Has it come time to limit users to starting one thread per day? December 13, 2000 7:57 PM   Subscribe

With the increase in traffic lately (27 new threads so far today), has it come time to limit users to starting one thread per day?
posted by Aaaugh! to MetaFilter-Related at 7:57 PM (38 comments total)

Well, of course the best way to ensure quality links would be to start screening all of them. But it's too much work for one person, and I don't know if I could appoint a team to do it (or trust enough of them). Plus, it'd delay the "breaking news" types of links.

I dunno. Some people should post more than once per day, others well... they should never post. There's no simple way to make rules for that. Unless I started figuring out how much discussion people create. If you've posted a few threads that had a combined total of 50 comments, then you can post 2x per day max, if you prompted 200 comments in your history, you can post 4x per day. Something like that might try and attempt to enummerate the quality thread starters.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:53 PM on December 13, 2000

But are the number of comments always a reflection on the quality of the posting? I see some interesting posts that provide a great link but that don't inspire me to leave a comment. And then there are posts that cause a dozen people to quickly post comments complaining about it. And then sometimes a stupid link will be posted and someone will post an interesting comment about it and *that* comment will create a ton of additional comments. I suppose it's a start though.

posted by gluechunk at 10:41 PM on December 13, 2000

i think it probably makes more sense to limit how many posts per week. new users can post one link a week, people who have themselves commented more than 20 times or have started several good threads can post 3x per week, etc... limiting posts per day probably wont limit very much.
posted by palegirl at 10:57 PM on December 13, 2000

Yeah, there are the occasional multiple posts by a user in one day, but the increase in posts is because there's a lot of people visiting and partaking in MeFi on a regular basis.

Rather than filter before the posts go up, why not filter based on which ones look interesting to you (generic, not specifically just for Aaaugh!)? You don't have to click every link.
posted by cCranium at 7:00 AM on December 14, 2000

Perhaps you could limit everyone to 10 front page posts a day (or rather, per 24 hr period). That way people will really think twice about posting something (hopefully). You could even stick an extra step into the posting process saying something like "this is the 8th post in the last 24 hours. if you post this, only two more people can post things in the next 2 hours. do you really want to do this?"

Putting that restraint on the community might raise the quality level of posts. MeFi might not catch all that's going on out there, but it would catch the best.
posted by jkottke at 1:34 PM on December 14, 2000

The main problem I see with the 24hr post limit would be people jumping down each others' throats with comments such as "that link sucked dude, thanks for wasting one today!"

It might put everyone on edge and increase the level of "this should be in metatalk" comments.

I was hoping people would see 27 links in a day being too many, and let the community taper down to 20 or so a day on their own. It might not happen though.

hmm, we'll see what happens.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:56 PM on December 14, 2000

I just went to the front page, to check how often people post (figuring that a 1 post per hour limit might work) and there are five posts in this hour alone. Nuts.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:00 PM on December 14, 2000

I don't like the potential restriction of only 1 per such a reasonably large time period, so I'm going to bump it up to 2. :-)

(says the guy who's posted around 10 links. :-)

You could base a post-per-hour limit on peak traffic. (times in PST) I'm too lazy to look up the stats for november, but say between 9pm and 6am you restrict it to 2 per hour, 6am to 9pm and 6pm to 9pm, 3 per hour and during the remaining hours 4 per hour or something.

What does that come out to? (calculating, please hold oh my God this is taking me far too long.) Woah. 64? Did I do that right? That's a helluva lot of comments. Okay, dropping the limits by 1 each, I get 38. Still too many I gather.

As for "that link sucked" type comments, creating a specfic Metatalk area for link criticism so we can all learn what we do and do not like to see in our links may be beneficial.
posted by cCranium at 2:14 PM on December 14, 2000

it would be pretty maddening to come up with a great post and then not be able to post it at ten after 2 because someone had just double-posted some grandma-got-run-over-by-a-reindeer type story at 2:02.

if you limit posts by time, you might want to set up a submission queue of sorts. i can see how that might create even more problems though... sigh.

i think developing a metric to allow proven posters freer access to the front page is probably the best way to go, even though that would require lots of planning, tuning, and oversight ("yeah, officer from overseer") to prevent /.-style karma whoring and other abuse.
posted by sudama at 2:23 PM on December 14, 2000

hmm. karma-whoring? I thought bringing karma into the mix would improve things.

Man, it's a clusterfuck on all sides.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:44 PM on December 14, 2000

whoa, Cc:

but say between 9pm and 6am you restrict it to 2 per hour, 6am to 9pm and 6pm to 9pm, 3 per hour and during the remaining hours 4 per hour or something.

> 9pm - 6am
> 6am - 9pm
> 6pm - 9pm
> remainder.

your first two sections covered the entire day, already. :)
posted by pnevares at 2:59 PM on December 14, 2000

There were 31 threads started yesterday. Yow!

The thought I had behind limiting the number of posts per user was not so much to cut down on the number of links posted, but as Mr. Kottke said, to get people to think twice before they post a link. Maybe Rebekah's idea of limiting users' links per week would be better than a per day limit. I was just hoping for something that would cause people to pause and say to themselves, "Am I sure I want to post this? If I post it and later run across something else interesting, I won't be able to post it here."

I don't see the number of posts tapering down anytime soon - it'll probably continue to go up. The increase in threads is probably directly proportional to the increase in traffic on the site. I'm a bit worried that if this trend continues, some people will be forced to leave the community because of the time commitment required to stay on top of things.
posted by Aaaugh! at 3:03 PM on December 14, 2000

pnevares, you mean you're one of those 24-hour people? Poor bastard...

s/6am to 9pm/6am to 9am

better? :-)

24 posts yesterday, and each one was from a different poster. Even if there were a limit on individual posters, the potential exists for a lot of posts.

On wednesday, with 31 threads, there were at least 2 people who posted more than one link, but maximum 5, so even if people were restricted to one post per day we'd have ended up with 26 posts. Would that really be any better?

So I think Aaaugh's last statement is right, the number of posts will continue to increase. And it has to be able to continue to increase, because as readership grows there are going to be more people with different interests. But then you start treading into "is this a general interest discussion board, or is there some kind of focus to it?" types of questions.

Clusterfuck is indeed a good description.

Matt, have you ever checked out K5's moderation system? It's pretty clever, with posts being rated, critiqued and edited, and posts getting the same treatment. It may give some additional ideas of how you want things to go.
posted by cCranium at 7:17 AM on December 15, 2000

cC's right, the number of posts is not generally due to multiple postings.
Limiting to say, 10 posts a day will lead to all kinds of problems, not least a huge amount of animosity toward anyone posting a thread which attracts no comments from those who missed out on posting their thread.
If the posts are limited by date then those of us in time zones ahead of the rest of you get first crack at posting (wouldn't it really piss you off if you signed on to find 10 posts already there at 8am your time?).
As devil's advocate, dare I suggest closing the membership for a while? I can see many problems with that too but it's not been suggested yet, is it worth considering?
posted by Markb at 8:33 AM on December 15, 2000

Closing the membership's just a stinky idea.

Well, I mean, the suggestion's fine and it should certainly be addressed, but the concept of closing MeFi stinks. :-)

For one thing, the membership would stagnate. I mean, us regular posting types, we know all our quirks and biases and whatnot. I can almost tell you for certain what kind of angle baylink or Steven Den Beste or tiaka or any of the other people who comment daily is going to take on a topic.

That's not a bad thing, I'm sure the same can be said about me ("that cCranium guy's gonna say something stupid and vague, just watch!" :-) But having new voices and new opinions means that we get different peoples' opinions on stuff like whether or not drop downs suck, or if Bush is a goof.

Hell, the different voices interject different topics of conversation, so we're actually able to talk about stuff other than a-lists and elections and neilson some of the time. :-)
posted by cCranium at 8:59 AM on December 15, 2000

Perhaps you could implement a rating system that people could use to rate the link quality (number of stars?) like they do at k10k. These ratings could be stored with each user who posts links (viewable by looking at their user profile?). People then might be motivated to improve their star rating by only posting links that were quality. In addition, you could possibly set up something like Amazon.com's top posters.

That's just one idea off the top of my head. Another way to go would be Slashdot, but that might be making things too complex for a self-functioning discussion organism.
posted by timothompson at 3:09 PM on December 15, 2000

Where are there ratings on the k10k site? I've never noticed any and checked the bios but don't see what you're getting at. Are there tiny font or icon indicators of quality I'm just not seeing?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:35 PM on December 15, 2000

There's the issue rating on the front page that lets users rate the issue on a few different qualities (Humour, smoothness, complexity, innovation). If that's what timothompson meant, a new group of qualities would have to be determined.
posted by cCranium at 6:29 AM on December 16, 2000

I really, really hate the idea of user ratings.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 1:32 PM on December 16, 2000

Ok, I'll just rate everything myself then. :)

capt., got any alternatives to offer?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:06 PM on December 16, 2000

Hey, I kinda like that, Matt. Don't you sort of already do that with the email?

Every site I've seen with user ratings, from Amazon to the Writer's Place (or something) to /. to blogspot to epinions (disclosure: I've never posted to any of those sites), it becomes this rather mean-spirited popularity contest. Not to mention, frankly, I really don't want to see what the collective's opinion of me is after a talk about drug legalisation or what everyone thinks of a discussion about co-opting anarchy rhetoric. Threads I find particularly compelling are already in a deep, deep minority. I fear if they got low votes, they'd disappear completely. If that happened, I wouldn't have much of a reason to come back.

I'm really not here to worry about pleasing other people. Interesting, intelligent opinions and statements — not mean-spirited like we saw yesterday in the Filter — are really what keeps any community vibrant. This is true from the Supreme Court to the classroom. I fear with a rating system contrary opinions would exist, but effectively get squashed in favor of ass-kissing.

I like the "topic of the day" Filters. Nov 7-8 saw some awesome political talk. And I got zero sleep. If you see my posts I stayed up til about 8am. (I wasn't just posting, I had to console some other Nader volunteers. It was kinda sad.) AIDS day was a resounding success.

This would certainly vitalize MetaTalk: we'd need a forum to discuss upcoming topics and schedule them. People could get ready for the topics, maybe even write their own articles. Matt, you were thinking about doing interviews. Topical Filters would be the perfect forum.

It's the best of both worlds: everyone who isn't interested in the topic just doesn't post that day (decrease the number of threads), while increasing the quality of discussion (only interested people come to post.)


Does this.style.background work in NN?
posted by capt.crackpipe at 3:30 PM on December 16, 2000

Or limit posts per user. You only get 8 this week! And no pudding til you eat your meat!

duh. A collective smack in the forehead for all of us.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 3:44 PM on December 16, 2000

This is still virgin territory, I don't anyone else has really solved it yet.

The problem: How do you keep this forum general (ie attracting posts about everything and anything) without making it bland (lower common denominator, mainstream, moronic).

I still think the free for all is still better than the karma based approach but its certainly in danger of slipping away. 30 posts a day is too much and that number is likely to rise.

Is there a way of allowing people to filter the posts for themselves? In other words add filtering rules to the user profile which has the effect of shifting a post higher or lower based on matching the filter.

posted by lagado at 6:39 PM on December 16, 2000

Perhaps the most important filter of all is the Metafilter guidelines. Maybe they could a few more lines added to the what makes a good/bad post.

Also I think this thread is important enough to be posted on the main page of Metafilter so that more people will see it and understand the problem.
posted by lagado at 6:48 PM on December 16, 2000

I think the one thing that no one has touched on yet is the most important factor in all of this. If you implement a global post-limiting feature in an attempt to make people think twice about posting bad links, I don't think you'd get awfully far. The people who already post good links would be the ones who think twice, but they already do that. Peole who post bad links for attention or to simply excercise their ability to post, wouldn't be thinking twice then because they are posting without a good reason in the first place.

If a person is cluttering up metafilter with bad links because they feel like posting or want some traffic to their profile, they're not going to worry about taking up a limited amount of posts or hindering others.
posted by tomorama at 7:22 PM on December 16, 2000

Which is why a voluntary code of behavior is still going to be more effective while there is still a sense of "community" at Metafilter. I don't consider Slashdot, for example, to be a community because active moderation is required. Most posts are noise. Mefi has far less noise to signal because it is still cooperative and members allow themselves to be bound by community rules (not that I even voted for that mathowie dude! ;-j).

Still, there is this scale issue which isn't going to go away. This is already a forum which has contributors from all over the world. It's a nice little corner of the web. It's a scarce resource. Even if everyone complied with the guidelines the number of posts is eventually going to rise beyond a managable level. That's why I suggested providing tools to enable the users to manage the complexity for themselves although I certainly don't have a clear idea about how that should work exactly.

Finally, as a drastic solution if scale continues to dillute the content then maybe it's time to split the site into two sites. I would imagine that even with identical software, different people would tend to gravitate more to one site instead of the other.
posted by lagado at 3:32 AM on December 17, 2000

Or we could just ditch Metafilter for good and live over here at Metatalk! ;-j
posted by lagado at 3:33 AM on December 17, 2000

I think it's important to remember that people don't knowingly post bad links. I mean, we haven't really even defined what a bad link is.

There's been a number of links that have been very interesting and certainly fall within my criteria of "good link" but don't spur on any kind of commentary because the comment would all be "Yeah, that's very cool!"

People will post a link here because they think "those MeFi folks, they'll enjoy this," not because they think "this'll piss off those MeFi bastards." Sometimes those links fall flat on their face, sometimes good things result. Even the tried and true discussion spurring topics can fizzle when we're tired of them.
posted by cCranium at 7:44 AM on December 17, 2000

For a project I was working on (now apparently defunct, due to a lack of spare time), some friends and I were discussing how to improve upon the Slashdot filtering model; the best answer we could come up with was allowing individual filtering ("I liked this -- make sure I see future things on the same topic or by the same author" or "I didn't like this; push down future things by the same author or on the same topic") and then allowing people to piggyback on other people's opinions ("cCranium's tastes are similar to mine; show me things he liked"). It wouldn't be that hard to implement something like that, although getting it to work in a practical way would almost assuredly be a huge pain in the ass.
posted by snarkout at 8:40 PM on December 17, 2000

And collaborative filters always run the risk of marginalizing personal quirks -- I thought that the most interesting MeFi discussion in weeks was the Kensington stone chatter, but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm the only person who thought that.
posted by snarkout at 8:42 PM on December 17, 2000

Is it maybe time to create headlines.metafilter.com? Perhaps one way to cut down on front page clutter would be to subdivide the home page in a way similar to metatalk: e.g. politics.mefi, weird-web.mefi, consumerism-awry.mefi, schadenfreude.mefi, etc.
posted by bradlands at 9:03 PM on December 17, 2000

Oh, I like that. where-are-my-pants.metafilter.

posted by capt.crackpipe at 9:39 PM on December 17, 2000

It wouldn't be that hard to implement something like that

Perhaps not if you were starting from scratch and had time to design and develop it, but don't forget that it's Matt who does everything here, and it'll continue to be that way for some time. It's a nifty idea (makes me think of epinions-style trusting) but difficult to add-on.

Just thinking about the database structure for something like that is pretty damn interesting though. (When did I start liking databases so much? Curious.)

Though would people really use filtering to that level on something like a discussion board? If it were pure news then sure, but this place is about the discussion, and I can't effectively block someone out and know that I'm still in touch with everything going on.

It may be a control issue I may have to talk to someone about. Off-hand I can't think of anyone I would filter. There are certainly more than a few people with similar tastes to mine, but at the same time those people have made points that I either disagree with or (worse, by my reckoning) couldn't care less about.

I can quite honestly say that I wouldn't use any filtering like that. Even when the election stuff got to be too much and too regular for me to care about, I just applied the MetaMetaFilter - the one in my mouse hand, that determines whether or not I follow a link.

And there was that Metatalk discussion not too long ago (where'd it go... oh, here it is) about regional Metafilters where it was reasonably firmly established that branched MetaFilters isn't a viable option for Matt in the near future, at least.

My take on it is that the best solution is to refine the posting guidelines. Make them more elaborately detailed as to what makes a good post. Even simple things as "Describe what you're posting about, most people don't like the THIS IS FUNNY! style of mystery posting"
posted by cCranium at 6:38 AM on December 18, 2000

Unless it's a question of space to store the ever increasing posts and comments, i wouldn't change a thing. The more posts the more likely there will be something of interest for the varying people who visit this site.

I'm getting more selective with which links i follow, but no longer do i find days ( except during the election ) where there is nothing of interest.
posted by Zool at 10:07 PM on December 20, 2000

I don't think that the problem with increased posts is a matter of space, but rather that interesting or worthy threads easily become buried after a day or so, thus limiting intelligent discussion.

I think that this thread should be moved to MetaFilter, either beneath the 5k contest, or perhaps as a "topic of the day" (to use capt. crackpipe's characterization). This is an important enough topic to present to the MeFi community that doesn't frequent MeTa, and perhaps this can raise the consciousness of MeFilistines in a more significant way than amending the guidelines or imposing artificial restraints on posting. The discussion that we are presently having is limited to those who already understand the importance of a good post; let's see what the others think.
posted by Avogadro at 12:37 PM on December 21, 2000

Alright, I've been away from MeFi and my computer for the last couple of days, but here's my solution.. of course it might not work, but it's just another idea to consider

There should be some sort of probationary period where users are allowed to post, say, one link per day (or whatever limit you'd like to impose)

For each of these links that is good, people who view it can submit a vote to say "Great link!" or something to that effect. You could keep track of the count of these votes in the database. Once a user has enough votes, he/she comes off probation and can post as many links as they want (or another limit)

This would work because:

1. New members are encouraged to see how MeFi works before actively participating

2. Members who have been around and posting good links will continue to contribute good links

The issue isn't with the number of posts but rather the quality of them. 27 posts in a day is fine if it's generally good stuff. And I say "generally" because some stuff doesn't appeal to everyone.

posted by PWA_BadBoy at 1:49 PM on December 21, 2000

I don't see the problem, myself.

I check Mefi every 2, 3 hours, and I never get too far behind. :-)

(Jeff Foxworthy: "Doesn't all that coffee interfere with your sleep?" Stepmom Jane: "No, dear, not at all; I get up every couple hours and have a cup.")
posted by baylink at 6:16 PM on December 24, 2000

I was amazed at how quickly I was able to gain access to posting. I had only posted 5-10 comments and I was able to post a link. How about lengthening that requirement to 20 comments?

Or possibly closing off new posters (let people comment, but don't let them post links) for a while.

Clusterfuck is most definitely a good word to describe the situation...
posted by tallman at 9:40 AM on December 27, 2000

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