Recent Activity Newness April 19, 2007 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Hey all, I'm working on an updated page that shows recent favorites activity. You can play along at home by adding your userID to this URL:

http://www.metafilter.com/recent_activity.cfm?user_id=[userID]

And for fun here's recent activity for mathowie, jessamyn, and cortex. There are probably still some bugs to catch, this isn't the permanent home, void where prohibited, etc.
posted by pb to Feature Requests at 6:02 PM (71 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

This is neat!
posted by myeviltwin at 6:10 PM on April 19, 2007


Cool.

I'm getting a ColdFusion error at the bottom of the page, though.
"Element f392476 is undefined in a CFML structure referenced as part of an expression."
posted by Aloysius Bear at 6:11 PM on April 19, 2007


some post title have quotation marks, others dont.
posted by phaedon at 6:16 PM on April 19, 2007


I'd love some way to search through favorites by keyword or tag, since page-by-page coverage doesn't quite help in finding an old favorite I'd be grateful to go back to...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:17 PM on April 19, 2007


I'd love some way to search through favorites by keyword or tag

Seconded.

(but this is pretty cool)
posted by niles at 6:20 PM on April 19, 2007


I'm really excited about this.
posted by Dizzy at 6:20 PM on April 19, 2007


Cool. Thanks.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:21 PM on April 19, 2007


Am I missing something or is there no way to get an RSS feed for a user's favorite comments and/or posts?
posted by nixerman at 6:21 PM on April 19, 2007


A bug you might know about:

Older and/or Metafilter threads like, say, this one, show up "31 users added as a favorite". Since there's no title-in-URL-goodness, I guess it can't find anything to link to. It's the last and third-last things on my activity page if you want to see it.
posted by niles at 6:24 PM on April 19, 2007


thanks, Aloysius Bear, should be working now.

phaedon, some are posts and some are comments. The comments have just a snippet of the favorited comment in quotes. Favorited posts have the post title, no quotes.

nixerman, there's no RSS for favorites yet. It's on the to-do list.

good catch, niles. fixed.
posted by pb (staff) at 6:45 PM on April 19, 2007


Little bug report: On my page, the second item shows yeoz adding an AskMe comment of mine which has been deleted. Instead of showing the deleted comment, it shows the title from the previous item on the list, a recent MeFi post of mine ("The International Music Score Library Project"). It also seems to have constructed a strange link combining the post URL with the comment anchor: "http://ask.metafilter.com/60733/The-International-Music-Score-Library-Project#914579"
posted by chrismear at 6:52 PM on April 19, 2007


I'm getting duplications:

2 users added comment "I can't remember the last time I bothered to read..." as a favorite
Yesterday - (gubo, yerfatma)

...

vronsky added comment "I can't remember the last time I bothered to read..." as a favorite
Yesterday


It's probably due to my yesterday and GMT's yesterday being different, but yeah. Why are some grouped and some not, when the date is the same?
posted by Eideteker at 6:53 PM on April 19, 2007


Neat. But it's not CSS in profiles :(
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:06 PM on April 19, 2007


thanks, chrismear, the page should be accounting for deleted comments now.

Eideteker, yeah, I hear ya on the grouping being confusing. The page is supposed to give you an idea about what happened, as it happened. So you'll get things like two users adding one of your comments as a favorite, then another user adding one of your posts, then someone else adding that comment as a favorite. Things are only grouped together when they happen in succession.

Having a fuzzy date like "yesterday" isn't the best for precision. It's just supposed to give you a general idea of when that activity happened.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:07 PM on April 19, 2007


Nice idea, and it's something I'll use. Definitely needs some design magic prettification, though, at least in the plaintext (which I'm using at the moment).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:30 PM on April 19, 2007


that's funny I was just wishing for something like this earlier today
posted by edgeways at 7:33 PM on April 19, 2007


Shouldn't it be titled "Recent favoriting of [user]'s posts", or is the plan to add other things?
posted by cillit bang at 7:35 PM on April 19, 2007


This is pretty neat. Thanks, pb.
posted by danb at 7:40 PM on April 19, 2007


Why are some grouped and some not, when the date is the same?

Because the favorites are listed in chronological order, dumbass.

Just kidding. It's confusing.
posted by phaedon at 7:41 PM on April 19, 2007


Also, pb, since you're now Metafilter's Fulltime Code Guy, apparently, is it OK if I send you my 450-item feature/fix wishlist?

Kidding. Sort of. Actual existence and magnitude of list has been exaggerated for comedy purposes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:49 PM on April 19, 2007


Just to be clear, this page pb built would replace the "saved favorites" one that is often buggy and hard to follow when someone adds something new as a favorite.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:12 PM on April 19, 2007


Neat!
posted by interrobang at 8:21 PM on April 19, 2007


Tres cool, pb.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:32 PM on April 19, 2007


Neat. But it's not CSS in profiles :(

Yeah, what are you wasting your time on this crap for, pb? Fix all the damn browsers and their vulnerabilities. We got you for 30 hours a week, and by God, we're gonna use you.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:33 PM on April 19, 2007


Just to be clear, this page pb built would replace the "saved favorites" one that is often buggy and hard to follow when someone adds something new as a favorite.

Wait, replace which page now?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:56 PM on April 19, 2007


stavros: this janky one that was built with popsicle sticks and gum that barely works.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:06 PM on April 19, 2007


Aw, don't be so hard on yourself. It works well enough. I suggest pb's new page be available in addition to the janky one.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:10 PM on April 19, 2007


stavros: this janky one that was built with popsicle sticks and gum that barely works.

Oh crap, I love that page. Tastes great, more filling. Seriously, much as I like pb's new thing, without some beefing up it'd be way less useful (to me at least) than the old one. So, yeah, what Dave Faris said.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:13 PM on April 19, 2007


I'm noticing a lot of fussing over favorites. Is this some kind of unspoken currency around here?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:16 PM on April 19, 2007


Duh.

Now stop speaking of it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:17 PM on April 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was just thinking about how much I wanted this, because I almost religiously check my profile to see if I've increased in favorites recently (what?! like you don't? wait, you don't? christ, what the fuck is wrong with me?!) and when it goes up but I can't figure out where I wonder if people go wandering around the archives and if so, where they've stumbled into some assinine but apparently favoritable thing I've said. god bless you, pb, father of the permalink.
posted by shmegegge at 9:17 PM on April 19, 2007


on lack of preview:

there is no unspoken currency. and no cabal.
posted by shmegegge at 9:18 PM on April 19, 2007


Except for the consistency issue with whether the users who did the favoriting appear on the first line or the second [pick one and go with it, I htink] I like this!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:39 PM on April 19, 2007


I don't get how this feature does not promote the cult of personality so recently rejected as a bad idea for the mefi community.
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:59 PM on April 19, 2007


Yeah, it seems to emphasize attention whoring.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:04 PM on April 19, 2007


Absolutely, it does.

But there's a bigger picture. At the moment (since the introduction of flagging, and later favorites), there are two ways that members of the community can weigh in on the behaviour of others, besides the tried-and-true in-thread commentary, or taking it to Metatalk, which I will hereby dub 'Old School Self-Policing'.

These days, with flags and favorites, we have one (favoriting) which is public, and which serves as positive reinforcement for substantive contributions, whether posts or comments, whether insightful or funny or whatever, and one (flagging) which is private and invisible, and so does not really serve as any kind of (public) reinforcement for good behavior.

This creates an imbalance, I think, but it's not bad enough (or hasn't been, so far) that things have spun out of control.

So. People respond to the positive reinforcement of favorites, and (if they care, and some (many?) don't) try to be funny or insightful or on-topic or useful (in Ask) or whatever, and try to be good community members. Many people traditionally did this already, out of the goodness of their hearts or to gain intangible respect or recognition within the commmunity or whatever, but favorites are, of course, more addictive, merely because they're quantifiable.

I think the site was spinning slowly into the shit before the introduction of favorites, to be honest, but there was a noticeable bump in quality of posts and comments after faves started, one that only now seems to be waning a bit in the face of rising noise.

(It's only my opinion, but I think because people (naturally) have been favoriting one-liners and wacky funsterism, particularly in MeTa, that there's been a rise in that in the last few weeks, because the feedback loop kicks in, and more makes more.

This may just be another trough in the Metafilter Cycle, though. It seems to go in 4 or 5 month cycles over the years, in my opinion, from Fantastic (which to me means smart and funny and articulate) to Craptastic (which to me means notsmart and trying-too-hard-to-be-funny and LOLeriffic). That could just be me, though.)

The downside of the positive reinforcement of favorites, though, is definitely that it encourages Attention Whoring. Most folks (and I think in particular people who've been members for longer periods, not because they're any better or anything, just because they've had years to get a feel for the whole thing) resist the temptation most of the time, and on balance, the pats-on-the-head (crude as it is) keeps things on an evener keel than we saw before they existed, particularly as Matt continues to try to scale the community.

Now, see why I said 'speak no more of this'. I HAVE OVERANALYZED A PLATE OF BEANS!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:20 PM on April 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


I don't get how this feature does not promote the cult of personality so recently rejected as a bad idea for the mefi community.

ff, Matt has said loudly and clearly as far back as I can remember (so for at least 6 years now) that he hates cult-of-personality stuff. It's not recently-rejected by any means.

Which isn't to say you're wrong, but (I reckon, at least) it's a tightrope balancing act, features-wise, keeping the SS MeFi on a relatively even keel. Sometimes you steer away from a storm, and run into an iceberg, sometimes you get lucky.

Now stop me before I mix metaphors again!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:26 PM on April 19, 2007


I think the whole 'one liner gets 25 faves', 'thoughtful post that took much contemplation gets skipped over' is sadly more of an accurate representation of what real human readers are like than a perversion (I may be misunderstanding the complaint though, if it runs along the lines of 'yes we know there is mass appeal and reflective appeal, we just don't want to visibly reinforce the former'.)

Myself, I just sit in front of my monitor's dead-center in black sunglasses, refreshing my userpage every five minutes. When my favorite count rises, I take a celebratory gulp of champagne, then get back to staring. It does make for a tedious existence.
posted by Firas at 10:30 PM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think the whole 'one liner gets 25 faves', 'thoughtful post that took much contemplation gets skipped over' is sadly more of an accurate representation of what real human readers are like than a perversion

Absolutely, and I want to be clear that I don't think it's a perversion of anything at all, and don't bemoan it. I think it's perfectly natural that folks click an 'I like this' icon on things that make 'em smile.

But there are always consequences, unintended or otherwise. It's never bad to be aware of them, even if it's after the fact.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:34 PM on April 19, 2007


And again, for my part, I wasn't making a complaint, just an observation, which may or may not be bollocks. Grain of salt.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:37 PM on April 19, 2007


Yeah. From my personal experience, although I have indeed made low-hanging comments that I maybe wouldn't have were I not doing so in anticipation of being favorited (eg. 1, 2), I'm not particularly against it because occasionally people do favorite something that's fairly dry (1). And sometimes it works exactly as it should, when you both have a point and say it in a way that resonates (eg.)

So yeah, although I was starting off saying that I don't think the attention-whoring causes insight to be drowned out, I guess you're right in the sense that it also has positive effects in that encourages the type of comment that has more residual value.
posted by Firas at 10:47 PM on April 19, 2007


This favourites whore says: THANX!
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:32 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


So my motivation for this new approach:

I didn't think this entirely through when I first made the original saved favorites page, I just thought it was a fun visualization of activity on the site. But then I sorta made the mistake of putting a number on eryone's user profile showing how many times people liked/saved something you said.

And then the bug reports started rolling in. People would notice the number grow, but they couldn't find it. I realized something simpler, like how flickr lets me know exactly how marked what as a favorite in chronological order was the way to make those numbers easier to follow. Just in the last week we had 1 or 2 bugs posts about the savedfavorites page, so I knew it was time to pb to start over.

I don't think this reinforces the cult of personality per se, it might come dangerously close to karma whoring a bit, but overall I think it's a positive reinforcement for positive contributions to the site. Maybe it'd promote more jokey quips for some, but on ask metafilter especially, it's all about the helpful advice and this is a very good thing for that.

The old page was hard to follow and hard to pull important info out of, this new one is simpler. We could still do something with showing your whole post or the start of your comment like the old one, but I like this and I think it'll solve all the bugs and confusion from the original savedfavorites page, and give the people that get a small ego boost out of someone liking something they said something they can easily follow.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:08 AM on April 20, 2007


The old page was hard to follow and hard to pull important info out of

Gonna have to disagree with you there, chief.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:18 AM on April 20, 2007


Well, no, OK, let me be less glib. Depends what 'important info' means. I couldn't figure out for the life of me what of mine had been recently favorited or de-favorited with the old page, but then, I didn't give a shit about ongoing flow of single pluses and minuses, so a river-of-updates wasn't all that important to me.

As far as 'hard to follow' goes, well, the question is (woo-hoo Use Case Analysis!): what is it that people want to follow with a My Favorites page? Asking the clients might be a good thing. Recent activity is a good guess, I suppose.

Anyway, something better than an unstyled list would be nice. At least a presentation-level separation between one's favorited posts and comments, yeah?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:26 AM on April 20, 2007


At least a presentation-level separation between one's favorited posts and comments, yeah?

That seems like a good idea.
posted by myeviltwin at 5:43 AM on April 20, 2007


That's pretty dang neat, though I too have a soft spot for the janky one.

*Ruffles janky one's hair, causing it to fall apart, backs away slowly, runs away*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:15 AM on April 20, 2007


I really enjoy this, lets you go back and reminisce about the idiotic clever things you've said. Obviously nobody would confuse me with a cult of personality, but I notice that my most-favorited comment was a distinctly informative one, whereas my bad jokes only merited a token "ha."

It would be an interesting study to classify favorited posts as jokes, informative or both and graph the relationship in # of favs.
posted by Skorgu at 6:22 AM on April 20, 2007


I'm noticing a lot of fussing over favorites. Is this some kind of unspoken currency around here?

When the Metafilter IPO happens, the number of shares you'll be allowed depends on how many favorites you have.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:19 AM on April 20, 2007


This is pretty cool. I'm an infrequent poster/commenter, but it's nice to know that once in a while I've made a connection here. Thanks!
posted by mmahaffie at 7:32 AM on April 20, 2007


It would be an interesting study to classify favorited posts as jokes, informative or both and graph the relationship in # of favs.

I am willing to sponsor this research. Go to it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:47 AM on April 20, 2007


I often favorite jokey one liners. I also favorite well thought out and rational posts in the middle of a flamewar. I also favorite things I just want to come back to later.

For myself, I find that I'm more often favorited for something longer that makes a decent point (apparently) than I am for jokey nonsense. Let's say that I take it as a reliable indicator of when I'm a better mefite.
posted by shmegegge at 8:23 AM on April 20, 2007


Is there any chance this could be made to work with the username field as well?
posted by carsonb at 9:22 AM on April 20, 2007


Asskickage, pb! Thanks.

Now, who's the permalink's mother?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:33 AM on April 20, 2007


If you go to Steve Wozniak's page, it says a mere 75 people favorited his comment. In fact, 262 people did.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 11:45 AM on April 20, 2007


This is maglicious. Thanks, pb.

Is there actually a list of other utilities and applets that other people have done for MeFI?
posted by psmealey at 12:25 PM on April 20, 2007


Nifty!
posted by deborah at 1:02 PM on April 20, 2007


Aloysius Bear, this page is about recent favorites activity. It doesn't show the number of favorites/post. It shows that last 75 moments of activity related to posts. So it's not going to give a total count...for that you could easily go to the main post and look at the count. This page is all about activity. That way if someone favorites a post from several years ago, you'll know about it.

I'd be all for another page that shows all of your MeFi contributions, along with a total favorites count. But that's not what this page is trying to do.

And sorry, carsonb, it's just going to be numeric IDs in the URL.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:26 PM on April 20, 2007


I am willing to sponsor this research. Go to it.

I'll need to the text of every favorited comment and its # of favs, or an API to pull such, two interns and a helicopter.

Actually if anyone is seriously interested in this, it would be a fascinating experiment not only in favoriting but in social tagging (funny, informative, both).
posted by Skorgu at 2:17 PM on April 20, 2007


Yeah, it's honestly the sort of thing that I would do with grant money. I just need to find someone who is really sloppy with their grant money, I guess.

The trick would be finding some reasonable classification system to make it possible to quickly and usefully quantify the sample.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:26 PM on April 20, 2007


Firas : When my favorite count rises, I take a celebratory gulp of champagne, then get back to staring. It does make for a tedious existence.

And knowing this, I now dedicate myself to getting you drunk as often as possible. We all benefit; you get a lot of favorites, we get to watch your drunken screeds unfold.

I feel your pain though. I too am a slave to the almighty number.
posted by quin at 4:47 PM on April 20, 2007


Anyone remember that time when we were talking about adding favourites, and then a bunch of people (such as myself) pointed out that they'd just be used as ratings, with people keeping watch on their 'karma' score and posting stuff that they hope will get that little '+2 favourites' link next to it?

Seems so long ago...
posted by reklaw at 5:06 PM on April 20, 2007


I've found a bug. I now know that User #50,000 - who never completed the sign-up process (ie: paid $5) - chose the username moviescrazy. Ah, what a stud he could have been.
posted by PuGZ at 5:51 PM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


The trick would be finding some reasonable classification system to make it possible to quickly and usefully quantify the sample.

Word count?
posted by myeviltwin at 5:55 PM on April 20, 2007


This is nice, thank you.
posted by mediareport at 6:00 PM on April 20, 2007


Oh ho! Insidious, PuGZ.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:14 PM on April 20, 2007


Very cool. Somebody just favorited one of my posts from 2001, which I never would have known, otherwise.
posted by beagle at 6:43 PM on April 20, 2007


a bunch of people (such as myself) pointed out that they'd just be used as ratings

That's not the only way they're being used, reklaw; you could also argue that by giving folks an easy way to keep track of members who share similar interests or opinions, favorites help bring the community closer together.
posted by mediareport at 9:54 PM on April 20, 2007


Next step is an indicator that shows when there's activity in your favorites, eh?
posted by Dave Faris at 4:47 PM on April 21, 2007


It would be neat if the link to this page worked like post comments, and said "(1 new)" next to it. Although an RSS feed would be easier.
posted by smackfu at 7:59 AM on April 22, 2007


I had a favorite removed, and it's not showing up as "removed by X on dateY".

This is preventing me from sending the appropriate squad of goons around to rectify this misappropriation of favoritism.
posted by Eideteker at 5:27 AM on April 23, 2007


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