kuro5hin, but it's my understanding that Digg and Slashdot have an upvote/downvote system that actively hides content the community dislikes. Metafilter's favorites are nothing like that -- they're a simple overlay on top of the existing commentary.

This, exactly! Whenever I've wished for MeFi to have an up-vote system, it would be pretty much how favorites are used by a lot of people right now: you can vote something up, so to speak, but not down. I've never liked the idea of "burying" any comment like some of the voting systems do.
posted by Nattie at 6:34 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Rhaomi: And at risk of belaboring the metaphor, this experiment is akin to hiding the placemarks and instead highlighting every city-block-sized space that contains them...

Yeah. I think what's interesting about it, and about the direction Metafilter's going in in general, is the fact that over the last year or so favorites have become the most important placemark to the most vocal segment of Mefites. There used to be other systems of placemarks. Regardless of the relative worth of those placemarks, there were a lot of people who lobbied hard to keep them and to resist favorites as a filtering mechanism. Most of those people are either gone or have gotten used to the new system.

That's interesting, is all.
posted by koeselitz at 6:34 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heh, 5 seconds after I hit Post, it hit me that I was gonna get spanked about [action verb].

I think of the current "flagged" message as "you have flagged this comment" since it's a message only available to me while logged in, if I have actually flagged a comment.

The only indicator that I've saved/not saved a comment is the +/- sign. That didn't bother me when is was next to "32 favorites". But seeing it next to "faved" is just counter-intuitive and ambiguous: I haven't "faved" anything and sans number it's not immediately clear that 32 of y'all have.

And I'll note also that the old "32 favorites" byline still appears on user's activity pages, which also seems a bit inconsistent.
posted by romakimmy at 6:34 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or what Rhaomi said . . .
posted by jeremias at 6:35 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


As another perspective, I usually read everything in an interesting thread, top to bottom. I use the favorites count to get a gauge of how other people think or feel about a given topic or idea, and more people are likely to hit the "+" than post their own reply. Most folks are lurkers, it's just the way it is, and favorites counts let me know how the someone who doesn't have the inclination to otherwise participate feels about something under discussion. This is a very useful and democratizing feature. I know a few people who don't post, because they feel they don't write well enough, or have ideas good enough to share... this usually isn't so, but it's how they feel.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:36 AM on November 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'm a little surprised (but not hugely so; this is MeTa) by the vehemence in reaction to this short-term experiment. As someone who rarely posts (despite my recent upspate) and has never put as much emphasis on favorites as some of the busier members of the site, this really hasn't impacted me much in the short period of time it has been active. It's fascinating to me that there are so many skimmers - far more than I expected based on the "I haven't read this thread, but here are my two cents anyway" posts I've seen (not saying all skimmers do this!). Of course, I abandon a lot of threads half through due to boredom, dissolution into fighty strawmen, because there's a new wave of comments that have the same arguments held in the first 50 comments or because there's too much noise.

I guess that what I'm saying is that there are (some? a few? a boatload?) of us for whom favorites aren't as big a signifier on our radar, and the presence or absence of a number of favorites is less central to our use of the site. It's hard to identify the number of us because we aren't experiencing much pain over the experiment. I will be interested to see how this changes the discourse in ways that do affect me - will we see more "tl;dr; here's what the right answer/comment is anyway"? or more notations in the text that someone has favorited someone else's comment beyond "I wish I could favorite X's comment a thousand times, it is that good." ?

I would prefer noted or marked over faved because faved has a positive functionality that isn't always accurate and which is a more concentrated positive (it is lighter and breezier) than even favorite . I couldn't bring myself to 'favorite' recent stunning posts in the Whatcha Reading thread because I couldn't bring myself to add any approbation to rape and sexual assault, no matter the bravery and fabulosity of the people telling their stories and how glad I am they survived.
posted by julen at 6:39 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


One wonders how some of you people ever survived the horror of reading this site for the many years preceding the favorites system. Seriously, it's a month, during which you can alter the stylesheet as explained above, also during which I'm sure the mods will continue to get pounded to death, leading inevitably to things going back to the way it was.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:46 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


The rationale for not having an upvote system is thus: Digg, Slashdot, And Kuro5hin all suck donkey ass. This is fact.

I'm not sure that you're clear on the meaning of the word 'fact'.
posted by empath at 6:46 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Forktine: I think that you are hearing such intense GRAR and push-back on this because (to your surprise, as you said last night) it turns out that a lot of people use the old-style favorites counts as a fairly significant part of their reading experience.

With respect, that's simply not true. To take only one dimension of this debate: search back through this thread and take a gander at what people have said about the word "faved." The mods have been told that they're twelve years old, that it's fucking stupid, that they sound like teenagers, the whole bit. And that's not to say that they can't take criticism; but none of that counted as very good criticism at all. "I think that's not a very elegant way to put it" would be criticism. "What are we - twelve years old?" That's an insult. I'm sorry. It's talking down to something.

And above and beyond the vast faves kerfuffle, in this thread the mods have been told that they should be punished, they they dropped the ball, that this was "badly implemented" and "fumbled," that their decisions are "shitty" and stupid and childish and more that I don't really want to peruse any more. Seriously, I'm surprised you don't see this, Forktine. Read back through from the perspective of the mods, who put a lot of their time into this site, and ask yourself it it's not out of line.
posted by koeselitz at 6:46 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, so I came to MeTa to kindly ask WTF and request my favorites back, but I found this thread. I'm not a fan and am opting out with greasemonkey, but here's why:

A) I wasn't aware of the change, and on first view "faved" made me think I had favorited the comment. I agree with the 'this word sucks' people, but my problem is that it screws with the consistency of the UI. As mentioned above, if I flag something, the post says "flagged".

B) Also on the consistency point, I can still see how many favorites a post has. Why?

C) If favorites are so bad for metafilter, why not take the experiment all the way and remove any notification that comments have been faved by others? (Note: I strongly do not want this, but if you're running a favespiriment, why not go whole hog?)

D) That's right, favespiriment.

I know I'm a horrible person for not reading every comment, but there are 400 comments in this thread, and I don't have all damn day to sit reading. Ordinarily, I read highly favorited comments and skim through the rest. The change forces me to just skim the entire thread, which means I probably missed a few comments articulating my points in much finer language and with more panache.
posted by graventy at 6:48 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


t's fascinating to me that there are so many skimmers - far more than I expected based on the "I haven't read this thread, but here are my two cents anyway" posts I've seen (not saying all skimmers do this!).

Not everybody posts in every thread. There are lots of posts I'm mildly interested in, but have tons of comments, so I skim the comments thread to figure out why. That's when the favorite number becomes really useful.

Oh, and btw, just for kicks, I 'faved' every non-faved comment in this thread (until i ran out of favorites for today), just to see what impact that has on readability in a long thread like this... and it sucks, tbh.
posted by empath at 6:49 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


And frankly, Forktine, this is actually another very good example of what's changed at Metafilter. A year ago, if anyone had come in here and said anything even vaguely as extreme as bunnytricks' comment, they would have verbally gotten the shit beaten out of them regardless of whether they were actually right about their complaint. There was a posse of people ready to pour layers of hate on anybody who threatened one of their kind. This is the era of pile-ons.
posted by koeselitz at 6:50 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I prefer not to complain about site changes (here or elsewhere) as such changes are generally for the overarching good of the site, and I try not to be resistant to change.

However, Favourites has just gone from a really useful feature (a way to skim overly long threads for noteworthy comments, and a way to signal agreement in AskMe without adding a redundant comment of my own) to a piece of junk on the page I now have to try to ignore.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:50 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


empath: Oh, and btw, just for kicks, I 'faved' every non-faved comment in this thread (until i ran out of favorites for today), just to see what impact that has on readability in a long thread like this... and it sucks, tbh.

Why do people think that's okay?
posted by koeselitz at 6:51 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can we have another experiment in December? Retain the favouriting system, but keep it private. Is there any benefit at all in seeing 'faved' (or any other word) at the end of a comment if there is no number alongside it.

When there is a number, it tells me something. Of course some people will disagree about the usefulness or desiredness of what it tells me, but the fact is that I do get some information from it. Without a number it simply becomes meaningless. I don't see the point of publicly displaying it at all.

As Rhaomi pointed out, somewhere up there, lalex clicked many comments in a row presumably as a demonstration of what I am trying to say.

faved
faved
faved
faved

Why show it at all? It doesn't help.

Personally, I don't care if we have [x favorites] or nothing at all, but this limbo state of [faved] provides no useful information to anyone, as far as I can see anyway.
posted by knapah at 6:51 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Can we have an opt-out of this feature if it stays around? It completely changes how I now read and respond to AskMe. I will often not add an answer if I see one that I like - because I know that multiple favorites will get the point across to the poster.

Also - it's how I gauge the usefulness of the answers I get to questions I pose myself. Now I have no way to do that.
posted by meerkatty at 6:52 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry so many people think this is going to make the site over-the-top irritable to them for the entire month of November. We've really felt for a long time that we'd been getting many suggestions to "do something about favorites" and we'd said "yeah yeah" and sort of not been able to think of what.

Of course, for a long time, you've also been getting responses that the site is just fine as it is. I, myself, have posted many comments in support of the favorites system in the past. I haven't done it as much since I believe mathowie said he didn't foresee the system changing, and it was tedious having the same argument over and over again. But by ignoring these comments and focusing on the few that said we need to "do something" (and I think performing the action in question is an example of the Politician's syllogism) you have shown that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So don't be surprised when lots of other wheels start squeaking in response.

The rationale for not having an upvote system is thus: Digg, Slashdot, And Kuro5hin all suck donkey ass.

Given that this site has had favorites for more than three years, and does not, in my opinion at least, suck donkey ass, that rationale is inapplicable here.
posted by grouse at 6:54 AM on November 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


Why do people think that's okay?

Why do I think that's okay? Because this is a metatalk thread about the new favoriting system, and it seems like a good place to test possible problems with the new favoriting system? Where else would you suggest that I do it?

Also, while that kind of behavior would be obvious and so easily ignored in the old system (oh, someone was favoriting every post in this thread, so I can ignore all the +1s), it wouldn't have been very problematic behavior, but doing it now probably is.
posted by empath at 6:54 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


We think a month is long enough for folks to get more or less used to the change and develop an opinion about whether its a net improvement or not and whether there are any serious unintended consequences, etc. We're going to go ahead and launch it in the next 24 hours, and we're happy to hear feedback and suggestions in this thread now and throughout November.

How exactly are you going to determine whether or no the experiment has "worked?" this is a serious question. Do you have some specific set of criteria that you will be looking at (number of first-comment snarks; number of flags; etc.), or are we just going to have another meg-meta thread in which people voice their opinions? I think it would be useful to identify some assessment criteria from the beginning.
posted by googly at 6:55 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think shaking things up is a good thing every once in a while, so I'm not opposed to this at all even if it makes me a bit uncomfortable because it's different from what I'm used to.

HOWEVER.

I strongly agree with the people questioning the methodology of this experiment. What is the point of making a change when you haven't really defined what will be used to indicate what the outcome of the experiment is?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for qualitative studies, but qualitative studies are more than "we'll see how it feels/felt when we're done."

In any case, I do really respect you guys and will be interested to see how all of this will turn out.
posted by Kimberly at 6:55 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think my initial experience is that this hurts me as a casual reader on the blue.

For me there are three types of posts, ones that are uninteresting, which I simply skip. Then there are the others: somewhat interesting and really up-my-street.
Losing the favourite count seems to hurt my personal experience with the 'somewhat interesting' posts. These are posts that I wouldn't comment upon, but would like to dip my eyes into, having the favourites in there lets me just quickly get a filtered view and feel of the post. Yes-- it might not be a complete and 'honest' view, but I'm not overly interested, I just want my taster-- my entertainment. On the up-my-street posts, I'm fine with it, I'd read it top to tail anyway.

I guess it depends on the goal of the blue, but it would be nice to find a way to address the casual experience, which must be how the majority of users use the blue. For the rest of the site I think it'll be a win though-- it'll be interesting to see how the little quips in metatalk vary.

On preview, empath-- what you (and another user earlier did) by favouriting all the comments, isn't a good example of how it'll work-- because most posts don't have a favourite on every post. You're just vandalizing for the sake of it, and I think that the admins could quite easily write a piece of code that wipes your graffiti away quite easily.
posted by Static Vagabond at 6:57 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


and empath did it too I see.
posted by knapah at 6:57 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


grouse: "So don't be surprised when lots of other wheels start squeaking in response."

BRING BACK TRAVEL!
posted by graventy at 6:58 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


And above and beyond the vast faves kerfuffle, in this thread the mods have been told that they should be punished, they they dropped the ball, that this was "badly implemented" and "fumbled," that their decisions are "shitty" and stupid and childish and more that I don't really want to peruse any more. Seriously, I'm surprised you don't see this, Forktine. Read back through from the perspective of the mods, who put a lot of their time into this site, and ask yourself it it's not out of line.

I certainly draw the line at saying anyone should be "punished" -- when you think about the great joys that must be a part of moderating, say, this very thread, surely being a moderator is its own punishment; and ultimately, if you really think that messing with the functionality of a website warrants anything harsher than someone saying "this sucks," your priorities are a mess and you need to walk away from the computer, probably -- but saying that a thing was "badly implemented," "fumbled," and even "shitty" are all criticisms, albeit criticisms of varying nuance, and just because you don't agree with them doesn't somehow make said criticisms out of line. And anyway, did anybody really think this would go over well? Like I said before, that's the thing that most throws me about all of this: These are not really heavy-handed moderators AT ALL around here, and they're people who tend to know their community quite well. If I saw this reaction coming, they must have as well...I mean, seriously, how many people are really surprised now? That's why I'm surprised this happened, to say nothing of it happening this way: Because I'd have thought that the response to it would be pretty easy to guess.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:58 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Chiming in with one more vote that this change really sucks.
posted by Perplexity at 6:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


empath: Why do I think that's okay? Because this is a metatalk thread about the new favoriting system, and it seems like a good place to test possible problems with the new favoriting system? Where else would you suggest that I do it?

Sorry, empath, if you were trying to test in good faith - and I'm sure you were. At least one person so far has favorited everything in this thread as an apparent attempt to prove a point or to break the system. I just thought that was lame.
posted by koeselitz at 6:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Static Vagabond: "
On preview, empath-- what you (and another user earlier did) by favouriting all the comments, isn't a good example of how it'll work-- because most posts don't have a favourite on every post. You're just vandalizing for the sake of it, and I think that the admins could quite easily write a piece of code that wipes your graffiti away quite easily.
"

Actually, it's a perfect example of how it'll work on MetaTalk, because in EVERY thread on favorites on MeTa one or two people go fave-crazy.
posted by graventy at 6:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


koeselitz, insofar as favorites lead indirectly to bad writing habits, I'm open to argument here. If it's about bad reading habits, I don't see why anyone should care - let alone prevail.

Also, you cannot step in the same river 2.0 (Heraclitus).
posted by hawthorne at 6:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


On preview, empath-- what you (and another user earlier did) by favouriting all the comments, isn't a good example of how it'll work-- because most posts don't have a favourite on every post. You're just vandalizing for the sake of it, and I think that the admins could quite easily write a piece of code that wipes your graffiti away quite easily.

Right, but now there are RULES to how we can use favorites? What if there was a thread where I felt like I wanted to favorite every comment in it? Before today, there was no reason I couldn't. It would take 5 seconds for a user to see what happened, and still they'd be able to see the 'real' favorite count in the thread by mentally subtracting one. Now it essentially destroys the remaining usability of favorites for every single person reading the thread.

So now favorites have 3 uses:

1) I agree with this person
2) I want to save this for later
3) I just feel like being a dick and screwing with the usability of the site.

Before, #3 wasn't even an option. Now it is.
posted by empath at 7:02 AM on November 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


saying a user has 500 saves doesn't read right.

Unless the user in question is Mariano Rivera.
posted by jonmc at 7:02 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


"The moderation system (on Slashdot at least, I'm not familiar enough with the other sites) serves the purpose of filtering out noise / unhelpful comments and making useful comments more visible - at least, if it's used correctly."

Yes. It's a spam/GNAA/garbage filter that works by assuming every comment is garbage by default, then requiring upvoting to increase visibility. I think that's a poor approach, because the assumption may be valid on Slashdot -- that's one other reason that Slashdot sucks donkey ass -- it is invalid on MetaFilter. A vast majority of the comments here exceed the noise floor set by the voting type sites. This is surely in some part also due to the tireless and excellent moderation we enjoy.

"Metafilter's favorites are nothing like that -- they're a simple overlay on top of the existing commentary."

I don't need to know how long the page took to render, nor how much free memory was on the server, nor how many people are currently logged in and reading the comment. Do I need to know 202 people think Bush was a dick? Will my opinion of such a comment change when the 213th person "faves" it? What about the 225th?

Listen: Some non-trivial percentage of my comments seem to attract a favorite click from a handful of people. Rarely do I say something "worthy" of 20 or 30 or 180 such. I notice this because, hey, there's a scoreboard I can check. But ultimately the score is meaningless. I find out one guy took particular note of my description of the changes in Snow Leopard, and five people decided to "fave" my shouty rant about public and private health systems coexisting. My generic insight about low quality Ask MetaFilter questions didn't meet the criteria of any reader to click the little thingy. Neat from a stats-nerd standpoint, maybe, but still meaningless metadata that distracts from the actual discussion at hand.

"Another thing you dislike is the "groupthink", something which is often used to ascribe a certain bias to a website;"

No, I mean actual groupthink: a distorted shared perspective arrived at by social negotiation and conformist behavior rather than genuine personal opinions or discussion. How does knowing a comment garnered 135 points vs. perhaps 12 expose anything about how the thoughts behind it were reasoned?
posted by majick at 7:04 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


and ArtW is 'faving' everything too?

I thought about doing it as well, not as a way to be a prick, but to show what it might be like if every comment was favorited by different users. If every comment in a thread is favorited by one or more users (it could happen), then the utility of the system vanishes. It becomes completely redundant.

Again, I'm perfectly happy with experimentation, but I just want to highlight my problems with the system being floated.

And I would really like someone to point out why having 'faved' is useful to anyone. Not snarky, just curious. I can't understand the point.
posted by knapah at 7:04 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Merriam-Webster or nothin', mofos!

"Fave" is in Merriam-Webster.

Also, I still don't like this new thing, but am reasonably confident that it will go away in a month, so I'll suck it up.
posted by languagehat at 7:05 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


So now favorites have 3 uses:

1) I agree with this person
2) I want to save this for later
3) I just feel like being a dick and screwing with the usability of the site.

Before, #3 wasn't even an option. Now it is.


EXACTLY. Now I'll favorite that comment, but what's the point? More emphasis to keep repeating other peoples' answers over and over again. This has got to mean a shitload of mess for the mods to clean up on so many threads.
posted by meerkatty at 7:06 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


And above and beyond the vast faves kerfuffle, in this thread the mods have been told that they should be punished, they they dropped the ball, that this was "badly implemented" and "fumbled," that their decisions are "shitty" and stupid and childish and more that I don't really want to peruse any more.

Yeah, the name-calling and invective is not helpful and people shouldn't engage in it. But this was badly implemented, and I say that as someone who historically has agreed with almost all mod decisions, even when they are deleting my own comments.
posted by grouse at 7:08 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I know a few people who don't post, because they feel they don't write well enough, or have ideas good enough to share...

I definitely use favorites this way; I don't contribute unless I feel I can add something, so favoriting the comment that best articulates what I would have said is my way of keeping clutter down.

These two arguments are interesting to me:

Anti-favorites camp: favorites encourage people not to read the whole thread, so they don't know what's already been said when they post and the same things get said over and over.

Pro-favorites camp: favorites decrease the amount of people saying the same thing because they can just register their agreement, so to speak, with an existing comment.

I'm in the pro-favorites camp, personally. I would much rather see that 75 people have favorited something than read 75 comments that all say "I agree" without adding anything interesting. I would also like those people to click a button rather than not say anything at all.

I've seen a number of people, including myself, mention that they only read threads carefully if they're going to contribute. I think what it comes down to more than favorites is that some people take a moment to consider whether what they're saying will be unique and valuable, and others don't see it as a big deal. (To be clear, while I take the time myself, I don't think it's even unreasonable for other people to feel it's not a big deal; it strikes me as a little absurd when people freak out over this.) I would be surprised if the existence of favorites made much of a difference in this regard, except that people who are already disinclined to read a whole thread before responding probably read more of the thread than they would have otherwise because they can skip along the favorites.

And honestly, if it seems like the amount of people saying the same thing has increased over the years, I would offer the explanation that there are simply more users than before. The bigger the community gets, the more people you're going to get that don't read the threads before responding. And the idea that people post the same things because of favorites just doesn't make sense to me -- the easy test for this is to see if there's the same problem places where there is no voting system, and it's a problem everywhere on the internet. And not only that, from what I've seen it's far less of a problem places where there is a voting system because it results in fewer repetitive posts.

I feel like favorites are being scapegoated for something that is an issue for every online community, even ones that don't have voting systems, just because the timing of favorites being introduced corresponded with more people gradually joining the site. I think the "problem" is more that MeFi is getting larger, and favorites probably limit the amount of repetitive comments posted. If MeFi had gotten larger without favorites, I think the threads would be far more ungainly.

So I guess we'll see what the experiment shows. Although with so many people using work-arounds, and people like myself (since I dunno how to do the work-around in Chrome) who will just not read much more than the FPP links, I'm not really sure the experiment will prove anything one way or the other.

Which is pretty unfortunate, when you think about it. Earlier I was in support of the experiment overall because I thought it would at least demonstrate something one way or the other, but now I'm not sure it's that clearcut. I wouldn't go so far as to say it makes the experiment pointless, but I sure don't envy the mods' having to untangle the results.
posted by Nattie at 7:09 AM on November 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


It's not an improvement.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:09 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


But this was badly implemented,

I agree, and I think it's mostly that they announced on a holiday night when nobody was around:

"Hey guys, we're going to change a major usability feature on the site in about 6 hours, have fun!"

I think it might have been better to just change it in meta talk or something, and then roll it out side wide if there weren't major complaints about it.
posted by empath at 7:11 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I accidentally the whole fave
posted by subbes at 7:12 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Now that I've seen this in the light of day (I went to bed last night before midnight), I think it's....fine. Worth trying out, anyway. It looks a little odd to me but I suspect that it won't take long for it to look unremarkable.

And just for kicks, and because so many people are so concerned about their ability to navigate long threads without the help of [number of favorites], there are about 15 threads on the front page right now that are longer than 50 comments. This hardly seems unmanageable.

3) I just feel like being a dick and screwing with the usability of the site.

See, and this kind of thing is just dumb, but honestly, it's not like nobody's ever done weird things with favorites before. Fucking around with the new system in the early days of an EXPERIMENT (so for the love of god keep your hair on, jesus, it's only for a month, and also, it would kill you to try it for a few days before deciding it's wrecked your life?) is not unexpected, and nothing's "broken," or if it is, it isn't any more "broken" than it was before the site used favorites at all.

So much whining. Christ on a chip.
posted by rtha at 7:12 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


kittens for breakfast: I'd have thought that the response to it would be pretty easy to guess.

As I've said, a year ago this thread would never have happened. There are more pile-ons here than ever before now; I'd even go so far as to say that that's our biggest problem right now, or at least it's related to our biggest problem. You're right that most of those comments taken by themselves are relatively innocuous; but I don't think any of those people thought about how much over a hundred blunt, exasperated expressions of annoyance can feel to a few people who talked about this and thought about it for a while. I know most of those people feel like they can't be responsible for everybody else's comments, and since most of them taken by themselves aren't that bad the commenters feel as though the net effect of all those casual little barbs really isn't down to them.

A year or two ago, this thread would have ended with about ten of us saying SHUT THE FUCK UP AND READ THE THREAD, GUY and discussion would be over. The cabal would've quashed all the people who trembled in fear at the mighty gods of MeFi, and the pile-on complainers might never have commented again. A different system; probably worse than the one we have now, frankly.

But my point? Yes, I do think it's peoples' responsibility to read over the thread before commenting, at the very least if all they're going to do is register annoyance. I really feel like people need to notice that there's a net effect here, and while one person saying "well, I think this is a little fucked up" isn't so bad a dozen people saying it can get hurtful. And yes, if someone's already said something that forthright in the thread, I think we as commenters should notice that and should reframe our response to suit the atmosphere of respect we'd all like to cultivate. This is one situation, at least, in which "let's please read the thread more thoroughly" isn't just a personal thing or an intellectual exercise; if nothing else, reading through a little better prevents you from accidentally saying something hurtful.

And all that aside – you would've thought that this response would be easy to guess? So assuming the mods made a tremendous error you think they deserved being dragged through the mud? I don't think the predictability of the response figures into this at all.
posted by koeselitz at 7:12 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Having said as much against the scoreboard system as I've already said (though I could easily continue to rant about it for the rest of the day): From a UI perspective the visible "faved" flag should probably not light up with the very first touch. It's too close to the noise floor and makes it even more pointless than it was to begin with.
posted by majick at 7:13 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I already hate it.
posted by DU at 7:15 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


And all that aside – you would've thought that this response would be easy to guess? So assuming the mods made a tremendous error you think they deserved being dragged through the mud? I don't think the predictability of the response figures into this at all.

I think that if you read as closely as you would like others to do, you would understand very easily that that isn't what I said at all; but I think you're just hearing whatever you'd like to hear vis a vis people who don't agree with you, and we all enjoy the site in our own ways, so carry on.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:16 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having said as much against the scoreboard system as I've already said (though I could easily continue to rant about it for the rest of the day): From a UI perspective the visible "faved" flag should probably not light up with the very first touch. It's too close to the noise floor and makes it even more pointless than it was to begin with.

I'd favorite this, but I'm out. And also nobody would know if it were a real favorite or just playing around, so I'll just say 'ditto' instead.
posted by empath at 7:16 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


empath: 3) I just feel like being a dick and screwing with the usability of the site.

You lose, asshole.

Mods: please ban.
posted by koeselitz at 7:18 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or seriously contemplating the idea of having someone banned because you don't like the way they use favorites.
posted by empath at 7:19 AM on November 1, 2009 [31 favorites]


With respect, that's simply not true.

Yes it is. Jessamyn said here "I'm surprised that for some people the favorites aspect of the site is indispensible or that this would make a huge difference in how the site works for them. Not like upset-surprised, just that it would have never occurred to me, so that's useful to know too." The functionality of the favorites counts for some users was a surprise to the moderators because that was not part of the previous conversations about favorites.

And above and beyond the vast faves kerfuffle, in this thread the mods have been told that they should be punished, they they dropped the ball, that this was "badly implemented" and "fumbled," that their decisions are "shitty" and stupid and childish and more that I don't really want to peruse any more. Seriously, I'm surprised you don't see this, Forktine. Read back through from the perspective of the mods, who put a lot of their time into this site, and ask yourself it it's not out of line.

Why are you saying that I don't see this? Of course I do, it's there in plain text for anyone to read. Some of the criticisms are hyperbolic and overblown, but so are some of the criticisms (including some of yours) of the old way of doing things, too. That's pretty much par for the course here, not really something worth getting all heated up about.

I can disagree with some of the GRAR tones in some of the criticisms while also agreeing that this was a poorly planned and executed "experiment." There's no inconsistency there, and certainly no disrespect on my part, either in thought or in anything I've written, for the moderators. They are hardworking, probably underpaid, and most of the time the changes they make and the decisions they take improve the site. This case, in my opinion, is an exception to that, where a supposed fix does more damage than it does good.
posted by Forktine at 7:20 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


You lose, asshole.

Mods: please ban.


Dude, your boner is showing.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:22 AM on November 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


koeselitz: "You're right that most of those comments taken by themselves are relatively innocuous; but I don't think any of those people thought about how much over a hundred blunt, exasperated expressions of annoyance can feel to a few people who talked about this and thought about it for a while."

Yeah, if only there was a way to voice your support of a post by, say, incrementing some kind of counter instead of having to post a ME TOO comment...
posted by PontifexPrimus at 7:22 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


I support the motion to switch to "bookmark" and "marked."
posted by prefpara at 7:24 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


kittens for breakfast: I think that if you read as closely as you would like others to do, you would understand very easily that that isn't what I said at all; but I think you're just hearing whatever you'd like to hear vis a vis people who don't agree with you, and we all enjoy the site in our own ways, so carry on.

Fair enough. You're right; looking back, I edited selectively. What you actually said was:

That's why I'm surprised this happened, to say nothing of it happening this way: Because I'd have thought that the response to it would be pretty easy to guess.

... you were really only explaining why people seemed so shocked: because you found this surprising.

Finally – though you didn't exactly say this, I want to make this clear – I never said that other people have to read as carefully as I do. If everybody read as badly as I clearly do, this site would suck. And even a hypocrite like me can be right sometimes.
posted by koeselitz at 7:25 AM on November 1, 2009


As I've said, a year ago this thread would never have happened. There are more pile-ons here than ever before now... A year or two ago, this thread would have ended with about ten of us saying SHUT THE FUCK UP AND READ THE THREAD, GUY and discussion would be over.

I think this comment is totally wrong and frankly, bizarre. There have always been pile-ons in MeTa. I have seen no change in that regard, except that the mods have recently announced a priority of reducing that sort of thing, which has yet to be effective. The idea that in the good old days (apparently only one to two years ago!) koeselitz and nine other right-thinking people would have been able to end the discussion by fiat borders on megalomaniacal.

On preview, this:

You lose, asshole.

Mods: please ban.
posted by koeselitz


is a bit hypocritical coming from someone who says there is too much in the way of invective of insult in this particular thread. And doesn't really help on the megalomania front either.
posted by grouse at 7:27 AM on November 1, 2009 [19 favorites]


empath: I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or seriously contemplating the idea of having someone banned because you don't like the way they use favorites.

You're consciously trying to dig up ways to fuck with the site and implementing them as you go. Is there something I'm missing here?
posted by koeselitz at 7:27 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Given that this site has had favorites for more than three years, and does not, in my opinion at least, suck donkey ass, that rationale is inapplicable here."

Once again I submit a respectful response: Fucking bullshit. MetaFilter commenters are shittier today than they were before the feature was released. Most of the dire predictions about scoreboard-driven behavior came true, then we added in a royal shitload of new users who thought they should play the site against the scoreboard. Those new users are in the majority now, so I suppose there's some value in appeasing them, but three years of the "tyranny of the scoreboard" has certainly changed the quality and tone of discourse on the site for the worse.
posted by majick at 7:27 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


grouse: The idea that in the good old days...

Oh, hell no. I was very clear on that. It was different. It was not often better. It was usually worse. And my example was intended to highlight the ways that it was worse.

Also, I should be quit of this - I'm getting a little out of hand, I think. Sorry folks. I'm out.
posted by koeselitz at 7:29 AM on November 1, 2009


So who's going to step up and alter this greasemonkey script for November?

That would be me.

This topic has come up again and again. Personally, and of course I am biased here, I think Greasemonkey really is the solution. The MultiFavorited MultiWidth script very clearly visualizes comment count along the side of the comment, so you can very easily see how many favorites a comment received. I like it so much, I'm not only the developer, I'm a user.

For people who miss the favorites during this month, I really suggest you try my script. The new "November Experiment" version addresses the changes made this month.

On the other hand, for those of you who find even the 'faved' annoying, please consider using my Destroy MetaFilter Favorites script, which removes all aspects of the favoriting system from the site (including the count, the "favorite" this comment/post link, the "Popular" links at the top of the page, everything. This is for people who really don't want to play the game).
posted by Deathalicious at 7:31 AM on November 1, 2009 [15 favorites]


OverThinkingAPlateOfBeansFilter.

Hate it.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:31 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


... you were really only explaining why people seemed so shocked: because you found this surprising.

What I mean is, I saw the idea planned out at the top of this thread and thought, "Well, obviously everyone's going to hate that." Not literally everyone, clearly, but enough of everyone that we would end up with a huge thread of complaints and CAPS LOCK. And since I'm much less close to the site than the moderators are, I couldn't -- and honestly can't -- see how if I could anticipate that, they could not. I kind of can't believe they didn't, but if they didn't, and jessamyn says they didn't, then that's a fumble, yes. Nothing in the word "fumble" implies malice.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:33 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah – you weren't being insulting, kfb. And I'm sorry for lumping you into the accusation.
posted by koeselitz at 7:35 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: Um, there is no "right way" to read Metafilter. I'd rather read about more topics, than waste the exact same amount of time just to get through one. This website isn't my job, I come here when I'm bored because I want to. It's entertainment. I'll read it however I damn please, thank you very much.
posted by floam at 7:35 AM on November 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


As one of the lesser, newer members, who've only ever known favorites, I deeply apologize for ruining this site.

On the other hand, I paid $5, I'm a member, and the site I joined had favorites, which made certain things about using the site easier and more enjoyable. I'm annoyed that the site has been suddenly altered from where it was when I joined, even if it was less than two years ago.

And empath clearly stated the faveing was being done to demonstrate that it could (and had been) and most likely will be done. Pointing out a possible bug isn't a ban-worthy offense. If, say, people were running all over the site, maybe, but in the thread about the change that lots of people don't like, I think it's perfectly valid.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:38 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Stop reading my comments and start reading majick's.
posted by koeselitz at 7:39 AM on November 1, 2009


"this was neither thought through very well or presented very well, and I don't like the flattening of information."

Folks may disagree with the conclusions but we really truly did think this through for quite a while and even chose the timing fairly on-purpose. I'm with you on seeing the "flattening of information" and again this is stuff that I think for many people is easier to see when someone is showing it to you then explaining how it might be in some possible future MetaFilter.

I'm trying to think about other features we sort of "floated" instead of implementing and then asking for feedback [and again this isn't a feature, this is something we wanted to experiment with and then talk about, not talk about it before we tried] and I think about comment editing. This is also something a lot of people wanted, we talked about it, people mentioned ways in which it made them uncomfortable and we thought about ways people might screw with it and we wound up doing nothing.

I think that was okay, but again as the site grows it's a lot harder to take the community's temperature" about anything because very vocal members make it seem like small problems are large problems and it's tough to gauge. I still feel that maybe comment editing should have been adopted but there were enough concerns when we floated it that it seemed like maybe not a good idea at the time.

I'm offline a lot of the rest of the day [driving home from someplace far away] but as part of a meta-conversation I'm really interested in what mathowie mentions way upthread, whether it's possible that we've reached a size where no change can happen because there's going to be enough people feeling strongly on both sides of any decision that if we take the position of "stay the course" every time, we'll go noplace. I don't know, I'm pretty happy with the site as-is, but have been feeling weird about what other people perceive as the pile-on mentality and we've been wondering what effect visible favorites numbers might have on that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:39 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


" I'm annoyed that the site has been suddenly altered from where it was when I joined"

Please understand: This is how some number of us feel about the entire favorites feature.
posted by majick at 7:40 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


I hate this as a change, but I love this as a social experiment. CONUNDRUM!
posted by elizardbits at 7:42 AM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


Well, that's it: I'm going to spend the month at Slashdot.

If you're going to run this as an experiment, you need at very least some kind of survey pushed out at the end of the month to gauge user behaviour and reaction, to accompany whatever the server stats tell you.
posted by holgate at 7:43 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Majick, point taken.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:44 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


But my point? Yes, I do think it's peoples' responsibility to read over the thread before commenting, at the very least if all they're going to do is register annoyance.

koeselitz I think this makes sense if, like you, a commenter thinks it's a good thing to read a book or two a year, but we're not all like this--multiple posters here have tried to communicate this to you already. People read in different ways; people use the site in different ways, and those ways are just as valid as yours. Maybe it's because I'm primarily an askMe user, but I've always seen favoriting as the equivalent of nodding your head. Metafilter is like a huge conversation between multiple people, and seeing how many people, and who, are nodding their head along with you can really help you to know if you're on the right track with your thoughts. If I disagree with a comment, and it has a ton of favorites, it might give me pause, help me to read that person's comments more carefully and reconsider. If I agree with a comment, and it has tons of favorites, it helps me to see that I'm not a total nutjob or something. Getting rid of this feature reduces the site's usefulness as a discussion board, and that's where, and how, it's really valuable to me--not in the links or the questions but in the ensuing conversation.

Anyway, I woke up this morning completely hung over and didn't even realize what had happened until I stumbled over to the gray. It's taken me over an hour to read this thread, and I probably clicked on a good fifty-or-so comments to see who had "faved" them. Generally, the whole thing felt completely disorienting, made it extremely difficult to follow the major thrusts of the different arguments here (as those would usually have more favorites), and I felt palpable relief when I implemented the user script to turn the new "feature" off. I really can't imagine going a whole month with the "faved" system. It would really drive me out of my mind! I agree with whoever said, upthread, though, that restoring the older functionality through a user-end script instead of offering it through the site pretty much completely invalidates this as an experiment. Those who install userscripts will continue to use the site as they've been doing, but you won't be able to see that they've done this, whereas you'd actually be able to turn that in to a useful datapoint for discussion if it was done through the site. That way, when people suggest turning favoriting off, you could say, we offered that as an option, but so few people chose to use it that it doesn't make sense as a site-wide change. Or something. The very fact that the mods seem to view this as just a concession they're making to stop the argument (because, as jessamyn says, they're not planning on implementing this permanently) strikes me as a bit disingenuous, and also as a huge inconvenience to levy on the community-at-large for the sake of squashing a few MeTa disagreements.

Also, even if there's precedence for the term "fave", it's really not normally used as a verb, and I think that's part of what's so rankling about it, on top of the fact that it seems very off-tone with the rest of the site. I think even a facebook-style "liked" would make more sense.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:45 AM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


Also: yeah, I as well want the text changed to "flaved" and I want a big clock. That would, in all seriousness, lighten up a lot of attitudes -- mine included -- about this month's experiment. YEAH BOYEEEE
posted by majick at 7:47 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm not really sure what the mods want as a response or if/when they want for people to weigh in with their opinions - should folks indicate their vote for/against somewhere, email them, start a petition? If Will there be a vote at the end of November, or will it be a mod decision?

I think the idea of an experiment is not a bad one - I wish there were a better defined sense of how we'll measure any increase/decrease in site/comment quality. Because, as someone said upthread, I think there will be a tendency for everyone to use the events of the month as proof for their own theory.

I have definitely noticed the difference already. I'm a compulsive reader, so I actually do tend to read pretty much every thread I open from top to bottom, but I do see and take note of the favorite counts. I have to say that I've never really felt that a lot of really bad comments (the kind that I'd delete if I had a magic wand) got too many favorites. Sometimes one-liners and quips will get lots of favorites and I guess you could say that that's not good for the conversation, as they might tend to derail, but conversations in real life have a lot of digressions and non sequiturs, too. Online discussions might get held to a higher standard in that sense.

I do tend to use favorite-skimming for threads I probably wouldn't have read anyway, like the massive politics ones. If I can go in and look for the notable comments, I do feel like I've gotten some value, and a often I get sucked into reading the entire thread anyway. Like most others, I'd obviously never comment without reading everything, but I don't comment a lot on the blue anyway, even in threads where I actively read every comment in the unfolding discussion.

I read (without being a member) before favorites were implemented, so I don't think it's impossible to have a great Metafilter without them, but I do think folks have gotten used to them and I personally wouldn't want to see them go.

also, I just donated to the site in recognition of all the extra hours this is going to suck up ... sorry guys!
posted by clerestory at 7:47 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Once again I submit a respectful response: Fucking bullshit.

That's not a respectful response, by a long shot. It seems to be the kind of snarky comment that the small anti-favorites camp are claiming is destroying the site. I would suggest being the change you want to see in the world instead of blaming it on technical factors.

MetaFilter commenters are shittier today than they were before the feature was released.

First, I disagree. I have only noticed two changes in commenting from three years ago. First, there are almost no more comments along the lines of "X wins the thread," or "X FTW." Additionally, while there are still a lot of non-substantive "Nthing X" comments in AskMe, some of us don't post them anymore since we can favorite instead. Secondly, there are a lot more comments period. Just a lot more users. The other changes? Sorry, I just don't see them. Snark? Playing to the audience? It's always been there.

But if you think the site has changed for the worse since the introduction of favorites, you can simply say so and articulate why. Comparing to Kuro5hin isn't useful because MetaFilter isn't Kuro5hin. Maybe it would have been before favorites were introduced here, but we've now had three years to see how it works in this unique community without considering how substantially different systems work in other communities, with all of the confounding factors involved.

If you want to consider other web sites, it is important to remember this: MetaFilter comments are held up throughout the Internet as an example of how to do commenting right. The comments produced by the existing system, with favorites.
posted by grouse at 7:49 AM on November 1, 2009 [18 favorites]


This is crazy, absolute chaos I say! Now there is no distinction between a snark faved and a really good comment faved. Perhaps I have been around too long, but the length of a comment plus being favorited was a good indication of whether or not I would stop and read it. Top of the thread, short and by a well known name that snarks? I'll skip it. Similarly, in large threads you'll see at least any thoughtful comment getting a favorite, where the really important ones will get up there in count.

There was a time of 10 comments to a thread and you could read them all. With 30+ and 50+ comment threads all too common, you're at best skimming the content and reading through it quickly. Favorites are kind of like voting and I have no doubt that users comment just to garner favorites. For regulars this is very apparent and I'm at least able to filter through such nonsense quickly. Granted there's no technology fix for this, it is just something you pick up.

I'm all for experimenting, but I have a feeling instead of reducing snark you're really reducing the prominence of good comments. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.
posted by geoff. at 7:51 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


PhoBWanKenobi: koeselitz I think this makes sense if, like you, a commenter thinks it's a good thing to read a book or two a year, but we're not all like this--multiple posters here have tried to communicate this to you already.

So to be clear on this:

I was saying that people were being hurtful because they didn't realize how much the mods had been pummeled by annoyance.

You refer to a thread that went (in my view) tremendously bad for me and led to me taking a week off from this site, and tell me that I really need to learn that people just have different reading styles.

Taking all of this in, you apparently mean to say that it's just fine and dandy for people to be as hurtful as they please to each other, because sometimes being hurtful is just their style.

Am I taking your point correctly?
posted by koeselitz at 7:51 AM on November 1, 2009


majick: "Please understand: This is how some number of us feel about the entire favorites feature."

Fair enough. But if you don't like favorites you can avoid them easily enough by either going out of your way to excise them with a Greasemonkey script or by simply not caring. If on the other hand you find favorites useful and they get taken away, you don't really have much recourse.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:52 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Fair enough. But if you don't like favorites you can avoid them easily enough by either going out of your way to excise them with a Greasemonkey script or by simply not caring. If on the other hand you find favorites useful and they get taken away, you don't really have much recourse.

Again, ditto. (Or, FAVED.)
posted by meerkatty at 7:56 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


You refer to a thread that went (in my view) tremendously bad for me and led to me taking a week off from this site, and tell me that I really need to learn that people just have different reading styles.

Honestly, I had no idea of that.

I was being genuine, not snarky: for someone who reads slowly and carefully, generally, it makes sense to think that this is a way to approach all reading, or, perhaps, that it should be the way to approach all reading. But not everyone approaches books that way, much less internet discussion boards. You might think that devalues their participation: I think it's just a different style of consumption, so to speak.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:56 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jessamyn: but again as the site grows it's a lot harder to take the community's temperature" about anything because very vocal members make it seem like small problems are large problems and it's tough to gauge.

Would this not be a decent reason to (very occasionally, in strictly defined circumstances, only available to mathowie et al) have some kind of poll on these issues. I'm not suggesting we give in to the tyranny of the majority, and have 50%+1 always ruling on the matter, but simply that it would allow us to gauge "the community's temperature" much more easily. One member, one vote (although perhaps restricted to members who have been active for more than x days/comments).
posted by knapah at 7:57 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't know if you want us saying explicitly our first reactions here, and it's not like it'd necessarily be representative anyway, but what the hey: On initial impression, I hate this. And I hate the phrase "faved" too. But as LH says, maybe I'll get used to it. But right now, yuck.
posted by ifjuly at 7:57 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Taking all of this in, you apparently mean to say that it's just fine and dandy for people to be as hurtful as they please to each other, because sometimes being hurtful is just their style.

Also, if you think I'm being hurtful, just tell me that you think I'm being hurtful. Sorry if my comment uncovered old wounds--I didn't mean it to. I just genuinely thought there might be a relationship between your wanting others to read both books and metafilter in such a careful and deliberate manner.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


whether it's possible that we've reached a size where no change can happen because there's going to be enough people feeling strongly on both sides of any decision that if we take the position of "stay the course" every time, we'll go noplace.

Much bigger groups than ours have successfully implemented change. Perhaps what we needed was a full-blown change management plan, which is a little disappointingly corporate in feel, but that's my thought. It would include: We didn't have any of these things in place.

For me, I believe favorites bring out our worst as well as our best. It's a mixed bag. I don't know if this experiment will improve the site, but I see no harm in giving it a whirl for 30 days, and I'm kinda surprised how many people find such a short-term plan to be completely ruinous.
posted by Houstonian at 8:02 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


As I've said, a year ago this thread would never have happened. There are more pile-ons here than ever before now;

This pushed the button labeled "what" so of course I went poking around in my meTa history, and my god, but there was a lot of piling on. Maybe there are more pile-ons now than there were seven or eight years ago, but meTas from two-ish years ago are jammed with bile, mis-readings, and piling on. I don't know when this mystical "ten old-timers shame whiners into shutting the fuck up" time was, but it wasn't a year ago, or two years ago, or three years ago.
posted by rtha at 8:03 AM on November 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


Wow the front pages of the various sites looks so dead and cold, like there's not community there at all. I never realized how much I liked seeing the favorites as general gauge of what posts are getting notice.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:05 AM on November 1, 2009


Wow the front pages of the various sites looks so dead and cold, like there's not community there at all. I never realized how much I liked seeing the favorites as general gauge of what posts are getting notice.

Just want to note that we've never had favorite counts on the front pages. This experiment only removes counts from comments in threads.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:08 AM on November 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


You're consciously trying to dig up ways to fuck with the site and implementing them as you go. Is there something I'm missing here?

You're missing a lot in this thread, obviously. Maybe you should read the whole fucking thing before commenting.
posted by empath at 8:10 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Really? Damn talk about tricks being played on your head (or the rapid detox from sugar)!

Is there something different about the front page with the change then? It seems different.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:11 AM on November 1, 2009


Also, after finally having read through this entire thread, it occurs to me that maybe no one else uses favourites* the way I do? OMG AM I A SPESHUL SNOWFLAKE?

When I see a comment that I want to fave**, I like to see who else has favourited it, because if I tend to see the same people again and again, it lets me know who to look for in large &/or contentious threads. I like seeing when someone has the same-ish opinions as me on one subject, but perhaps not on another. This is not, as one might suspect, to aid me in amassing an enormous hit/hug list, but rather to feed into my obsessive FOR SCIENCE! nature, in which all aspects of life are just one giant awesome social experiment.

Obvsly this faves change will not affect this aspect of my fave usage. I'm just throwing it out there, like a big dorky grenade of thinky thoughts.

Also, it would be totally rad if I could change the word "faves" to "c'est supercool!" I realize I am probably alone in this desire.


*I hate that firefox thinks "faves" is a correctly-spelled word, while redlining "favourites" in a cruel and oppressive north americanishly spelled fashion. I'M IN UR FIREFOX, MANIFESTIN' DESTINY.
**This word? Icky.

posted by elizardbits at 8:11 AM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


koeselitz, I thought you were "quit of this" and "out." I'm pretty sure you've made every point you have to make at least a dozen times, and you're not coming off very well.
posted by languagehat at 8:11 AM on November 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


You know, I started to go through this thread, marking the comments I agree with as favorites, then realized that doing so was a mostly futile activity. "Me too" is mostly how I use favorites, and without it, I'm going to posting a lot more short "I agree with X" statements that add virtually nothing to the thread.

You've also removed my ability to skim long threads and just find the points that are the most interesting, which means on threads like this one, I just don't have time to read the whole thing.

So, with this change, you've simultaneously created a lot more noise on the site, and impaired our ability to find the signal in that noise. I can't see how this is a good thing.

For the sake of the experiment, I'm going to try a few days without installing the greasemonkey scripts, but I don't expect it'll last long. The benefits I see from favorites are too compelling for me to ignore them.

BTW - can somebody track the usage of those scripts? In general, when your users have to come up with their own solutions to circumvent your website's design, it's not a good sign. I have to imagine that the 'restore favorites' script will be vastly more popular than any old scripts that hid favorite counts.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:12 AM on November 1, 2009 [14 favorites]


I wonder if which post in this thread will be faved the most.
posted by Balisong at 8:12 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


One member, one vote (although perhaps restricted to members who have been active for more than x days/comments).

Lurkers are people too.

Not that I have ever, successfully, lurked.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:12 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I will promise not to bitch any more about this, btw, if December is "Comment Editing Month"
posted by empath at 8:12 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


"I would suggest being the change you want to see in the world instead of blaming it on technical factors."

Noted. I strongly disagree with you, but will acknowledge your statement publicly nonetheless.

" First, there are almost no more comments along the lines of "X wins the thread," or "X FTW.""

If this is attributable to the favorites system rather than improved moderation, then that's a positive outcome. I'm prepared to admit that such a thing is possible, you know.

"Snark? Playing to the audience? It's always been there."

Yes. And I opposed giving snarkers, audience-players, and grandstanders positive feedback tools to improve their performances. For what benefit to me as the reader? To duplicate the bookmarking function of my browser? So I can see other people's scores?

"MetaFilter comments are held up throughout the Internet as an example of how to do commenting right. The comments produced by the existing system, with favorites."

You can't have it both ways: how can you take as given comment quality is undiminished from before the favorites feature, and yet imply the favorites system is responsible for MetaFilter's titanic reputation among discussion sites? Either it did or didn't contribute to why we are so well regarded.

Whatever your answer, this may simply be something we'll have to agree to disagree on. You want what's best for the site as much as I do, we simply don't have a consensus on what that is. Given that the favorites feature itself is not now nor will it ever be removed -- note it being stated as an attractive feature by new users already -- I don't even really have a dog in this fight. I can't make the scoreboards go away no matter how hard I rave or rant, and this month's experiment doesn't really change that in any fundamental way. The site will trundle along as best it can, under the stewardship of individuals who I largely trust even when I disagree with them. And of course it will do so with the "fave" feature left in.
posted by majick at 8:14 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I see a comment that I want to fave**, I like to see who else has favourited it, because if I tend to see the same people again and again, it lets me know who to look for in large &/or contentious threads. I like seeing when someone has the same-ish opinions as me on one subject, but perhaps not on another. This is not, as one might suspect, to aid me in amassing an enormous hit/hug list, but rather to feed into my obsessive FOR SCIENCE! nature, in which all aspects of life are just one giant awesome social experiment.

Oh, I definitely use it them this way, too! I've always found it interesting on posts where there are clearly several "warring factions", so to speak, when people (myself included) favorite all of the posts that agree with them.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:14 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is there something different about the front page with the change then?

No, we haven't changed the front pages at all as part of this experiment. And we haven't changed anything on front pages for some time.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:15 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"meTas from two-ish years ago are jammed with bile... I don't know when this mystical "ten old-timers shame whiners into shutting the fuck up" time was, but it wasn't a year ago, or two years ago, or three years ago."

Lest anyone mistake me for perpetuating this, since I'm making my stand vaguely over near those guys: I couldn't give two shits about MetaTalk comment quality. It's a cesspool now, it was a cesspool back in the day, and will remain so until the Reign of the Schmoopy comes.
posted by majick at 8:18 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


No, we haven't changed the front pages at all as part of this experiment. And we haven't changed anything on front pages for some time.

That's a pretty good idea Brandon had, though. Let's try favorite counts on the front page, next.

*ducks, runs*
posted by empath at 8:18 AM on November 1, 2009


Anyway, I want to go on record as saying I don't like this change.

This.

... I hate the word faved. It sounds like saturday morning kid's tv.

This!!! Please ...
posted by jgirl at 8:19 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, I could even be persuaded to be okay with hiding exact favorite counts if there were some kind of scale associated with it, implemented behind the scenes. After, say 5 favorites, the post gets a +, after 20, it gets ++, and after 50, it gets +++. Then there's still some incentive for me to use favorites as an "I agree", and there would still be some way to filter good stuff from the chaff.

I suspect it would still annoy the small-but-vocal anti-favorites group, though.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:20 AM on November 1, 2009


If anything good comes of this it will be changing favorites to 'duly noted' ... oh please.
posted by geoff. at 8:20 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, I could even be persuaded to be okay with hiding exact favorite counts if there were some kind of scale associated with it, implemented behind the scenes. After, say 5 favorites, the post gets a +, after 20, it gets ++, and after 50, it gets +++. Then there's still some incentive for me to use favorites as an "I agree", and there would still be some way to filter good stuff from the chaff.

How would that be any different from showing the favorite count?
posted by empath at 8:23 AM on November 1, 2009


I strongly disagree with you, but will acknowledge your statement publicly nonetheless.

Much appreciated, majick.

You can't have it both ways: how can you take as given comment quality is undiminished from before the favorites feature, and yet imply the favorites system is responsible for MetaFilter's titanic reputation among discussion sites? Either it did or didn't contribute to why we are so well regarded.

I think it is slightly more nuanced then that—I don't think that the favorites system has harmed things, at a relative level, when compared to pre-favorite comments. And I think, at an absolute level, MeFi comments are considered to be good in general, therefore the system ain't broke.
posted by grouse at 8:23 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another thought: If the argument is, "Favorites contribute to snark, which is undesirable in our community," then a possible solution that does not change the favorites scheme is, "Snark is undesirable; moderators delete all snark."
posted by Houstonian at 8:25 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can we update the byline for the recent favourites page on ask.mefi? Instead of

[18 favorites (14 in the last 24 hours)]

How about

[18 liked (+14)]
posted by tksh at 8:27 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think I prefer November as NaNoWriMo. The new favorites style obscures information and can be too much of a visual burden in threads when many comments have been favorited. In older threads where there was jokey favoriting, at least you could tell the comments that were favorited for the sake of the joke once or twice from a comment that'd get favorited for other reasons.

So far I prefer both the previous style and the older style without favorites at all. Now the functionality still exists (so let's write a snarky comment first thing in a thread!) but is not accessible at a first glance.
posted by ersatz at 8:28 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am not a fan of this change.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:28 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


That's all real nice.


Wassup with GigFilter?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:29 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, this is the end of it for me, because I'm starting to feel a little like that magnet they feed cows. I hope I've encouraged at least a few people to think more clearly on where they stand.

"But if you don't like favorites you can avoid them easily enough by either going out of your way to excise them with a Greasemonkey script or by simply not caring."

Neither of those things fix the actual problem that favorites introduced, which was giving favorite-whores, injokers, and chucklehead snarkers a positive feedback loop. Sure, I can chop the feature out of my UI, but that doesn't actually fix the damage. I could slap a Dora the Explorer bandaid over my carcinoma so I don't have to look at it, but that won't cure it.

Also, while I'm a massive fan of the end user having control over the user agent to the point that I'm prepared to start another rant about its importance, "user scripts" don't work very well in Safari. CreamMonkey or GreaseKit or whatever they're calling it these days barely works at all -- most of the time it doesn't do anything, and it requires horrible hacks to load the thing to begin with. I acknowledge that's a flaw in my UA and not your problem, but millions of people use my UA. Saying "use this feature of software you don't run" helps no one.
posted by majick at 8:30 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, this would probably be a lot of work, but...
You know how we get a little drop-down when we flag a comment where we can choose why we're flagging? Is that something that can be done with favorites? Just for data-gathering purposes.
The list could include stuff like
Agree (for when someone makes your point much better than you did)
Bookmarked (for when you want to save for future reference)
Funny (for the snark)
Other (for everything else)

The reasons don't have to be visible to anyone but the mods, but it seems like it would give a clearer picture of how people use favorites, and you could move forward from there.
posted by dogmom at 8:32 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


How would that be any different from showing the favorite count?

A less explicit form of favorite numbers might reduce the competition for favorites that the anti-favorites crowd seems to obsess over. (I'm not convinced that the problem exists, though). You could couple it with showing no information about favorites on a user's profile page, and also blunt some of the criticism there.

Just brainstorming for ways to get more filter back in the metafilter.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:34 AM on November 1, 2009


I'll be back in a month
posted by The Whelk at 8:36 AM on November 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


I just noticed that favorites were acting strangely, ran a search of MetaTalk, and found this thread.

This is a bug, not a feature.
posted by oaf at 8:36 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Another thought: If the argument is, "Favorites contribute to snark, which is undesirable in our community," then a possible solution that does not change the favorites scheme is, "Snark is undesirable; moderators delete all snark."

What makes Metafilter great is its sublime balance of snark and smarts. Remove the snark from the recipe and Metafilter is just a low rent version of the WELL. Take away the erudite comments and it's just an upscale clone of Fark.
posted by bunnytricks at 8:42 AM on November 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


Another thought: If the argument is, "Favorites contribute to snark, which is undesirable in our community,"

When did we decide that snark was bad and that favorites contribute to them? Maybe I'm not sure what counts as snark.

Are we talking about personal attacks? Those do get a lot of favorites sometimes, but you're talking about a small number of people who generally have animosity towards each other, for one reason or another, and I rarely get the sense that they're doing it for the favorites.

Threadshitting is obnoxious, but it's rarely gotten a ton of favorites, that I'm aware of.

If you're talking about the pile-on that happens when conservatives post, I can almost assure you that the problem will only get worse if people can't meaningfully favorite comments they agree with.
posted by empath at 8:43 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I noted this on the other pages, and immediately came here to see what was up and, I confess, if there were some way to turn the numbers back on.

FIRST: I highly laud the moderators for undertaking this experiment.

SECOND: If you waited until you had a good metric to try every experiment, you might end up spending all your time debating.

THIRD: I am against this change for all the reasons expressed above.

FOUR: I do not think that this means all change is now impossible.

FIVE: Instead of "Fave/Faved" what about "Like/Liked"?

COMMENT:

Metafilter's problem is managing scale - like with most community sites. You want to hit the sweet spot with "enough information" but not "a firehose". The reason people liked favorites is that it's a tool to manage scale. You simply can't read every post of every Metafilter article you're interested in.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:43 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'll add to the 'this is fucking rubbish' shout outs... it totally ruins the way I read the site* (Read some posts in there entirety, read the high-lights/skim of others by faves to get the gist and see if I want to read more, use faves to mark an answer in askme that I'd have also said etc etc)

I can see November being a productive month for me now as I'll be spending much less time here... is this all conspiracy to get us to do NaNoWriMo or something?

*Christ it's totally ruined reading this thread!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:45 AM on November 1, 2009


Here's my personal datapoint on The Great Faved Experiment, Day 1: I find that I'm not clicking the plus sign on anything that already has a plus sign on it, because it seems like it's already been spotlighted. And I think that's going to have an impact on the "Popular Favorites" thingy, which may or may not be an issue for the people who look at the "Popular Favorites" thingy (a group which does not include me).

As usual, my overarching philosophy is that you guys need to do what works best for keeping the site up and running, and the rest of us can offer our opinions as part of that mix.

But if you were having a vote, I'd vote for either going back to the old "Favorites" format or taking the whole thing away and going back to the original favorites-free format --I think this approach captures the worst of both.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:50 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


This thread is large enough to destroy Tokyo Godzilla-style, so maybe someone's already suggested this, but what about putting the number of favorites in the rollover text of "faved?" It sounds like the number of favorites a given comment has is going to remain accessible information, and I support (at least in theory, let's see how it plays out) removing the favorites count from the byline, but if the count was in the rollover text... you wouldn't to have to load a new page to see it. Just a thought.
posted by Rinku at 8:50 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Quoth Houstonian: If the argument is, "Favorites contribute to snark, which is undesirable in our community"

If that's actually the argument, I think I've been reading a different site than this one for the past 8 years.

My understanding was that pointless snark was undesirable, just as pointless pedantry, pointless information, and pointless links are undesirable, and that the mods just deleted that stuff.

Like bunnyfilter and empath, I think that intelligent snark is a feature, not a bug. Jerky personal attacks are jerky, and lazy contrarianism is lazy, but sharp, satirical balloon-puncturing is one of the things that distinguishes us from the primordial soup from which we arose.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:54 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Howard Zinn once wrote that "Talent and hard work are qualitative factors which cannot be measured quantitatively." This is true in many aspects of evaluation, but there are times when the quantitative is needed to differentiate and provide more data from the insubstantial, qualitative demarcation of something as "faved." This is one of those times.
posted by raztaj at 8:55 AM on November 1, 2009


Houstonian: I'm kinda surprised how many people find such a short-term plan to be completely ruinous.

I think the angst may be coming from people feeling blindsided by a month-long removal of a feature that many users believe is essential to their experience. I'm not the most active member on the site, but I've been reading since long before favorites arrived and I've seen MeTa discussions on this topic. I sometimes feel that my low post count makes my opinion easy to dismiss, so I've never chimed in on those threads (though, heh, may have favorited someone else's comment). People may be speaking up now because they didn't do so before, and they'd like to at least voice their own opinions before any permanent decision is made.

For the record, I don't like having favorite numbers obscured for many of the reasons mentioned above and will be using a greasemonkey script to keep things as they were. My own preference would be to make favorite counts an opt-in feature and to change the word "faves" to "marked."
posted by contrariwise at 8:56 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess I should modify my original statement to the following:

If the argument is, "Favorites are contributing to X, which is undesirable in our community, then a possible solution that does not change the favorites scheme is, "X is undesirable; moderators delete all X," with X equaling the problem.
posted by Houstonian at 8:57 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The misapprehension by several people that favourites were displayed with posts on the front page when they never were is quite telling about the gap between the practical and theoretical use of the site. It strongly suggests to me that people won't actually know what they think about this change until they actually use it for a while.

I was thinking like grouse above, I should have been speaking up when complaints about favourites were aired. That is, I don't really think favourites are hurting the site and I don't think the site is broken in that way. Nonetheless I support this experiment and hope that regular users who seem to have their knickers twisted over this will give it a chance and we can all talk about it on November 30th some more. Like I say, in a month you will know what you actually think and not just what you think you think about this change.
posted by Rumple at 8:57 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


FIVE: Instead of "Fave/Faved" what about "Like/Liked"?

That's the term Facebook uses, and it's worse. It causes you to hold back from clicking "like" unless you definitely want people to think you "like" everything about the comment -- i.e. agree with it. The word "favorite" doesn't carry that implication. My "favorite" comments on Metafilter aren't necessarily the ones I agree with -- they're just the ones that are especially worth reading. Also, the word "like" is too awkward and jovial when applied to anything about an ultra-depressing topic -- say, racism, genocide, nuclear weapons, rape, cancer, etc.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:58 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


having said that, I am pretty sure this change is part of lewistate's PhD methodology
posted by Rumple at 8:58 AM on November 1, 2009


Can this "faved experiment" be rolled back sooner in consideration of the largely negative response?
posted by 26.2 at 9:00 AM on November 1, 2009 [25 favorites]


I have favorited every comment I came across in this thread that didn't already have a favorite.

The Glorious Commentunist Revolution has begun.
posted by oaf at 9:03 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I will probably become bored of this in a couple of hours.
posted by oaf at 9:04 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. Busy day and night in the knee-jerk ZOMG CHANGE IS BAD department.

I'd prefer just making the tagline say "favorited." (It is only four more characters.) It keeps "our" terminology intact -- whether you loved it in the first place or not, at least we're accustomed to it and have already done our own personal rationalizations of what it means.
posted by desuetude at 9:06 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


The misapprehension by several people that favourites were displayed with posts on the front page when they never were is quite telling about the gap between the practical and theoretical use of the site.

Were people referring to actual FPPs, though? I assumed people were talking about possible changes to the behaviour in the "Contact Activity" collapsible/expandable part of the sidebar, where one can see "$CONTACT had a comment/post with #favourites in MeFI/AskMe/&c." Since I have no idea how often that's updated, I can't tell if there's been any change.
posted by elizardbits at 9:13 AM on November 1, 2009


I am pretty flexible about change management but initally I didn't like the idea and on reading the site this morning it HAS negatively affected how I read it. Having every comment "faved" on this thread illustrates how useless a technological solution to a social problem is to me. Perhaps it is because I am more on Askme with the "I agree" connotations and I stay away from snark-inspiring threads on mefi anyway. I remember in one of the feminism thread that someone noted that there were few women making argumentative comments but the few that did were inspiring a lot of favourites from lurkers or other commentators that didn't want to get personally dragged into the arguments. Which means a lot of the lurkers that used favourites as their way of participating in the community probably won't actually post a comment about favourites, which is sad. I always read an entire thread before commenting but the "every comment gets faved" meme really put me off reading the whole thing. Sorry if I am repeating someone else's earlier comment.
posted by saucysault at 9:22 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Mods: please ban.

Oh get the fuck over yourself. If the mod team couldn't be bothered to conceive of ways people would fuck up the system, it's a good thing it's happening during this trial period, in the thread about the trial period, so it can be addressed.
posted by iamabot at 9:23 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, wow, I didn't realize that empath had me beaten by a few hours. But more than 90% of the thread's comments, as of my second comment, had already been favorited.
posted by oaf at 9:27 AM on November 1, 2009


I keep up with Metafilter via RSS through "popular comments" and "popular posts" across MeFi (spanning all sites). I use this because I actually have work to do day to day and can't keep up with all of MeFi. The treshold for "popular" had been increasing as of late, often needing 60 or more favorites to show on my RSS reader (Google Reader fwiw), BUT I usually like to read comments and posts that have more than 12 or 20 favorites, when and if I have the time to do so. The fastest way to do so? Through favorited times numbers. So:

This is just to say

You have just cut
my enjoyment
of MeFI,
and of the internet

as a whole,
in half. Here's hoping
you
reconsider soon.

Forgive me.
I think
what you did
was stupid.
posted by omegar at 9:28 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I prefer the old system so strongly, that I may stop visiting Metafilter entirely until this change is reverted or improved. The way I like to "consume" Metafilter is to view a thread on an interesting topic, and use my browser's 'find' functionality to search for the word "favorites", and read only the top rated comments in a thread, and I don't usually participate in discussions.

Now, I'm not here to say that this is a bad decision, because it may be a good change, depending on your goals. But I just wanted to throw in my two cents, so it is at least on the record that this breaks the site for some users.

With this new system, I can't even tell from this thread (I sure as shit ain't reading it all) what the popular opinion is on the matter, and if my comment here is entirely superfluous.
posted by where u at dawg at 9:31 AM on November 1, 2009


Deathalicious: "So who's going to step up and alter this greasemonkey script for November?

That would be me.

This topic has come up again and again. Personally, and of course I am biased here, I think Greasemonkey really is the solution. The MultiFavorited MultiWidth script very clearly visualizes comment count along the side of the comment, so you can very easily see how many favorites a comment received. I like it so much, I'm not only the developer, I'm a user.

For people who miss the favorites during this month, I really suggest you try my script. The new "November Experiment" version addresses the changes made this month.

On the other hand, for those of you who find even the 'faved' annoying, please consider using my Destroy MetaFilter Favorites script, which removes all aspects of the favoriting system from the site (including the count, the "favorite" this comment/post link, the "Popular" links at the top of the page, everything. This is for people who really don't want to play the game).
"

Thank you, Dethalicious! I'm just going to quote this to point it out to anyone who missed it, it's perfect.
posted by flatluigi at 9:33 AM on November 1, 2009


I'm all for the spirit of experimentation, but I'm doubtful about this. I think few attempts at change are successful that begin with the premise of hiding information from the user on the fear that he or she might somehow misuse that information.
posted by Chanther at 9:33 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think that this experiment is great. I also believe that eliminating visible favourite counts on a permanent basis would be a win as well. However I feel some sympathy for people you skim so I propose a per thread opt out of favourite count obfuscation with one caveat: You opt out and you lose the ability to comment on that thread. That would help enforce one of the key strengths of metafilter's comment system (it's non threadedness and lack of kill files) and allow TL;DR types to continue to TL;DR without subjecting the rest of us actually having a conversation to comments that are obviously commenting on incorrect information (like that recent TSA-Baby thread).

I'd didn't realize so many people were skimming but boy howdy it sure explains a lot of the already debunked or countered noise any popular thread gets.

Ghidorah writes "On the other hand, I paid $5, I'm a member, and the site I joined had favorites, which made certain things about using the site easier and more enjoyable. I'm annoyed that the site has been suddenly altered from where it was when I joined, even if it was less than two years ago. "

majick writes "Please understand: This is how some number of us feel about the entire favorites feature."

Or even say $5 users.
posted by Mitheral at 9:42 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


If the mod team couldn't be bothered to conceive of ways people would fuck up the system, it's a good thing it's happening during this trial period, in the thread about the trial period, so it can be addressed.

We thought a lot about this. Among the things that we talked about was, indeed, how people might fuck with the system. That folks have gone on favoriting sprees in this thread specifically to fuck with the system isn't really a surprise. It's kind of disappointing, though—the notion that because it's possible to grief folks therefore ought to is a really crappy line of thinking. Broaching the subject would have sufficed.

This is a big noisy thread on the threshold of an eye-catching change, and I can understand people being reactive to it and so, no, it'd never occur to us to ban someone over willfully being a dick about it. But it is kind of a dick move, for all that, and the several people who have pointedly gone about doing it are a little bit up my shirt and I sure hope they will refrain from similarly shitting on threads elsewhere on the site.

In general, we expected this thread to be pretty bumpy and to contain a lot of dissenting reactions. There have been a couple things in here that I have found genuinely surprisingly vituperative, for all that, but those are little outlier flashes in what has otherwise been a pretty reasonable set of responses. We really do appreciate the vast majority of the feedback that's shown up in here.

We're still committed to running this experiment, and we're chewing on a couple of possible tweaks based on the feedback so far. Just getting caught up on this thread has taken a couple hours and it keeps growing, so ironically our responsiveness is going to be a little laggier than it might be if there weren't a great big thing going on, but in any case we're watching this attentively.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:43 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


The favorite count conveys social information about both the conversation and the community. How are people orienting to the discussion? Where are the trends? What type of behavior is acceptable and encouraged? What role are we playing in these subtle negotiations? With this no longer being publicly indexed, the dynamic of the site fundamentally changes. Other than clicking through and counting (who would do that?), you've essentially moved the pragmatic-, or meta- if you will, information off-record. This would be like changing a face-to-face group conversation into one with blinders and telephones. Something valuable gets lost.

Also, why a past tense verb for something that I haven't done yet? It's unnatural to interpret "faved" as "This has been faved already!" Also, why do I care? All that 'faved' tells me is that it's above threshold, with that threshold being one. Whoop-dee-doo.

I think it's safe to say I vehemently do not like this. And when I un-hangover myself, I may return with a more coherent argument as to why.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:46 AM on November 1, 2009 [27 favorites]


I wonder if this is a clique vs. general users thing.

If you spend a lot of time on Metafilter, you're perhaps more likely to think "I read every single comment and judge each one individually and everyone else should too".

If you're an occasional user, you more likely to just skim the threads looking for the best comments, so favorites are a big help.

Metatalk is usually dominated by people who spend a lot of time on the site, so I wonder if the mods might have got a misleading impression of the popularity of the favorites feature amongst the users as a whole.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:48 AM on November 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I'm really hating this.

I'm surprised how strong my reaction is, actually, but the 'faved' system is meh to the point of sucking my enjoyment out of the site.
posted by misha at 9:53 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Not prepared yet to comment on the bigger issues (short answer: I don't hate this), but on the "faved" thing specifically, I'd advocate for making the link text more subtle, for a few reasons:

1) "Faved" vs "not faved" does not really give you much information, and arguably gives unnecessary weight to posts favorited by just one person, which I don't think anyone thinks is a particularly good idea-- if we're hiding favorite counts, let's go all the way and hide "favorited vs not-favorited" too.
2) Yeah, I know it's a real word, but ugh. Sounds and feels wrong to me and to a lot of others, it seems.
3) "Faved" is just plain confusing and non-intuitive as a word (especially, but not only, because of the way it falsely parallels "flagged")
4) In my mind, if we're going for experimentation here, I think it'd be more useful to push the "who favorited what?" question even further into the background-- the big obvious "faved" text reminds people repeatedly "yeah, we used to have visible favorite counts" and stirs up people's emotions/curiosity and just makes you think more about who favorited what-- something more subtle and hidden (with mouseover text explaining it, of course) would do a better job of de-emphasizing favorite counts, which is the idea here, right?

Not sure exactly the best way-- I think a symbol or punctuation that parallels the [+] [!] would be ideal, like maybe [*] or [&], but if that needs to be reserved for "actions" and not "links," maybe use a single letter like (F)?

Or-- and this would only solve some of the above problems-- you could have [+ view] with the + to favorite and "view" (or "list") as the link text to the list of favoriters.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 9:53 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's just because I'm hungover and therefore grumpy, but man do I hate this. Some people have mentioned the fact that the site functioned fine without favorites prior to 96, but it's kind of like an iPhone- I didn't need one till I got one but now that I have one I can't live without it. Favoriting has fundamentally changed the way people experience the place (for me, and seemingly for many others) it's a change for the better. For some- and honestly it really does seem like a small minority- it was a change for the worse. But it's so entrenched now that I just don't see going back. I'm finding it insanely frustrating to navigate long threads and I've started just skimming them and not getting nearly as much out of them as I did before.

One thing I'm really curious about- almost everyone seemed to agree that a major problem was just the use of the term "favorite"- how come that was the one thing that didn't change in this experiment? Calling it "bookmarked" or, as someone upthread suggested, using a little book icon, would make it a neutral term and allow for the different ways in which people use the function, while helping to mitigate the popularity contest aspect. It seems like such a self-evident, easy to implement, and widely asked-for fix- could one of the mods explain why that wasn't part of this?

I appreciate that this is an experiment, and you guys are trying to find a solution for an issue that seems to be bothering some users, but continuing to refer to them as favorites, showing that a comment has been favorited, and removing the amount seems kind of like the worst of all possible worlds. It just adds noise and signifies nothing.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 9:53 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, why a past tense verb for something that I haven't done yet? It's unnatural to interpret "faved" as "This has been faved already!"

Vocab choice on this front has been a deceptively complicated matter. We went back and forth on a lot of different angles of what word to use and why, and landed on faved as a compromise for a number of reasons (including avoiding some other choices for different semantic/functional-ambiguity reasons) but, yeah, the effect a past participle has in this context of suggesting an accomplished state-change ala "flagged" got by us. Whoops!

There's a big meaty lexical discussion to be had about the complex role the various inflections of "favorite" have in how they are used on the site, and the difficulty (all other questions of word choice aside) of finding a different word that would even have all those some inflections function in a naturally analogous way. But that's wordnerdery that's not really on topic right now so I'll save it for another day. The extremely short version is that I think "favorite" has become a very useful term, any faults aside, because it has been hammered by use into the service of vague applicability and had much of its perceived explicitly-positive charge drained over time, and introducing a new word that worked the same way syntactically in all the needed inflections and which also worked semantically on as many fronts as the mefi-specific "favorite" does could be very, very hard to manage.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:54 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Sort of homogenized the favorites so now it really is just a utility for personal bookmarking. Looking through this thread, every comment just has faved next to it. There's no differentiation.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:54 AM on November 1, 2009


Uh. Prior to 06, that is. Not 96. Unless you guys know something I don't know.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 9:54 AM on November 1, 2009


The favorite count conveys social information about both the conversation and the community. How are people orienting to the discussion? Where are the trends? What type of behavior is acceptable and encouraged? What role are we playing in these subtle negotiations? With this no longer being publicly indexed, the dynamic of the site fundamentally changes.

This is the most cogent and persuasive argument that this change is bad I've read so far. If this is you hung over, kim, well, damn. This will really make think about how visible favorites en- or discourages my participation in a thread.

Favorited really a lot!
posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also I had a problem there with some parentheses that went nowhere. Hey, whatever happened to that edit window? I like implementing new sitewide features! God I am hungover.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 9:56 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really really dislike this idea. I can do anything for a single month, so experiment all you want. I hope this reverts as quickly as possible back to what it was. It's not that I hate change, but this will definitely impact how I digest the site - for comments with and without faves. When such a large percentage of the comments are "faved" why even bother telling us it's been faved at all? I might miss an 80+ faved really great comment because it doesn't stand out next to a 1-2 faved mediocre snark. Some comments really are better than others and it renders the site too flat.
posted by yeti at 9:58 AM on November 1, 2009


One thing I'm really curious about- almost everyone seemed to agree that a major problem was just the use of the term "favorite"- how come that was the one thing that didn't change in this experiment?

A full-on, sitewide change to the vocabulary is a much broader scope of project than what we're doing here. It's not really "the one thing we didn't change" so much as a completely different question in terms of what the undertaking would require.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:59 AM on November 1, 2009


majick: "Neither of those things fix the actual problem that favorites introduced, which was giving favorite-whores, injokers, and chucklehead snarkers a positive feedback loop."

As someone who values each and every favorite they're received*, and frequently checks with hopeful anticipation for new arrivals, I'm far from unbiased here. But it seems to me that if a majority of the community likes in-jokes and snark - as they appear to - they will not only find a way to express that like with or without favorites, they also have a fundamental right to do so within the limits placed by the mods.

If this favesperiment** is the mods' way of tinkering with the limit-setting process, I feel that we owe them respect for their good intentions - even if we vehemently disagree with their methodology. I installed koeselitz's Stylish script*** the second I found it, so perhaps we'll never be certain if the change would have impacted my "favorite-whoring" behavior - if that's how you define it. But I strongly suspect not.

* At least until this rash of spite favoriting broke out. Yeesh.

** I like this word. I'm going with it.

*** For which I create and award them the Distinguished Hero of the Blue medal, with oak leaf clusters.

posted by Joe Beese at 9:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


This breaks how I read the site, and cuts off valuable (to me) sources of information.
posted by everichon at 9:59 AM on November 1, 2009


Just in case individual opinions being presented will be considered, here're mine:

1) I don't like this change, and I like favorites in general.

2) Now when I read a post which is "faved," the date at the "faved" run together, for me. So, today, as I read, it looks at first like each faved thread has been faved once. And tomorrow, each one will look like it's been faved twice.

3) The mods really have handled all this incredibly well.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:00 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


We thought a lot about this. Among the things that we talked about was, indeed, how people might fuck with the system. That folks have gone on favoriting sprees in this thread specifically to fuck with the system isn't really a surprise. It's kind of disappointing, though—the notion that because it's possible to grief folks therefore ought to is a really crappy line of thinking. Broaching the subject would have sufficed.

Sorry, that sounded harsher than I intended it to, but with the short notice and the cheese "fave" name it feels like some half cocked idea by marketing, and I see those all day long. I guess I don't understand why it was implemented in this specific way given the forethought you're expressing. What empath and others have done is such an obvious way to threadshit that one of the stand out ways to handle it is to ban them (from the site or a thread, and I think banning is rather ridiculous) or limit favorite usage or numbers...which gets you back to the circular discussion of how people use them.

I need to go re-read the whole thread again, but the more I think about it, the more this feels like an odd way of trying to limit the focus on favorites as they have the potential to color the discussion a bit more than they originally were intended to...for example: people going for the jokey comment, etc.

You guys are basically screwed here, there's no right answer for this and now you're sort of caught trying to displease as few people as possible. I think the answer is likely switch favorites back to the way they were and implement a parallel system for tracking and then make one or both of them a toggle within profiles and eventually roll one of them to the default. As it's been noted up thread a feature is no longer there, the site feels less functional now and when I use it without the greasemonkey scripts I feel hampered in my interaction with it.

I'm going to leave the scripts off for a week or two to see if I get used to it, I figure it deserves a fair shake, but I will be grinding my teeth to dust at the word faved the whole time.
posted by iamabot at 10:00 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


elizardbits writes "*I hate that firefox thinks 'faves' is a correctly-spelled word, while redlining 'favourites' in a cruel and oppressive north americanishly spelled fashion. I'M IN UR FIREFOX, MANIFESTIN" DESTINY."

This isn't North American. Choose or add in the Canadian dictionary, it'll stop redlining it for you.

And to all those people leaving Metafilter for the month, though if you were being honest you won't see this, Don't let the screen door hit you on the way out.

Also I'm having a hard time not making spreading this comment over dozens of comments to deplete the faved griefers so please stop tempting me.
posted by Mitheral at 10:00 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


This change really doesn't affect the way I read metafilter- I mostly use favorites as bookmarks. I never thought about skimming based on favorites. I always wondered how people at meetups would seem so much more knowledgeable than me about all the recent posts.

Also interesting is the way people use favorites in Askme- maybe it would be good to have an additional type of favorites just for the green? I like the "I agree" usage.

I second geoff.'s suggestion for "duly noted" rather than faved. That would be the best.
posted by Secretariat at 10:01 AM on November 1, 2009


Sort of homogenized the favorites so now it really is just a utility for personal bookmarking. Looking through this thread, every comment just has faved next to it. There's no differentiation.

To be clear, several people have gone through the thread in turn to insure that that is how it looks through stunt favoriting.

The more valid question of how homogeneous a thread looks when it's not being fucked with intentionally could be answered by checking out fave distribution via the Infodump—just partitioning comments into faved-at-all vs. not buckets for any given thread would give a good picture of the natural state of things, and might be worth doing if anyone is interested in doing a little bit of quantitative work.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:02 AM on November 1, 2009


Cortex- nah, I understand that. I guess to me it just seems like it's the naming convention and not the display of the count that's the problem to begin with so I wondered why that was the part you tinkered with-but that's because my own prejudice is to not see the fave count as a problem in the first place. And in previous discussions it was the "favorites vs bookmarks" thing that most people seemed to agree with, so it just seemed like a bit of a surprise. I wonder if it would almost seem less drastic to people to keep the way they're displayed the same and change what they're called, as opposed to keeping the name the same but drastically changing the functionality.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 10:05 AM on November 1, 2009


I've read this whole thread, and what really struck me most were two key points:

1) The title of the thread is "November is national let's try obscuring favorite counts month." I think that the use of the word "obscure" is interesting -- "not readily understood or clearly expressed" and "shrouded in or hidden by darkness" are the two top definitions of this word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. This segues into my second point, which is that

2) The "flattening of information" is what bothers me most about this project, as expressed by Forktine. Users are going to employ favorites in different ways -- as part of a popularity contest, as a method to re-find the information in a comment at a later date, as a way to express support for what is said in the comment. I don't necessarily stop to think about why someone else may have favorited a particular comment on a day-to-day basis. If other people do that (and judging from the responses in this thread it appears that people do) that is all well and good but it doesn't change the way that I personally use favorites, as it shouldn't.

I'm not happy with the way that this test system operates, and it will probably radically change my behavior on the site in ways that can't really be measured by the mods. Sure, I might be favoriting less, but is that a good or a bad thing? I am still unclear about what the goals of this experiment are, and how the qualitative data is going to be measured. Just because there isn't number-crunching doesn't mean that a clear methodology is not required, and I'm a little confused about exactly what the mods are going to be looking at or for when they assess the data at the end of November. Perhaps that's the point -- they're not going to make their methods publicly available because that could invalidate the study -- but I'm a little hesitant and wary about the way that the methods have been expressed in this thread by the moderators. I'm just not comfortable with the information they've given so far about what they will be looking at and how it will affect Metafilter in the future.
posted by k8lin at 10:06 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


On the whole: I don't like the idea. I thought the old system was fine. From my perspective, we're losing valuable information for no real benefit. But let's see how it plays out.... that's what experiments are for.

Oh, and as to the various hypotheses about the non-core users' opinions... if there's one thing I've learned about online argumentation, it's that whenever anyone assigns motives to the 'silent majority', mysteriously, that motive always agrees with the person making the argument.

All you can really presume from silence is, well, silence. You can't impute motives to people who aren't registering opinions, because there's no way to be certain why they aren't talking. They could be pissed, apathetic, ignorant, indifferent, amused, or unable to write coherently in English. Claims that, "they're silent because they agree with my position" simply don't work.

If this doesn't already have an official name as one of the argumentative fallacies, it should.

Also, as an aside: I favorited a few comments in this thread, but they weren't 'stunts', they were real.
posted by Malor at 10:09 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cortex- nah, I understand that. I guess to me it just seems like it's the naming convention and not the display of the count that's the problem to begin with so I wondered why that was the part you tinkered with

I can dig that. From my side of the fence it's a lot like looking at a canal project and saying "really? Why didn't you just move the ocean?" in terms of just what would be involved in trying to accomplish one vs. the other, is all.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:09 AM on November 1, 2009


I would like to be clear upfront that I do not "wish punishment" upon anybody.

With that said, my vote is "don't like it". I personally like seeing favorite counts, and will soon be installing the latest Greasemonkey script so that I will be able to again, but I think I would prefer not seeing any indication of anyone else's favorites at all to seeing this.

Many threads are now just constant streams of "faved". In this thread of hundreds and hundreds of posts, for example, literally every single comment except for five of the most recent seven has been "faved" -- and those five have probably been "faved" by the time I'm typing this sentence.

I bet that degree of completeness is an anomoly based on the nature of this particular thread, but I've noticed more or less the same thing in other threads. It's useless and mildly grating, and frankly I think it might have the opposite effect of what is intended:

Presumably, part of the imagined problem -- and I say "imagined" because while it's at least somewhat plausible, I don't think there's any real evidence for it -- was that people would try to tailor their comments to garner absurd numbers of favorites. I imagine that this change was intended, in part, to prevent that.

But instead, I now picture more people, not less, being drawn into this behavior. How many people seriously sit there thinking "I've got to make this post so it will get fifty favorites"? But a lot of people will probably see (every so often) that virtually every post on the thread has been "faved" except theirs. What's that going to cause?

I think it will at least conceivably cause the same imagined problem, only on a larger scale.

Also, the "Digg and Slashdot have favorites, and Digg and Slashdot suck" argument strikes me as fundamentally unsound. Even assuming that most Mefites think they suck as much as you think they suck, Metafilter has favorites, and presumably most Mefites don't think Metafilter sucks. It's a specious argument.

To sum up, (1) I vote "please change it back"; (2) I'll be working around it via Greasemonkey in any case; (3) I don't "wish punishment".
posted by Flunkie at 10:11 AM on November 1, 2009


I have been reading this site since before favorites, and I think favorites have changed it for the better. Granted, I have not contributed much in the last few years, but I have been lurking and reading quite frequently (and even favoriting occasionally). This morning I instantly noticed the faved - and missed the # favorites. Until they were gone, I did not know how much I used them to navigate the big threads.

So I installed the Stylish add-on to my SeaMonkey browser and I feel more at home again.

All in all I would call this experiment a success in that it has proven to me that I use the '# favorites' function in the way I would expect a function displayed as '# favorites' to function. And so long as the mods are working to keep this site as usable as they have through all these years, I am sure that my ability to see # favorites will be only an add-on or a script away.

Honestly though, there should be some melding together of the Flagging (with its various options) and Favoriting with its only-positive connotations.
posted by iurodivii at 10:12 AM on November 1, 2009


I feel this was done to the best of the admins ability, but I hate the change. Immideately searched for "script" (and before, I could just find the comment with most favourites!) and am now using Stylish. FWIW
posted by olya at 10:13 AM on November 1, 2009


MetaFilter: It's a lot like looking at a canal project and saying "really? Why didn't you just move the ocean?"
posted by dw at 10:13 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I want to throw in a note that we're using the word experiment in this context in a casual way, not in an attempt to suggest scientific rigor. I feel like the notion that we're presenting this or intending it as SCIENCE! rather than as an explicitly qualitative "we're curious what happens" thing has crept in over night in the absence of any expression of that kind of intent by any of us on the mod staff.

So to be clear: we're interested in quantitative possibilities but that's not a primary goal; we're mostly interested in a general qualitative-in-the-lay-sense look at what if anything comes of this over the stretch of the month. It's not intended to be rigorous, and while I can understand if that fundamentally bothers anyone who feels that by rights this sort of thing should be done with a proper methodology and what have you, I want to emphasize that we're not scientists, we're not attempting to do a robust scientific or sociological study, and arguments about how we're failing on that front are therefore kind of moot.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:14 AM on November 1, 2009


It seems to me, some people are inherently lazy thinkers, and are willing to give the MeFi favoriting brigade the benefit of the doubt when selecting the items in a thread that are worth their time reading.

That said, there are now upwards of 80,000 users on MeFi. It's not like in the old days. Popular threads can quickly topple 200 comments within the first hour of hitting the front page. That's a shitload of chaff to sort through. In lieu of any overt rating system (which Matt has always been against), we have favorites. Which operate in precisely the same manner.

So either give them the breads and circuses that you know they want but refuse to accept (ratings… er… numbers of faves—making them actually useful again), or remove the visual indicator. Because otherwise there's simply no reason whatsoever to have any outward indication on a post.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:15 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why didn't you just move the ocean?"

You guys, uh. You can't move the ocean? I am so disillusioned right now.
I don't want to start a tangent here but I do think it's relevant- would the the barrier to changing the naming be a programming thing or an "explaining the whole thing to the userbase and seeing if they lose their shit over it" issue? Just wondering if that aspect of things falls into the Never Going To Happen camp, that we shouldn't bother pursuing, or the Massive Pain in the Ass but Possibly Useful camp, that might benefit from further discussion.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 10:16 AM on November 1, 2009


Part of the reason this came off as half-baked idea was it seems like very few people were involved it the decision. It would have been fairly easy to identify the main objection to the change if you'd have asked a relatively small subset of users. An email focus group of 20 or so trusted users of the site would have uncovered the problem that many people find the favorites useful for various reasons. Also, you would have gotten the feedback that people want to know how you'll make the evaluation as to whether the faved experiment is a success.

BTW, looking at other threads, I find the "faved" option to be as useless as it is in this one.

I've never seen anyone complain about the favorites; therefore, it feels as though you've taken away something useful to solve an imaginary problem. However, meta is your toy box and you can do what you like. I'll check back in mid-month and see where we are with this experiment.
posted by 26.2 at 10:16 AM on November 1, 2009


I should also point out that in very long threads where I arrive late (which happens more and more as MeFi gets busier and busier), I regularly search for the word 'favorites', just to pick out comments with more than one. Typically, if a comment has at least two favorites, it's worth picking out of the Wall of Text. And if those comments are fairly interesting, I may go ahead and read the whole thread.

So I'm definitely losing some real functionality here, and I'm still not sure exactly what the purported benefit is.
posted by Malor at 10:17 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Fave" is in Merriam-Webster.

Not as a fucking verb though. Ugh.
posted by dersins at 10:19 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd also like to add, I can't believe you can't filter AskMe topics by subject. It's been years now. A little checkbox, an insignificant bit of javascript, a cookie, and you're done.

sigh.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:19 AM on November 1, 2009


I don't want to start a tangent here but I do think it's relevant- would the the barrier to changing the naming be a programming thing or an "explaining the whole thing to the userbase and seeing if they lose their shit over it" issue?

Both, really.

- Instead of changing one spot on the site (the word in comment bylines), we'd need to change every single reference to "favorites" on the site, which is a great big editing task.

- We'd have to have a plan for user education to address the fact that a three-years-in piece of vocabulary on the site has suddenly disappeared entirely to be replaced by a new term.

Both of those are far larger in scope than what this requires. And that's aside entirely from the problem of figuring out what the new bit of vocabulary would be. That's where my sense of it being a comparitively huge project comes from.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:21 AM on November 1, 2009


No, sir. I don't like it.

I don't normally follow MeTalk, but I had to come find this thread to see what the deal is. I don't like it because it feels like an arbitrary enforcement of the "way favorites should work." It hadn't occurred to me that there was something wrong with the system, so what are we fixing?
posted by cmoj at 10:21 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


...Yeah ok, those are very good points that never even occurred to me. Damn.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 10:24 AM on November 1, 2009


I'd also like to add, I can't believe you can't filter AskMe topics by subject.

Ok, I am intrigued. How would this be different than the current filterish behaviour of clicking on the tags or categories? I feel like this has the potential for greatness but I can't see exactly how.
posted by elizardbits at 10:29 AM on November 1, 2009


The thing that resonates with me in this entire discussion is majick's remark that comment voting systems assume the value of all comments starts at worthless, or zero, and people have to vote things up to be seen.

If we roll back the clocks a few years to MetaFilter before favorites were added, every comment was considered worthwhile and we would occasionally highlight the best on the sidebar or in metatalk. Favorites were added to both help people track things they enjoyed and wanted to come back to as well as highlight the best comments and in aggregate we could see what the most liked things across the entire server were, making the highlighting of the best of the best much easier. Flexibility was also purposely built into it so that people could do anything they wanted with the feature.

If you fast forward back to the present, or better yet, some time last month, you see things like the average contentious political thread and from a quick visual glance easily half of all comments have a favorite and you can see how it became more of a voting system that reinforces the feeling all comments are noise except for the voted up ones, or alternatively here are the political viewpoints everyone agrees with and you have to wonder what it is we're doing with this whole favorites thing.

I skim threads when I don't have time but I don't regularly look for just the highest favorited comments in threads, and you have to admit that kind of activity devalues everything else and creates an environment where comments are seen as useless noise with the votes pushing up the signal.

I like the change in the 12hrs we've had it. I think it has the power to change behavior and reduce comments overall as people reduce skimming the high points and adding comments afterwards. It's causing me to read threads from start to finish and reference the popular page. I'm curious how the month will play out, whether others will come away from it feeling the way I do or start using greasemonkey instead.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:30 AM on November 1, 2009 [27 favorites]


This is how some number of us feel about the entire favorites feature.

Or even say $5 users.

I wish we wouldn't do that. Going by user numbers only (which isn't correct, as it counts abandoned sign-ups, but it's close enough), that encompasses over 78,000 users -- some who are even your contacts. Surely you have found that you have gotten something from the participation of at least one of those people? Or are we really all not welcome, and should just close our accounts?
posted by Houstonian at 10:31 AM on November 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the adolescent behavior of some people griefing the system. And I guess I hoped that unlike other sites that change functionality people wouldn't run to rend their garments. But, well, this is the Internet.

And I'm not saying there aren't legitimate arguments that have been posed here against the experiment, but there are some real whiners in here.

I mean, it's just 30 days. And if it is the colossal failure some of you think it will be, things will return to normal on December 1 -- if not sooner.

I don't like "faved," even though is in the OED and I favor descriptivism. I'd rather we use ★ instead. But in general, I think this is a good experiment to have. I think we're all still trying to figure out this Internet thing and how people behave on it. Any data, even qualitative data, should show whether gameplay really is a problem and how we might better control it.

But I find some of the lines of argument spurious. I mean, much of what draws favorites is snark, and if you're just reading favorited comments, you're pretty much reading two good comments, five snarky ones, a couple of flames, and three slightly humorous ones. If you really want a system like that, then the system needs to function that way -- similar to Slashdot, probably, with the ability to give qualitative input as well. But that would require some serious modifications to not only the code but the social functionality of the site. There are many people who only read 5-rated comments on Slashdot, but that community has figured out how to work with those rules (and game them at times).

Calm down, step away from the Halloween candy, and let's let the experiment work. If it's not working, we'll know in a hurry.

And griefing the system is only going to lead us towards having a limit on the number of favorites you can hand out in a day, you know.
posted by dw at 10:33 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you fast forward back to the present, or better yet, some time last month, you see things like the average contentious political thread and from a quick visual glance easily half of all comments have a favorite and you can see how it became more of a voting system that reinforces the feeling all comments are noise except for the voted up ones, or alternatively here are the political viewpoints everyone agrees with and you have to wonder what it is we're doing with this whole favorites thing.

I believe it's called creating a sense of community.
posted by bunnytricks at 10:35 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I had my first moment of angst over the "faved and faved not" system a moment ago. The post about the best Halloween costume ever comic linked to the original comment that inspired it, a comment that was favorited by 751 people, and it just says, "faved". Like the throwaway comments above and below it. Surely there is something to be said for positive reenforcement?

Then, I went to comment in the new thread about that moment of dissonance, saw that Dersins had mentioned it, so I went to add my, well, vote to his pile but, WHOOPS. Still just says 'faved'. Two different ways of using favorites, now useless or obfuscated. For what benefit?

Maybe it'll grow on me, but right now I'm not crazy about it.

Busy day and night in the knee-jerk ZOMG CHANGE IS BAD department.

Yes, because the ONLY reason someone might not like this is because it is a change. Yes. Yes.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:36 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think that this experiment is great. I also believe that eliminating visible favourite counts on a permanent basis would be a win as well. However I feel some sympathy for people you skim so I propose a per thread opt out of favourite count obfuscation with one caveat: You opt out and you lose the ability to comment on that thread. That would help enforce one of the key strengths of metafilter's comment system (it's non threadedness and lack of kill files) and allow TL;DR types to continue to TL;DR without subjecting the rest of us actually having a conversation to comments that are obviously commenting on incorrect information (like that recent TSA-Baby thread).

Oh god, please don't do this. Just because people use favorites doesn't mean they don't have anything valuable to say.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:36 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


I am opposed to the new favoriting policy.
posted by 517 at 10:37 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


The problem with changing the favorites system is found in it's vagaries. Everyone uses favorites in different ways.

Generally, I use favorites as a "me too"; a "that was hilarious or well-written". Sometimes even "I can't believe ___ said that". I use them to scan through threads I'm not particularly interested in, for a general overview of what's what on the topic. Some people use them as bookmarks, which is nuts to me, but hey, whatever. Some people use them to play around in MeTa, or fake-stalk people (I think fake, anyway).

Making this change has crippled about half of what I use favorites for. I'm sure there are people it hasn't affected at all.

I don't understand what people think this will fix, exactly. Astro Zombie will still make clever quips in threads, whether or not he can see totals -- which he still can. People will still snark the starboard bow of new threads, those SELDOM get huge favorite counts anyway.
posted by graventy at 10:38 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't really stand seeing the non-word "faved" and it will be interesting to find out whether I'll get used to it after seeing it for a month or if I'll still have an actual physical twitch from reading it. Mr. Padraigin thought I was having a seizure this morning.
posted by padraigin at 10:39 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


dw: "I mean, it's just 30 days."

Yeah, thank god they didn't try this in a 31-day month.
posted by graventy at 10:39 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sort of related, I really didn't like the blue border on kottke.org initially but A. it's not my website and B. it's something that actually grew on me. It's important to tinker with the user interface to make sure everything is working as well as it was designed, so I fave that we take a deep breath and watch what unfolds.
posted by pwally at 10:39 AM on November 1, 2009


I sure hope they will refrain from similarly shitting on threads elsewhere on the site.

Fine. You win. I've removed them all, even the ones that I added for the normal reasons.

November is now National No Humor Month. LEST WE FAVORITE.
posted by oaf at 10:40 AM on November 1, 2009


I like favorites, but I'm totally fascinated to see what you guys learn both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Don't back out just because everybody hates it! I hate it too, but I'm too interested in the results to want you to not do it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:40 AM on November 1, 2009


Calling it "bookmarked" or, as someone upthread suggested, using a little book icon, would make it a neutral term and allow for the different ways in which people use the function, while helping to mitigate the popularity contest aspect.

I agree with DormantGorilla on this. If the concern is favorite-whoring, I'd consider changing the terminology from something that implies approval to something neutral like "noted". I know cortex has expressed that terminology discussion in this thread is off topic, but as long as we have had favorites people have brought up the whole what does it mean/what is it used for issue. I think it's hard for anyone to make the argument that a "favorite" does not seem like a vote for the sentiment expressed, especially if you weren't here or paying attention back in the day when they were implemented. The whole "favorites are really bookmarks" doesn't make a whole lot of sense if you weren't here for that discussion.

I don't like the flattening of data particularly- I'd rather have nothing show at all than the sort of neither-fish-nor-fowl "faved". I think functionality has been lost for a lot of people, though the fact that so many people skim long threads and then pop in to say something long discredited was painfully problematic in the TSA thread. However, I'm not sure this change will impact the problem, and the fact that people can script their way to the old functionality kind of renders the experiment moot.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:41 AM on November 1, 2009

much of what draws favorites is snark
I'm not entirely sure that that's true, at least not within the context of this discussion.

Snark draws some favorites, sure. But I think that most large-number-of-favorite posts are not merely snark.

The old system allowed for a distinction. This experiment does not. If anything, it's less "much of what draws favorites is snark", and more "much of what draws 'faved' is snark".
posted by Flunkie at 10:42 AM on November 1, 2009


dw: "If it's not working, we'll know in a hurry."

Judging by the amount of "HATE HATE HATE THIS" on display here, perhaps we already do.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:42 AM on November 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


It's not intended to be rigorous, and while I can understand if that fundamentally bothers anyone who feels that by rights this sort of thing should be done with a proper methodology and what have you, I want to emphasize that we're not scientists, we're not attempting to do a robust scientific or sociological study, and arguments about how we're failing on that front are therefore kind of moot.

I didn't mean to imply I was expecting any kind of scientific rigor (because boy I'm sure not), but even casually it's important to figure out at least what kinds of things you'll be looking for or decide what kind of impact you can realistically attribute to this change. I mean, maybe there will be less favoriting or snark or [whatever], but those things could be attributed to other factors as well.

The way it's set up now, you implement a change, you "see" what happens, stuff "happens", but it doesn't sound like there's any way to decide if what happened was because of the change you made or even if it did what the outcome of what happened should be. I just don't know what you guys are expecting to come out of this (sounds like you're not expecting anything but dealing with a bunch of irate users).

In any case, even though I think the process for this is somewhat questionable I'm not upset about any of this (Whew! right?) given that there are work arounds if I really end up hating it (thanks for that!) and honestly I'm probably only following up because I should be writing for NaNoWriMo* which I'm going to go do ... now.


*Dammit! That was over 200 words!
posted by Kimberly at 10:44 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


oneirodynia: "If the concern is favorite-whoring"

Can anyone provide evidence of actual favorite-whoring?
posted by graventy at 10:45 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wish we wouldn't do that. Going by user numbers only (which isn't correct, as it counts abandoned sign-ups, but it's close enough), that encompasses over 78,000 users -- some who are even your contacts. Surely you have found that you have gotten something from the participation of at least one of those people? Or are we really all not welcome, and should just close our accounts?

I am a pre-$5 user and I approve this message.

I wouldn't have posted this, but now I can't clearly add my approval to that comment based on an incremental favourite counter.

I still don't understand the purpose of having [faved] over having nothing at all.
posted by knapah at 10:46 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like the change in the 12hrs we've had it. I think it has the power to change behavior and reduce comments overall as people reduce skimming the high points and adding comments afterwards.

Matt, an unintentional side effect of not seeing how many people have favorited a particular comment is that it does take some voice away from community members.

I know that in the past I've favorited things that I agreed with as a way to communicate my belief/opinion without opening myself up in particularly contentious threads to be directly attacked/confronted/criticized for that belief. Knowing (transparently) how many other people agreed with me helped make the community feel more safe.

So there's that.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:46 AM on November 1, 2009 [24 favorites]


Now, I may just be cranky from a too brief and interrupted Sunday nap, but I just happened upon this new feature just now and ran straight to Meta.

Early review: Horseshit.

Have favorites or pluses or karma or whatever, or don't. This is horseshit. Plus it reads funny. "faved". Like we're a new wave band.
posted by cavalier at 10:46 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's been mentioned by pb above but I'll give a little more explicit detail on how to revert this change with a user stylesheet.

In Firefox, find the "chrome" directory in your profile dir (on a Mac, ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/[profile ID]/chrome) and there should be a file in there called "userContent-example.css" (which has examples of things you can do with user stylesheets). Create a text file called "userContent.css" in this directory and add this content to it:
span.smallcopy span.oldFav {
  display: inline !important;
}
span.smallcopy span.faved {
  display: none !important;
}
(I added the additional "span.smallcopy" parent selector that pb left out to reduce the risk of false matches on non-MeFi sites.) In Firefox, you should now be good to go. I think you'll need to restart the browser.

To set up a user stylesheet in another browser, you can create the .css file anywhere you want with any name you want; then you'll just need to tell your browser that you want to use this .css file as your user stylesheet. In Safari, it's in Preferences > Advanced > Style sheet. I'm not sure where to find it in IE; here at home I'm on a Mac so I can't check.
posted by letourneau at 10:47 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


After a morning:

Nope, don't like it.

Now ask me aout it after I finish cooking this duck.
posted by The Whelk at 10:49 AM on November 1, 2009


It's not intended to be rigorous, and while I can understand if that fundamentally bothers anyone who feels that by rights this sort of thing should be done with a proper methodology and what have you, I want to emphasize that we're not scientists, we're not attempting to do a robust scientific or sociological study, and arguments about how we're failing on that front are therefore kind of moot.

Moot or whatever, it's easy to get a qualitative feel by blindly throwing a wrench into the moving parts of a working engine, just to see what happens "in a general sense". But if the goal is to tune the engine, even a touch of rigor would probably help.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:54 AM on November 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


cortex: "Just getting caught up on this thread has taken a couple hours and it keeps growing, so ironically our responsiveness is going to be a little laggier than it might be if there weren't a great big thing going on, but in any case we're watching this attentively."

Yeah, if only there was a way to find out the support for a comment by, say, incrementing some kind of counter, then it would be much easier to pick out the comments that were perceived as important....
posted by PontifexPrimus at 10:55 AM on November 1, 2009 [34 favorites]


I believe it's called creating a sense of community.

I hope this is snark, because as much as I think the favorite system has become an integral part of the site, community is not built on a voting or bookmarking system. We interact with everyone here regardless of favoriting them or being favorited by them (and those two words are even less real than faved); the system can be a tool for communication, but let's not pretend that we wouldn't talk to each other if it didn't exist.

The old system allowed for a distinction. This experiment does not. If anything, it's less "much of what draws favorites is snark", and more "much of what draws 'faved' is snark".

I think this is true. I'm still OK with the experiment, and appreciate that the mods are always thinking of ways to improve the site.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:55 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just leave it the way it is and create an option to turn favorites off and on.
posted by Zambrano at 10:57 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm still on the fence about the change one way or the other, and won't be installing scripts until I'm sure I can't use the site this way. Somehow, I suspect it will go from mildly annoying to something I don't even think about pretty quickly.

Just as a data point, though, it's really problematic from a UI standpoint. There's the aforementioned Faved/Flagged dichotomy, but even more annoying is this: When I "fave" something, it now says "faved -" and other nearby, unfavorited-by-me comments say "faved +". While I can learn what it means, I find it really confusing even as a long time member, and I think it would be completely baffling to anyone new. It's like the "faved" has suddenly gained a qualitative descriptor. "faved -" says "not faved enough" or "the opposite of faved" when there is a "faved +" right next to it. I know "flagged" does the same thing, but the difference is you don't see other people's flags.

If we keep it, I won't die, but I would strongly prefer to have it behave like flags. Invisible unless you did it, which would fix both UI issues simultaneously.
posted by donnagirl at 10:57 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm holding out judgement until this thread 1000 comments. But, for now I don't care for it.
posted by josher71 at 11:02 AM on November 1, 2009


> I like the change in the 12hrs we've had it.

I sure hope you're paying attention to the fact that the vast majority of users in this thread really, really don't.
posted by languagehat at 11:02 AM on November 1, 2009 [46 favorites]


First Paula Abdul, and now this.
posted by found missing at 11:03 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


the data you're going to get is contaminated because people have the ability to override what you wanted them to see

That idea is based on a serious overestimation of how many people override anything around here. Plus, there's a good chance people will give it a try even if the do know there's an override possibility.

I'm not terribly fond of the word 'faved,' but I'm kind of liking this test otherwise.
posted by zennie at 11:04 AM on November 1, 2009


Put me in the "this is great" camp. I've always thought the obsession with favorites - getting them, giving them, even forpetesakes counting them - had an unpleasantly high school tinge.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:05 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would like to highlight the fact that PontifexPrimus's recent comment is a devastating irony catch. In case you don't have the time to read all 600 comments in this thread and would like to be quickly pointed to some of the more noteworthy comments, that's one of them. By the way, it'd be nice if the site had a feature that would standardize that process instead of prompting users to write out whole meta-comments like this.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:08 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


graventy: "Can anyone provide evidence of actual favorite-whoring?"

I've never understood what "favorite-whoring" could mean except "people annoyingly liking stuff I don't like".

Most of my more recent "MetaFilter: _____ " comments have been made more from the hope that other people would be amused by them than because I found them particularly funny myself. If those comments stopped getting favorites, I would conclude that no amusement was being given and I'd stop making them. But it is the amusement, of which the favorites are an index, that is the goal - not the favorites themselves.

I have yet to be persuaded that more evil than good is brought to the site thereby.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:09 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


while one person saying "well, I think this is a little fucked up" isn't so bad a dozen people saying it can get hurtful. And yes, if someone's already said something that forthright in the thread, I think we as commenters should notice that and should reframe our response to suit the atmosphere of respect we'd all like to cultivate.

I would agree with this. In general, it seems like our own outrage needs to be expressed personally, but if someone else has already expressed your outrage - maybe unless yours has a new and different perspective, you can let it go or just say "Yeah! This sucks!" rather than adding more of the same flavor of outrage to an already GRAR discussion.

You lose, asshole.

Mods: please ban.
posted by koeselitz

is a bit hypocritical coming from someone who says there is too much in the way of invective of insult in this particular thread. And doesn't really help on the megalomania front either.


Yeah, I'm also with grouse on this. So, I guess I'm with and against koeselitz all at the same time. It's matter and anti-matter! I am become the Higgs Boson! *asplodes*
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:09 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think displaying the favorites count is a net benefit for Metafilter. Here are a few of my thoughts on why:

(1) I believe that the use of favorites simply to mark a comment for future reference is fairly limited. I think the vast majority of favorites on comments reflect approval of the comment, something along the lines of "Very well written," "very insightful," or "hell yeah!"

(2) I believe favoriting posts themselves is more commonly a "marking for future reference." If I favorite a post, it's almost always so I can remember and find it.

(3) I believe showing the favorites count is a really nice way to show where the weight of community opinion falls, and it is an excellent way to mark not only those comments that reflect community opinion, but to single out those comments that say it best. Merely showing "faved" without a count, gives us no way to distinguish those comments that resonated with somebody, from those that resonated with LOTS of people. And I think being able to see the comments that resonated with LOTS of people makes the Metafilter experience better.

(4) I do not buy the idea that somehow displaying the favorites count encouraged bad behavior. What bad behavior? Fave-whoring? Even the comments that are arguably fave-whoring are usually funny and insightful in some way.

(5) Even if displaying the favorites count does encourage bad behavior, I believe any such effect is hugely outweighed by the positive incentive to spend some time crafting your answer so that it addresses the topic thoughtfully and with eloquence. Maybe it's kind of silly, but I appreciate seeing an answer of mine marked with fifteen or twenty favorites.

(6) Displaying the favorites count has helped me identify certain members whose comments are routinely very insightful and routinely rewarded with large favorites counts. Fourcheesemac is one. I'm a fan of fourcheesemac. Paulsc is another. I've never been a fan of Paulsc, but the fact that his comments are routinely big fave-garnerers has led me to pay more attention to him than I probably would.
posted by jayder at 11:09 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Fine. You win. I've removed them all, even the ones that I added for the normal reasons

I think it should be pretty clear that we didn't have a problem with you or empath or lalex or Liver or whoever else using favorites for normal reasons. You can kill those ones too out of protest if you need to be but it doesn't really tell me anything other than you're looking for some way to react to this by intentionally acting out about how you use favorites. I'm sorry this has been a source of distress for folks, but we're not actually trying to antagonize you here.

Yeah, if only there was a way to find out the support for a comment by, say, incrementing some kind of counter, then it would be much easier to pick out the comments that were perceived as important....

As mods, we generally read every single comment in a metatalk thread, period. The "if only" doesn't apply here, because we don't skim by favorites, we read all of the feedback.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:13 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


So after my embarrassing extra post about this (see, I *do* come late to the party), I've come down here to give my two cents. First, I agree with all of the "HATE HATE HATE THIS" comments made above. Second, the first thing I did on this page was search for greasemonkey on this page, and thankfully someone has already posted a workaround.

So, most of my functionality is now returned, but that just raises the question: What's the point? If I can so easily circumvent this feature/bug, what benefit does it serve to hide the info in the first place? People tech-savvy enough to mess with style-sheets and greasemonkey scripts get to have a secret easter-egg feature that is denied to those who can't deal?
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 11:15 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


As mods, we generally read every single comment in a metatalk thread, period

The 'faved' experiment is being applied site-wide.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:16 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


What's the point? If I can so easily circumvent this feature/bug, what benefit does it serve to hide the info in the first place?

I kinda suspect that one of the points of this experiment is to shut the complainers up. "See, we tried that and the majority of people HATED IT," the administration will be able to say next time the topic comes up.
posted by dersins at 11:19 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


cortex: As mods, we generally read every single comment in a metatalk thread, period. The "if only" doesn't apply here, because we don't skim by favorites, we read all of the feedback.

By the same token, would you say that a book without any paragraph breaks is no more difficult or time-consuming to read than a book with paragraph breaks as long as you're determined to read every word? I don't think so. Even if you're determined to read every comment, that process can be easier if you have some kind of guidance as to which comments have been considered particularly noteworthy.

And, of course, not everyone reads every single comment of a thread. Very few people read every single comment of a thread with hundreds of comments. I realize that this isn't the exact point you were responding to above, but the arguments about how the new system will discourage people from selectively reading threads seems unrealistic. People will always cherry-pick which comments to read; favorites just make the process a little more manageable.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:20 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


mathowie: "I'm curious how the month will play out, whether others will come away from it feeling the way I do or start using greasemonkey instead."

The moment I find a greasemonkey script to fix this, I'm there.

I'll admit I use this site mostly for the AskMe part, these days. And on that sub-site, the favorites count serves a useful function. It allows people to contribute to a discussion without having to post a comment, which helps reduce the pile-on effect (which, I'm sure you know, is something else the mods complain about).

If someone posted bad advice, and there's a comment correcting that advice, having [37 favorites] next to the correction and [2 favorites] next to the bad advice actually means something.

Beyond that, I think having a favorite count next to funny, useful, or just plain good posts adds to the sense of community. If someone's posted an interesting, useful, or witty comment and I can see that bunch of other people faved it, I like knowing that I'm not the only one here who thinks so. And I love being able to skim a long Metafilter thread for comments with high favorites, because it's a quick way to see what other members thought was good or useful, and means I don't have to read 500 comments to get some use out of a long thread.

So, frankly, removing the favorite count has made this site less useful to me.

The other problem with this is the wording. Using the word "faved" with no number or context makes it look like the site thinks I faved the post, not like someone else did. I'm not sure how to fix it, either. I can't think of another phrasing which makes sense, probably because nobody else has ever felt the need to express "there are people who have faved this post, although you have not."
posted by CrayDrygu at 11:20 AM on November 1, 2009


mathowie: I like the change in the 12hrs we've had it.

Under what circumstances would the experiment be deemed to have failed?

If there are no such circumstances, is it really an "experiment"?
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:21 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hey, so you you know (much) earlier in this thread when I said that I had no opinion about this either way? Yeah, well, I changed my mind. After opening this thread and scanning through it in the post-favorites-count world, I fucking HATE it. I am finding that it completely (and, frankly, surprisingly) changes the way I read threads, and not in a good way. I realize that I'm just a single data point, and that the single data point that is me should not have a significant impact on site policy, but I want to register that data point in the strongest way I can.

Yeah, I didn't enter into the discussion initially because I didn't want to presume I had an opinion about this one way or the other, but having spent a day with it, this is my exact response as well. HATE IT. Sorry.
posted by scody at 11:21 AM on November 1, 2009


The 'faved' experiment is being applied site-wide.

I was responding specifically to a snarky comeback to my own disclosure that we mods might be slow in responding to things in this thread today. Pontifex's snark itself made little sense in that context, and this clarification makes even less. Fruit of the non-sequitur tree: telling us things about how the favoriting system works for everybody in other threads in response to my comment specifically about mod response time to this one thread isn't useful.

What's the point? If I can so easily circumvent this feature/bug, what benefit does it serve to hide the info in the first place? People tech-savvy enough to mess with style-sheets and greasemonkey scripts get to have a secret easter-egg feature that is denied to those who can't deal?

The point is that circumvention is possible for those who can't live without it but that's an opt-out choice, which means the default state for anyone who doesn't specifically act to nullify the experiment is that the experiment is in play. Yes, we don't got pristine nobody-has-a-choice input, but we're okay with that and we're still exposing presumably the large majority of members to the experiment.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:21 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I reserve my favorites for comments that seem to be sucked right out of my brain, so we could go with *sucked*. No? Ok , how about *binked*? That at least is fun to say and you could have fun binking others and being binked.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:22 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Don't like it, for many reasons already stated above, with the most grating being the word "faved". Yeesh.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:24 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't like the change.
posted by I love You at 11:27 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fair enough. But if you don't like favorites you can avoid them easily enough by either going out of your way to excise them with a Greasemonkey script or by simply not caring. If on the other hand you find favorites useful and they get taken away, you don't really have much recourse.

Now I know you've been reading this thread closely enough to know that favorites have emphatically not been taken away, they've only been modified, and that this is fixable with a GM script. That's your recourse.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:28 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hooray for workarounds!
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:28 AM on November 1, 2009


I love to read metafilter, though I don't contribute much. This pretty much breaks the functionality for me. I don't want to read every post - I want to read the good posts. Now I can't find them. I guess I'll sit out until Dec 1 (or forever).

The good thing is that maybe I'll get more actual work done now.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 11:28 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I just realized you were answering the call to remove favorites entirely. Sorry, nothing to see here.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:29 AM on November 1, 2009


I love this change! Well, apart from the Word that Shall Not be Spoken. Can I suggest [+] turning into [*] ?

I tend to read threads top to bottom, which makes the scanning side not affect me. Also, I tend to treat favourites as a communication between me and the commenter: "thanks for posting that, rather than not posting". Not affected.

But anyhow, it sounds like it's not to be, as plenty of the more vocal members are opposed enough to avoid even trying it. The expression "Toys out of the pram" comes to mind. Still, would have been interesting to have an experiment.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 11:29 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

Most of my more recent "MetaFilter: _____ " comments have been made more from the hope that other people would be amused by them than because I found them particularly funny myself.
Is it too late for me to change my vote to "please get rid of favorites entirely"?
posted by Flunkie at 11:30 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, now I've learned that mathowie likes it, I... no, sorry, I'm keeping Stylish enabled.

I dislike this new behavior, even though I'm not someone who "skims" threads or uses favorites as a marker for what to read or pay attention to (one example use I've seen floated above). I like knowing that other people are reading, I like knowing other people have opinions on comments, and I like numbers and plurals and all the extra information that those numbers and plurals give.

Sorry mods.


But this change did make me create an account for the wiki so I could put it on the timeline, so there's that.
posted by subbes at 11:30 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just want to remind everyone that the largest through on the site is a thread on Sarah Palin's announcement as VP, at 5,555 comments.

We can do better than, I'm sure of it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:31 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was responding specifically to a snarky comeback to my own disclosure that we mods might be slow in responding to things in this thread today.

Sorry, I guess I didn't read the comment from that perspective. It just seemed (to my eyes, granted) that a point, however snarkily it was written, was also being made about the irony of a useful effect of favorites being disabled by the experiment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:32 AM on November 1, 2009


Oh, here's an example I think of where visible favorites have been a benefit for the site: the early days of the sexism kerfuffle. Before the whole topic exploded in MeTa I remember a few threads in the Blue where there was some fairly disturbing behavior. It was something I wanted to call out (and later evidence shows that a fair number of others did, too), but it can be uncomfortable about scary to speak out about that sort of thing. One or two brave folk chose to say something, and they were then getting attacked every which way from the previous posters whose behavior was being called-out. But favorites were used to show support for the call-out, and that in turn made a fair number of us more lurk-minded people feel comfortable enough to speak up. Of course, I'm way too lazy to dig up any links, so this is just my memory I'm going off of here.

I have to say, there is a fair amount of behavior on the Blue lately that I've found just soul-crushing, and I think this is the same behavior many anti-favorite folks are blaming on favorites. I mostly only lurk on the Blue, but there are still a lot of threads I enjoy reading.. Lately, though, it seems like way too large a percentage of the threads I look at just devolve into snarky, uninteresting, and pointless "this is a bad post and you're a bad person for posting it" conversations.. And I hate it. I really, really do. I'm starting to avoid the Blue more just because I find that kind of thread-death so very frustrating. So, if there is a correlation between favorite-culture and that kind of behavior, I totally approve of removing favorites. But I just don't think that correlation exists, and I think we might need to seek out alternative methods of changing the undesirable trends in Mefi culture.

I'm really curious to see what the site will be like on November 30th.
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:32 AM on November 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


Flunkie: "Is it too late for me to change my vote to "please get rid of favorites entirely"?"

Not at all.

For the record: The minority wishing to enforce its views on the majority is now a slightly larger minority.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:34 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm really late to the game, but this fucking sucks. It makes Ask Metafilter really unusable for me now.
posted by metalheart at 11:35 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't want to read every post


For many years, Metafilter had no favoriting system and everyone pretty much had to read the threads before commenting. I consider that a feature, not a bug.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:36 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Just here to say that it's a fine idea to test it out, but I liked it the old way better, personally.
posted by ishotjr at 11:36 AM on November 1, 2009


For many years, Metafilter had no favoriting system and everyone pretty much had to read the threads before commenting.

For many years — in fact, for all years prior — Metafilter and subsites have had many fewer users participating in threads and comments. It is a different (and better) site than it once was.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:38 AM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Phew. We're at over 600 comments in this thread.

Wish I could have sped-read through it by just looking for comments with high favorite counts.

Now I'm tired and cranky.
posted by Ookseer at 11:38 AM on November 1, 2009


I haven't been to Mefi for awhile and came on to this new favorite policy. I'm not a frequenter of MeTa but I came over here just to see what the hell had happened.


I, personally, don't like it. I always used favorites to pick out the "highlight" comments when I happened upon a thread that already had a thousand responses.

Just my two cents.
posted by Defenestrator at 11:41 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't even notice the switch over for the most part. I recall when some fellow posted a grease monkey script that showed only those comments with five or more favorites, he was pretty much lambasted by a fair percentage of the community. Now it seems that a lot of folks process the information the same way, just visually checking the favorite counts manually.

Anyhoots...It works for me. I don't miss the favorite counts.



Though, if we want to install some sort of pictorial favorite system, where x number of favorites are represented by pictures of lions, unicorns, and kittens, etc, I'm all for that.
posted by Atreides at 11:41 AM on November 1, 2009

For many years, Metafilter had no favoriting system and everyone pretty much had to read the threads before commenting.
No, people didn't have to read the thread before commenting. That's a totally false claim, and it can't validly be used to back the opinion that there shouldn't be favorites.
posted by Flunkie at 11:41 AM on November 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


You can kill those ones too out of protest if you need to be but it doesn't really tell me anything other than you're looking for some way to react to this by intentionally acting out about how you use favorites.

It's partly out of protest and partly because the favoriting system provides far less information than it used to—and intentionally so—unless I muck about with various files on my computer or install GreaseMonkey scripts just to get things to work the way they did 15 hours ago.
posted by oaf at 11:43 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, and just because I apparently want to contribute as much as possible to the comment count on this post, here's perhaps another point to consider:

A lot of the comparisons being made are between Metafilter and Reddit or Digg -- people are saying that skimming by favorites is like upvoting comments or whatever, something we all seem to agree sucks. But maybe that's not the correct way to conceptualize how some members use favorites to skim threads. It may be more useful to compare Metafilter to Wikipedia, on that front.

Wikipedia just doesn't work if there isn't a large number of users dedicated to producing top-quality content for the site. But that doesn't mean everyone who reads Wikipedia does so -- I look at Wikipedia entries all the time, but I have never posted or edited an entry there. This doesn't mean I'm breaking the system or ruining Wikipedia... It just means I'm using the site in a different way from the more dedicated members.

In the same way, Metafilter depends on dedicated members to produce commentary and a sense of community on the site... But that doesn't mean that everyone who reads Mefi threads has to. Those who skim-by-favorites are just like those who only read Wikipedia entries.

I say this as someone who very carefully reads each and every comment in a thread that interests me. I just feel that the more casual Mefi members are getting a bad wrap. If we're concerned about half-assed and repetitive commenting in threads, I'm not sure picking on skimming-by-favorites is the way to go.
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:44 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've been reading MetaFilter for a while now, although I'm not exactly a high contributing member (I read far, far, FAR more than I post). I remember the days when it was easily possible to read through every single post of the day. Nowadays, not so much. I admit I use favourite counts to filter through highly-commented posts, because the activity level is just so much higher now.

However,

I skim threads when I don't have time but I don't regularly look for just the highest favorited comments in threads, and you have to admit that kind of activity devalues everything else and creates an environment where comments are seen as useless noise with the votes pushing up the signal.
posted by mathowie


is something I have to agree with. I installed the workaround as a knee-jerk reaction, but I think I'm going to remove it now. This is an interesting experiment, and personally, I'm curious to see how it affects my reading habits.
posted by threetoed at 11:44 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you hate "faved," there's now my Greasemonkey script to replace it with a star or whatever you like - I think an image is doable.

I'm writing a wiki page to list the various tools.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:46 AM on November 1, 2009


kingjoeshmoe: "What's the point? If I can so easily circumvent this feature/bug, what benefit does it serve to hide the info in the first place? People tech-savvy enough to mess with style-sheets and greasemonkey scripts get to have a secret easter-egg feature that is denied to those who can't deal?"

People who care enough to work around it will do so, and everyone else will just be inconvenienced. It's the DRM of Metafilter.
posted by shammack at 11:47 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I tried reading the whole thread but bailed about a quarter way in; so just to say I'm not that bothered either way, but then I'm not a heavy AskMe user so can't speak to any loss of functionality there.
In the kind of current affairs, theory and similar threads I enjoy most for actual discussion, I often find a high favourite count just goes - unsurprisingly - with a well-stated version of the the sort of opinion that you might expect from the demographic that uses the site, so I don't miss it so much there, especially knowing that any user you 'reward' for a good argument or funny joke still gets to see their personal count go up.
posted by Abiezer at 11:47 AM on November 1, 2009


Here is a work-around for Chrome users. It's a few lines of Javascript, it removes the hidden property from the byline.
posted by mellifluous at 11:48 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this is a pain. I'll keep reading Ask but I will probably stop reading comments on Metafilter altogether, until someone comes up with a script that gets around this change--I like the chance to read the neatest comments but I don't have time to figure out which ones they are myself.
posted by phoenixy at 11:49 AM on November 1, 2009


I know that in the past I've favorited things that I agreed with as a way to communicate my belief/opinion without opening myself up in particularly contentious threads to be directly attacked/confronted/criticized for that belief. Knowing (transparently) how many other people agreed with me helped make the community feel more safe.

This is a description of an echo chamber, not what we want MetaFilter to be, right?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:50 AM on November 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


I have lost my marker of which posts are everyone's favorites. I can NO LONGER READ MEFI THREADS. Arrrrgghhh
posted by shii at 11:50 AM on November 1, 2009

I will probably stop reading comments on Metafilter altogether, until someone comes up with a script that gets around this change
If favorites were still visible, you probably would have already seen such a workaround.
posted by Flunkie at 11:52 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I like this change. The anger against is as good a proof as any that the favorites system has become an overly-dominant influence on how people read and comment on the site. I'd also be happy for the faved/not faved distinction to also go.
posted by cillit bang at 11:53 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

This is a description of an echo chamber
People having the ability to express agreement does not constitute an "echo chamber".
posted by Flunkie at 11:54 AM on November 1, 2009 [20 favorites]


Simply: Excellent experiemnt and probably going to be a great improvement. I agree strongly with the concerns about piling on and showboating.
posted by msalt at 11:54 AM on November 1, 2009


Okay, now that I've had a sandwich and a cup of tea I can drop a few less cranky comments.

1) I think running an experiment is good. I like that you're running an experiment.

2) I do not like the change.

3) The fact that some people subverted the favorite system into a voting system means that there is a non-insignificant population that wants it. If they want to use it that way, why take it away from them? It seems like punishing someone for breaking a rule which doesn't exist.

4) If you do keep the change (ugh) please do not use 'faved'. It simply sounds juvenile. (Best suggestion so far: "Noted") Better suggestion: If you take away the favorite counts you might as well remove the "faved" altogether. If the [+] is just for my private bookmarking then commit to that.

5) Really? I have five points to make on this? Wow, never would have guessed. Anyway...

Why should the people who want to see favorite counts have to resort to greasemonkey? Why can't people who want them hidden go the greasemonkey route? (and why haven't they just done this before now?) Given my limited understanding, isn't it easier to subtract existing information from a page than add in new?
posted by Ookseer at 11:54 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I installed the Stylish script. Let a thousand favorites bloom.
posted by gerryblog at 11:55 AM on November 1, 2009


> This is a description of an echo chamber, not what we want MetaFilter to be, right?

It's going to be an echo chamber either way because the vast majority of people here have a similar world view. I don't see how favorites effect that one way or another. It's not like Reddit/Digg/et al where the comments are ordered by popularity and low-threshold ones are collapsed.
posted by cj_ at 11:55 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not in favor. But I can abide for a month.

I'm in the "all for experimenting but not at all impressed by the method and the results will be just as contestable as the study" camp. There will be no answers from this.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:56 AM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I hate this.
posted by spaltavian at 11:56 AM on November 1, 2009


HELP! the thread was too long to read because there were no favorites I could look at to gauge the community's reaction to this. I have some questions

1) Can some make a greasemonkey script or anything? THX

2) Can the mods tell me what the reasoning behind this was?

3) Let me be the first person to say that I don't like the word 'faved'.

4) Let me also be the first person to say that I don't like this.

thx and if u know the answers plz email me at metatalkyesthiswassarcasmandIdidreadthewholethreadandwhatdoesenduphappeningisthatpeoplerepeatthemselves@aol.com
posted by suedehead at 11:56 AM on November 1, 2009


I'm curious how the month will play out, whether others will come away from it feeling the way I do or start using greasemonkey instead

Okay, I'm using the workaround for IE. Who else has already put the workaround in? Because the rest of us would like to know.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:57 AM on November 1, 2009


For me, the favorite counts make the forum more of a three dimensional social experience--vaguely analogous to watching faces in a real life discussion. Dichotomizing this information flattens the social nature of the whole thing.
posted by found missing at 11:58 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


People having the ability to express agreement does not constitute an "echo chamber".

Did you stop reading the quote halfway through? The comment stressed how they felt safe knowing x many other people agree with them before hitting the favorite button. That's an echo chamber. That's sub-optimal.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:59 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


oaf: "It's partly out of protest and partly because the favoriting system provides far less information than it used to—and intentionally so—unless I muck about with various files on my computer or install GreaseMonkey scripts just to get things to work the way they did 15 hours ago."

I am sympathetic to your degree of anger but not to your direction of it.

I tell you sincerely that, despite the fact that I completely agree with you, I would rather the mods continue with a counterproductive but well-meant experiment than reverse course after being beaten down by site vandals*.

* Sorry, but that's what you're doing. You'd make our side look better if you stop that.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:00 PM on November 1, 2009


Why do we even need a word for it? How about we just have a number? Or a bar that has a max threshold of, let's say 25 comments to 'fullness'? That way you avoid the labeling problem, the mathematical quantification, yet still get a general idea of the amount of response. You preserve the social indexing function without imposing a categorical label or competition in numbers.

It's basically a bucket metaphor. People conceptually get to decide what to call that bucket for themselves.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:01 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, this is one of the better comments in this half of the thread:

If favorites were still visible, you probably would have already seen such a workaround.
posted by Flunkie at 2:52 PM on November 1 [1 favorite faved -] Favorite added! [!]


This is why I installed the Stylish script and why I was, as you can see, the first faver to fave Flunkie's comment about why faving posts was such a fave feature for some of us, outside faving's undeniable contribution to THE DEATH OF DISCOURSE.
posted by gerryblog at 12:02 PM on November 1, 2009


Fuck, it's not a bucket. It's a fucking filter.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:02 PM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think the value of visible favorites is made really, really clear in the Schrödinger's Rapist thread. A lot of women were brave enough to share some really personal stuff, and the number of favorites these stories got wasn't any sort of popularity contest, it was instead largely a way for the less-brave of us to say "I know how you feel because I have been made to feel the same way."

I think those favorites served as a way to successfully counterbalance the various ignorant dudes who would pop up to say things like "You're all paranoid, catcalling is just a compliment," or "The author of the article must be ugly, because only ugly chicks are afraid of rape."

If the really great comments in the thread only had a "Faved" under them, I think we would have missed out on a truly impressive showing of feminist solidarity on a forum that hasn't always been a safe space for women.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:03 PM on November 1, 2009 [36 favorites]


Why should the people who want to see favorite counts have to resort to greasemonkey? Why can't people who want them hidden go the greasemonkey route? (and why haven't they just done this before now?

That's the nature of the experiment we're running. The default experience is to have favorite counts visible with an opt-out route available for those who want it; we've inverted it that for a month, which changes the dynamic for folks running with the default, which in both cases is the larger group.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:03 PM on November 1, 2009


I think Sidhedevil and iamkimiam made some excellent points about potential issues with obscured favorites. I'm keeping an open mind about how it will work, but I really, really dislike the term "faved," largely because of the false parallel with "flagged." I feel like even seeing just "favorite" under a comment would be less jarring than "faved."
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:04 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Did you stop reading the quote halfway through? The comment stressed how they felt safe knowing x many other people agree with them before hitting the favorite button. That's an echo chamber. That's sub-optimal.
No, I did not, and no, it does not constitute that.

Seriously? You think that people feeling safe to express themselves in the face of invective -- which is what the post that you imply I didn't read is talking about -- constitutes an "echo chamber"?

It doesn't.
posted by Flunkie at 12:04 PM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


oinopaponton, not to mention that now "You're all paranoid, catcalling is just a compliment," "The author of the article must be ugly, because only ugly chicks are afraid of rape," and the posts that call those sentiments out will now all share a single badge of honor: FAVED.
posted by gerryblog at 12:05 PM on November 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


I've never understood what "favorite-whoring" could mean except "people annoyingly liking stuff I don't like".

I thought favourite-whoring meant posting the kind of opinion that you know will go down big among the leftists and atheists amongst us?

That's the shit that always gets the faves poked into my metaphorical g-string anyway.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:05 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


you have to admit that kind of activity devalues everything else and creates an environment where comments are seen as useless noise with the votes pushing up the signal.

Respectfully, I don't think this has to be admitted at all, because I think it's predicated on an oversimplifed assumption about what value all readers in all contexts and in all subsites ascribe to heavily favorited comments vs. not-heavily favorited comments. As others have pointed out, heavily favorited comments may function differently for casual users vs. frequent users, in the Blue vs. in the Green, in long threads vs. short threads, etc.

Or to look at it another way: in certain threads of certain topics, certain usernames are going to carry more weight than others. Is that a bad thing? Should we block usernames, so that people's reputations (for good or ill) won't carry any weight in terms of the content of their comments?

In a thread about the slow cooking movement, for example, I would absolutely skim the thread off the bat to see if Miko has weighed in, and I will pay close attention to what she says, regardless of whether her comment has 0 favorites or 25. This is because I know that Miko knows what she's talking about on this score; the fact that I'm valuing Miko's contribution doesn't mean I'm automatically devaluing anyone else's contribution to the thread.

But what about a new or casual user who comes to that thread and doesn't know that Miko is well-versed in this topic? The fact that she might have 25 favorites on her comment would be a meaningful and valuable way that a newcomer might be able to immediately register Miko's knowledge of the topic, and might be a way of helping them filter (as it were) knowledgeable answers from less knowledgeable answers.

Which strikes me as actually adding value to the site, not subtracting.
posted by scody at 12:05 PM on November 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "I just want to remind everyone that the largest through on the site is a thread on Sarah Palin's announcement as VP, at 5,555 comments.

We can do better than, I'm sure of it.
"

I'm sorry you feel that way. One thing I think Metafilter does really well is breaking news, and that thread was a fine example of it. Granted, there are lots of "WTF WHO" and snark, but there was constant links to new sources of information, and frequent debunking of false stories about Palin. It was a great thread. Surely not BEST OF THE WEB, but honestly, those threads don't attract huge amounts of comments. I'm pretty sure the largest thread before this was probably 9622 in-jokery of some sort. We're better than that too.
posted by graventy at 12:05 PM on November 1, 2009


Many of the complaints with the favorite counting seems to be that it make people behave differently than they would otherwise. That attention whoring becomes a goal, and that it gives preference to comments by people who are attention whores.

If this undesirable then we really need to remove "Best answer" tagging in AskMe as well. Sometimes people just scan an AskMefi question and only read the Best Answers, which is really unfair to everyone else who contributed to the post. And don't even get me started on people who go out of their way to try to get Best Answer. Attention whores.
posted by Ookseer at 12:06 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow. I missed this thread: I saw the front page part of the post, mind you, "an experiment with how favorites are displayed", and thought "Sure, put up some pie charts, change the kerning, whatever. Fine. I won't miss anything if I don't read that thread."

I wasn't expecting this.

My thoughts: I was actually moderately opposed to the implementation of favorites, for the oft-mentioned argument of comment equality / pissing-contest-prevention. I actually liked having to read every comment in the thread (I think this was around the time when I was either lurking or had just signed up in the Flood of '04). I don't think it strays too far from seriousness to say that it's a socialist model: every comment really is created equal that way, and words are judged only by thought and other words. Simply put, you had to chew a bit longer on every contribution to a discussion.

So favorites, in my view, really did change something about both active discourse and the reading experience on Metafilter. We'll probably never agree completely about the extent and merit of this change, but anecdotally, I do find myself skimming longer threads for much-favorited comments or answers, especially if I don't care that much for the topic. If it's a subject I'm interested in, however, I'll usually read the whole thing.

Conversely, as a contributor I like receiving favorites, if "receiving" is the right way to put it: I don't obsessively monitor my favorites, and I try to steer well clear of "favorite-whoring", to use an unparliamentary term: posting something just to garner favorites.

But the "Popular" view that shows which of your contributions have been favorited most does tell me something about which of my posts apparently work well for Metafilter, what comments have been received well or at least struck a chord, and in general tell me something about my writing, I suppose: things I find useful.

This Metafilter is a different one from the Metafilter of five years ago: posts scroll past faster, threads get longer: it's hard to keep track of things, as I have illustrated with my initial failure to read this post. But for many of us this is a process that extends beyond this site only: I expect most will recognize the problem of channeling, bundling and filtering information from the endless, massive stream that passes through the intertubes. Favorites help with this, too.

All of the above serves to say that I have over time become convinced that the merits of favoriting have proven themselves. In fact, I was just about to inquire if there could be a way to sort tag pages by number of favorites: I was looking for a recipe and Google failed me, so if you could have askmefi/tags/gravy and see the most-favorited questions, I expect people will find it useful. The popularity contest argument applies here as well, of course, sure: but we already have favorites, and Popular pages, so I feel it would be a logical extension.

So now I find myself opposed to this. I've read the post and the moderators' comments multiple times, and I still don't understand the precise nature of the problem that this measure would be designed to solve, or how exactly this would help solve it. Having favorites but hiding them behind a click -- which is what this is, as I see it -- seems inconsistent to me, even, dare I say it, bureaucratic, as a watered-down compromise you'd see in a legislature, where a good idea goes in, and a faceless token gesture comes out that leaves you wondering what on earth the original idea could have been.

I don't mean to be harsh, but I am being honest. I do appreciate the willingness of Team Mod to actively float trial balloons to eventually make the site better. But for now I am strongly opposed to what to me seems little more than an annoying interface change that slows and limits the user experience, which is something that I thought sites we hate tend to do, not Metafilter.

I yield the remainder of my time to Favio, the favorites-puking gerbil.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:08 PM on November 1, 2009 [17 favorites]


few people will change their minds as a result of this test.

I've already changed mine. I'm one of the few! I was a favorites skeptic. I saw it as the equivalence of a laugh track on a sit-com. I noticed that a large proportion the high-favorited comments could be found in the more contentious discussions and this reminded me of what I always hated about sports fans. I believed that those using a favorites count as a mark to differentiate what to bother reading created a star system where those already favorited would be more likely to be favorited again since they would be all that some people would bother to read. I have wanted to mark responses to return to later and had no way to do so other than giving what would be interpreted as approval.

But, now, I find I miss those favorite counts. It just feels wrong not seeing them. It damps down a form of interaction that created community feel, which, even with all its faults, is superior to the more distant flattened affect resulting from the hidden counts.

I am pro-experiment and have already learned from this. Will I learn more if it goes on for 30 more days? Possibly, but I doubt it. And I hate the word "fave." My spell-checker hates it to. (It's better than the alternatives? How would a gold star be worse?)

So, I would like to see favorites return. And maybe a separate bookmark feature so I can return to comments which are certainly not my favorites.
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:08 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Did you stop reading the quote halfway through? The comment stressed how they felt safe knowing x many other people agree with them before hitting the favorite button. That's an echo chamber. That's sub-optimal.

No. That wasn't my intent in the least.

This more accurately reflects what I meant:

A lot of women were brave enough to share some really personal stuff, and the number of favorites these stories got wasn't any sort of popularity contest, it was instead largely a way for the less-brave of us to say "I know how you feel because I have been made to feel the same way."

Thanks, oinopaponton, for saying it better than I did.
posted by Stewriffic at 12:08 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yay, candy corn!

With candy corn as my nutritious energy supply, I have now come back and read the whole thread. What's curious about this flat-world is I pretty much ended up favoriting every comment in opposition to you, koeselitz, and I don't know whether I'm in the minority or majority. So that's kind of ... cute.

But in case I am in the minority, I'd like to remain the strongly vocal minority, and tell you to please take your megalomania elsewhere? You are not St. Koeselitz, defender of the MetaFilter, and I found mysself particularly at times annoyed and out right pissed off that you decided to tell everybody in tens of posts the thread over how much better you were then them, and oh you're not really but THEY'RE WRONG, and if they just learned to love metafilter the way you used to love metafilter, before all the love went away, why, they would enjoy it too.

Jesus, dude. Half of this thread's your comments. Get a grip, or three, or press a button, eh?
posted by cavalier at 12:08 PM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


My favorite became a whore totally without my knowledge. Posted on craigslist and everything.
posted by found missing at 12:09 PM on November 1, 2009


Just a note that the CSS hack seems to work for the desktop version of Safari (v4.0.3).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:09 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I promise to come back and read every! single! comment today after I go get tacos from the delicious taco stand at the Sunday Market. But right now I'd like to log my displeasure at this change and suggest an alternative.

I remain a very nervous commenter on all areas of this site. I'm not sure what's socially acceptable where, what sort of attitude is called for, if people are being sarcastic or not (except of course when Hamburgers are involved and I wish that would die already,) or if my commentary would be welcome. I use Favorites as a way to gauge all of that. Knowing what gets the mid-range level of favorites in a given thread helps me choose what to say and how to say it so as to be most useful or entertaining or informative to the readers of the thread.

So I hereby suggest that you remove the value-laden word "Favorites" or "Faves" and replace it with the rather neutral word "Bean".

I can give a comment one bean, I can give many beans a day. Giving a bean can mean a nod of approval or a note to oneself for future reference, it can be sweet like a jellybean or utilitarian like a lima bean. It can still be seen as a voting system by people who like that sort of thing, but to new users it will take a certain level of site-wide understanding. And on our profile pages, we won't be seen to have a frajillion and one favorites, we can just be full of beans. Which, as I think the readers of this thread would agree (but I can't tell right now because I'm not sure what the general attitude is due to a lack of Favorite counts!) is both a good and a bad thing.

the Favorites system isn't broken, in my mind, it just uses a value-laden word where a neutral one belongs.
posted by Mizu at 12:10 PM on November 1, 2009 [14 favorites]


I haven't used up a Ren and Stimpy reference in a long time, so:

No sir, I don't like it.

I'll try to return with a different one-liner around Nov. 30 or so.
posted by gimonca at 12:12 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


People having the ability to express agreement does not constitute an "echo chamber".

It does when at least 90% of the non-grief "faves" in this thread are in the HATE HATE HATE category, while some of the most reasoned "this could be good" things aren't even "faved."

It's turning into LOL... something. This isn't a conversation. This is more like a mob.
posted by dw at 12:13 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

It does when at least 90% of the non-grief "faves" in this thread are in the HATE HATE HATE category
How do you know?
posted by Flunkie at 12:14 PM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


everyone pretty much had to read the threads before commenting. I consider that a feature, not a bug.

Except that I don't comment very often (I only commented above to "register my vote"). In most cases, anything I might say has already been said by someone else.

I usually just read the popular threads, finding the good bits by favorite counts. Based on the content above, I'm not the only one who does this.

If the favorites count is gone for good, then the site won't work for me. I'm not going to wade through 98 mediocre comments to find 2 gems.

I'm just one vote. I can find plenty of other things to read on the internet. You're "feature not a bug" snark makes me feel really unwelcome anyway.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 12:16 PM on November 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


> Just a note that the CSS hack seems to work for the desktop version of Safari (v4.0.3)

Yeah, I got it to work as well. I think I was running both the GM script and this at the same time, or maybe just needed to restart the browser. Using a custom stylesheet is a much cleaner solution than tweaking the DOM style attributes using javascript, of course.
posted by cj_ at 12:20 PM on November 1, 2009


No sir, I don't like it.

Ha, my thought exactly. I love that horse who doesn't like things.

I appreciate you guys are trying to improve the site, but this change doesn't work. The fact that the information is still there, one click away, is a dead giveaway that a lot of people want this info and some, like everythings_interrelated, don't even find the site useful without it.

So nothing is really gone or changed, it's just an extremely inconvenient process of extra clicks.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:20 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


mathowie: I think it may be an example where a little echo is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are expressing an opinion which people may disagree vehemently with, it can be nice to have favourites which you can interpret as "You are not alone, thanks for posting this". It can be nice to see that many people have agreed with that thing that you feel strongly about. It can be eye-opening to see a pile of favourites on something that YOU vehemently disagree with.

Still quite happy to do without favourite counts, but I think that is a good point in the "pro" column.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:21 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


In other words, because I'm still not sure I'm making myself clear, I'd count myself among the less-brave. I'm emphatically NOT waiting to see if people have favorited something before commenting to make sure I'll be accepted (which is what matt seems to have read me as saying). Rather, imagine someone here makes a comment that is, say, sexist (racist, homophobic, name your poison). Someone speaks up against it. If the comment challenging the sexism/racism/etc is favorited, I feel better here, knowing that the one hateful commenter is not representative of the entire community. If I then in turn want to stand with the others who agree, favoriting is a less risky way to participate than to comment.

The other reason I am as apt to favorite as to comment is that I'm not very good at explaining myself.
posted by Stewriffic at 12:23 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I made it to the end! I read almost every comment on this thread and would like to add my thoughts, although I did make a point to add favorites to every comment I thought deserved one.

1.) I like experimentation and respect that the mods wanted to try to do something to better the site and appease a very unhappy portion of the community. That said, I do not feel that taking away a feature is an upgrade or a step in the right direction. This particular change seriously affects the way myself and many others read and enjoy the site, and not in a good way. It's going to create a lot more noise in AskMe with "me too"s and the colorful and varied landscape of comments/data that we had before is now flattened.

2.) I do not understand why users have to resort to a Greasemonkey script or the like, especially considering that there is no way to tell how many people are using a workaround. Could you not have taken a little more time and added an on/off feature? This would be much easier for the non power-user and would provide concrete data for the administrators? I also do not appreciate having a feature taken away and being told that I have to find a workaround if I want to read the site as it's normally portrayed. As someone who does a LOT of CSS coding, I don't really want to install stylesheets in my browser (or anything else that screws around with the way sites display) and the browser that I normally use for recreational browsing, Chrome, doesn't support extensions (yet). Also, what does this do for those of us who read in RSS readers or mobile browsers? You simply just can't dismiss those users by waving your hand and implying it's not your problem. A month is a long time for those of us who find the site nearly unreadable now.

3.) I think that the real issue surrounding favorites is how they are used. It is probably better to address this sooner than later as the site grows. If you really want to upgrade the site, add to it. Give us both a bookmarking option and some kind of favorite/like option. I will leave the wording to those who care much more than I do. I know that it is a lot of work, but if you truly believe that the current system is broken, then something must be done, right?

And for users who don't like those features, there should be an option to hide them. Maybe they are even off by default for new users, so that they can learn how to function in this (implied) perfect community, where everyone reads every single comment, before they discover that they can turn those features on and start skimming and snarking with the rest of us.

4.) If the favorites system is responsible for more shit comments and snark, then maybe rather than taking away a feature, the answer is hiring a few more mods. We have a lot more users than we did last time a mod was added to the team.

I just wanted to add one more comment - not all of us who employ the favorites system to help us read threads skim. I usually read every single comment. That was hard to do in this thread, but anyone who has gotten this far knows that. We all read the site in a different way and that should be considered, rather than arguing about skimming vs not skimming, etc.
posted by bristolcat at 12:23 PM on November 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Oh fluffnutters!

I linked to the old script. I meant to link to the new November-only script.

Well, for this month at least, I'll put the November code into the other script, and then switch it back...
posted by Deathalicious at 12:23 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


This isn't a conversation. This is more like a mob.

The other thing that makes it not a conversation is that it was implemented by fiat with a few weekend hours' notice. That's an an anti-transparency, anti-community move. I love this site and of course I'll keep reading, but this was handled badly, and in a way that seems calculated to frustrate people.
posted by gerryblog at 12:24 PM on November 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


It does when at least 90% of the non-grief "faves" in this thread are in the HATE HATE HATE category, while some of the most reasoned "this could be good" things aren't even "faved."

Why favorite comments when the people commenting don't like favorites?

I actually love Mizu's suggestion for "beans" as a term to replace "favorites." I would love to see post favorites changed to something closer to "bookmarks" and the adorable, wonderful term "bean" to replace comment favorites. It would more accurately reflect the way it seems these terms are used, the separation between the utility of the two, and, unlike "faves", actually fits with the mythology/traditions/in-jokes of the site.

Mizu, I give you one hundred beans on a gold plate for coming up with that term.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:25 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


goodnewsfortheinsane: "\Having favorites but hiding them behind a click -- which is what this is, as I see it -- seems inconsistent to me, even, dare I say it, bureaucratic, as a watered-down compromise you'd see in a legislature, where a good idea goes in, and a faceless token gesture comes out that leaves you wondering what on earth the original idea could have been."

Favorites: Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:25 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Could you not have taken a little more time and added an on/off feature? This would be much easier for the non power-user and would provide concrete data for the administrators?

I think this is a great point.
posted by scody at 12:25 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


This isn't a conversation. This is more like a mob.

That's one of my concerns, particularly concerning the echo-chambery aspects of keeping the number visible to all. Of course there's little sense in telling others how they should read the site, but consider this: Those who skim comments, reading only the most popular ones, usually do so for larger threads. There's no reason to do that for a shorter thread, obvs. Many of those long-comment threads (hey! Like this one!) are long because of contentious debate, often political in nature. And if you're only reading the most popular comments in such a thread, then you're taking part in the same kind of dynamic that calls itself "public discourse" in my country but is really just people talking and shouting past each other. You skip an unpopular opinion, you're skipping a chance to evaluate that opinion, maybe (audible gasp) an opportunity to re-evaluate your own beliefs. Not to mention I often get a sense of a kind of circle-jerky pileon vibe with the way favorites are used in such threads.

That's an an anti-transparency, anti-community move.

If they took a poll every time they wanted to try something new for the site, nothing would ever change here. I know that most of the oldest and most vocal members want exactly that, but that doesn't make it good.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:26 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is a description of an echo chamber, not what we want MetaFilter to be, right?

who's we? the majority or the minority who want to make decisions for the rest of us?
posted by pyramid termite at 12:26 PM on November 1, 2009


If they took a poll every time they wanted to try something new for the site, nothing would ever change here. I know that most of the oldest and most vocal members want exactly that, but that doesn't make it good.

When was the last time a big site change was made in the way this one was? I can't remember the last time matthowie et all just DID SOMETHING without it having been discussed for weeks or even months in advance.
posted by gerryblog at 12:28 PM on November 1, 2009


You'd make our side look better if you stop that.

I already cleared out all of my favorited comments from today, and not just the ones I favorited because they were lonely.
posted by oaf at 12:28 PM on November 1, 2009


I can't even begin to put in words how much I hate this change. Is there some data storage/caching issue you're planning to solve through this change? As it stands, this is removing a valuable feature with no end-user benefit.

Given that users can change the font size and other variables with the display, why not make this a display option at the very least? All it would take is the difference between display:none and display:inline in the user defined css. That's about as win-win it could get. I shouldn't have to resort to installing browser extensions.
posted by o0o0o at 12:29 PM on November 1, 2009


I very much dislike the change.
posted by Lord Force Crater at 12:30 PM on November 1, 2009


Haven't finished the thread but have to say that this:

After opening this thread and scanning through it in the post-favorites-count world, I fucking HATE it. I am finding that it completely (and, frankly, surprisingly) changes the way I read threads, and not in a good way.


is EXACTLY how I feel. I am shocked to discover how much I use(d) favorites, now that they are gone (or as good as, in this thread at least, since practically every comment is "faved"). It is like a really interesting (and useful) texture has been stripped away, or like something that used to be three-dimensional is now flattened to 2D.

I've never ever messed around with scripts or monkey-what-have-yous, but I'm definitely going to .oldFav{display-ify my view of Metafilter.
posted by torticat at 12:32 PM on November 1, 2009


gerryblog: "The other thing that makes it not a conversation is that it was implemented by fiat with a few weekend hours' notice. That's an an anti-transparency, anti-community move. I love this site and of course I'll keep reading, but this was handled badly, and in a way that seems calculated to frustrate people."

You appear to be assuming that the experiment was undertaken in bad faith.

Do you have any evidence to support such an assumption? Frankly, I doubt that you do.

Even when a mod has taken me to the woodshed, I have never had the slightest doubt they were doing so in good faith.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:32 PM on November 1, 2009


> You're "feature not a bug" snark makes me feel really unwelcome anyway.

Yeah, no doubt. The general thrust of anti-favoritists seems to be "this site was a lot better before you were here." Well, OK then? Hard to even muster an argument against that. I mean, if that's how you feel about it, just say so instead of implying it constantly with references to how great the site was 8 years ago or whatever.
posted by cj_ at 12:32 PM on November 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


To add another voice to the minority: I'm really glad this experiment is happening. I think thoughtful arguments for both sides have been made in this thread, but they are vastly outnumbered by the kneejerk aggressive responses. As someone who also skims threads via favourites and rarely has time to read entire threads, I understand and feel the loss; but as someone who also shares many of the concerns of the anti-favourites amongst us, I really like how it is making me re-evaluate my relationship with metafilter - for example by forcing me to read the more minority opinions that I might've just skipped over in the past.

For all the people saying IT'S BEEN 24 WHOLE HOURS AND I HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT - it is human to be resistant to change, and for something like this that we have so got used to, grown attached to and taken for granted (and even have associated with our worth in the community), 24 hours simply cannot be enough to evaluate its impact. I'm not saying people who don't like this are wrong - I share many of the concerns - and it's totally fine that people are sharing their initial impressions, but the aggression and anger is unwarranted. I'm really glad that Metafilter is a place that actually cares about these issues enough to try such experiments; and especially glad that while mathowie and the mods care about and value the opinions of the community, they are also courageous enough that they are willing to risk alienating a large number of people if they think something will be good for the community in the long run. So I want to say thanks. I look forward to seeing what we all think at the end of the month.

My small contribution to this thread would be to agree that 'faved' doesn't work. A good alternative I think might be for the favourites information, including who favourited the comment, to be displayed on mouseover of the current [+]. I think it's important, if we're going to experiment with this, to have all comments look the same, regardless of whether they've been favourited or not. If mouseover is possible and not too much hard work to code, that would also make it a little more convenient (or a little less inconvenient) for people who do want that information.
posted by catchingsignals at 12:32 PM on November 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


This isn't a conversation. This is more like a mob.

I'd like us all to consider that this "experiment" may actually be an experiment, a secrit part of lewistate's dissertation research. Play nice--we are being watched.
posted by Mngo at 12:34 PM on November 1, 2009


I've been toying around the site and I have noticed a behavior change. I now favorite fave things like a mofo since they essentially have no value. Before, I was extremely stingy with favorites, because they provided valuable feedback. Now they are essentially worthless so I can plop a fave on anything that seems sort of on point.

I'm pretty sure the devaluing of the Favorite is going to slow the economy.
posted by 26.2 at 12:34 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Favorite is a problematic word when used as often as we do for preferred posts. I'm surprised that the werd police can accept it at all. Faved is actually better, because it rescues English from self-abuse. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if sockpuppets number in the hundreds, and favorite counts encourage them to exist (and therefore lead to every other problem).

Whatever the case may be, maybe we could do this scientifically and critically list what it is exactly that we like/want from feedback and address each benefit separately, and if one solution fits all, so be it, but it isn't favoriting. So count me as an anti-favoritist generally who only uses them for obscured posts who need it, and bookmarking, and for rewarding anyone who posts in one of my FPP's.
posted by Brian B. at 12:35 PM on November 1, 2009


Sometimes people just scan an AskMefi question and only read the Best Answers, which is really unfair to everyone else who contributed to the post.

It's especially problematic when the asker has marked an incorrect answer as the best one—if they're confused, or asked the question for the purpose of being told what they wanted to hear. I think it would be great to let people flag the incorrect marking of best answers, but that's a pony request for another thread.
posted by oaf at 12:37 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Could you not have taken a little more time and added an on/off feature? This would be much easier for the non power-user and would provide concrete data for the administrators?

Could we have is kind of moot at this point, but looking forward we are discussing implementation of that sort of thing, yeah. Aside from the savviness question, being able to look directly at how many and who are using an official site workaround could have some value, too.

That's an an anti-transparency

Anti-transparency would be doing it and refusing to discuss it. I hear the "this is pretty sudden" aspect (and it's a complicated sort of damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don't thing in a lot of respects on that front), but we're not trying to be coy or slippery about this in the least bit.

When was the last time a big site change was made in the way this one was? I can't remember the last time matthowie et all just DID SOMETHING without it having been discussed for weeks or even months in advance.

Honestly, that was pretty much the standard mode of site feature changes and rollouts since forever. We've moved away from it some with things in the last couple of years, which I think has generally been a good thing, but we're still stuck between the question of whether we want to have something talked to death ahead of time or have it talked to death in real time, and both options have their pros and cons.

The topic itself, the idea of these changes we're running, has come up a lot in the past. I hear you on the distinction between "has been talked about" and "has been specifically talked about in a pre-launch discussion", but this isn't a random out-of-the-blue thing with no precedent in metatalk discussion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:37 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Count me among those who dislike this change - and I'm someone who can't remember a time I didn't support the mods in their decisions.

It's true that some people make comments to "whore favorites." But I know we've all seen times when someone tried to make a snarky, insulting, or maybe morally outraged post and recieved no real positive favorite feedback. I think that's a great way for the community to enforce some norms. No one has to say, "Look, dude, that last comment of yours didn't go over so well. Might want to think about why," because hopefully the poster can figure it out for themselves.

So the system rewards the snark the community likes and discourages snark we don't like. That's only a problem if you disagree with what the community as a whole is enjoying, in which case we should deal with that directly (by deleting those comments?) rather than this round-about way that hurts the usability of the sites for many other members.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:37 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am probably repeating a couple of comments upthread (qualification included) in saying that I haven't read the whole thread and I don't like the change.

On the other hand I'm willing to give the experiment a go because it seems like an interesting experiment in changing behaviour over favourite chasing.

On the other hand since we've come to rely on explicit favourite display one month doesn't seem long enough for such an experiment.
posted by doobiedoo at 12:37 PM on November 1, 2009


Because I want to emphasize this, but can't with this new system, I'm repeating it.

Can this "faved experiment" be rolled back sooner in consideration of the largely negative response?

posted by meerkatty at 12:38 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


This is a description of an echo chamber, not what we want MetaFilter to be, right?

If I favorited five comments in this thread essentially calling out a user, as I wanted to do that too and now I don't have to as someone already did it, would you prefer I would have instead posted an additional five callouts to that user?

In both cases you have an echo chamber... the intent is noble, but I don't think the solution to gaming sociological groupthink is to turn a "I likey" button into "This is liked" button.
posted by cavalier at 12:39 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


You appear to be assuming that the experiment was undertaken in bad faith.

Oh, absolutely not -- I meant "seems" much more loosely than that, and I don't doubt the mods' sincerity about this or anything else. All I mean to say is that the way this was implemented, and the mods' rather cavalier response to well-grounded complaints upthread, didn't properly regard the fact that different people read the site in different ways and that some people in the community might react negatively to this change. I suppose that's really the opposite of "seems calculated" -- it actually seems to me that they didn't think this experiment through very well before doing it, which is uncharacteristic for MetaFilter's mods.
posted by gerryblog at 12:40 PM on November 1, 2009


I'm genuinely amazed at the vehemence and vituperation in this thread. I knew a few people could be relied on to foam at the mouth over the issue of favorites, but I would never have thought it was such a hot button.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:40 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I understand the idea of using favorites to skim threads (which hasn't been taken away, you can use scripts), the problem is that if lots of people are doing that, the comments you're reading aren't representing "community opinion," they're representing the comments that happened to get favorites first. And if those are the only comments you're reading, they're the only comments that you'll have the opportunity to favorite. The next person will come behind you and see the "x + 1 favorites" and presume that it represents what everyone else thinks, and might add another favorite.
Can you see how this kind of behavior might be bad for the site and make the comments less like a discussion, and more like a bunch of posters talking "at" each other?

The favorites system definitely has merit for certain kinds of threads (history/personal anecdotes, AskMe) but it is absolutely horrible for any Newsfilter or Politicsfilter thread. The last thing rational discourse needs is another way for people to find "zingers" to reinforce their own worldview, even if it's a worldview I agree with.

The great comment fables and anecdotes will still get the sidebar so a lot of those wonderful comment gems that make Metafilter amazing won't get forgotten, but the jokey zingers (really just better-written versions of "fuck you") in the contentious threads might go away when there's no longer a positive feedback loop in the form of favorites for the poster.

I'm ambivalent about showing "faved" at all, but I can see how it might be better just to hide it altogether.
posted by anifinder at 12:41 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I actually love Mizu's suggestion for "beans" as a term to replace "favorites."

If MetaFilter were to organize a sports team, they ought to be called the Beans. Team cheers are pretty easy to come up with, too:
Beans, beans—they're good for most
The less you think, the more you post
The more you post, the less you've read
So plate your beans for every thread.
posted by oaf at 12:41 PM on November 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


When was the last time a big site change was made in the way this one was? I can't remember the last time matthowie et all just DID SOMETHING without it having been discussed for weeks or even months in advance.

I'm not sure, but I think this was done the same way (2006): Announcing: Favorites and flagging. It's a pretty interesting read...

MiguelCardoso: "And so a new level of lurking is born."
y6y6y6: "Any chance we could call this bookmarks rather than favorites?"
Jimbob: "How about just: [+fave]"
evariste: "+fave is much better. Maybe even ♥?"
bluebeetle: "Would it be possible for my favorites to make me breakfast every morning?"
posted by Houstonian at 12:41 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


For all the people saying IT'S BEEN 24 WHOLE HOURS AND I HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT - it is human to be resistant to change, and for something like this that we have so got used to, grown attached to and taken for granted (and even have associated with our worth in the community), 24 hours simply cannot be enough to evaluate its impact

Well, okay, maybe -- but what if the mods decided to change the background to bright, neon green? You'd call bullshit when I said "Oh, your complaints about that harming the site's usability are just because you're resistant to change! Give it time!"

It's not that simple, right? I think it's fair to listen to what people are saying about the removal of a feature they frequently use, and not simply assume that their complaints are a result of inertia.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:41 PM on November 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


Happy greasemonkey awareness month everyone!
posted by mullingitover at 12:43 PM on November 1, 2009 [22 favorites]


I'm sorry you feel that way.

It was a joke to lighten the mood, so no need to take it too seriously.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:44 PM on November 1, 2009


And I'm too lazy (insulin is arriving to take my beloved candy corn away) to look it up, but I effectively said this when we had Favorites XXVII: The Last Debate -- before we had favorites, we had a shit ton of "Yeah!" "Me too!". Go look. The encouragements were still there, they just took 5 or 6 words and "added nothing" more to the threads then people pledging their solidarity with other people.
posted by cavalier at 12:45 PM on November 1, 2009


Deathalicious: Thanks for the quick update!

Everyone else that likes the favorite feature should really try installing that script, it makes comments really easy to browse.

IMO, if this feature is removed, comment quality will go down and no one will use the favorite feature. So long as there is not some kind of "-1 Hate", leaving up the number for everyone would be nice. One of the key rules of UI design is that rewards for clicking must be clear, when someone clicks the "+", they should see a clear result, when something already has the +, it won't really do anything (other than change it to a minus). Because of this lack of interactivity and clear indication of the result, no one will use it. Removing the number is tantamount to removing the feature entirely. If this is a caching issue, I would have no problem with stale favorite data instead.
posted by amuseDetachment at 12:46 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


gerryblog: "... the way this was implemented, and the mods' rather cavalier response to well-grounded complaints upthread, didn't properly regard the fact that different people read the site in different ways and that some people in the community might react negatively to this change."

Boing Boing is going to be so mean on Monday.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:46 PM on November 1, 2009


It does when at least 90% of the non-grief "faves" in this thread are in the HATE HATE HATE category, while some of the most reasoned "this could be good" things aren't even "faved."


Perhaps this is a sign of, y'know, the overwhelming weight of popular opinion-- which is actually useful in a conversation like this one, though admittedly less so in a political and / or religious thread.

That said, I feel like I need to better articulate exactly why and how I find this new treatment of favorites changing the way I read threads, and why I believe that change is for the worse.

I tend to be pretty much a completist when it comes to reading threads-- if a topic interests me enough to read about it, it usually interests me enough to read all about it, so I am not one of those who uses favorite counts to skim longer threads (although I have been known to "find" interesting conversations that I would have otherwise missed through the popular favorites page-- but that's neither here nor there, as that particular functionality hasn't-- thank god-- been crippled).

But when I read threads, I enjoy having multiple axes along which to evaluate, understand and appreciate people's comments-- not only my own judgment, but also the public and visible judgment of my peers.

Certainly I am generally capable of reading comprehension on my own, but there have been occasions when I have had to rethink my evaluation of a comment simply because it has a large number of favorites.

Often, I have re-evaluated and found that, no, my initial judgment was correct and the comment was crap. But there have been occasions on which a high favorite count has caused me to re-evaluate someone's comment, opinion, or argument, and I have subsequently discovered that there was in fact a nuance or subtlety that I missed the first time.

For me, this is a very valuable functionality of a publicly-visible system of favorites, and one which has become intrinsic to the way in which I process and participate in the ongoing conversation that makes Metafilter my favorite place on the internet.

I miss it already.
posted by dersins at 12:48 PM on November 1, 2009 [18 favorites]


middleclasstool: "And if you're only reading the most popular comments in such a thread, then you're taking part in the same kind of dynamic that calls itself "public discourse" in my country but is really just people talking and shouting past each other. You skip an unpopular opinion, you're skipping a chance to evaluate that opinion, maybe (audible gasp) an opportunity to re-evaluate your own beliefs."

My guess is that this type of behavior is not inspired, caused or dictated by how [+]'s are displayed on the website, but rather how people are pre-loaded as they saddle up to their MetaFilter. Those that seek to read a balanced discussion take note of counts and act accordingly. Those that seek to read a discussion based on other criteria take note of counts and act accordingly. We have a choice at every turn as to how to deal with the stimuli as it is presented to us. Homogenizing the stuff out there levels the playing field somewhat, forcing some to not continuing to filter their reading content based on 'popularity', and not allowing others to consider the dissenting or 'unremarked' opinion.

It's a shame, really. I feel like there's a big part of MetaFilter that is just not there any more. I can't even begin to understand how to orient to it socially at this point. I'm missing a huge paralinguistic channel of conversation. And I already find the site as a whole a bit less stimulating and challenging.

It's like my MetaFilter just started taking heavy antidepressants. Maybe it'll feel better in a month, maybe not. But it might have been a bit better to have started off with some talk therapy before swallowing the big pill.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:50 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Question for the "this is a horrible mistake" people: are you upset about this because it interferes with how you view the site, because you think that by interfering with how others view the site it will make Metafilter worse, or both?

It sounds to me like what many/most people are saying "visible favorite counts are important to me and my experience, and so I'm upset/angry/frustrated that my experience is being impeded" and I just don't get it, considering it just takes a few easy steps to get your old view back (I'm sure that some people missed that info, and it probably should be made more obvious somewhere and maybe even implemented internally rather than relying on external scripts-- but anyone who's reading this thread reasonably closely should know they can change things back.) Is your concern that if fewer users are seeing visible favorite counts, they will be less likely to favorite things and so even though you personally can see favorites, there'll be fewer favorites providing less useful information to you (which to me is a totally intriguing part of the experiment-- how much does favoriting decrease when fewer users see the favorite counts? does it decrease proportionately or are certain types of comments affected more than others? might there actually be some helpful patterns, like substantive comments still being relatively highly favorited but snarky ones less so?) and that alone will make your experience so much worse that it's not worth even seeing how it goes for a few weeks?

I'm not sure how I ultimately feel about visible favorite counts-- there are good arguments on both sides and I'm still mulling them over-- but I think this is a fascinating experiment to help us figure it out. I'm just kind of shocked by the intensity going on in reaction to a single month of making "no visible favorite count" a default and allowing people to opt-in to "visible favorite counts" rather than vice versa.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 12:50 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm genuinely amazed at the vehemence and vituperation in this thread. I knew a few people could be relied on to foam at the mouth over the issue of favorites...

Please point out a single example of someone in this thread who is showing "vituperation" or "foaming at the mouth." I must have missed it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:50 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Question for the "this is a horrible mistake" people: are you upset about this because it interferes with how you view the site, because you think that by interfering with how others view the site it will make Metafilter worse, or both?

Both.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:51 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Everyone else that likes the favorite feature should really try installing that script, it makes comments really easy to browse.

Not everyone uses Firefox.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:52 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


The only thing I'd change about this experiment is that I wish that the "faved" would only show up when I'd done it. If we're removing the social feature, remove it, as this halfway is less useful as a bookmarker, and if I'm gonna lose one function, I'd prefer the other works.
posted by klangklangston at 12:53 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


EmilyClimbs - as a few people noted above, it seems this change will lead to less favorites being given in general. I know I'm already less inclined to favorite things, because it seems pointless (even if there's an actual count going on somewhere, seeing no result of it isn't very motivating.)

So those of us who enjoy the way favorites work have something to lose, if this leads to other people favoriting things less. It is a group effort, after all.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:55 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


So the site is back to being like it was when I first started readin Mefi. Seems like a good idea.
posted by nola at 12:55 PM on November 1, 2009


Brandon Blatcher: "It was a joke to lighten the mood, so no need to take it too seriously."

Yeah, I should've probably re-read that before replying, as you do run political filter... I BLAME FAVES SOMEHOW
posted by graventy at 12:58 PM on November 1, 2009


As a former software developer I think I have an idea of how this 'experiment' came to pass. I've done it with cilents many times in the past. Goes something like this:
Client: "Can you guys change X to work like Y?"
Developer: "Um, your change makes no sense."
Client: "No, really, can you do it?"
Developer: "You'll hate it if we do it that way."
Client: "No, we've all discussed this and we really want it that way."
Developer: Screw this, I'll make the change. It'll take 10 minutes and the client will see it and hate it and revert it.
...10 minutes...
Developer: There you go.
Client: Ew. Um. Can you change it back?
Developer: Not answering email because he's gone out for beers bought with the client's change order.
In other words this 'experiment' has all the hallmarks of trying to prove someone wrong rather than right, just to put an argument to rest. Which is okay, but it's not about the feature, it's about blowing a raspberry to whoever is playing the part of 'Client' in this play.
posted by Ookseer at 12:58 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm genuinely amazed at the vehemence and vituperation in this thread.

This is pretty common, actually. It stems from the disconnects over what a site is and what it's supposed to do.

In 2008, Flickr added short video capabilities to their site. And some in the community went ballistic, because the change violated their definition of what the site (and its community) was. You had an entire protest movement rise up demanding video be eliminated or filtered.

Almost two years later, Flickr still has video, it's not turned into YouTube, and for the most part the users are happy with it.

This sort of thing has happened at many, many other sites. Eventually people cool down and assess the change, then vote with their feet if they don't like it. But before that happens, the spleens must be vented.

I think the one thing that's kept the protests relatively minor here is that the mods are actively engaging in the discussion. As long as people believe they're being heard, they're less willing to reach for the pitchfork and torch.
posted by dw at 12:59 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think this might be considered foaming at the mouth: "I hope someone writes a greasemonkey script to restore visible favorite counts. If it takes down the servers then all the better as this is an incredibly shitty change and the mods should be punished."

And to me at least, this counts: "Oh, and btw, just for kicks, I 'faved' every non-faved comment in this thread" as well as this similar move: "I have favorited every comment I came across in this thread that didn't already have a favorite."
posted by Houstonian at 1:00 PM on November 1, 2009


I agree that just giving people the option to view or hide favourite counts won't deal with what appears to be a tendency towards favourite-whoring, echo-chambering, and the like. I'm saying "appears" and "tendency" because we really don't have anything quantitative to go on. Are these problems big enough to outweigh the value visible favouriting brings to the site? Don't know.

But I'd like to make the case for the value of seeing what great comments get relatively small numbers of favourites in the same threads where other comments get heavily favourited.

1) While a great comment with no favourite indication at all, as some are asking for, would be apparent to me on the days when I can read a whole thread, that little marker denoting even a single favourite gives a great comment a better chance of being seen by me on more hectic days.

2) A great comment with few favourites may mean that I've run across an interesting outlier who thinks like me. I can now look around their commenting history and potentially find more gems. (A low favourite count on a great comment may also mean that we have an interesting person who is just now getting noticed by the community as a whole. I think posting more, perceived familiarity and the associated higher favourite counts are self-perpetuating, and as people become more recognizable to the community as whole, they get more favourites.)

3) The few people who favourite something I think is great are also worth checking out. Yay, outliers!

But coming to a thread and seeing an almost completely meaningless and context-free "faved" next to 50% or more of the comments doesn't point me towards popular favourites, when I'm looking for those, or unpopular favourites, when those are what I'm looking for, consciously or unconsciously.

I don't think "faved" does much to work against the drawbacks of visible favouriting, and it takes away much more than the ability to quickly see what is most popular.
posted by maudlin at 1:02 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


This reminds me vaguely of the (rumored?) Bill Gates suggestion to solve the problem of spam in email accounts by making everyone pay per sent email. Baby, meet bathwater. Technology that gives you information should, in my (honestly, I promise) humble (n' meek!) opinion, never be circumvented as the default. If people individually want to make barriers optional for whatever psychological reasons they see fit, that's up to them...but if we have this capability to aggregate data quick-like and offer the useful information and well for consideration kim so articulately described, I don't know that we should be limiting it at the source with no other option, no possibility. Woo, I sound vaguely libertarian now, but all jokes aside, that's kind of how I see it right now. Why purposely force everyone into this artificially limited space, knowing there was more?
posted by ifjuly at 1:03 PM on November 1, 2009


The comment stressed how they felt safe knowing x many other people agree with them before hitting the favorite button.

I read all the comments around this behavior as emphasizing that the favoriter was afraid to get involved in a contentious thread, and so used their favorite to show solidarity with those who were taking up positions which seemed to be unpopular or that were being dismissed. That doesn't seem like it encourages an echo chamber to form, though I can see where favorite counts can work that way in other contexts.

I've used favorites in a similar way on occasion, less because I was afraid to say something than because I didn't have the time or energy to get involved in a contentious discussion and didn't want to be a hit-and-run commenter, so I favorited a comment or two that I agreed with and were expressed well. Also, when I someone has made the point I was thinking about making, I generally prefer using favorites to writing a comment that mainly says, "I would just like to say that I agree with so-and-so and so-and-so, that is all" which doesn't really add to the discussion. Maybe actually making that statement would be more meaningful in demonstrating agreement to the group at large, since I use favorites in several different ways, but I personally feel that having the favoriting system in place reduces my inclination to make comments that I think would probably be little more than noise. It'll be interesting to see how I feel about my signal-to-noise ratio by the end of the month.
posted by EvaDestruction at 1:04 PM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]

it just takes a few easy steps to get your old view back
I'm running Opera 9.63 at home, IE6 at work, and the built-in Android browser version 4 on my phone. I suspect this is more than "a few easy steps".

The whole concept seems like a Mefi Burqa. According to our moral guardians, the insatiable lust for favorites cannot be controlled, and so the source of temptation must be concealed.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:04 PM on November 1, 2009 [26 favorites]


Aside from the savviness question, being able to look directly at how many and who are using an official site workaround could have some value, too.


I'd just like to go on record and say that while not as upset about it as some seem to be, I do dislike the change but am too lazy to install another greasemonkey script for something that will hopefully go away in a month (but would do if the change became permanent), so if you're tracking how many people are using a workaround, please count me in that category.
posted by juv3nal at 1:05 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


CunningLinguist: I'm genuinely amazed at the vehemence and vituperation in this thread. I knew a few people could be relied on to foam at the mouth over the issue of favorites, but I would never have thought it was such a hot button.

I think this is pretty insulting and uncalled for. There are indeed a lot of folks wearing their crankypants here, but there are also quite a number of people who have responded quite clearly and thoughtfully as to why this is a change that legitimately affects their ability to use and enjoy the site.

I would also point out that a number of users who don't comment frequently have made a point of weighing in here, and have also noted that they have felt that some of the comments being made here -- including this one by you -- contribute to a pretty unwelcoming air for them. I would bet that being written off as vituperative mouth-foamers in response pretty much reinforces that feeling.
posted by scody at 1:05 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Judging from the number of people in this thread who have asked if the assessment is to be qualitative or quantitative (despite a mod's answer to that question the first time), I can't decide if it's worse to keep favorites (or favourites, if you please) to assist thread skimming as much as possible, or kill them completely so people will have to read the $%#@* thread.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:05 PM on November 1, 2009

In other words this 'experiment' has all the hallmarks of trying to prove someone wrong rather than right, just to put an argument to rest.
Given the tenor of argument from the founder of the site in this thread, I doubt that your conclusion is correct, unless you're referring to him rather than Mefites in general as "Client". And if that is what you meant, than "Developer's" plan doesn't seem to be working.
posted by Flunkie at 1:05 PM on November 1, 2009


Houstonian, some of those comments might have been meant to be somewhat hyperbolic. Comical, even.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:05 PM on November 1, 2009


If we're removing the social feature, remove it, as this halfway is less useful as a bookmarker

Thank you for being more eloquent about it -- exactly what I was saying in my first comment. The one with the horses.

Happy greasemonkey awareness month everyone!

Guilty! Finally pushed me over the edge into becoming one of those web fancy extension modifyin power tool users...
posted by cavalier at 1:06 PM on November 1, 2009


It stems from the disconnects over what a site is and what it's supposed to do.

I totally mangled that. It should say:
"It stems from the disconnect over what a site is and what a site's users think it's supposed to do, and as well from the disconnects the users have with each other over what the site is supposed to do."
posted by dw at 1:06 PM on November 1, 2009


And really now, is that all the anti favorite crowd has as a compelling argument? "Maybe you should READ the site!" ?

We ARE reading it. We LIKE having the extra utility/paralinguistic (ooh fancy! Thanks kim!) dialogue on top of the site.

To label a person who prefers favorites as someone who can't be bothered to participate in the site is a strawman at worst and disingenuous at best. OOOH! Straw man and disingenuous, I'm bringing out the internet fighting words...
posted by cavalier at 1:08 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think this is pretty insulting and uncalled for.

scody, I didn't mean to insult anyone. I'm genuinely surprised at how strongly people feel.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:09 PM on November 1, 2009


Solon and Thanks: I hope you saw that I also said I share many of your concerns, and that there were thoughtful arguments on both sides; by no means did I assume all negative comments were a result of inertia, and I absolutely agree that it's fair to listen to what people are saying about the removal of a feature they frequently use - I hope I made that clear in my original comment. But if, to use your example, the mods changed the background to bright, neon green as an experiment for a month - and they say that many people have wanted it to be bright, neon green in the past, and they think it's worth experimenting with - I might say "Ugh", but be willing to give it some time and give it a chance, since I like this site and what they've done with it and trust their judgement, and so would want to give it a chance before I conclusively reject it. Rejecting something like not displaying favourites, which is a lot more complex and subtle than something like bright neon green background, completely after 24 hours to me seems a bit premature, yeah.
posted by catchingsignals at 1:09 PM on November 1, 2009


Happy greasemonkey awareness month everyone!

Happy non-Firefox-users awareness month!
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:09 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think what's making me dislike this change so much is that favorites has become one of the main ways that I interact with the site, for better or for worse, but not in the way that a lot of people have already mentioned. I don't use them as a way to figure out what comments to read. I read a lot of threads, and I try to read every comment, at least until I get bored with the conversation and go find something else to read, or skim down to see if anything else catches my eye. But I hardly ever comment myself. I really feel like other people say the things I want to say in better ways, and I would rather favorite their far more articulate comments than post my own. Of course, I'm one of those people that often writes out entire comments and then never posts them because I'm just not sure I'm adding anything valuable to the conversation. I will probably consider not posting this comment several times before hitting the 'post comment' button, if I do indeed hit it at all.

Because I use favorites in that particular way, though, even using the workaround won't do much good for me because I will still feel really... disconnected from the site. Like my voice doesn't count. That makes me sad. Also I can't figure out how to do it in Safari. Did I miss that comment? Please hope me.

That being said, I'm willing to live with it for a month because I trust that the mods are genuinely trying to improve the site. Who knows, maybe it'll encourage me to actually post more instead of hiding behind other people's comments. But I doubt that, somehow.

On preview, I see that this point has already been made. I don't see it as an echo chamber as much as it feels like a comfortable way for me to participate in the community when I don't always feel comfortable making posts. Maybe that isn't the way favorites should be used, but that's the way it's evolved for me.
posted by rosethorn at 1:10 PM on November 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


Also, since the mouth foaming is all on the side of keeping the favorites the way they are, I hardly see how my comment would make people feel wounded and unwelcome.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:10 PM on November 1, 2009


Seems like maybe it would've been better to have an opt-out account setting ready to go when this change was pushed out, which would've made the change a lot less significant for the people who don't like it. It would also give you better tracking of how popular/unpopular the change is.
posted by mullingitover at 1:10 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


>In any case, the group of people augmenting their browsers with GreaseMonkey plugins is vanishingly small, and hang-wringing over it is asinine.

I just swallowed all my anti-user-CSS, anti-Greasemonkey, as-the-webmaster-intended rhetoric and installed Greasemonkey and the Metafilter MultiFavorited Multiwidth - November Experiment script because of this.

>Suggestion: Partway through the month, give us users a way to disable this experiment. Count how many of us do so. That should provide some evidence as to how many active users care about favorite counts.

+1. I say +1, because I can't use the favorites to vote for comments any more. I predict we'll see a lot more of these empty "verbal vote-up" comments this month.
posted by d. z. wang at 1:11 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think this is pretty insulting and uncalled for.

scody, I didn't mean to insult anyone. I'm genuinely surprised at how strongly people feel.


It may have been the "foaming at the mouth" part of your comment rather than the "surprised" part that came across as insulting.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:11 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


EmilyClimbs: "It sounds to me like what many/most people are saying "visible favorite counts are important to me and my experience, and so I'm upset/angry/frustrated that my experience is being impeded" and I just don't get it, considering it just takes a few easy steps to get your old view back (I'm sure that some people missed that info, and it probably should be made more obvious somewhere and maybe even implemented internally rather than relying on external scripts-- but anyone who's reading this thread reasonably closely should know they can change things back.) "

In fairness, they're having their experience impeded in the service of addressing possibly-hypothetical concerns felt deeply by only a small minority of the community. The creationists trying to get evolution banned from textbooks are a far more legitimate movement, mathematically. So it's not reasonable to ask us to embrace this as a necessary sacrifice.

But yeah, it now occurs to me that perhaps the reason I'm not as het up as some other folk is that I found the Stylish script less than 10 minutes after discovering the "problem" and so for me this is a crisis that now exists only in the abstract.

Let's imagine that the mods now make this into a Preferences setting - but with "faved" the default. Are any of you still pissed off because of the "extra work" involved in changing the Preference?

If not, then you have to admit that even now it's only a question of how much and what kind of extra work is involved. I already had Stylish installed, so it was especially easy to implement the "fix". But even starting from scratch, it should take no one with the brain of a MeFi-er more than 5 minutes, tops.

If you're not willing to make that much of an effort, I question whether numbered favorites are as important to you as you claim.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:14 PM on November 1, 2009


since the mouth foaming is all on the side of keeping the favorites the way they are

I beg to differ. See, for example, the 47 comment-by-comment responses from koeselitz above, taking people to task for reading the site "wrong".
posted by donnagirl at 1:14 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Stewriffic said: I know that in the past I've favorited things that I agreed with as a way to communicate my belief/opinion without opening myself up in particularly contentious threads to be directly attacked/confronted/criticized for that belief. Knowing (transparently) how many other people agreed with me helped make the community feel more safe.

Mathowie said: This is a description of an echo chamber, not what we want MetaFilter to be, right?

No, that's misusing the term "echo chamber," which really does not apply here at all. An echo chamber is an walled-off environment in which ideas get communicated, and the effect of them being communicated in that walled-off environment is that they get taken as true by other participants in that walled-off environment, and the idea assumes an artificial authority because of the absence of sources of outside input to say, "that idea is bullshit."

The fact that comment favoriting might help some people feel "safe" knowing that others agree with them does not threaten to make Metafilter an echo chamber. It would only be an echo chamber if we were somehow walled off within Metafilter, and exposed only to ideas expressed in Metafilter, and this isolation prevented us from bringing outside perspectives into the discussion.

So, no, displaying favorites carries no risk of making Metafilter an echo chamber.
posted by jayder at 1:16 PM on November 1, 2009 [20 favorites]


I don't like the change.
Thankfully, in Opera, a simple shift+g restores the numbers.
posted by kickingtheground at 1:16 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


(I'm going to be pissed if my echo chamber explanation doesn't get faved.)
posted by jayder at 1:17 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Happy non-Firefox-users awareness month!

Alright, dude, ya got me. Just what the heck are you running? And if you're running Internet Explorer, do you really need me to get all neckbeard on ya and explain why there's just... better... out there?

(Also, there's a hack for IE posted above).
posted by cavalier at 1:19 PM on November 1, 2009


I found the Stylish script

It's so awesome that there's a doodad that I have to find and install to get back functionality that was already there.


And by awesome, I mean hate with a frightening intensity.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:20 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Here's hoping that The Great (Inter)National Favening of 2009 will end well and not be remembered unfondly as The International Month of GRAR.

Also, here's hoping that it will be followed up by The Great Donutting of 2009 because although I frequently think the mods have a supaircool job, not today, no sir.

In fact, everyone needs a candy-corn-coated-donut today, fo sho.
posted by heyho at 1:21 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Joe Beese: It's not that I'm unwilling to make the effort you describe. I'm unwilling to change browsers just to fix a problem with one website. It'll be easier to wait till this feature is removed or made optional.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:21 PM on November 1, 2009


I am neutral on the change, but don't like the 'faved' display. If you're going to hide favorites, then hide a mostly useless piece of data, or raise the number of favorites it takes to show the 'faved' display.
posted by Pants! at 1:21 PM on November 1, 2009


Alright, dude, ya got me. Just what the heck are you running? And if you're running Internet Explorer...

I use Camino.

I'd even be willing to switch to Safari over this (though again, changing browsers over one feature on one website would be irritating).

But I'm not willing to switch to Firefox.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:23 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"It sounds to me like what many/most people are saying "visible favorite counts are important to me and my experience, and so I'm upset/angry/frustrated that my experience is being impeded" and I just don't get it, considering it just takes a few easy steps to get your old view back (I'm sure that some people missed that info, and it probably should be made more obvious somewhere and maybe even implemented internally rather than relying on external scripts-- but anyone who's reading this thread reasonably closely should know they can change things back.) "

At the heart of this debate is the question of how Metafilter should be used. Taking away visible favorites can be seen as saying, "those of you who depend on visible favorites to use this site are doing it wrong." Even if a work-around is still possible, it's still a matter of what is presented as the appropriate way to be a member of this community.
posted by Ms. Saint at 1:23 PM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Given the tenor of argument from the founder of the site in this thread, I doubt that your conclusion is correct, unless you're referring to him rather than Mefites in general as "Client". And if that is what you meant, than "Developer's" plan doesn't seem to be working.

I mean that this 'experiment' is in no way an experiment. There is no metric for success or failure, and a pretty vague specification how the change is supposed to achieve it's claimed goals. On the other hand the change did have a lot of foreknowledge that it would tick off a lot of people.

Therefore I stand by my assumption that this was done not to improve the site but to shut someone (or somepeople) up about the frikkin Favorites numbers. Which it seems to be doing nicely.

Notice I said "assumption". Because hey, if contentious MeFi threads are good for anything they're good for hyperbole, taking things out of context and putting words in people's mouths.
posted by Ookseer at 1:25 PM on November 1, 2009


I think it should be pretty clear that we didn't have a problem with you or empath or lalex or Liver or whoever else using favorites for normal reasons. You can kill those ones too out of protest if you need to be but it doesn't really tell me anything other than you're looking for some way to react to this by intentionally acting out about how you use favorites.

I have removed my "stunt" favorites. My feelings were along the lines of those expressed here, here, and here, but in retrospect I can see that this was not a good or well-thought-out idea and I apologize.

It does make me wonder, however, if we are now going to try and parse motivation when a user favorites a lot of comments in a thread - do they just like to favorite lots of stuff, or are they trying to obscure "truly" popular comments?

Also, thanks to whoever posted the Firefox/Stylish directions upthread.
posted by lalex at 1:26 PM on November 1, 2009


Here's hoping that The Great (Inter)National Favening of 2009 will end well and not be remembered unfondly as The International Month of GRAR.

It seems to be MetaTalk Awareness Month thus far.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:27 PM on November 1, 2009


anyone who's reading this thread reasonably closely should know they can change things back.

Really? How? I'd love to know.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:28 PM on November 1, 2009


Whew. Since when I posted that last comment, there were, like, a hundred fewer comments, I'm going to assume that things have continued apace—remember when preview was mandatory? That had to have done something to the conversation on this site, right?

Anyway, since the professional favorite mourners have made their case clearly (cue 20 more drive-by "LEMME JUST SAY I HATE IT"), I figured I'd take a moment to think about the terms. I was thinking Beans as I was skimming back through, then I saw someone suggested it (I dunno who, control-f or some shit). I thought I might also mention that there's this word "favor" and "favored" is already a verb, and it doesn't look as glib as "fave"," though if it was just introduced, I'd be all like, "'Favors' Will m'lady favor me with her plus marks?" like it's a renaissance fair or some shit.

Anyway, off to the grocery for some Indonesian ramen (they make the best!).
posted by klangklangston at 1:29 PM on November 1, 2009


We ARE reading it.

Well, thank you for speaking for all MeFites, but given that many people have stated in this thread that they use favorites to skim, you may want to adjust your understanding of "strawman".
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:30 PM on November 1, 2009


Damn, this reminds me of a faculty meeting where people become enemies over nothing just for the sake of arguing. I hate those meetings.

Brother and Sisters of Mefi: We are Favorite-count-less for a month. Let us endeavor to persevere. The only thing we have to fear is absence of favorite counts without making an extra click or installing a greasemonkey script. Change is always hard. The mods do their best. There are a lot of good threads and comments today on the blue and the green. Go forth into the newly bright late afternoon and multiply them.

Jesus H Christ. Forget the plate of beans already. I mean, a month with no favorite counts is like a month with no sunshine, right?
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:33 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, thank you for speaking for all MeFites, but given that many people have stated in this thread that they use favorites to skim, you may want to adjust your understanding of "strawman".

CAUGHT ME! Oh, and fuck you! Muah!

If you could be bothered to read more carefully, they stated they were doing this on larger threads, or when they did not have time, but that when they did in fact have time, they read fully. Go on, find one that says otherwise.
posted by cavalier at 1:34 PM on November 1, 2009


This conflicts with the way I read the site, it provides me with less information than before, and it's annoying. But so what? The benefits that the new system is supposed to bring will come far down line. Of course no one is going to play around an the site for a few hours and think, "this is wonderful and refreshing! I love faveds!" I still find myself moving to favorite a comment and then catch myself, realizing that there's no need to upvote. And I find myself grumbling over not being able to flit quickly through this long thread skimming for highlights. It's an annoying experience for me, and I was one of the favorite detractors. So I'm pretty sure that everyone's going to hate this right off the bat.

But I also think that it might be forcing me to engage with the site in a way that, although immediately detrimental to me, is beneficial for the site and so ultimately beneficial to me. I don't think we should place much weight on the huge upsurge of negativity here. Let's have another of these threads in a month.

Also, on a different note, it feels strange that a bunch of people are pushing the democracy line, saying that users should get to vote on this. Metafilter has never been remotely democratic: in the past, the reaction to complaints about the way the site is run has been, "This is Matt's sandbox and we are allowed to play in it, so what he says goes, and he is smarter than you anyway." But as the site has grown, I guess this has become less true; Matt complains above that the site has ossified and he no longer feels like he can make changes any more. I think this is a little sad. Metafilter has a strong community, but it's Matt who built the community and steered the site in all the right directions. The moderation here is the best of the web because Matt hand-picked the best moderators of the web. The correct political analog to this site is not a democracy: we have a divinely-inspired philosopher-king. If his gut tells him that some sweeping changes are in order (or not), I think we should trust him without demanding a vote.
posted by painquale at 1:34 PM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


Talk to you dudes in December! Yowza!
posted by Damn That Television at 1:38 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


is it too late to write something common-sensical that bunches of people agree with - and thereby score myself a fave?
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:39 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Anyway, since the professional favorite mourners have made their case clearly (cue 20 more drive-by "LEMME JUST SAY I HATE IT")
If only there were some way for them to express their agreement in a less obtrusive manner.
posted by Flunkie at 1:39 PM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


A lot of folks note how they use the number of counts to judge the value of a comment, be it approval or support. Yet, isn't that whole scheme skewed by the folks who use the favorite system as a means to bookmark certain comments. I recall the brief firestorm that arose around the dozen or so people who favorited that Paulsc comment concerning gypsy ethics and it had to be pointed out by some who favorited that it was done not out of support but for other reasons.

I also recall that fellow who posted on the grey with a script that only showed comments with five or more, so folks could just go straight to the "good" comments. He got blasted. Now it seems that a fair number of people are advocating that such approach is not only fine, but essential to the enjoyment of the site.

It's just hard to accept the first argument, when it can be undermined due to other uses of the favorite system. A new expanded favorite system would be needed to differentiate the ways people used to favorite or otherwise, going back to the old way will lead to circumstances where false assumptions will be made based on why someone favorites. As for the second thing I brought up, it's somewhat interesting to see such an open attitude reversal of such an approach to mefi.
posted by Atreides at 1:40 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate this, I hate this, I hate this.

I also do not have time to go through everyones comments and I TRUST THE SYSTEM DAMMIT! I generally only look at the comments with 3+ favorites (oops, "faved" *barf*) because I know those are the juicy ones, snark or not.

I did however read through almost all of these comments like 5 hours ago (and really did read them all because they are all "faved") and now I come back and there are like 300 more and I can't even tell which ones are good! I'm exhausted and it's only the first day!

I need a hug!
posted by janelikes at 1:40 PM on November 1, 2009


This is stupid and I hate you and I'm running away forever and never coming back
posted by tehloki at 1:40 PM on November 1, 2009 [28 favorites]


If you could be bothered to read more carefully, they stated they were doing this on larger threads, or when they did not have time, but that when they did in fact have time, they read fully. Go on, find one that says otherwise.

So you can skim more threads than you have time for and catch the greatest hits, or hit fewer threads and, you know, read them. You know what's also a great time-saving device? Skipping the linked content. And that sure leads to great discussion.

It's a worthwhile argument that this is impeding one way of using the site. Facilitating all possible means does not however automatically = a better site resulting.

Or on preview, exactly what painquale just said.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:40 PM on November 1, 2009


scody, I didn't mean to insult anyone. I'm genuinely surprised at how strongly people feel.

Then why not just say you were genuinely surprised at how strongly people feel and leave it at that? Surely you don't think describing the people who disagree with you as vituperative and foaming at the mouth is a value-neutral statement? And why ignore the comments from casual users themselves who are stating directly that they are being made to feel unwelcome?

I'm not a casual or new user myself; I use the site about as much as you do, I think. But this is a big place, bigger than it was when favorites were first implemented several years ago, with thousands more members who are unfamiliar to me and who don't necessarily use Metafilter the same way you and I do. I think their comments regarding how welcome or unwelcome they're feeling are well worth considering.
posted by scody at 1:41 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Really? How? I'd love to know.

I had excellent luck with koeselitz's suggestion here. I'm reasonably happy now and MeFi looks like it used to.
posted by crapmatic at 1:42 PM on November 1, 2009


Durn Bronzefist: "So you can skim more threads than you have time for and catch the greatest hits, or hit fewer threads and, you know, read them. "

Great idea! Let me see, how will I decide which threads to read and which to skip? Hey, just let me look at a sample of comments that seem to be representative... the ones that are favorited the most, probably! Ooops...
posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:44 PM on November 1, 2009


> Almost two years later, Flickr still has video, it's not turned into YouTube, and for the most part the users are happy with it.

Which is a good parallel for when favorites were added. Removing/crippling a feature the vast majority of people use is pretty much the complete opposite. I was initially comforted by the moderator's insistence that this is just an experiment, but mathowie's later comments make me think this has a better-than-good chance of becoming permanent. I really hope I'm reading too much into that because I think this change is ultimately pretty alienating.

The contention seems to be that the site was a lot better Back In The Day. I've been a reader since when signups were closed, and I don't feel it's declined in any way. The opposite, really. I look back at some of the older threads occasionally and the place actually feels a bit dumber back then.

If it has gotten worse, though, it certainly has no correlation with this feature. I find the idea frankly silly, and the arguments made in support of it entirely specious. Like, complaining about favorites is really a proxy to anxiety about all the new users on the lawn rather than an honest argument. I realize that's a particularly bad faith reading, but a lot of the rhetoric from the more vocal supporters -- like koelitz forty-seven fucking comments telling me how I'm ruining metafilter -- makes it seem like a more obvious explanation.
posted by cj_ at 1:44 PM on November 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


What tehloki said.
posted by found missing at 1:47 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Okay I finally found the legacy favorites greasemonkey script by searching the thread for "script". CORTEX, JESSAMYN, MATHOWIE, PUT IT IN THE GODDAMN SIDEBAR. Look at all the people who are pissed off and thinking of leaving. Give them the option to choose how they view metafilter without having to slog around in a massive thread to find it.
posted by tehloki at 1:47 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


That was weird.
posted by found missing at 1:48 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jesus, tehloki, you might back off a bit.
posted by donnagirl at 1:48 PM on November 1, 2009


I am very uncomfortable with oblique redirections of momentum in a community, regardless of the intentions involved. I get that all the mods are good folks, and their motivations are completely golden. But harmph.

I wish as a community member I could completely opt out of this foolish favorite silliness from my profile page. Without a weighted context "faved" just becomes noise to me. Accordingly, if I ever need to find something on metafilter, I use google. The results are faster and better organized than paging through my favorites.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 1:51 PM on November 1, 2009


LEAVE TEHLOKI ALONE!!!
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on November 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


Is this where I complain about the fucking awful "fade-in" thing Google has started doing? Because I would really like to complain about that.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:53 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jesus, tehloki, you might back off a bit.

Though I strongly agree with tehloki that the links to the scripts should be in the sidebar. I have never figured out how to use greasemonkey, but I'm considering it now. (Plus I'll need the IE workaround for my office computer, since I can't use Firefox there.) I will have to ask one of the kids on my lawn to help me, no doubt, but perhaps if I ply them with cookies and old Clash records on vinyl, they'd be willing to assist an old lady.
posted by scody at 1:53 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


> This is a description of an echo chamber, not what we want MetaFilter to be, right?

That's an uncharitable and, frankly, shitty reading of what Stewriffic said. This discussion is a minefield; you of all people might want to consider treading more carefully.
posted by languagehat at 1:54 PM on November 1, 2009 [13 favorites]


If not, then you have to admit that even now it's only a question of how much and what kind of extra work is involved. I already had Stylish installed, so it was especially easy to implement the "fix". But even starting from scratch, it should take no one with the brain of a MeFi-er more than 5 minutes, tops.


In the general case, this is true, but I've certainly had greasemonkey scripts conflict with one another before. Sometimes this is just down to load order, but in other cases, I've had to fiddle about with javascript to get the desired result.
posted by juv3nal at 1:54 PM on November 1, 2009


Just chiming in that I am not a fan of the change. Who gives a shit if someone out there favorited a comment? I don't want to miss the one that has 300 favorites. It's definitely a step backward from my perspective.
posted by letitrain at 1:55 PM on November 1, 2009


Really? How? I'd love to know.

I had excellent luck with koeselitz's suggestion here. I'm reasonably happy now and MeFi looks like it used to.


The comment I was responding to said: "anyone who's reading this thread reasonably closely should know they can change things back."

You linked to a comment that was split up into 2 sections: "If you are using Internet Explorer" and "If you are using Mozilla Firefox."

Not everyone uses IE or Firefox.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:57 PM on November 1, 2009


Oh, uh, please don't sidebar the GreaseMonkey script I linked, it would take my host down. Also, that would just be retarded, might as well roll back the change at that point.
posted by cj_ at 2:00 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, many people use public/work/school computers where installing Greasemonkey scripts would be infeasible and/or frowned on.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:00 PM on November 1, 2009


I agree that the workarounds should be sidebarred, but for those just coming into the thread, koeselitz has posted two excellent descriptions of how to revert the display using style sheets, either with and without add-ons, and Deathalicious and cj_ have provided greasemonkey scripts.
posted by lalex at 2:01 PM on November 1, 2009


I think this is going well.
posted by found missing at 2:02 PM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


Ok, we've got a favorite counts on/off feature in the preferences working now and will show it off soon (possibly in a new metatalk thread). Please hold on and everyone will be welcome to use it shortly.

We've been talking about tweaks to favorites for several months and intensely for the last couple weeks (our main email thread discussing it has 95 posts from just four people talking) and we knew there would be some that didn't like the change and we felt an greasemonkey out and keeping the counts in the HTML source was adequate workaround, but we'll be adding it to the preferences soon so you won't need hacks, extensions, or scripts.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:02 PM on November 1, 2009 [33 favorites]


This thread would be shorter if we could register "hates" and watch the counter go up. Please can that be our next experiment? (Though of course, some people would aim to get the most "hates". But then we could make it a way to banninate people automatically. You got 47 hates on 3 separate posts this week. Bap-bow. You are the weakest link and have been voted off the island).

Also, could someone please tell me how to be a favourites whore? One of my best favourited posts was where I said I hated my husband sometimes and wrote anonymous AskMe posts to be told to DTMFA. What's so favourite-worthy about that?

Also, I'm using this month to not favourite any comment that's been pre-favourited even though I'm using the work around. This will save on my time and energy.

Also, is anyone else surprised how cranky people get over something like this? I mean, I don't like enough to install the workaround, but I also (apparently) have a life, and other things to get really angry about. On the gripping hand, I admit, I posted here, in this thread, but way down the bottom where no-one will notice.
posted by b33j at 2:05 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shit, what am I supposed to do with this torch and effigy now?
posted by The Whelk at 2:05 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


thank you - that seems like a reasonable solution to this
posted by pyramid termite at 2:05 PM on November 1, 2009


Thanks, Matt.
posted by scody at 2:05 PM on November 1, 2009


Also, is anyone else surprised how cranky people get over something like this?

Post Halloween sugar crash.
posted by The Whelk at 2:05 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Let us endeavor to persevere."

I thought about that for a while, and now that I have thought about it, I am declaring war on the Union.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 2:06 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you, moderators. This is most welcome.

-----

Matt, an unintentional side effect of not seeing how many people have favorited a particular comment is that it does take some voice away from community members.

I know that in the past I've favorited things that I agreed with as a way to communicate my belief/opinion without opening myself up in particularly contentious threads to be directly attacked/confronted/criticized for that belief. Knowing (transparently) how many other people agreed with me helped make the community feel more safe.


And made it feel less 'safe' for others with views unpopular on this site. After all, now they have firm evidence that their opinion is widely rejected.

-----

People read in different ways; people use the site in different ways, and those ways are just as valid as yours.

This is bullshit. Different does not always mean equal. Some ways of using the site are actually less valid than others. Reading the entire thread before commenting should be encouraged.

-----

The rationale for not having an upvote system is thus: Digg, Slashdot, And Kuro5hin all suck donkey ass. This is fact. This is concrete. One of the reasons they do is the voting system which acts as a force multiplier for echo chambering, groupthink, grandstanding, and pandering. Imitating them means making what has for a great many years been a good site more similar to shitty sites.

Excellent summary of the issue. And to be clear, this doesn't mean that since Metafilter has an upvote system that it is proof to the contrary. The contention is that removing favorites will improve Metafilter.

koeselitz' s point about AskMe and truth not being subject to democracy deserves serious attention. While I dislike favorites on the entire site, they are most damaging on AskMe. If favorites are restored to Metafilter, please give restoring them to AskMe separate consideration.

I also have to say that I find the claim of popularity to equal quality laughable, but whatever.

And +1 on 'faved' to 'flaved'.
posted by BigSky at 2:06 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


mathowie: I like the change in the 12hrs we've had it.

Jaltcoh: Under what circumstances would the experiment be deemed to have failed?


Presumably circumstances where a gigantic metatalk thread exploded with hundreds of people voicing their disapproval. If that didn't make it a failure, I don't know what could.
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:06 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Shit, what am I supposed to do with this torch and effigy now?

Guy Fawkes Day is only a few days away. Sit on it and show off to the neighborhood.
posted by Atreides at 2:07 PM on November 1, 2009


I mean that this 'experiment' is in no way an experiment. There is no metric for success or failure, and a pretty vague specification how the change is supposed to achieve it's claimed goals.

I agree with this bit - overall, it's probably about as 'experimental' as experimental music.

On the other hand, I'd be very interested to see somebody do some analysis of the data after a month, to see how faveing practices have or have not changed.

My hypothesis is that there'd be a decrease in the snowballing effect, whereby comments with a number of faves are more likely to attract extra faves. Another way of putting this is that there'd be a slightly more even spread, with fewer spikes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:07 PM on November 1, 2009


PhoBWanKenobi: "I actually love Mizu's suggestion for "beans" as a term to replace "favorites." I would love to see post favorites changed to something closer to "bookmarks" and the adorable, wonderful term "bean" to replace comment favorites. It would more accurately reflect the way it seems these terms are used, the separation between the utility of the two, and, unlike "faves", actually fits with the mythology/traditions/in-jokes of the site."

I also legitimately love the beans suggestion. I'd like a flag-like drop-down menu that allows you to select the flavor of bean you want to give, representing the different ways that people currently use favorites.
posted by shammack at 2:08 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ok, we've got a favorite counts on/off feature in the preferences working now

This sounds great to me, thanks so much. I'm totally supportive of making the no-count "faved" the default setting, too, which I'm assuming is your plan, yes?

(And in terms of the grand experiment, having some idea of how many people are opting in each direction should be useful.)
posted by Forktine at 2:09 PM on November 1, 2009


It does strike me as a bit odd that this whole experiment is not in the sidebar on the front page, as the descriptor clearly reads that it's for site news and noteworthy stuff. I consider this noteworthy site news, no?
posted by heyho at 2:09 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


No need to punish everyone, I know it's all my fault.
posted by hermitosis at 2:10 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well I've given the experiment a chance, and no, sir, I didn't like it.
posted by jedicus at 2:10 PM on November 1, 2009


EmilyClimbs - as a few people noted above, it seems this change will lead to less favorites being given in general. I know I'm already less inclined to favorite things, because it seems pointless (even if there's an actual count going on somewhere, seeing no result of it isn't very motivating.)

So those of us who enjoy the way favorites work have something to lose, if this leads to other people favoriting things less. It is a group effort, after all.


Yeah, sure, I get that-- but I guess to me that seems like a "Well, it will likely lead to less favoriting and I think that will probably make my experience worse, but let's see how it goes and then if I feel like it's going badly I'll make that clear" kind of objection, rather than a "No, we should not try this at all, I just know it's going to be awful so please change it back immediately" objection. Heck, for all we know, maybe the certain type of users who are most likely to set favorite counts as visible (and/or most likely to use favorites regardless of whether the counts are visible) will do a much better job of IDing great comments than users at large, and people who like to view favorite counts will actually benefit from switching the default to favorites being non-visible. I mean, it totally makes sense to me that a lot of people prefer favorites to be visible by default, but it just seems strange that so many people feel it so intensely that they're upset by a limited trial period of doing it differently.

In fairness, they're having their experience impeded in the service of addressing possibly-hypothetical concerns felt deeply by only a small minority of the community. The creationists trying to get evolution banned from textbooks are a far more legitimate movement, mathematically. So it's not reasonable to ask us to embrace this as a necessary sacrifice.

Just curious, what are you basing this conclusion on? This is actually one of the reasons why I think it would be good to have an official opt-out option built in (aside from it making it more convenient for people who want to use the option)-- so we can track how many people choose to switch the favorites count view back on. (And what kinds of people-- those who are most active? people who use certain subsites? new people vs old people? that all would be totally fascinating to know.) But without that, I don't think we really know one way or another how most people feel. At most, we know that the majority of people who chose to comment on this post don't like it but I'm not sure how much that really tells us.

At the heart of this debate is the question of how Metafilter should be used. Taking away visible favorites can be seen as saying, "those of you who depend on visible favorites to use this site are doing it wrong." Even if a work-around is still possible, it's still a matter of what is presented as the appropriate way to be a member of this community.

I could totally see interpreting it that way that if this was an official permanent change-- but you really feel like a one month "let's see how things would be different if we changed X" experiment sends that message too? Not trying to be snarky, I'm genuinely trying to understand.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 2:10 PM on November 1, 2009


We just added a new profile preference to show favorite counts on comments. To turn favorite counts back on click "Preferences" at the top or bottom of the page, and then click the checkbox next to "Show comment favorite counts?" Then click "Save Your Preferences" and you should see favorite counts on comments.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:10 PM on November 1, 2009 [63 favorites]


You know the thing I think is the funniest about this? Many people have come in begging for ways to revert to the old view, even though there are now multiple repeat comments explaining exactly how to do that. Of course, if this change were never implemented, those posts would be among the easiest ones to find. You want to talk about how favorites increase noise? This right here is a prime example of exactly the opposite.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 2:11 PM on November 1, 2009 [18 favorites]


I totally respect the decision of the mods to run this experiment, and I can only imagine the amount of thought and debate that went into it. Kudos to you guys for trying something new - it's the only way to find out whether something works, and regardless of the decision made in the end, at least people will appreciate what they had before.

That said, dear lord - I hate it. Like many others in this thread, I read Mefi comments by scanning for the highly-favorited ones; this change prevents me from doing that. Of course, that's the point - we're now supposed to read through all the comments so as to prevent group-think and give lower-rated comments more of a chance. The problem is, I don't want to do that.

It's not that I don't have enough time - if I really wanted to, I'd make time. I just know that it'd be a waste of my time, because generally I'm not interested in most comments. When favorites were introduced, I actually spent more time on Metafilter reading comments because I could skip to the more interesting ones. Yes, I'm sure I missed some hidden gems that weren't favorited, but I would never have looked at those threads anyway. And while I will read every single comment in a thread I'm interested in and posting in, that's quite rare.

Incidentally, and as others have mentioned, the system here was nothing like Kuro5hin or Slashdot; comments couldn't be demoted, plus we don't have threading (thank god). The notion that we were on some kind of slippery slope to their communities does a great disservice to the mods.

I've already installed Deathalicious' 'comment-bar' script, which has solved the problem for me, but the people who don't read this thread and aren't comfortable with installing those kind of extensions have no option. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that if I wasn't able to see the favorite-count, my use of Metafilter would plummet.
posted by adrianhon at 2:11 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ok, we've got a favorite counts on/off feature in the preferences working now and will show it off soon (possibly in a new metatalk thread). Please hold on and everyone will be welcome to use it shortly.

Thank you, mathowie. And thanks to whoever is implementing this (pb?). Great responsiveness, especially for a Sunday.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:13 PM on November 1, 2009


No go, pb. I clicked "save your preferences" and got this:

Error: File not found
Looks like you've asked for a file that doesn't exist, try out the search below to find what you are looking for, which searches across all the MetaFilter sites.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 2:14 PM on November 1, 2009


And thanks to whoever is implementing this (pb?).

Woops, just saw pb's comment. Make that just: thanks, pb.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:14 PM on November 1, 2009


Also, is anyone else surprised how cranky people get over something like this?

I am also surprised, though I really should not be. People here have far too much of their self-worth invested in little numbers on a screen.

All that the mods did was obscure the number itself. They didn't do away with the system. You can even see if a comment's been favorited or not. And that was enough to produce several hundred comments' worth of outrage.

If Matt sent checks for $100,000 to everyone who posted in a particular month, MetaTalk would light up with angry complaints

"Couldn't you have waited until the exchange rate was better?"

"GODDAMNIT, YOU MISSPELLED MY NAME ON THE CHECK!"

"Why did I only get $100,000, the exact same sum as some loser who only posted two pieces of drive-by snark? By rights, I'm really entitled to a lot more, and he's entitled to a whole lot less."
posted by jason's_planet at 2:14 PM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


People keep mentioning community in defense of favouriting, and I certainly understand what they mean by this, but please understand that community is very close to group. If one falls outside the community, it's not a nice place to be.

By being able to see how many users here favourited a comment, I get a sense even before I read that comment* of how it has been received by the group (or community). In this thread, lots of people are saying that's great, that's how they know what comments to read, etc.

For anyone who doesn't agree with that community view however, this plus is a negative. That number/community viewpoint doesn't just affect what comments we choose to read, but how we approach or feel about the comment in the first place. Again, before we even read it.

For most people in this thread, that may be great. For me, it's poisoning my favourite (heh) site on the Internet.

*and how bizarre is it that we check the favourites number here before we read a comment?
posted by stinkycheese at 2:14 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm genuinely amazed at the vehemence and vituperation in this thread. I knew a few people could be relied on to foam at the mouth over the issue of favorites, but I would never have thought it was such a hot button.

Given the history of complaints from the aforementioned comment's writer and a select few others who shall remain nameless, this is fairly ironic, to say the least.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:16 PM on November 1, 2009


I really dislike this change. I've added a user stylesheet for this computer, but I read MeFi on many different computers, and my phone, so I'm still unhappy about the experiment.
posted by miskatonic at 2:16 PM on November 1, 2009


Ok, we've got a favorite counts on/off feature in the preferences working now and will show it off soon (possibly in a new metatalk thread). Please hold on and everyone will be welcome to use it shortly.

Is this going to be defaulted as "on" or "off"? I vote "on", please.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:17 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, I missed pb's comment as well. Hurr durr.
posted by miskatonic at 2:18 PM on November 1, 2009


I vote for on.
posted by The Whelk at 2:18 PM on November 1, 2009


I was writing a comment about hwo this should be a profile option just like changing the font or inline youtube, since I'm one of those people at work who can't change anything (I only just got upgraded to ie7 last week). Looking at my edit profile page I see it there as an option, great, that totally makes sense and is where it should be. But selecting it and saving my preferences gives me an error message ("Error: File not found"). Is this just a feature in the process of being implemented or an actual bug? (I'm probably just being impatient again, heh)

Looking at my profile also reminds me how the +21 hours server offset was never added and metafilter is an hour behind where I live. I always forget so it can't be a big deal.
posted by shelleycat at 2:18 PM on November 1, 2009


Sorry about the error on profile save folks, it should be working now.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:20 PM on November 1, 2009


I still don't understand the purpose of having [faved] over having nothing at all.

I totally agree with this.

I'd also like to supplement my previous comment (a zillion comments ago) to say that I actually don't use favorites to skim, but I find them quite useful in assessing the tenor of a discussion. In general, a stupid Metafilter: ______ (one of my personal least favorite MeFi things) will get a few favorites (faves?), but a really thoughtful comment will often get 10 or more (depending of course on how popular/contentious the discussion is).

Point being, this flattening of Faves is worse than no Faving at all, because on a surface level, each of those comments is equally Faved.

(I really, really hate that word.)

I also don't really want to install a GreaseMonkey script. I know it's not hard, but I just don't want to and sort of feel like the functionality of favorites should either be adjusted to be more internally consistent or abandoned.

Plus, it's important to remember that most of the users here will probably not visit this thread in order to learn about the option, but just say to themselves "hmm, what's up with this Fave thing? Weird" and adjust to the new, less informative regime.

Finally, I am disappointed that Matt sees the ability to favorite a comment as echo-chambery, especially in the context of supporting individuals who speak out and make sometimes-unpopular comments in contentious threads.
posted by miss tea at 2:20 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, I'm going to keep favorites on at my home computer, and off at my work computer this month. (I use them in basically equal amounts.)

Right now: I like favorites. I think they should stay. I'll see what I think at the end of the month.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:20 PM on November 1, 2009


that option box should really say "BANISH THE WORD 'FAVE' FROM YOUR COMPUTER?"
posted by The Whelk at 2:20 PM on November 1, 2009


It'll be default to "off" for November, hence the experiment can continue AND we can measure how many members opt out.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:21 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, while I was writing my comment then deleting and writing a new one this feature was announced. Is there something I need to do to make it show up?
posted by shelleycat at 2:21 PM on November 1, 2009


I think now that it was off, then on, then off and then on again the word should be...

wait for it...

favred.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 2:22 PM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


Cool, can't wait to see how the experiment turns out.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:22 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you for the option. I am about to opt out. However, I will also be keeping the CSS workaround in place, because I often browse the site without being logged in.

I'm mostly just opting out to register the fact that I have opted out, for purposes of the experiment.
posted by Flunkie at 2:22 PM on November 1, 2009


Ok, I was getting the same error crash davis reported but just now it went through and I can see the numerals again here. Yay! Thanks for the fix guys. Thanks for everything, matt, jess, cortex, pb, & vacapinta! HUGS ALL AROUND!
posted by Liver at 2:22 PM on November 1, 2009


By being able to see how many users here favourited a comment, I get a sense even before I read that comment* of how it has been received by the group (or community).

And sometimes the comments that aren't going to be well-received by the community are the ones that the community most needs to hear.
posted by jason's_planet at 2:23 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


favred.

What does Brett Favre have to do with MeFi?
posted by Forktine at 2:23 PM on November 1, 2009


If new users' preferences default to hiding favorite counts, will they also default to a professional white background?
posted by oaf at 2:24 PM on November 1, 2009


I am strongly in favor of both the new preference option for favorite count display and the default setting being "off." Power users get to keep their skimming, but we get the benefits of not having discourse affected (by default) by favorite-seeking behavior.
posted by anifinder at 2:25 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


And sometimes the comments that aren't going to be well-received by the community are the ones that the community most needs to hear.

Like what?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:25 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


/celebrating Thank You For Always Trying To Improve The Community Week.

/but is still tired from Anxiety With Change Day.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 2:25 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


(And in terms of the grand experiment, having some idea of how many people are opting in each direction should be useful.)

I actually think it might ruin the experiment (the greasemonkey script too). If half of the prolific users are using the site exactly as it was before, we'll probably see no change to the sorts of discussions being had. The hypothesis isn't that obscuring favorites leads to a better user experience if others have access to favorites; it's that if we abolish favorites entirely, discussion will improve. This is why in threads on the subject in the past, all the greasemonkey suggestions (such as the one that lets individual users hide their favorite counts) miss the point entirely.
posted by painquale at 2:25 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I would hope there could be a link on the main page to this train wreckthread where folks could find out about the preference option? You still get the experiment, surely, but I'd have to imagine you'd get "What? Fave? Where's my pony?" posts every few minutes/hours/days..
posted by cavalier at 2:25 PM on November 1, 2009


like bristolcat, I think it's lame to make users figure out greasemonkey to get the old behavior. I think all this talk by the mods about options and default experience is bogus. These are euphemisms and more honest language would be "We changed the way the site looks. If you want it some other way, all you have to do is modify your web browser [assuming you use one that supports that feature.]" I read metafilter on about six computers including my smart phone using firefox 1 through firefox 3 and elinks [which certainly doesn't support this kind of page modification]. I am loathe to figure out and install greasemonkey on all those versions of firefox. I wouldn't mind setting a preference on my account, but that would mean I would always need to log in, which I typically don't bother to do unless I want to post.

So I guess like so many others I'd rather not have the change be the default. If it must be the default I'd like an option in preferences to revert it.

(Also, it is a very minor thing, but I agree that "faved" is not a word.)
posted by fritley at 2:26 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, after favoriting everything in protest, now that things are back to normal, I feel like favoriting everything in celebration.

I think I'm going to go get a drink of water.
posted by oaf at 2:26 PM on November 1, 2009


It is working now. I'm both impatient AND slow.

The reason I've turned the numbers back on for now at least is that having a whole thread where something like 98% of the comments have 'faved' next to them, which is what much of this thread looks like, becomes meaningless. That word alone just adds noise and I'd rather get rid it all together than having it tacked on everywhere. At least the numbers give the whole thing purpose. I'll probably try turning it off again later in the month when I'm feeling more up for trying something new.
posted by shelleycat at 2:26 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you for adding the preference back.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 2:26 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


cavalier, there is a link to my comment about disabling the experiment from the top of the MetaTalk front page.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:26 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


whether it's possible that we've reached a size where no change can happen because there's going to be enough people feeling strongly on both sides of any decision that if we take the position of "stay the course" every time, we'll go noplace.

I think we got the answer to that question. Other people will disagree, though.
posted by Houstonian at 2:27 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


count me in the "do not like" group.
posted by Maias at 2:27 PM on November 1, 2009


Oh dear, I should have previewed.
posted by fritley at 2:28 PM on November 1, 2009


Can I suggest that this thread, or at least a mention of the change and an indication that opt-out is now possible via a preference setting, be sidebarred or otherwise noted on the front pages of MeFi and AxMe? Obviously it's a small (though loud) minority of us who tend to frequent MetaTalk threads, so mentions elsewhere would be helpful to those who don't often wade into the Gray.
posted by killdevil at 2:28 PM on November 1, 2009


I'd just like to point out that this thread is a perfect demonstration of the uselessness of the new system in terms of conveying information about comment quality or if people agree with someone, as probably greater than 80% of the comments have been "faved".

If the intention behind favorites is not for people to express agreement or interest or whatever, and rather to serve merely as a personal bookmark then favorites should just be hidden altogether behind the comments. As it stands now the "faved" indication is just clutter.

Furthermore the new system has undoubtedly made this thread more unwieldy because if anyone else is like me they no longer see the point in adding a favorite to something that has been faved if its not just for personal bookmark purposes. So instead of finding the post that best articulates my sentiment and adding my support, I'm instead just extending the threads length with my opinion hoping that it will be heard.

On preview maybe it's a preference now? Sweet!
posted by 12%juicepulp at 2:28 PM on November 1, 2009


jason's_planet: I am also surprised, though I really should not be. People here have far too much of their self-worth invested in little numbers on a screen.

This is either an uncharitable reading or a misreading entirely of the heart of the objection here. I think the vast majority of people who are objecting to not seeing numbers of favorites are not objecting because that little number no longer appears next to our own names; we are objecting to the fact that the number no longer appears next to comments made by users other than ourselves. This affects the usefulness of the site.

I admit it's nice to get favorites for my own comments, but that has little to no effect on the usefulness of the site for me, and therefore, those are not the grounds of my objection.
posted by scody at 2:28 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yay! I'm very glad to have the favorite count back. Hugs to all.

The only thing is, I had just found this lovely Greasemonkey script by pronoiac which let me change "faved" to "butts lol." And I was kind of looking forward to having that for a month. Oh well.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 2:29 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'd be happy with the whole scheme being completely gone, but I've been here pre-2006. Also highly amused at those who can't cope with temporary changes.
posted by keli at 2:29 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


A quick observation from someone's who's been out hiking for 3 days, came back and discovered this an hour ago.

To me, it feels more like voting than the previous system did.

The binary state of "this comment was faved, this comment wasn't" actually feels more judgmental than the continuous "this is just a comment, this comment has 2 favourites, this comment has 20 favourites" system.

Maybe that's just me.
posted by Jimbob at 2:30 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


"fave" did not play well with the focus group
posted by found missing at 2:30 PM on November 1, 2009


favred.

Can I vote for the Elwayd option?
posted by scody at 2:31 PM on November 1, 2009


And sometimes the comments that aren't going to be well-received by the community are the ones that the community most needs to hear.

Like what?


Criticisms, differing perspectives.
posted by jason's_planet at 2:31 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

It'll be default to "off" for November
Assuming that the experiment shows that the change is, generally speaking, a failure, what does this mean for December? I assume it defaults to "on". But for whom? Just new users who have registered in December or later? Or will it suddenly flip to "on" for everybody who currently has it "off"?

Unless you actually know who has and has not explicitly set it, which I don't see how you can know, generally speaking (since there's just one "save preferences" button which affects all preferences).
posted by Flunkie at 2:31 PM on November 1, 2009


Jimbob, but you do like "fave," right?
posted by Houstonian at 2:32 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


First read as Favred.
posted by rigby51 at 2:32 PM on November 1, 2009


I actually think it might ruin the experiment (the greasemonkey script too). If half of the prolific users are using the site exactly as it was before, we'll probably see no change to the sorts of discussions being had. The hypothesis isn't that obscuring favorites leads to a better user experience if others have access to favorites; it's that if we abolish favorites entirely, discussion will improve. This is why in threads on the subject in the past, all the greasemonkey suggestions (such as the one that lets individual users hide their favorite counts) miss the point entirely.

Yes. The argument is that discussions will improve when the reward for a good contribution is further engagement in the conversation instead of a sign of approval from the crowd. Having a work-around completely subverts that possibility.
posted by BigSky at 2:33 PM on November 1, 2009


This is a good thing. I've always hated how favorites added a bandwagon element to debates on MeFi. Over the years, it's really made me lose interest in discussions where I hold the minority opinion. I mean, it's one thing to see a bunch of people disagreeing with you. It's another thing to see 45 people "me too!" a particularly biting remark. I know some people out there think it's perfectly reasonable to punish people with the "wrong" ideas, but all that really does is turn the conversation into an echo chamber.

So perhaps I'll start joining in debates again, although there's a good chance that my previous experiences have irrevocably soured me. Too many pile-ons.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:34 PM on November 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


I could totally see interpreting it that way that if this was an official permanent change-- but you really feel like a one month "let's see how things would be different if we changed X" experiment sends that message too? Not trying to be snarky, I'm genuinely trying to understand.

Suppose you're a member of a club, and one day the club announces it's going to kick you out for a month in order to see if that improves things.

I'm not saying that's really the best way to interpret this, but I can at least imagines that's how someone who uses favorites regularly might feel.
posted by Ms. Saint at 2:34 PM on November 1, 2009


"fave" did not play well with the focus group

The development of a Greasemonkey script allowing "butts lol" to be substituted for "faves" may well be the most redeeming aspect of the situation.
posted by killdevil at 2:35 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


December we should have an experiment where a script just assigns a number of favourites between one and a shedload to comments selected at random. See if the discussion survives that.
posted by Abiezer at 2:38 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


what does this mean for December? I assume it defaults to "on". But for whom?

In December, it's likely the preference will go away and we'll go back to how things were, if that seems like the best option. We'll change stuff next month, most likely to something close to what was there (with knowledge gained from a month-long experiment, we might change stuff it's way too early to tell barely more than a dozen hours into the first day of the month).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:40 PM on November 1, 2009


Thanks mods! No longer will the scourge of faved haunt every comment.
posted by iamabot at 2:40 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to think about how there will essentially be two groups perceiving the site differently. If I want to agree with an answer in AskMe, I wonder if I'll still hit the plus sign or write out "nthing X" because the asker might not be able to see the favorite.
posted by lalex at 2:41 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thanks for adding the user option.
posted by delmoi at 2:43 PM on November 1, 2009


I'll play along with the experiment for a month, as I am spending half the month in the Arctic anyway.

I definitely fave a "butts lol" option on every comment.

I heart faves.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:43 PM on November 1, 2009


By golly, I liked the old preferences page just the way it is. How dare you people try and add a new checkbox what the hell is wrong with you what the FUCK is wrong with you MAN I HAVE SO MANY OPINIONS ABOUT THIS CHECKBOX RIGHT N--

--etc. etc.
posted by shadytrees at 2:45 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]



Ok, we've got a favorite counts on/off feature in the preferences working now and will show it off soon (possibly in a new metatalk thread). Please hold on and everyone will be welcome to use it shortly.


I'm willing to wait half an hour longer for that if it gives you time to turn off the "month-long experiment" first.
posted by gum at 2:46 PM on November 1, 2009


Now that there's a built-in preference option, I'd like to see the "faved" indicator disappear altogether when display is set to "off" and I haven't favorited a comment. If I favorite, then have it say "faved" or "favorited" or whatever you want to call it.
posted by anifinder at 2:47 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


My husband now has a greasemonkey script to change "favorite" and "fave" to "bean" and every time he reads a comment that has any number of favorites, he giggles and wakes the cat.

help meeeeeeeeeeee
posted by subbes at 2:49 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'll just say dersins articulated my feelings about this around....180 comments or so ago.
posted by marxchivist at 2:50 PM on November 1, 2009


Vronsky no likey.
posted by vronsky at 2:51 PM on November 1, 2009


Wow. At least now I know why it seems increasingly like people have been commenting without reading the thread--apparently many many of you are and now you're pissed that skimming requires slightly more effort than it used it.

I am not here for high fives and snark, I'm here for conversation. Those of you who are skimming by favorites are not really engaging in a conversation. The rest of the internet is a great place for that--people shouting over each other and the loudest voice wins is what the internet has mostly become. Can't we have Metafilter as the one place on the internet where people actually do read what other people are writing, follow the flow of a conversation, not just the popular comments, and respond to the conversation as a whole? And can't we allow the mods one little experiment for 30 days to try fix that?

Or, to be more blunt, why should I read your comment if you couldn't be arsed to read mine because it didn't get all faved?
posted by hydropsyche at 2:52 PM on November 1, 2009 [20 favorites]


Sarah Palin favorited this thread.
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 2:55 PM on November 1, 2009


our long fave nightmare is over.

kudos to the mods for responding well to community disappointment with the new pref option.
posted by modernnomad at 2:57 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what - for a month, it's a really, really interesting experiment, and I applaud the mods for rocking the boat and trying it out. Trying it out unilaterally, not just offering it to a self-selecting group (of johnny-no-faves).

It will be really interesting to see how it affects favouriting behaviour. Because we all know favourites is a catch-all for a stack of different words and actions, and the current use has grown around a kludge.

I was freaked out when I first saw this. But on reflection, as a grown up and thinking a minute, I can see what a fascinating experiment it will be, and what a good place this is for it to take place. I do hope the resulting data are shared, as I think they'll provide a unique outcome and insight. And yes, they will.

just a month, you say?
posted by davemee at 2:58 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks to the moderators for listening to the community on this one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:58 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or, to be more blunt, why should I read your comment if you couldn't be arsed to read mine because it didn't get all faved?

A user-led option would be for one or more people to delete all the favorites they put on comments. This might lead to a Great Unwinding as people delete their favorites to the first person/people to show disapproval, and then ultimately might lead to favorites not being as valuable or useful.

If people don't give favorites, favorites will lose their value.
posted by Houstonian at 2:59 PM on November 1, 2009


hydropsyche: Speaking for myself, if I'm commenting in a thread, I'll read all the comments; to do otherwise is rude and thoughtless, as you say. I am not convinced that this change to the favoriting system will make those people suddenly become avid readers of threads before they post.

But if I'm reading a thread that I don't intend to comment in, I'll just skim the highly-favorited ones, and it harms no-one (other than potentially myself, and I'd argue the opposite); this change made that behaviour impossible.

(until the mods made a new preference option, which is cool, but the whole thing still bothers me).
posted by adrianhon at 2:59 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ok, we've got a favorite counts on/off feature in the preferences working now and will show it off soon (possibly in a new metatalk thread). Please hold on and everyone will be welcome to use it shortly.

Thank you.

I typing up the following leave for when I disabled my account for the month of November:
I'm really pissed off about the change to Favorites, particularly in light of my proposed to the Recent Activity page being rejected just because Matt doesn't like it. I was annoyed when it was originally rejected, but figure hey, it's Matt's site and everything can't be the way I would like, eh, I'll live.

Then to have the Favorites experiment foisted upon me (and yes, I'm speaking only for myself here and goddamnit, I'm not a guinea pig) feels...wrong. I can't change the UI to suit my needs or get it changed to suit them, but changes can and will be made without my consent? Sure, that's part of the community site, not everyone can be made happy by everything and not all change is bad. But this one really rankles me and I don't want to participate (I loathe the word "faved" with a fiery hot passion) So with that in mind, I'm ducking out for November, will check back in December.

Yes, I may come crawling back before then, but for now I'm so pissed about this unwelcomed change that I don't want to commit much time or energy to caring about the site since one day I make wake to discover I'm part of an experiment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:01 PM on November 1, 2009


Therefore I stand by my assumption that this was done not to improve the site but to shut someone (or somepeople) up about the frikkin Favorites numbers. Which it seems to be doing nicely.

Does it help at all if I plainly assert that that's not the case? Because that's not the case. We're really not pulling some "ha ha, you got what you asked for, now suck it" shit here. It's a good-faith experiment.

It does make me wonder, however, if we are now going to try and parse motivation when a user favorites a lot of comments in a thread - do they just like to favorite lots of stuff, or are they trying to obscure "truly" popular comments?

It's kind of a given that some folks will be idiosyncratic about any given feature, whether it's favoriting or flagging or commenting or what they do with their profile page or whatever. At a basic level, we're not too worried about it if someone doesn't seem to be actively trying to cause grief, though we'll talk to someone if their idiosyncrasies seem to be actively causing a problem.

I appreciate the apology re: the stunt faving in here. I'm not angry about it or anything, really, and I can understand how it can happen, but, yeah, it's really not a productive approach to the discussion and I do really appreciate you coming around on it.

favred.

Heh.

If half of the prolific users are using the site exactly as it was before, we'll probably see no change to the sorts of discussions being had.

True, and my preference is that anyone who can stand it at all try giving the no-count thing a shot for as much of the month as they can because I'd really like to have feedback from the deeply skeptical along with that from the willing. But if what we learn is that a really, really big share of the active userbase decides they can't stand the change, that's useful information.

As far as that goes, I'd encourage anyone who has opted for a stylesheet solution in these first dozen+ hours to consider going ahead and using the native option we've added, since having some idea of the hard numbers would be useful. And, again, if you're willing to give it a shot without the counts to try and get a sense of how you feel about it from some regular use, that'd be great and we'd appreciate it.

Assuming that the experiment shows that the change is, generally speaking, a failure, what does this mean for December? I assume it defaults to "on". But for whom? Just new users who have registered in December or later? Or will it suddenly flip to "on" for everybody who currently has it "off"?

It'll default to "off" for everybody. Anybody who wants to turn counts on can now do so natively, regardless of their browser and without the need for third party scripts or css hacking.

Unless you actually know who has and has not explicitly set it, which I don't see how you can know, generally speaking (since there's just one "save preferences" button which affects all preferences).

AFAIK we can tell who has set it and who has not. pb can answer this more authoritatively.

I'm really pissed off about the change to Favorites, particularly in light of my proposed to the Recent Activity page being rejected just because Matt doesn't like it. I was annoyed when it was originally rejected, but figure hey, it's Matt's site and everything can't be the way I would like, eh, I'll live.

Brandon, I love you to death and value the hell out of your contributions here, but I do want to say that independent of the weird bumpiness of this thread in general I feel like you've taken that specific feature request denial really personally and are kind of dwelling on it in a way that's out of proportion with what actually went down.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:07 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I just want to point out that I'm pissed I came into this so late and didn't get one of the free faves that empath was handing out.

Now, it's back to the middle of the thread, because I am determined to read at least a few words from every comment ... because, somehow it eases the pain of being alive.
posted by philip-random at 3:07 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the preferences option.
posted by marxchivist at 3:08 PM on November 1, 2009


And yeah, what Matt said: our default assumption going into this is that things will revert to exactly how they were before, pending some compelling reason to make any changes/tweaks once the thing has actually run its course. The default assumption is most certainly not that this is a coy way to make the change permanent.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:10 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Could anyone point me to any particular comment or comments where the case AGAINST displaying a favorites count is well-stated?
posted by jayder at 3:11 PM on November 1, 2009


Wow. At least now I know why it seems increasingly like people have been commenting without reading the thread--apparently many many of you are and now you're pissed that skimming requires slightly more effort than it used it.

Oh sweet, delicious irony-- I love you so.

Which is to say, hydropsyche, that if you had in fact bothered to read the entire thread you would have noted a not insignificant number of people remarking that they use visible favorites to enhance their reading of an entire thread, rather than subsitute for reading an entire thread.

Just, y'know, an FYI since you clearly didn't have time to read the entire thread but felt the need to comment anyway.

That said, thank you very much to mathowie and pb for responding to the community's call and providing an opt-out option. Can we assume that an opt-out will be taken as a "vote against," and if so should those of us who'd installed one of the Greasemonkey or CSS-based workarounds also opt out in our preferences in order to ensure that our feeling are known to you?
posted by dersins at 3:14 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

It'll default to "off" for everybody. Anybody who wants to turn counts on can now do so natively, regardless of their browser and without the need for third party scripts or css hacking.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but wouldn't that make it a permanent change rather than a month-long experiment? Also, isn't that pretty much the opposite of what mathowie said would happen in December?
AFAIK we can tell who has set it and who has not. pb can answer this more authoritatively.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding this too, but I don't see how it's even possible.

Let's say I go into my preferences and change my website. I then click "save preferences".

How do you know whether I explicitly decided to set this new setting to be off, or whether I just left it off without even knowing I had a choice?
posted by Flunkie at 3:14 PM on November 1, 2009


"I beg to differ. See, for example, the 47 comment-by-comment responses from koeselitz above, taking people to task for reading the site "wrong"."

Yeah, your Foamometer is calibrated too sensitively. He disagreed, strongly at points, but only really went too far on one comment. The anti folks have been fairly cogent and calm about the whole thing.

"If only there were some way for them to express their agreement in a less obtrusive manner."

Psh. Like I care whether people blurt out their inarticulate opinions. I have a liberal arts degree; I learned to skim long before favorites.
posted by klangklangston at 3:15 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

And yeah, what Matt said: our default assumption going into this is that things will revert to exactly how they were before, pending some compelling reason to make any changes/tweaks once the thing has actually run its course. The default assumption is most certainly not that this is a coy way to make the change permanent.
Then I'm definitely misunderstanding what you said in your post prior to this one: "It'll default to 'off' for everybody", in response to "What will happen in December".
posted by Flunkie at 3:16 PM on November 1, 2009


I'm enjoying the experiment so far. I'm surprised by how much I had been inadvertently skimming by favorites-count, and how much I was influenced by seeing what was very popular.

It's been cool to read threads without visible favorites. Clicking on the "faved" to see how many favorites a comment has, I have been surprised by how often an excellent comment turns out to have only one favorite. There are a lot of good comments I would have skipped over.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:16 PM on November 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


Thank you.

That New Coke Faver had bad aftertaste.
posted by meerkatty at 3:16 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


At the end of the month, you should also poll non-users. It takes some time before people move from actively browsing the site to paying and signing up. Those that don't have a preference pane have no choice on the matter currently (and are highly unlikely to install greasemonkey and set it up properly), which may have an impact on signups. Perhaps a front-page link to a poll at the end of the month that includes both users and non-users (giving a different link for each) may be helpful in gauging the majority opinion?
posted by amuseDetachment at 3:16 PM on November 1, 2009


Thank you for the option in Preferences. I've checked it.

Count me in the "don't like the faves" group. Given the choice, I'll always pick more information over less.
posted by fiercecupcake at 3:16 PM on November 1, 2009


Thank you mods for giving the Wahhhmbulance drivers a much needed break.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:18 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Upon further reflection, maybe you (cortex) are considering "off" to mean "turn the new behavior off", whereas I am considering "off" to mean "turn the checkbox off" (which is equivalent to "turn the new behavior on")?
posted by Flunkie at 3:18 PM on November 1, 2009


Finally, I am disappointed that Matt sees the ability to favorite a comment as echo-chambery, especially in the context of supporting individuals who speak out and make sometimes-unpopular comments in contentious threads.

The comments that get many favorites are, very nearly tautologically, not unpopular.

I have never liked favorites and have always wished they would go away completely. I wonder how many of you who use them to screen comments, as it were, ever go back and read the whole thread afterward — do you really find the most-favorited comments to be the most interesting, informative, entertaining, etc.? I almost never find them to be. The comments that seem to get favorites are those that are either reiterating an opinion that is strongly felt and widely held (see the million lame and over-favorited Sarah Palin jokes, not that I'm guiltless on that count), cruel (people love a pile-on), or long (seriously, you can post the most banal shit on this site and rack up the favorites if only you can manage to stretch it out to a page or two). Not surprisingly, each of these kinds of comments has become much more common than it was before favorites were implemented.

That having been said, while I like this change, I think it really addresses the wrong problem; it's much more problematic that favorites encourage the commenter to post certain types of noisy comments than that they encourage the reader to ascribe those comments too much weight. Wouldn't it better address the concerns of both the pro- and anti- brigades to make favorites invisible to the commenter but visible to everyone else? Favorites would retain their utility for skimmers and there would be less feedback for that part of the reptile hind-brain that sees a number and wants to make it go up.

Lastly, if at the end of November you want to revert to displaying favorites by default, I hope you'll reconsider removing the user preference — I use a non-Firefox Gecko-based browser and am really enjoying reading the site without the constant feeling that I'm watching people high-fiving each other and shouting "You sure told 'em!" at each other all the time.
posted by enn at 3:19 PM on November 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


True, and my preference is that anyone who can stand it at all try giving the no-count thing a shot for as much of the month as they can because I'd really like to have feedback from the deeply skeptical along with that from the willing.

Upthread, it's been mentioned that it'll be useful data for the mods to see who opted out of the experiment. So, now, I want to know if it's better for the mods if we opt out (so they can see how many people do that) or if we live through the experiment (because then we can give feedback, etc).

I said upthread I like favorites, but I certainly can live without them for a month. I'm keen to help with the experiment in whichever way would be best.
posted by Ms. Saint at 3:20 PM on November 1, 2009


Thank you mods for giving the Wahhhmbulance drivers a much needed break.

Suddenly felt like I was in a boing moderation thread.
posted by found missing at 3:20 PM on November 1, 2009


Less information is bad.
posted by mediareport at 3:22 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Suddenly felt like I was in a boing moderation thread.

You must be skimming then, because there's been worse.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:24 PM on November 1, 2009


hydropsyche, I think most (if not all) commenters in this thread agree that one should read the whole thread if the plan to participate in the conversation. I agree that it's annoying when people post who have clearly not read the thread, but this is sort of a different issue than using favorites to skim other threads.

In fact, in one of the more egregious recent examples, many of the drive-by latecomers in the TSA Baby thread might have been helped by looking at favorite counts as they would have highlighted the comment essentially debunking the story.
posted by lalex at 3:26 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Which is to say, hydropsyche, that if you had in fact bothered to read the entire thread you would have noted a not insignificant number of people remarking that they use visible favorites to enhance their reading of an entire thread, rather than subsitute for reading an entire thread.

I read the vast majority of the thread, without skimming by favorites (I will admit to skimming by "this is the fifth times this person has made this argument in this thread so I probably don't need to read the whole thing.") Yes, some people are absolutely saying what you're saying. But many other people are also saying that they don't have time to read all of the comments on Metafilter and prefer to just skim popular favorites. I felt like there were equal numbers of users saying both things on this thread. And to the latter people, I say thbbbt.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:27 PM on November 1, 2009


Less information is bad.

No mediareport, that's definitely not true in all cases. For example, I don't think you'd argue that information about comment flagging should be made publicly viewable, do you?
posted by anifinder at 3:28 PM on November 1, 2009


Less information is bad.

Not according to the skimmers.
posted by Brian B. at 3:29 PM on November 1, 2009


Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but wouldn't that make it a permanent change rather than a month-long experiment? Also, isn't that pretty much the opposite of what mathowie said would happen in December?

...

Let's say I go into my preferences and change my website. I then click "save preferences".

How do you know whether I explicitly decided to set this new setting to be off, or whether I just left it off without even knowing I had a choice?


Sorry, I may have been unclear. So:

1. It's not a permanent change if you do or don't fiddle with the new preference; it's a change for the duration of November. After November, the likely situation is that the option goes away and things return to their original state.

2. If you don't choose to turn the favorite counts on in November, you don't choose to do so. Because it defaults to off, we don't have any reason to look for people who deliberately turned it off, no; those people we would be able to say only decided, for whatever reason, to leave it off. With a banner at the top of Metatalk and a very sizeable chunk of the userbase visiting Metatalk on at least a monthly basis, getting the attention of at least minimally actively engaged users shouldn't be too much of a problem.

At that, we understand that some people may just not care enough to turn it on despite being a little brow-furrowed about the change, but as a basic objective measure of who finds it practically rather than just theoretically objectionable the use or not of the preference setting is a decent ballpark figure. Beyond that, I am certain we will continue to talk about this, so I think we'll be able to pick up some of the grey area in conversation.

Upthread, it's been mentioned that it'll be useful data for the mods to see who opted out of the experiment. So, now, I want to know if it's better for the mods if we opt out (so they can see how many people do that) or if we live through the experiment (because then we can give feedback, etc).

My take is, I'd like people to try it, but if you want to try living through the experiment and ultimately decide you're really against it, opt out before the end of the month in any case and we can see that you chose to do that. Best of both worlds, from a compromising point of view anyway.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:29 PM on November 1, 2009


Bloody hell it has taken a long time to catch up with the 330+ comments since my last post.

Thanks for adding the preference, I'll be sticking with the experiment for a few days to see if I can stand it, but I'll likely be opting out in the near future.

If the choice is between [faved] and [x favorites], I probably want [x favorites]. However, I'm still not entirely sure that I wouldn't in fact prefer nothing at all, and to be honest, I still don't see the reason for having [faved] over having nothing.
posted by knapah at 3:30 PM on November 1, 2009


How do you know whether I explicitly decided to set this new setting to be off, or whether I just left it off without even knowing I had a choice?

I think the thinking is that if the no-count option makes you totally batshit crazy [or mildly irked] you'll change the numbers-showing, esp after this has sort of sunk in, people learn what their options are for November, that sort of thing. I'm sure we'll have some other "tell us how this makes you feel" MeTa thread later on, but not for a bit now. And yeah the plan is still to go back to normal in December but have a little more data on what a no-fave-numbers-showing MeFi would look like nowadays (as opposed to what it looked like back before favorites existed, which was a much different community).
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:31 PM on November 1, 2009


Yeah, your Foamometer is calibrated too sensitively.

So, where do I go to get that tightened up? Oh right, I'm already there.

Actually, I don't think there was much more foaming than I might expect in any MeTa thread about favorites, I was just objecting to the notion it was one-sided. I'm not all hyped up one way or the other about the change, and it seems to me that short of the couple people who took direct and rude jabs at the moderators, emotions ran equally high on both sides. koeselitz was just the example I chose. In my opinion, making 47 comments in one thread in less than 12 hours has...frothy qualities, at the very least.
posted by donnagirl at 3:33 PM on November 1, 2009


> Or, to be more blunt, why should I read your comment if you couldn't be arsed to read mine because it didn't get all faved?

How many times do people have to say that they read more carefully on threads they are interested enough to comment in, but like to skim longer less-interesting ones before y'all stop characterizing your objection this way? Do you think these people are lying, or did you just not, you know, read this thread yourself to see what people are actually saying?

I have no doubt whatsoever some people post without reading the entire thread. It is not clear to me this is because of favorites or would improve by the removal of them. I suspect it'd result in people having read less of it, actually. It certainly isn't the position anyone is taking in this thread so please stop erecting this particular strawman.

> I wonder how many of you who use them to screen comments, as it were, ever go back and read the whole thread afterward — do you really find the most-favorited comments to be the most interesting, informative, entertaining, etc.?

Yes, fairly often. After skimming a bit of a thread I don't think I'll much care for, if I find my interest level has increased, I'll go back to get context, especially if I want to comment. And yeah, generally speaking, I find faved comments to be the more interesting or funny. Not 100% of the time, but mostly. But even if they weren't the best, they helped pique my interest in the otherwise uninteresting (to me) thread.

Also, when a discussion devolves into some ridiculous back-and-forth or bullshit derail (this is frequent), I find favorite-ed comments serve as little lighthouses that signal to me I can stop paging down.
posted by cj_ at 3:34 PM on November 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


I like any change that pisses off this many people and am disappointed, but not surprised, at the later changes for that same reason.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 3:35 PM on November 1, 2009


mathowie: Ok, we've got a favorite counts on/off feature in the preferences working now and will show it off soon (possibly in a new metatalk thread). Please hold on and everyone will be welcome to use it shortly.

Just FYI, if you're planning to count users with and without that opt-out turned on: even though I viscerally dislike the 'faved' approach, I'm not going to turn it off for the month, because it's not a very useful experiment if I don't actually participate. So, at least in my case, please don't take my lack of opting out as support of the fundamental idea. I suspect it probably isn't a very good one.

But, at the same time, you guys ARE pretty damn clever, and I think I should give you the benefit of the doubt. So I'll be staying with 'faved' for November, no matter what I actually think of it during. I'll register my opinion again after a few weeks' experience.

I dislike the idea, but I'll give it a try. Maybe lima beans actually are good for me.
posted by Malor at 3:35 PM on November 1, 2009


You should all wait & see what We have planned for the December Surprise!





(It involves cupcakes)
posted by the Cabal at 3:36 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


For example, I don't think you'd argue that information about comment flagging should be made publicly viewable, do you?

I'd be very happy to have a flagged (23) count shown, particularly to the commenter. No need to show it to the world and launch a witch hunt, but that is actually useful feedback to have when you make a comment that steps over a line.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:37 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


People read in different ways; people use the site in different ways, and those ways are just as valid as yours.

This is bullshit. Different does not always mean equal. Some ways of using the site are actually less valid than others. Reading the entire thread before commenting should be encouraged.


No, sorry, but this is bullshit. Metafilter is only as valuable as all of its contributing members--and by "contributing members," I mean the people who comment, not the people who read. It's unreasonable to expect all members to read every comment on every post, nor is it even realistic to encourage members to do so. And I'm saying this despite the fact that I'd say that, personally, I read every comment on 95% of the posts I comment to. People here are, generally, intelligent enough to follow the gist of a conversation and to add something valuable to it even if they haven't read every comment--and, in fact, posts with high favorite counts are a good indication of the gist of a conversation, as this thread has really clearly illustrated.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:40 PM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


Hey, don't provide me a reasonable solution! I'm busy railing against the Man!

Thanks pb.

Now, can we sort the tag pages? ;)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:41 PM on November 1, 2009


You just like pissing off people because...?
posted by cavalier at 3:42 PM on November 1, 2009


GAH! Fast moving thread, that was directed at ten pounds etc...
posted by cavalier at 3:43 PM on November 1, 2009


Look I'm glad the lights came back on, but who put cortex's boxers on my head and why am I holding koeselitz's penis?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:46 PM on November 1, 2009


I'd be very happy to have a flagged (23) count shown, particularly to the commenter. No need to show it to the world and launch a witch hunt, but that is actually useful feedback to have when you make a comment that steps over a line.

Again, a separate discussion (and, really, a firm no), but one difference here is that a pile of negative flags as a recurring issue tends to manifest itself already as a diplomatic email from the mods saying "we've got a problem here", which is something that we can choose to do when we feel like there's enough of a problem to justify the touchy process of engaging someone with site-interaction criticism.

Dangling non-threshold-crossing flags in front of someone's nose runs the risk of getting them upset and reactive in a way that's not necessarily useful, and we're pretty powerfully disinclined to go there in any sense as a default thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:47 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Never said that I liked pissing off people. I said that I like change that pisses (many) people off.

This kind of misreading, by the way, is the cause of a lot of the anger in this thread, which is why I also like it when people post knee-jerk responses.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 3:48 PM on November 1, 2009


Well, that's better. Thank you.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:48 PM on November 1, 2009


Oh, and this is something that I thought I'd mention because my girlfriend and I talked a little about it while we walked to the store:

I am, in general, pro-favorites. I don't particularly use them as a way to skim the threads, but I do like the high five aspect, I like the way it feels to give one or get one.

But in thinking about this as a political question, I can definitely see the argument that koeselitz is making, and I think that it represents a way of thinking that's valuable. I was trying to explain it to my girlfriend, and I asked, "Well, have you ever read the Crito?" There's a strain of political philosophy that is deeply skeptical of democracy, and for good reason. Democracy killed Socrates, the Iraq war was widely popular, gay marriage was just repealed in California.

And because I've argued with koeselitz before, I know that he's a guy who is partial to arguments from Plato and Nietzsche, both deeply anti-democratic philosophers, and I can see that carry through here. I know how he thinks, at least to some extent.

I do think that something that's being lost in the responses to him is the notion that there isn't ever really a uniformly better system of filtering or ranking or valuing. Even if skimming by favorites works better for you, generic reader, that doesn't mean you're not giving up some parts of Metafilter that are also valuable or important.

Which is why I'm fine with participating in this experiment, because I understand that shifts in information influence framing, and because more information isn't always better regarding experience. I think that folks who are already angrily opting out are missing the opportunity to carry out a fairly significant n=1 experiment, and are negatively impacting the ability of the folks who would participate to get clean data, but hey, it's really not that big of a deal. As I alluded to prior, I think a more interesting experiment in snark reduction would be returning to the forced-preview scheme, but I know that trying to do that like this (for a month) would bring nuclearpocalypse to MeTa.
posted by klangklangston at 3:48 PM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


As one of the people who uses favorites mostly for bookmarking, with an occasional "Beautifully said" marker (85/15 ratio, I'd say), I'm looking forward to this monthlong experiment, and to participating. I hope people who are fervently on one side and the other will also participate, because I'm interested in hearing from other people who can tell us how favorites really impact their reading of the site, and if they see any difference in site discourse, overall.

Several people in this thread have mentioned that they'd be less likely to favorite if favorite counts were hidden a click away because there wouldn't be any value in favoriting, and I'd be interested to see if reality and prediction specifically met. I'm also interested in finding out if favorites help people read more or lead to reading less, and to whether it impacts their perceptions of threads to not have that numerical information at hand.
posted by julen at 3:48 PM on November 1, 2009


DarlingBri: It's practically a guarantee in online communities that if you allow negative votes of any kind to be visible live, it creates groupthink. It's entirely one thing for people that disagree to not favorite each other, but it's much easier to be discouraged from active negative votes. It's the positive reinforcement vs. negative reinforcement idea.

It's definitely useful feedback for the individual, but it will create a larger systemic problem.
posted by amuseDetachment at 3:49 PM on November 1, 2009


Thanks for the option, mods.
posted by chrisamiller at 3:51 PM on November 1, 2009


I've been trying really hard to catch up, and I'm sorry for perhaps skimming, but a couple things. I see that the workaround has been implemented, and I'm grateful for that. Thanks for listening to the community.

However, in response to the echo chamber idea, I don't know that I agree. Sometimes it takes something to get over the threshhold to commenting (especially early on as a member). Receiving a favorite or two gives you a sense that you're not alone, that other people value your comments. It's a nice, pleasant feeling.

It's especially a nice, pleasant feeling when someone, like, say, mitheral directly calls you out and makes you feel profoundly unwelcome, seeing that people do actually support you lessens the sting of being told your input isn't worthy.

As for the comments, I lurked before joining, and I used to be able to read most everything. Now, when I wake up in the morning (on the opposite side of the world from most people) I usually see up to 20 posts on the blue, and maybe 60 on the green. It's not easy to get through all of those, and I usually can't do it, which makes me a touch sad. By removing the favorites, I think you'll see an additional problem pop up, as it has in this thread, of people posting to register their approval of another post, rather than clicking the neutered favorite button. The noise, as you're calling it, has gone up in this post already.

Oh, and mitheral, majick made the point you were trying to make, but without being a dick. Look into it.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:51 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can we please stop telling other people that they're reading the site "wrong"? If the goal in obscuring favorites is to raise the level of discussion, making jokes about how pro-favorite people are whiners (those skimmers suck amirite??) is kind of ironic. Also, rude as hell.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:52 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Can we please stop telling other people that they're reading the site "wrong"? If the goal in obscuring favorites is to raise the level of discussion, making jokes about how pro-favorite people are whiners (those skimmers suck amirite??) is kind of ironic. Also, rude as hell.

To be fair, everyone should stop with the broad generalizations.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:56 PM on November 1, 2009


Damn, I forgot (consequences of reading the whole thread just after my bowl of cereal, I tend to lose track). About the vituperative nature of the comments: in all the previous MeTa threads on how favorites are evil, I imagine that most people who like favorites just never commented. Their repetitive nature, with the same people making the same tired claims, it just didn't seem like it was worth fighting about. What you're seeing here is people finally putting the two cents in that maybe we should have put in a long time ago. What seems like piling on to you might actually be the mass of members disagreeing with you.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:56 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ok, we've got a favorite counts on/off feature in the preferences working now and will show it off soon (possibly in a new metatalk thread). Please hold on and everyone will be welcome to use it shortly.

Phew, that was an uncomfortable couple of hours.
posted by milarepa at 4:00 PM on November 1, 2009


I like "favoured" (ok "favored") instead of "faved", for its slightly old-world nption of having been the recipient of "favour", perhaps even the Queen's grace and favour.

I'm going to keep the option as it is for now, that is, go with the experiment and I encourage others to try it (especially now that you know you have a choice). I say this as someone who probably in the end will prefer the current system: this site didn't get to be a great site (where a change causes you to froth at the mouth) by accident, it got that way because actual human beings made it that way in a slow motion dialogue with the users that has gone on for pver a decade now. The fact that the mods are not complete power-crazed assholes like they are at BoingBoing? Good judgment by mathowie. The fact that we don't have threaded conversations? Good judgment by mathowie, in the face of a web-wide trend. The fact that favouriting is not "upvoting" in any real sense of the word (it does not affect what is shown on screen other than a number)? Good judgment by the mods. The fact that there is no "downvoting"? Good judgement. Little things, like many fewer metatalk threads on the main page at any one time, subtly discouraging endless arguments? Good judgment implemented in design. I mean, people, I am not calling for deference to authority mindlessly or anything -- I am calling for a little respect to be given to the people that have a demonstrated track record of good judgment about what features are or are not for fostering a sense of community and a respectful yet not cramped social space. I know we are all "expert users" of online communities but mathowie, jessamyn and cortex are "expert enablers" of these communities and it wouldn't hurt to have given them the slightest benefit of the doubt. They have the bird's eye view of that which we see from the perspective of the worm.

and vacapinta and pb of course. It's not like I know these folks either, though I did get email from jessamyn once.
posted by Rumple at 4:01 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, just to put my 2 cents in, I like the visible favorites. We're classier than digg, but the idea of knowing the pulse of popular opinion is helpful. I've made arguments before where I saw everyone favoriting my opponent and not me, and it made me take a second look at my argument. Things work just fine as they are. I know this is an experiment and all, but I thought I'd just publicly voice my support of the system as-is.
posted by MythMaker at 4:01 PM on November 1, 2009


To be fair, everyone should stop with the broad generalizations.

I actually wasn't addressing "broad generalizations." Those happen and aren't really offensive. I was addressing meanness. I certainly may have missed/or been less sensitive to name-calling at the "anti-faves" group.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:02 PM on November 1, 2009


"In my opinion, making 47 comments in one thread in less than 12 hours has...frothy qualities, at the very least."

I realize that's your opinion, but I believe your opinion is wrong. This is a huge thread, and koeselitz was one of the few defending an unpopular decision against a lot of people challenging it. That takes a lot of work, work seen here as 47 comments.

"No, sorry, but this is bullshit. Metafilter is only as valuable as all of its contributing members--and by "contributing members," I mean the people who comment, not the people who read. It's unreasonable to expect all members to read every comment on every post, nor is it even realistic to encourage members to do so. And I'm saying this despite the fact that I'd say that, personally, I read every comment on 95% of the posts I comment to. People here are, generally, intelligent enough to follow the gist of a conversation and to add something valuable to it even if they haven't read every comment--and, in fact, posts with high favorite counts are a good indication of the gist of a conversation, as this thread has really clearly illustrated."

No, while I like having my nose up the communal MeFi ass as much as the next guy, that's really not a supportable argument. As MeFi grows, the membership will regress to the mean intelligence of the internet users as a whole. There are already plenty of topics that Metafilter is idiotic about (fat people, TSA baby-napping). You can't argue that because MeFi is above the mean, as it expands it will remain so. The quality here takes work, both of the aristocratic (mod) set, and us plebes. Lowering the barrier to entry lets more people contribute, but requires more work from the community to keep standards high.
posted by klangklangston at 4:03 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I made it halfway through this thread under the new "Faved" system before I gave in and skipped to the bottom to add my cricket-chirp to the noise. What strikes me as the worst part of the experimental binary system is that it's now incredibly difficult to take the temperature of a lengthy thread's conversation. The old tally of people's hitting the + sign was the closest thing the community had to saying "hear, hear". Reducing that to a single mark is the equivalent of a buzzer, where we once had the murmurs and shouts of the crowd.

In any case, from all I can tell in this thread under the experimental system, the community seems to hate it. I could, of course, be mistaken: A few enthusiastic comments could have dozens of Mefites behind the single "faved" marks they've received, and I could be subconsciously emphasizing the detractors as I've made my way through this. In any experiment, measurement must be able to win out over personal preferences.

Short version: I don't like it.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:03 PM on November 1, 2009


To be fair, everyone should stop with the broad generalizations.

I bet they won't, though. Everyone's a total jerk like that.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:03 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


If 500 people favorite this comment, then 500 people will have faved this comment. But no one will ever know! Mwahaha!
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:05 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think that everyone, no matter what their stance on favorites, should understand this: A change to the favorite system can only affect the culture of MetaFilter if it applies to everyone. The reason favorites-haters object to favorites is not that they somehow can't bear to see a number next to the word "favorites", but because the system encourages other people to read less carefully and make low-quality comments. Favorite counts are not really part of the "interface"; this is about the content.

I'm not even a favorites-hater myself (I'm undecided), but I think it's important for people to understand that making it a preference defeats the point.

(Thus I have no idea what this month's "experiment" could possibly show even if there were a way to measure it.)
posted by k. at 4:07 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


While the experimental methodology seems ill conceived and the "word" faved is intellectually jarring, this all certainly has made for good MetaTalk.
posted by gruchall at 4:07 PM on November 1, 2009


I tend to read threads top to bottom, which makes the scanning side not affect me. Also, I tend to treat favourites as a communication between me and the commenter: "thanks for posting that, rather than not posting". Not affected.

Yes, that's how I use favorites as well. If, y'know, we're collecting data on this or anything.

Lately, though, it seems like way too large a percentage of the threads I look at just devolve into snarky, uninteresting, and pointless "this is a bad post and you're a bad person for posting it" conversations.. And I hate it. I really, really do. I'm starting to avoid the Blue more just because I find that kind of thread-death so very frustrating. So, if there is a correlation between favorite-culture and that kind of behavior, I totally approve of removing favorites.

I also totally agree with this.

The comment stressed how they felt safe knowing x many other people agree with them before hitting the favorite button. That's an echo chamber. That's sub-optimal.

If we're talking politics, I agree with you. But knowing that x many other people agree with you that [INSERT ISM HERE] is bad is actually really helpful since there can be an equal number of "Stop crying about it, you big baby!" posts along with someone pointing out that they felt slighted. Seeing the number of favorites to the person valiantly tilting at their own personal windmill does help others say "Oh yes! This bugged me too!" even if there are an equal number of comments saying "Pfft. You people who don't like this have sand in your panties."

It's only an echo chamber if the dissenting agreements, y'know, make sense. Or are respectful. But oh so often they're not. I don't think favoriting helps this per se, but I do get where that POV is coming from (about the favoriting and the safe-feeling).

(Or what oinopaponton said.)

One thing I think Metafilter does really well is breaking news,

*SPIT TAKE* I'm sorry, are we living in the same reality?!

I'm pretty sure the largest thread before this was probably 9622 in-jokery of some sort. We're better than that too.

Oh, no, no we're not. In the same reality that is. I'm in the reality that's playing an alphabet game with orifice names.

Also: Wow, thanks mathowie and pb for reaching a solution to this. I may or may not put favorite counts back, I'm not necessarily missing them, but it's really awesome to see a solution to this.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:08 PM on November 1, 2009


Holy shit, pushing 1000 comments. Smells like shark in here.

I'm very much of two minds about all this, having slept on it. I am one of the people that thinks that favorites (both because of the implicit approbation implied in that word and because of the ways I reckon they have changed the tenor of the site since their introduction, for better and worse) might not have been an entirely positive addition to the community and its interactions. On the other hand, I do think that their visibility in-thread (I note because people seem to be missing it in their hair-on-fire ululations that it's just the visibility that has changed) does provide a big hook for a lot of people in the ways they read the site, and it's clearly come to feel essential to many.

I agree with most that the +faved link thing, though I understand it had to have been a hard thing to get right, is sub-optimal. The implication is that I have favorited an item, and it really adds nothing to a thread in terms of user-experience hooks, other than being a link anchor to a list of people who favorited an item (which very few people other than the poster him or herself will ever click through to).

So I'm conflicted. But I will say this: I kinda feel like there was a time when a thread like this would have been more discussion about what's right for the site as a whole, how best to re-engineer things (and how and why and whether it had become necessary), about issues of web community and intended and unintended consequences and all that. Though there is some of that in this thread, we're up to 1000 comments and it feels like the vast majority of comments are about how it affects ME and how much I hate it. I guess that's just human nature and maybe it's no different than it ever would have been and it's natural that if people dislike a change they're going to speak up. I guess it's a natural outgrowth of Metafilter shifting a little bit, as it has scaled, towards the Owner/Customer model and a little bit less a collaboration between Matt and a bunch of people who liked what he was doing and wanted to help. Not that that level of engagement has gone away, but I think it may have thinned a bit.

Anyway, for my part, I've always been more interested in the overall group dynamic, the way that small incremental changes in policy or design can mold community behaviour and norms, all that crap.

But, again, I don't have much in the way of ideas that would satisfy all the requirements here, and I'm less engaged with the site lately anyway. I was thinking about hiding the count and the 'faved' thing, making the [+] get 'hotter' as an item got more favorites, from say whitish to bright yellow or something to indicate popularity without a raw counter display, but I don't think that's a very good idea either.

Again, I think the experiment is an interesting one. But at this stage, if I were voting, even though I have always had some reservations about the unintended consequences of +favorites, I'd probably vote for the regular old count visibility, or some other rethink of the way things work.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:10 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


But I am going to keep the count turned off, I think, and see how it feels in a week or three.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:12 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ok, we've got a favorite counts on/off feature in the preferences working now and will show it off soon

Thanks, Matt, much appreciated.
posted by languagehat at 4:14 PM on November 1, 2009


Gosh. Talk about a missed opportunity. Matt should have offered the favorites on setting as a $5 upgrade. Alas. Perhaps a t-shirt can yet recover the loss profits...
posted by Atreides at 4:16 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


> I kinda feel like there was a time when a thread like this would have been more discussion about what's right for the site as a whole, how best to re-engineer things (and how and why and whether it had become necessary), about issues of web community and intended and unintended consequences and all that. Though there is some of that in this thread, we're up to 1000 comments and it feels like the vast majority of comments are about how it affects ME and how much I hate it.

Um, I know this isn't your intention, but that smells to me a lot like "Ask not what MetaFilter can do for you, ask rather what you can do for MetaFilter." Why should people ignore how a change affects THEM and concentrate on an imagined benefit to a misty alternative group of users? "I know flogging me will hurt, but it will be good for my people, so flog away! Flog harder!"
posted by languagehat at 4:17 PM on November 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


You can't argue that because MeFi is above the mean, as it expands it will remain so. The quality here takes work, both of the aristocratic (mod) set, and us plebes. Lowering the barrier to entry lets more people contribute, but requires more work from the community to keep standards high.

If this is an anticipatory measure against the increasing stupidity of metafilter, I don't see how it can possibly help--as many people have said, favorites are something that have been used increasingly not only simply to skim long posts but also to get the drift of the general arguments of long posts. They can actually help filter out noise and stupidity.

If the goal is to force every commenter to read every comment, then, I don't know, put a little check mark next to every post that you have to click before you can comment. I realize this is a stupid-sounding suggestion, but it would solve the "problem" (problem in quotes because, again, I'm pretty sure it's not one) a lot better than removing favorite numbers does.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:18 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reason favorites-haters object to favorites is not that they somehow can't bear to see a number next to the word "favorites", but because the system encourages other people to read less carefully and make low-quality comments.

Merely speaking as just one person in favor of numbered favorites, I fully understand this fact, as well as the implication that it has an effect on the larger system. My tongue-in-cheek response to that argument is appealing to an even deeper social undercurrent: Metafilter is getting too big to read everything.

Metafilter seems to be changing. Back when I was just lurking without an account, it was definitely possible to read every post and comment on the site. It is quite literally impossible now. To be able to get a good feel of the daily "best of the web", I have to be able to cull comments and maybe only have enough time to read all the comments of only one or two posts per day.

Without tools like comment filtering and the associated greasemonkey scripts, I can't follow Metafilter comments today. This site is never going back to the early days where everything was gold, there's more users, more posts, more comments, and the signal-to-noise ratio has gone down marginally. 100+ comment posts are the new normal. Not displaying favorite counts will not decrease or filter the comment counts — which is my primary problem.
posted by amuseDetachment at 4:22 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you favorite this comment I promise to read all of your comments in dull detail and depth forever and until the end of time amen.
posted by The Whelk at 4:22 PM on November 1, 2009 [24 favorites]


I like this change. Normally I wouldn't add anything this late in a thread, but I hear too many people loudly whining about how this has destroyed Metafilter and I know too well how much a few squeeky wheels can make it sound like there's a serious problem when really it's just a few loudmouths.

But as I said, I like this change. I'm really surprised to hear people worry that this is going to encourage more comments beucase that's a big part of what I like about it. In this thread I'm seeing a bunch of names I don't recognize and that's awesome. I do agree that a favorited comment does have a little more authority, but it's an anonymous authority. While I can click on a favorite link to see who favorited it, that takes more effort. And when I do that, most of the time I have no idea who these poeple are, because they really don't post much so their names are just meaningless. Yeah I could go peruse their past favorites and learn more about them, but that's getting a bit stalkerish. But if someone actually posts comments, over time I'm goign to start to recognize them and they are no longer some anonymous person saying "hear hear" but a real person who has built a reputation that I can take into account. And that's a good thing.

MetaFilter is one of the few internet sites that have actually made me rethink things that I thought were pretty set in stone. There's some metafilter users out there that, while I don't always agree with them, when I do disagree I stop and carefully reevaluate my position, taking their arguments and take those into consideration. These users aren't (mostly) the super prolific posters either, as a lot of those people seem to be too much in love with their own voice to be worth listening to. But they are generally people who have occasionally waded into a shouting match and said something intelligent and non fighty. I see that a few times and I'm going to remember that person.

Reputation matters. Let's encourage more of them.
posted by aspo at 4:23 PM on November 1, 2009


I think it was Terry Pratchett who said that skimming is just like reading, except without the comprehension part.
posted by Ritchie at 4:23 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Um, I know this isn't your intention, but that smells to me a lot like "Ask not what MetaFilter can do for you, ask rather what you can do for MetaFilter."

Sure, why not. Community in the larger sense only works when that kind of attitude underlies at least some of the way people approach participation in it. The differences and similarities between 'real' community and web community has always fascinated me, I admit.

Why should people ignore how a change affects THEM and concentrate on an imagined benefit to a misty alternative group of users? "

They shouldn't. That's why I tried to be careful to say that that was perfectly OK-like.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:25 PM on November 1, 2009


I feel like you've taken that specific feature request denial really personally and are kind of dwelling on it in a way that's out of proportion with what actually went down.

No, it's not so much person as no coherent reason was given, other than one person doesn't like up that high, he feels or thinks it's a rarely used feature and he's on the fence about re-adding threads once they've been blocked.

Later a few other people decide it's time to experiment with the interface and oh, "it's happening tomorrow." Yeah that's really freaking annoying.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:26 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I know flogging me will hurt, but it will be good for my people, so flog away! Flog harder!"

The beatings will continue until morale improves.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:27 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you favorite this comment I promise to read all of your comments in dull detail and depth forever and until the end of time amen.

I'll buy that for a favorite.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:27 PM on November 1, 2009


Schmoopy is confused and wants a bath.
posted by Schmoopy at 4:29 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The beatings will continue until morale improves.

promises promises
posted by The Whelk at 4:29 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Houstonian writes "I wish we wouldn't do that. Going by user numbers only (which isn't correct, as it counts abandoned sign-ups, but it's close enough), that encompasses over 78,000 users -- some who are even your contacts. Surely you have found that you have gotten something from the participation of at least one of those people? Or are we really all not welcome, and should just close our accounts?"

That wasn't what I was saying, though I suppose if one is strongly opposed to faves one might see it that way. Metafilter needs new users. Metafilter also needs to throttle new user signups. I think those points are mostly agreeable without debate. Whether charging $5 is the best way to throttle those users is debatable IMO and I'm still on the fence. Especially since, as so many people have commented in this thread, the daily volume of comments across the site is growing I think a good argument could be made that enough throttling isn't been done. While we don't have the physical limitations of a golf club or church I think Metafilter can not continue to grow without limit and still be the excellent resource it is perceived as.

kingjoeshmoe writes "So, most of my functionality is now returned, but that just raises the question: What's the point? If I can so easily circumvent this feature/bug, what benefit does it serve to hide the info in the first place? People tech-savvy enough to mess with style-sheets and greasemonkey scripts get to have a secret easter-egg feature that is denied to those who can't deal?"

Greasemonkey scrips exist to enable kill files, avatars and many other things the web site doesn't support natively. Many of those would be buck easy to support natively. However not supporting by them by default is a design feature as much as is unthreaded comments.

threetoed writes "I remember the days when it was easily possible to read through every single post of the day. Nowadays, not so much."

It's a lot easier if you skip youtubery and Anon Askmes.

gerryblog writes "When was the last time a big site change was made in the way this one was? I can't remember the last time matthowie et all just DID SOMETHING without it having been discussed for weeks or even months in advance."

Uh, probably not the last time but the very existence of favourites in the first place is exactly this kind of change. It was just *Boom* there it is with some tweaking afterwards after feedback. Matt however was wrong on the acceptance the name would eventually have. Also the introduction of $5 signups; big, img, marquee and blink tags being withdrawn, custom user pages implemented and withdrawn; new moderators; users being able to unilaterally close their account and the re-introduction of blink (thanks again cortex). Some security stuff in there requiring quick action but not all of it.

kingjoeshmoe writes "You know the thing I think is the funniest about this? Many people have come in begging for ways to revert to the old view, even though there are now multiple repeat comments explaining exactly how to do that. Of course, if this change were never implemented, those posts would be among the easiest ones to find. You want to talk about how favorites increase noise? This right here is a prime example of exactly the opposite."

The TSA-Baby thread is proof that you can't draw this conclusion. Comments outing it as a hoax were favourited to hell and back and the TL;DRers were still jumping in a week and a Meta later decrying the injustice.
posted by Mitheral at 4:31 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Though I intend to keep favourites off for the month, I just turned it back on to read this thread and remind myself what it was like. Being in the minority view in this case, attempting to pick out comments interesting to me no longer worked using favourites - as many heavily favourited comments were simply repeating things I had already disagreed with. As I usually agree with the Mefi majority view on many issues, that was a good reminder that favourites only work for you when you want the opinion of the majority.

And this is connected to the issue with favouriting in threads such as the feminism ones - I also use my favourites to attempt the support the voices of feminists and in particular feminist women against dismissive attitudes. It's my way of doing my bit when others have already communicated something much better than I could have, or when I just don't have it in me to fight the good fight - and yes, it feels good and the place feels more welcoming when you see reasonable positions receive heavy support.

However, it really only works when you have a significant number of people agreeing with you. Imagine the reverse: if Mefi were, say, much more "Boyzone", and dismissive, mocking comments of women's experiences receive 30, 40-odd favourites while the feminist comments you like to see get 2 or 3. The place would very quickly feel unwelcoming.

I'm not saying favourites are bad - I really think they have both good and bad points, and this experiment could've allowed us to have a better idea of what that balance is. I do think "faved" may be making it seem worse than if favourites had gone away altogether. (and I still think the mouseover idea I mentioned earlier is a good compromise, though maybe it's just me.) But I really hope this experiment is not cut short - I think there is something valuable here. And for those of you deeply attached to favourites, think of it this way: if it doesn't work out after the month, it'll be much harder for people to complain about them in the future. So, win-win as far as I can see, if you are willing to give it a little time.
posted by catchingsignals at 4:31 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Thank you for the ability to opt out. Metafilter is still my favorite website and my login here remains the best $5 I've ever spent, but I don't like the idea of removing the visible favorites count one bit. I understand Team Mod's reasons for wanting to test it out, but please count my vote on its permanent implementation as vehemently against. If this change winds up sticking (and I dearly hope that it doesn't), please make the ability to opt out permanent as well.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:33 PM on November 1, 2009


I'm not sure, but I think this was done the same way (2006): Announcing: Favorites and flagging. It's a pretty interesting read...

I can't believe I was pro favs. It didn't take me long to become skeptical though. Just goes to show how trying something out for a while can change your mind about it.
posted by Chuckles at 4:34 PM on November 1, 2009


I suspect that the flat "faved" thing is going to mean more agreeing with/"nthing"/pointing out previous comments... which I don't think is great. And, yeah... it just might mean more people jumping to try to get their comment into the first 20 or 30 so they'll be noticed.

I could write a lot about my various thoughts on this, but I won't, right now. I'll grit my teeth and try it out... However, I will mention one thing that hasn't been brought up (at least in the 729 comments I read before posting):

One way I know for sure this will negatively impact me is that I'm resistant to clicking away from the page to something a commenter is linking to. If it's very clear that it's something I want to see ("here's an excellent chart that breaks down the exact numbers", etc.), yes - but there are tons and tons of links to jpgs, to youtube, to I-don't-know-what that just say something like "see also"; I almost never click on them... unless they have an unusual number of favorites. In this way, I've seen some really remarkable things, sometimes even better than the original post - stuff I really wanted to see, but didn't know it except for the favorites.

Without the faves indication, I imagine there will be plenty of people adding comments like "don't miss so-and-so's link to X," so perhaps I'll still hit most of the quality stuff, but, again... more comments added to already long threads, meaning fewer people will even get to the comments that say "don't miss that other comment!"
posted by taz at 4:35 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or is the fact that almost every comment in this thread seems to be faved a case in point of how this idea needs rethinking?
posted by azarbayejani at 4:39 PM on November 1, 2009


Metatalk threads are like ratings sites. People tend not to rate if they don't really care, and people don't comment if they don't have a strong opinion.

I'm looking forward to hearing how many people do actually opt-out and what percentage that is. Heck, even tell me what percentage of the total posting/commenting volume these people contribute (I'm not sure about the general balance of posting, but I do get the impression that there probably are a few that post disproportionately).
posted by that girl at 4:39 PM on November 1, 2009


Honestly, I don't care about numbers - I JUST HATED SEEING "FAVED" all of over the place when I had not in fact "faved" (gags) that comment. I hate that word, and the context was badly presented.
posted by strixus at 4:40 PM on November 1, 2009


Probably late on this, but re: complaints on the closed thread, if some people do work by checking for the most favorited comments, they could set it that way, and others could hide it too.

Either that, or drop favorites all together. Just seems like an attempt to "control" the way users handle the site. Its something different from moderation, which is to keep mean-spirited people from wrecking the site.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:40 PM on November 1, 2009


So I turned the counter off and re-read this thread. And one thing jumped out at me in a hurry.

Here's the most favorited comment of the thread. As of my snapshot, it sits at 159. In the opening sentence of the comment Rhaomi says "Hopefully somebody cooks up a Greasemonkey script for it soon...."

Here's the most favorited "solution" comment, which pretty much gives Rhaomi and answer (though not with Greasemonkey). It has 24 favorites.

Admittedly, these are just two data points, but it does suggest to me that most people DON'T use favorites to bookmark. They use them like karma points. And that's the vector through which gameplay has been entering. There does seem to be a problem here, but just from comparing favorite counts on this thread I don't think removing the count is any real solution. It does hide that the anti-change posts and the handful of retorts to the moderators are drawing lots of favorites while the pro-change posts (or even the moderators' own posts) are drawing far fewer. So in a sense it's minimizing the Katamari Damancy effect (favorited posts pick up more favories than non-favorited ones), but at the same time it's having zero effect on the snark.

Another useless fact: In the first 300 comments or so, a majority of the comments have just one favorite. A lot of it appears to be griefing the system, but the thing is that even when you have the count turned on it makes it more difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. So you get drawn to the double-digited favorites, which actually increases the Katamari Damancy effect.
posted by dw at 4:41 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, can we keep them on music? I'd definitely like to be able to tell how many people liked a song I posted! Comments, could take or leave, but music is different.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:41 PM on November 1, 2009


I sometimes only read posts that have, say, more than 3 favorites, particularly in very long threads where the comments start to become simply reiterative of prior posts.

Or, if it's a topic I don't understand or appreciate, then I will scroll down and use the multiple favorites to guide me to posts that interpret or explain the topic.

Meaning that I often do not read every single post in a thread. I'm lazy like that. Or, rather, efficient like that. Depends, I guess.

I don't like this change, but if it's going to stay, I'm sure I'll get used to it and perhaps come to prefer it. It's kind of a "meh" change, and it has somewhat discouraged me from reading Mefi posts (notsomuch AskMe posts).
posted by jabberjaw at 4:42 PM on November 1, 2009


Terrific!

One down, one to go: Please now remove the word "faved" and substitute any of 100 better suggestions above. I favor "favored," but I don't really care as long as it's not "faved." "Faved" is not a word, even if it is in the dictionary; it's a sloppy crappy forgot-to-button-my-something piece of linguistic laziness. It's something to make someone stop abruptly in the middle of a conversation and not continue because the phrase "and then I faved it" almost came out of someone's mouth.

A month of "faves" pollutes the Internet. Clean up this act!
posted by gum at 4:42 PM on November 1, 2009


I wonder how much this thread has depressed the volume of posting on the other sites.

Oh, and this:

2) Now when I read a post which is "faved," the date at the "faved" run together, for me. So, today, as I read, it looks at first like each faved thread has been faved once. And tomorrow, each one will look like it's been faved twice.


This is actually happening for me.
posted by knapah at 4:46 PM on November 1, 2009


Threads often have hundreds of commen