I gots a rep. to protect, man. November 10, 2011 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Bookmarking vs reputation - What is the purpose of the 'favorites' functionality?

I've been reading a bit about forum design and filtering systems in online communities.

One of the frequently made points is that many good communities have mechanisms for persistent identities, and a method of building and indicating reputation and influence in relation to specific identities, because that keeps people in line. If you act like an asshole on Twitter, you lose followers, and therefore, credibility and influence.

So I'm interested in how the mods and everyone else view the 'favorites' function. The FAQ describes it as a bookmarking function, but I find myself assessing the weight I ascribe to some mefi comments by looking at the poster's profile, and, amongst other things, looking at the number of favorites they have recieved.

For me, at least, the 'favorited by others' count can function a bit like a crude reputational score.

Was this part of the original intent for the favorites function? If not, does anyone else use favorites counts as a reputational marker?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts to Etiquette/Policy at 5:46 PM (105 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

There is no other conceivable reason why the counts would be publically visible other than enabling this kind of scorekeeping, although the tortuous explanations will be fun to read as ever.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:51 PM on November 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


omigod let's not
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:52 PM on November 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


The thing with reputation systems is that they favor seniority — the longer you're here, the more points you accumulate. Personally, I think it's great that we make old people feel good about themselves.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:54 PM on November 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's a big topic.

The very short version is that the original intent was explicitly as a bookmarking feature; the name "favorites" was actually taken as a reference to the IE bookmarking feature. In practice it has some loosely-endorsed utility as an aggregate "here are some interesting things" identifier in the Popular Favorites page and feed, but beyond that we have zero official take on what they mean.

Folks have pretty varied personal takes on what they mean and what they're for; the notion of fave-count-as-reputation-indicator isn't unheard of but it's a pretty complicated one and not one that we endorse and there's a lot of folks who take direct exception to the idea as well.

Likewise it has rough utility as an indicator of notability on a comment or post (in that most things that have a lot of favorites on them are in fact interesting for one reason or another), but there's no guarantee that the thing with the most favorites will be the best or funniest or most interesting thing, since there's a ton of conflating factors in even how many eyeballs land on one or another item and how different people translate a sense of value into a favorite-or-not decision in any given context.

So, the indirect reputational/evaluative aspects of the system are both interesting to look at but also pretty contentious, and there's no real consensus (let alone official position) about the specific value or weight or meaning of favorites beyond the explicit bookmarking functionality they provide.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:55 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought we'd discussed this before. Like, every two weeks or so.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:56 PM on November 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Matt originally envisioned them as a personal bookmarking system and then he made the step of calling them "favorites."

So, despite how he sort of saw them in his head, it turned into more of a ranking system then we would have wanted and a hot button enough topic that we've sort of resisted any more attempts to quantify or otherwise metricize them. I use them to both indicate stuff I liked [good jokes mostly] but also stuff I want to mention on the podcast [and yeah then I unfavorite stuff] but a lot of people use them differently. I see high favorite counts as being indicative of the amount of time people spend commenting here and some sort of indicator of the tenor of what they're commenting about [funny? controversial? snarky? touching story? all those things get people faving] almost as much as whether people necessarily have a specific reputation here.

That said, the mod view of favorites is really different than other people's because favorites-related stuff gets people really polarized here and no matter what we think of them and how we use them personally, they're a really polarizing factor and that's problematic for site harmony even as the reputation system they nominally indicate may be useful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:56 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I try not to think about favorites at all, though it doesn't always work.

In the past, I tried to use them as a reputational marker. That really, really didn't work.
posted by box at 5:56 PM on November 10, 2011


Oh, don't listen to him. The favorites exist so you can tell who's winning. He doesn't like to talk about it much, but cortex actually sends puppies to all the folks in the top ten. You don't know where you stand 'till the puppy arrives, but I'm really hoping I get a St. Bernard when my day comes.
posted by phunniemee at 5:57 PM on November 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Some people do, or at least there seems to be some importance placed on the number of favorites you or people who have favorited you. For my part, I just use favorites for a few topics that I want to come back to and as a marker for current threads that I am reading. For the latter, I clean those out on a regular basis, so my count is low.
posted by lampshade at 5:58 PM on November 10, 2011


And, for the record, while you can turn them off in your preferences, I leave them on but use a greasemonkey script to basically change the notation into "one, some, most" indicators instead of actual numbers. I find it calming.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:59 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am afraid to mark any of these comments "favorite." But I do love puppies.
posted by Occula at 6:01 PM on November 10, 2011


Like Heaven, they're whatever you want them to be. Mine are long, unreleased Morris Day jams.
posted by mintcake! at 6:02 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn, that script doesnt seem to be working
posted by wheelieman at 6:03 PM on November 10, 2011


But I do love puppies.

You should talk to jessamyn. She's probably got, like, eight of them by now.
posted by phunniemee at 6:08 PM on November 10, 2011


cortex and jessamyn - thanks. I appreciate your time in indulging my curiosity.

Eveyone else: If you guys get puppies, I want one too. We should dress them up in little outfits like horses and race them in the Annual Mefi Puppy Darby.

Of course, given that the mods have, like, 40K favorites each, they will have armadas of puppies and will demolish our pathetic entries. And then take over the world. In the cutest way possible.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:10 PM on November 10, 2011


If you accrue enough of them, you can turn them in for prizes, but then you have to change your screen name.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:10 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


As long as I can keep deep frying and eating the puppies I'm fine with the system.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:10 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


If they were intended as a bookmarking system why were they not called bookmarks? That would have been the obvious play.
posted by Justinian at 6:11 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nancy was always mother's bookmarked kid.
posted by Think_Long at 6:11 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


We used to discuss this all the time- like, ALL the time, there were MeTa threads constantly. This is the first MeTa we've had on the topic in a long time.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:12 PM on November 10, 2011


Jessamyn, that script doesnt seem to be working

I'm using it and it's working for me. Might want to look at the script I ganked it from and see if that works for you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:14 PM on November 10, 2011


I use them both ways - if I favorite a post it's to read later, but with comments it's more 'that's hilarious / I agree'.
posted by mannequito at 6:15 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


If they were intended as a bookmarking system why were they not called bookmarks?

That's what IE was calling bookmarks way back when. It's really easy to morning-after-quarterback the whole thing and we've gone on record as saying we wish we had done that, but it's not happening now, though some nice person can probably write you a greasemonkey script for it, but it will also render conversations like this unintelligible.

We are aware that for some people the favorites feature has ruined MetaFilter and for that we are truly sorry. That said, we're also not going to rehash all the old arguments and we are planning no favorites-related changes now or in the forseeable future.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:18 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


We are aware that for some people the favorites feature has ruined MetaFilter and for that we are truly sorry. That said, we're also not going to rehash all the old arguments and we are planning no favorites-related changes now or in the forseeable future.

For the record - I personally think it works just fine, and I wasn't advocating for a reputational score mechanism. Sorry for opening old wounds.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:22 PM on November 10, 2011


His thoughts were red thoughts: " For me, at least, the 'favorited by others' count can function a bit like a crude reputational score."

Very crude. They were only added in 2006, so don't account for activity before then. They're also a function of how often a person posts/comments -- someone with 2,000 favorites from 200 comments is probably more "interesting" in terms of what motivates people to favorite than someone with 10,000 favorites and 100,000 comments. And of course not all favorites are motivated by uniformly positive things -- some are harsh insults, some are there to mark trainwrecks, some are easy jokes that happened to appear early in a thread.

It's useful, but it's not a perfect system -- certainly not enough to make even a cursory judgment of anybody by a single number. You might as well use user numbers -- long-timers are more familiar with the site and must be okay if they haven't been banned after all this time, right? But that doesn't account for long periods of inactivity, or awesome people who came back under a new name, or jerks who managed to stick around. Etc.

You just have to get to know people, not use numbers as a shortcut.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:33 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I make comments people like they favorite them. I then know what kind of comments to make in the future. If a comment is ignored then I take it back to the workshop and retool it a bit until it sings. Sometimes a comment just plain doesn't work and gets retired. It's not perfect but it's an honest craft and I like to think I get a little better each time. I'm making conversation the same way your grandparents did, the only thing that changed is the feedback mechanisms are quicker.
posted by 2bucksplus at 6:36 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Twitter'n'em get their comments bulk from Ko-rea. It's fine if you know what you're getting in to, but 5'll get you ten same as in town.
posted by 2bucksplus at 6:37 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's a short, lighthearted thread about an experiment with favorites from two years ago.
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:45 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The favorites feature was actually a highly successful attempt by the moderators to troll the entire site.

Like most trolling the topic itself wasn't as important as providing something divisive enough to drive even normally moderate posters to a frenzy of vicious attacks on each other. This gives the mods something to do as they sit back in satisfied amusement drinking Chablis.

There was a recent setback in this plan when it turned out that a good Chablis is hard to get in Greece, but a compromise was made and taz now enjoys Retsina while following the fun.

Just your little bit of site history for the day.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:48 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


For me, at least, the 'favorited by others' count can function a bit like a crude reputational score."

I have, at this particular moment, 23,170 favorites. Mathowie, the creator of Metafilter, has 14,892.

Favorites are absolute shit as a reputational score, even a crude one, because it's a single number measuring non-concrete data and people are more than that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Favouriting posts is bookmarking so I can return it and follow it - so it's for me. Favouriting comments or answers is more about giving them a gold star to add to their collection - so it's for them.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:51 PM on November 10, 2011


I'd appreciate if a greasemonkey ninja could knock up a script that let's me fill in the favorites count for my comments; I'm finding the numbers I get from the site are often incorrect.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:54 PM on November 10, 2011


I for one am not going to apologize for the fact that I use favorites to reward the posts and comments that I enjoy, and that I am quite conscious of the favorites I receive. Snark all you want about favorites being a scorecard for who's "winning" MetaFilter, I'm perfectly aware that winning is not a possible outcome from MetaFilter participation. I nevertheless find them a signal from the community that my contributions are in some way valued and worthwhile, and they encourage me to continue making those contributions.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:57 PM on November 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


Thanks for the favorite, phunniemee!.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:00 PM on November 10, 2011


Qua "ordinary Metafilter member" you've been more valuable than mathowie by any reasonable measure since favorites have been introduced, Brandon. Which is to say that favorite count is not absolute shit as a crude reputational score. But I understand how it's better if we all choose not to see it that way.
posted by Kwine at 7:08 PM on November 10, 2011


MetaFilter: winning is not a possible outcome.
posted by dg at 7:09 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I for one am not going to apologize for the fact that I use favorites to reward the posts and comments that I enjoy,

Nobody wants you to apologize for it. We want you to realize that you are hurting MetaFilter. Stop.
posted by Chuckles at 7:09 PM on November 10, 2011


On BoardGameGeek users who get 5,000 "thumbs" are rewarded with a little golden meeple on their profile.

What could you get on MeFi? Maybe a little cartoon snark?
posted by Winnemac at 7:12 PM on November 10, 2011


Apparently I didn't always hate the feature, holy shit...

Anyway, the real reason I went back there was to clarify the original reasoning for the name from the source material:
"favorite" is also deliberate. "bookmark" is a pretty souless word where "favorite" leads people to save the things they like (and not just the ugly flame-outs). It'll be fine as favorites, just internally think of them as bookmarks and I'm sure in a week or two you won't notice.
Ya, and 640KB should be enough memory for anybody :)
posted by Chuckles at 7:15 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have favorite counts turned off, but give out favorites anyhow. So, if you see a thread where there's some comment with 3,444 favorites and the follow up only has one and wonder "What crazy person did THAT?" - yeah, that was probably me.

(I don't like looking at favorite counts because a lot of times I see stuff that makes me twitchy having 3,444 favorites and then I wonder who these jerks are favoriting THAT and then I get angry in my sad place.)
posted by sonika at 7:28 PM on November 10, 2011


Favorites can be both a way of bookmarking things and a sort-of reputation system. If a post gets a lot of favorites it means a lot of people thought it looked interesting. And of course some people use favorites as a way of saying "I agree." And things in between like "that's an interesting point."

(You have take this with a large grain salt, though. I'm sure people bookmark posts frequently because they want to go back and read/look at/listen to the links later. It doesn't mean they actually thought it was interesting after they read it. And just because other people thought something seemed interesting doesn't mean you will. And you can't know why other people favorited something.)

It's also feedback mechanism for users. If I make a post and it gets a decent number of favorites, that makes me feel good - some people thought it was interesting. With comments, sometimes it's more like "hey, now I know at least one person actually read it."

I don't think looking at how many favorites someone has really tells you anything very interesting about them. Posts generally get a lot more favorites than comments (except for a few outliers) because a lot of people do use them for bookmarking. So somebody who's got a lot a favorites has presumably made a lot posts on topics people think are interesting. Someone who posts less or tends to post on niche topics will have less.

Favorites don't really work as a filtering mechanism, since favoriting something doesn't really do anything like it does in an up-or-down-voting system or karma point system. It just changes the number and adds it to your list of favorites. (But then again, it wasn't intended to be a filtering mechanism.)

(And, yeah, favorites are a controversial topic here, as you'll see.)
posted by nangar at 7:35 PM on November 10, 2011


I wouldn't have stuck around the site as an active user for as long as I have without the favorites feature... so there's that going against it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:46 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I often use favourites as a way to indicate to someone I've been discussing something with in a thread that I've read what they've written, but avoid looking as though I'm trying to have the last word.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:47 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn. All this time I thought KokuRyu liked what I was saying... Now I suddenly feel like I've got an arch-nemesis.

Awesome.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:50 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I use favorites as a measure of my self-worth as a human being. When I favorite a comment or post, I'm saying "you, you owe me one of these."
posted by griphus at 7:54 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Zoink!
posted by KokuRyu at 7:57 PM on November 10, 2011


I don't think looking at how many favorites someone has really tells you anything very interesting about them.

Overall favorites per user, perhaps not. But the outlier comments --- the ones with 500+ favorites --- do tend to be awesome.
posted by Diablevert at 8:04 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


As Nangar mentions, favorites are used as the Metafilter equivalent of "ditto". It's a very efficient of showing that you support a certain perspective in a discussion.

This is often helpful, but there are cases where it leads to first-postitis. In particular, in relationship or interpersonal threads the first comment that cuts to the chase will often get lots of favorites. That's an artifact of position that can't really be helpful to the quality of the discussion.
posted by alms at 8:24 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I use favourites as an easy way to mark my prey. Yes, people I have favourited, I am sorry but I will probably be eating your brains during the zombie apocalypse.

that's what you get for making dorky physics jokes that make me lolchoke on chicken salad
posted by elizardbits at 8:26 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


On December 20, 2012, MetaFilter will come to its senses and finally, for once and for all, decide what Favorites really stand for. The next day the world shall end. The question is: are these two events linked?
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:34 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: favorite this comment if you use favorites only for bookmarking and not for signifying agreement with a comment.
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:35 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


My favourites are usually the caramels. I bookmark these by eating them (I am not saying brains taste like caramel).
posted by arcticseal at 8:50 PM on November 10, 2011


Here are two reasons that I like favorites that don't often come up in discussion. I don't think they simply function as an upvote or a popularity contest, or even just a bookmark.

1. I seem them as "invisible strings" of connectivity to people that don't have to be overtly propositional in content. In real life, you don't always have to speak up to let others in the room know that you agree. You can use non-verbal cues. But unlike real life, it's hard to really read a room on the internet, as the tone of those speaking doesn't necessarily reflect the tone of those present and observing, and participating in spirit. Favorites can be a nod in the room to someone without having to type out something that doesn't add much to the conversation.

2. They help me better appreciate people. True story: someone was once rubbing me the wrong way on MetaFilter. Then they favorited something I said, or something I had also favorited (can't remember which). I have no idea what the underlying reason was for their favorite, maybe it was just a bookmark; but I kinda liked them after that. Sort of a kindred spirit moment. Checked out some other things and realized that we might have more in common than not, based partly on favorites. This might be lame if I thought about it too much, and may not be a super-reliable friendship gauge, all uses considered. But whatever the reason was for my deeper appreciation for that person, I realized that favorites can't be all bad, and that it's possible to use favorites to help connect with who people are, not simply what they are saying out loud in a given moment.

That's it. Sometimes-deeper yet subtle connectivity with people, and allowance for non-propositional communication. I really like these emergent social uses, as I don't think that they were intended. I can appreciate people who don't, though, or don't interact with that level of socially complexity on an internet site, and would rather turn them off.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:55 PM on November 10, 2011 [20 favorites]


I like that the contacts section of the sidebar displays comments with 10 or more favorites from my contacts. It's a good shortcut for me to keep up with the things people I like have said that are noteworthy.

I favorite comments that people put a lot of work into, I favorite comments that make me laugh, I favorite comments that I wholeheartedly agree with, but which don't neccessarily require me posting a comment, and I favorite comments I want to return to and read again later.

I also view favorites I've gotten as some metric of successful communication on my part. I can't read intent into those favorites, so I Just assume that they're general assent. I would hope that my contributions here are of value, else why make them? Favorites help me asses that value, so even as "food pellets," I think they're useful.

Lastly, I'm glad that they probably cut down greatly on the number of "I agree" and "lol" comments that would otherwise clutter up the place signaling assent.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:56 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


They're spelled "Favorites," but my brain keeps calling them "Save-Ums."
posted by rhizome at 9:21 PM on November 10, 2011


Lastly, I'm glad that they probably cut down greatly on the number of "I agree" and "lol" comments that would otherwise clutter up the place signaling assent.

This. That's how I use/view them.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 9:36 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


You just have to get to know people, not use numbers as a shortcut.

Yes, of course. It's obviously not my only indicator - it's just another thing thrown into the mix. The actual rating system I use is in my head, based on the content of posts and comments.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:45 PM on November 10, 2011


The favourite experiment has run its course; likes have been done to death. I declare 2012 the year of :thumbs:
posted by Abiezer at 10:03 PM on November 10, 2011


Here's a short, lighthearted thread about an experiment with favorites from two years ago.

wow. that was almost nostalgic. certainly very two years ago.
posted by philip-random at 10:03 PM on November 10, 2011


I honestly don't understand the controversy over favorites. I use them both as sort of an unofficial "like" button and also as a bookmarking system for things I want to revisit later. I guess if I was the sort of person who had room in my brain for keeping mental notes on who on the site consistently gets their comments favorited the most, the least, and on which topics, and then altered my favoriting behavior based on that information, I could see where it might be problematic. There are seriously people who do this?
posted by katyggls at 10:05 PM on November 10, 2011


Release the "defending Mr. Rogers from imaginary detractors" comment link.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:10 PM on November 10, 2011


I agree with Devils Rancher, favorites have dramatically reducing the "me too" and "lol" comments.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:29 PM on November 10, 2011


The "Has Favorites" Project has actually already been terminated. It was designed primarily as a sort of advanced game program. We'd hoped it might build into a good training platform but, quite honestly, for a strictly theoretical exercise, the cost-benefit ratio was just too high. It's all but decommissioned at this point... Operation "Has Cheezburger" is a joint MeFi communications program that we really feel has good traction. It's got legs. It'll run and run.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:10 PM on November 10, 2011


lol me too
posted by klangklangston at 11:20 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I use 'favorites' like the Black Spot. So's you all know.
posted by mazola at 11:25 PM on November 10, 2011


I don't understand why people make any sort of deal about favourites (and if you think they're bad, try "karma" on reddit. Utterly pointless). Just use them if you find them useful; don't if you don't. Personally I use them 95% of the time to indicate that I like/agree with/am amused by a comment. The rest of the time I use them as a helpful reminder along the lines of "Right, you fucker. I owe you one."

I'm joking about the last bit. Probably.
posted by Decani at 11:52 PM on November 10, 2011


I don't care about favorites ...

except the ones I get. I care about them. And the ones I give.
But I could give a shit for everyone else's.
Actually, sometimes those are useful. In a 493 strong thread, it's the ones with 10+ faves that you're going to pay attention to.

But other than those ... and the ones I just use as bookmarks, of course

And oh yeah, all those times I click on someone's profile (usually because they've pissed me off for some reason) and I do a quick check on their most popular favorites and nine times out of ten, I'm so impressed I've forgotten why I was hating on them.
And when I haven't forgotten, well nine times out of ten I'm so entertained I couldn't give a f*** either way by the time I'm done.

But other than that. Yeah, I don't care about favorites.
posted by philip-random at 12:08 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I might not have that many favorites, but the ones I do have are from the coolest mefites. I am really into quality over quantity. I value each favorite I have gotten at like 10 or more favorites because the mefites who gave them to me are so cool.

Not that I have this problem, but is there a way to reject a favorite? I wouldn't want an uncool favorite.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:46 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like how favorites on MetaFilter are a very simple feature and we have run with it, building a whole social world around what they mean and how they're used, with countless options for any member to agree or disagree with. Basically, it's really suck if there were a more narrow name for the thing and a set of prescriptions about what they're supposed to mean and how we're supposed to favorite. Embrace that this simple thing means many different things to many different people!
posted by iamkimiam at 12:57 AM on November 11, 2011


The day Matt added favorites was the day Metafilter jumped the shark.
posted by crunchland at 1:40 AM on November 11, 2011


'Favorite' is deliberate discrimination against the Brits! That's why I never use them. Somebody has to take a stand.
posted by veedubya at 1:55 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing you gotta remember about favorites is that you need to send more my way.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:20 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everytime I click that little 'plus' sign I sing: Love sign! Giving you a love sign!

Favorites are a quite complicated part of site culture. I use them generally as an equivalent to the 'like' button on Facebook, as a sign that I think a comment is funny or interestingly argued or that I agree with it. With posts it's less complicated, I just favorite posts I like. I recognize that not everyone uses them this way.

I have the "has favorites" option selected, and if I really need to know how popular a comment is, I hover over the "has favorites." Sometimes I'm surprised a comment has a lot of favorites and click to see who has favorited it. If it's a bunch of people I respect, I read the comment again to see if I missed something the first time around. That's about the only use I've found for publicly viewable favorites.

It's a very crude way to get a signal from people so I tend not to think about them too much. If favorites vanished from the site I wouldn't miss them much, though I know others would. In the awful November favorite thread linked above, I do go into a little bit how favorites can distort a conversation.

As a reputation marker, they're pretty much useless to me. I hold some MeFites in high esteem, and how many favorites they have isn't something that affects that one way or another. Personally, I think that if you base your estimation of a MeFite on the favorites they receive, you're substituting a very crude signal, favorites, for a complex, subtle one, words.
posted by Kattullus at 4:21 AM on November 11, 2011


lol me too

butts
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:55 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing you gotta remember about favorites is that you need to send more my way.

i'm sitting at 99 favorites, BB - be my 100th and i'll favorite you.
posted by h0p3y at 6:05 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, only child, not capable of these WIN WIN situations, just WIN.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:14 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please see my comment here for the most thorough, reasonable answer to this question.

I hit 1000 favorites today! Squee!!!
posted by slogger at 6:26 AM on November 11, 2011


Every time I get a favorite the doctors give me more of the feel-good medicine.
posted by oddman at 6:45 AM on November 11, 2011


Free copy of the home game.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:56 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow so that's what it's like to be [curmudgeonly-yet-beloved-MeFite].
posted by griphus at 7:01 AM on November 11, 2011


I just gave a favorite to h0p3y, and decided to check my numbers. That last change made my "# Favorites" exactly equal to my "# Favorited by others". Having achieved balance I should probably just quit right now.

But to answer the original question seriously, I have never thought of "Favorites" as bookmarks, maybe because I really never used Internet Explorer for anything besides downloading Firefox. I favorite items because
    I was about to make essentially the same post I agree with what was said The post was very well written, or funny, or a horrible pun The poster admitted they were wrong or unnecessarily rude
I use other people's favorites via the GraphFi bookmarklet, so if a thread gets too long for me to read everything I can check the most favorited items to see if I want to read deeper. This kind of treats the website as a museum of comments, and we are all joint curators.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:05 AM on November 11, 2011


Reasons I favorite things, in descending order of frequency:

1. I agree with the commenter.
2. I found the comment amusing and/or creative.
3. I think the post enriches MetaFilter.
4. I want to show support for someone who regularly favorites my stuff.
5. I found the comment well-written, even though I don't agree with it.

I have never favorited something to bookmark it. For that purpose, there are bookmarks.

I take pride in my favorites count - which I consider an index not of my reputation but of my contribution to the site.

I once made the mistake of saying so while defending myself to cortex in a private disciplinary exchange. There are some mistakes you only make once.
posted by Trurl at 7:14 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find a lot of wisdom in Rhaomi's favorites as beans comment in an earlier thread.

I use favorites both ways, sometimes to indicate agreement/approval/etc. and sometimes as a bookmark. Although it's probably about 98% the former and 3% the latter (they overlap), which becomes problematic when I want to go back and find something that I bookmark-favorited, because I have to slog through all the stuff I approve-favorited.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:20 AM on November 11, 2011


I like favorites. I like getting them and I like giving them. I particularly enjoy being the first person to favorite something brilliant that'll end up getting hundreds, or to be the person who gives the 12th which will add it to the Contact Activity bar.

I know people get bent out of shape about them, and that a lot of people regard them as something that has ruined the site, but for me it is an essential part of why I enjoy this place.
posted by quin at 7:21 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once made the mistake of saying so while defending myself to cortex in a private disciplinary exchange.

Not as private as you think. I'm pretty sure those hidden camera videos of your getting whipped keep the lights on around here.
posted by griphus at 7:24 AM on November 11, 2011


I see favorites variously as

- coins tossed into the street by a nobleman whose horse has just trampled your child

- a patronizing chuck under the chin

- a confrontational poke in the chest

- foreplay

- points!

- love letters

- attaboys

- the cancer that is killing /b/
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:35 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Trurl: I take pride in my favorites count - which I consider an index not of my reputation but of my contribution to the site.

There are many, many ways to contribute to this site. Favorites measure only a few of them, principally the posts you make and certain kinds of comments (the main classes I can think of are funny jokes/quips, well-written outrage, long personal stories and good advice). These are generally fine contributions to the site but the kind of contribution I value most on this site is making thoughtful responses to other people's words. These rarely garner lots of favorites. These can also sometimes get buried under an avalanche of outrage/quippery/tangential personal stories, which saddens me. I don't think that favorites directly cause that, but I do think that people who are used to getting favorites for one kind of comment, can get a little discouraged when their long, thoughtful response to someone else gets no favorite. I didn't really realize this aspect of favorites until recently when a friend of mine was reflecting on how a stupid quip he'd made got dozens of favorites while a long, thoughtful reflection got zilch and that made him feel a bit discouraged. Few people use favorites to reward engagement in and of itself. I realized that I don't do that myself, and since then I've tried to keep that in mind, but I haven't gotten into the habit of doing that yet. That is what's wrong with favorites. They don't reward thoughtful engagement, which is the best way to contribute to this site.
posted by Kattullus at 7:43 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think that a short comment with a shitload of favorites is much more likely than a long comment with a shitload of favorites. And while a longer comment might have more favorites total than a shorter one, a short one has a higher chance of getting a large amount of favorites. So anyone getting discouraged by their long comment not getting favorited a lot isn't really paying attention and/or overestimating their ability to keep mefites interested. This is the internet after all.

Case in point, my top two comment have a combined 610 favorites and (discounting a quote I was replying to) 24 words in total.

Although it'd be really interesting if someone was to manipulate the infodump a bit (coughfishbikecough) and tell us the likelihood (?) of favorite counts having a direct or inverse relationship with the length of the comment itself. I bet there's a dip toward the very-high end.
posted by griphus at 8:16 AM on November 11, 2011


On the other hand when I see an unusually long comment it's very rare to scroll down and find just a handful of favorites. Either people like to reward effort or mefites are just so damned smart that when they really give themselves time to stretch out the result is always a winner.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:31 AM on November 11, 2011


I didn't really realize this aspect of favorites until recently when a friend of mine was reflecting on how a stupid quip he'd made got dozens of favorites while a long, thoughtful reflection got zilch and that made him feel a bit discouraged.

I have felt that way in the past. For me personally, I used it as a growth moment to do 2 things -- post less of the quippy comments and more of the thoughtful ones in order to adjust the noise level between the two, and to favorite other people's quippy comments less, and the thoughtful responses more. Seems like the grown-up response to the initial feeling of disappointment, rather than giving up.

I mean, who doesn't want lots of favorites for that really great zinger, and I'll still toss 'em out there (with IRFH on hiatus someone's' gotta do it, though they're big shoes to fill) but ultimately, that devalues the site when it's the whole modus. Be the change, and all that. I delete far more quippy jokes un-posted, these days.

You've gotta remember that FFP's have a pretty sharp spike in viewership too, and after even just a few hours, it dwindles down to recent activity for the most part, so the thoughtful responses that take a while to craft simply don't get the eyeballs.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:35 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


"i'm sitting at 99 favorites, BB - be my 100th and i'll favorite you."

Does that mean you have 99 favorites but BB's ain't one?
posted by klangklangston at 8:37 AM on November 11, 2011


Can I have a kitten instead of a puppy?
posted by desjardins at 8:39 AM on November 11, 2011


That is what's wrong with favorites. They don't reward thoughtful engagement, which is the best way to contribute to this site.

Thoughtful engagement, or the simulation of it with artificially long and drawn-out comments, draw plenty of favorites.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:09 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Case in point, my top two comment have a combined 610 favorites and (discounting a quote I was replying to) 24 words in total.

383 favorites for one comment! Damn. And it isn't even properly punctuated.

But since my own all-time favorite getter is also a short, bitter, deadpan nugget of political grar, that would seem to be the path to riches.
posted by Trurl at 9:26 AM on November 11, 2011


Experiences vary. My most-favorited comment by far was a multiple paragraph reminiscence that took me several hours to write and edit.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:29 AM on November 11, 2011


Ive Often wondered if I would get more favorites if I used proper punctuation, speeling and grammar. Would anyone be interested in proofing my comments? I cam pay you in favorites.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:32 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Favorites are like masturbation to me. I do it the way I like and don't worry so much how others do it.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:34 AM on November 11, 2011


I recently checked the profile of a fellow mefite and discovered that although they had received upwards of 2300 favourites from others, they had never marked anything as a favourite themselves.

I judged them as a result. It also seemed to fit rather well with their political leanings.
posted by knapah at 10:34 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I honestly don't understand the controversy over favorites. I use them both as sort of an unofficial "like" button and also as a bookmarking system for things I want to revisit later.

The controversy comes from the fact that people who view them as a like button have been known to get their knickers in a twist when something they find objectionable/wrong/upsetting shows a favorite count. Which would, really, be stupid enough on its own. But the fact that it's used as a bookmark feature as often as not means we end up with whining that's not just moronic in its conclusion but also in its premise.

Plus we end up with this discuss at least once a quarter :)
posted by phearlez at 11:46 AM on November 11, 2011


Although it'd be really interesting if someone was to manipulate the infodump a bit (coughfishbikecough) and tell us the likelihood (?) of favorite counts having a direct or inverse relationship with the length of the comment itself. I bet there's a dip toward the very-high end.

Quite the opposite -- the average number of favorites rises markedly with increased comment lengths above 400, with a rather dramatic dip at the short (sub-100) end of the scale. Word counts between 100 and 400 are relatively flat. (h/t smackfu)
posted by Rhaomi at 12:38 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would just like to say there is a difference between "appealing" and "interesting". Sometimes it's a huge canyon between the two and sometimes they overlap nicely. One of those is an objective third person description and the other is a subjective first person description.

I was thinking about favorites recently because of something DiscourseMarker mentioned about her work and presentation at a recent meetup. It reminded me of an article I read in the NYT about someone studying Twitter feeds in aggregate. They used an algorithm to choose" good" words and "bad" words and correlated that with something or other like circadian rhythms. Or something. Anywho, it made think that if there was a usable algorithm that existed that could detect the differences in how emotionally loaded comments are, and applied it to favorited comment, then we might see something interesting.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:51 PM on November 11, 2011


Is this a good place to confess that although I favorite left and right and sideways for a variety of reasons, it did not cross my tiny little mind that anyone. Oils favorite me until one fine day when I went to my profile for some reason and saw them. Quite a few. It was... Disturbing.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:23 PM on November 11, 2011


I favorited Trurl's comment because he said what I said, but knows how to do HTML mark-up for a list.

When it comes to contributing to the site, two of the threads on MeFi that I'm actually kind of proud of were ones where an expert popped in and I asked questions that got really great answers (that got a lot of favorites). I bet that's what Terry Gross feels like every day.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:30 PM on November 11, 2011


I recently checked the profile of a fellow mefite and discovered that although they had received upwards of 2300 favourites from others, they had never marked anything as a favourite themselves.

oooh ... I'm quite sure I know who you're referring to.
posted by mannequito at 4:55 PM on November 11, 2011


I use them for just about everything:

- I lol'd out loud, thanks! (usually a comment)
- Yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly! (usually a comment)
- That is so cool! (posts and comments)
and once in a while:
- Bookmarking (usually a post, not a comment)

I like to give them out and get frustrated when I reach the daily limit (100). I think it's silly there's a limit, but that's not my call.

I also like to get them, because I like a thumbs-up as much as the next person.
posted by deborah at 5:38 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


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