newsfilter August 6, 2004 4:29 PM   Subscribe

NewsFilter!
posted by mathowie to MetaFilter-Related at 4:29 PM (80 comments total)

priceless, thanks
posted by matteo at 4:30 PM on August 6, 2004


Here's the deal: BBC, Yahoo, CNN and the like are on top because you can't really count all the wacky out of the way places under the same URL, so this list skews towards the newsy.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:30 PM on August 6, 2004


apple.com (111)

heh.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:31 PM on August 6, 2004


This is interesting...i'm not surprised BBC and Guardian ranked so highly--they cover stories our media isn't.

And it's cool that from 8333 - 27173 is all one link only.
posted by amberglow at 4:40 PM on August 6, 2004


Wow, 63 links to kottke too.

It's interesting, if you graphed this, you'd probably see that 75% of all links come from the top 25 slots or so, then there's 27k other sites mentioned only once. It'd be a perfect exponential power law when graphed.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:41 PM on August 6, 2004


Are we left, right, or centralist in our media bias?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:16 PM on August 6, 2004


All, and none.
posted by dhoyt at 5:22 PM on August 6, 2004


Oh, yeah. Opera's "links" sidebar lists all 20-odd thousand links, and gamely tries to open 'em all simultaneously if I ask it to. Alas, I'm too impatient to find out if it succeeds, so I'll open 'em one by one. There's a handy-dandy lock on the sidebar, so that they don't get updated with each new page. Sweet.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:27 PM on August 6, 2004


Here's a graph of the results.
posted by waxpancake at 5:35 PM on August 6, 2004


Does this include all links posted within threads, or just those on the front?
posted by rushmc at 5:37 PM on August 6, 2004


Man, I am soooo sick of newfilter.

Slowdown in 'chatter' worries officials!!!!!
posted by Quartermass at 5:41 PM on August 6, 2004


BBC and Guardian ranked so highly--they cover stories our media isn't.

And with even greater bias.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:51 PM on August 6, 2004


So, all my links to hotboysforboys.com don't amount to anything here. Fine. I see how you all are. Elitist hetero pigs!
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:57 PM on August 6, 2004


NewsFilter ain't work safe. Or anywhere near as interesting.

By the way, if you read all of the differently skewed and biased news sites out there, from all sides, you'll end up right in the middle.
posted by fenriq at 6:05 PM on August 6, 2004


Why is metafilter.com top? People don't link to mefi itself from posts that often, do they?
posted by reklaw at 6:13 PM on August 6, 2004


Good post.

oh, and: NO FUCKING SHIT!
posted by scarabic at 6:32 PM on August 6, 2004


Okay, a total of 27,173 domains linked in 34,829 posts (including deletions).

18,841 of them appear only once; 3806 twice, 1621 three times, 785 four times and 511 five times, for a grand total of 37,011 links from 25,564 domains.

Compare that to 7,282 links to the Top Ten sites (NOT including MetaFilter.com itself, MetaMeta Linking is a whole 'nother issue), 9,863 to all the Top 20, 11,339 to all the Top 30, 12,344 to all the Top 40, 13,261 for all the Top 50.

Sounds like a pretty wide distribution to me.
Tempest, meet teapot.
posted by wendell at 6:33 PM on August 6, 2004


It depends on how you slice it. But your own count, the one-shot-wonder-interesting-site-of-the-day type links are about 70%. This is, frankly, too low. When people complain about NewsFilter, they're complaining that 3 out of 10 posts come from big portals and regional newspapers. Not that .05% come from CNN.

Are deleted threads included in this count?
posted by scarabic at 6:42 PM on August 6, 2004


70% is so not too low--the way people bitch, you'd think it was the other way around.
posted by amberglow at 6:46 PM on August 6, 2004


Why is metafilter.com top?

Took me a sec, but think of "previously discussed here. And here. And then that time everyone wanted to talk about it again."
posted by yerfatma at 6:46 PM on August 6, 2004


(also this isn't counting supporting and other links found in posts. Even if a cnn link is first, there are often other, less common urls in the post.)
posted by amberglow at 6:48 PM on August 6, 2004


Nah, I'm with scarabic. The list was inevitably going to look like that—the thing is how much it looks like that. And it's too much. 70% is too low. 90% is too low, as far as I'm concerned. MeFi isn't supposed to be either a news aggregator or a current-events/politics discussion site. I acknowledge that a) there will inevitably be some posts with an ambiguous status; and b) there will inevitably be a contingent of people who do think, as a practical matter, that MeFi is a news aggregator/current-events/politics discussion site. In other words, we'll always have this argument.

Nevertheless, like scarabic, I think that 30% NewsFilter is already too much NewsFilter and I'd really, really hate to see it become 40% or 50% or more—so I'm going to do what little I can to oppose that by continuing to piss and moan about it. I know it's annoying. Conflict is annoying. Sometimes, it's necessary.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:56 PM on August 6, 2004


Whoohoo! spoonfed.net, linked 3 times! SUCK IT!!!

(apologies all around)
posted by solistrato at 7:02 PM on August 6, 2004


Hmmm… how hard would it be to refuse links to those sites?
posted by timeistight at 7:06 PM on August 6, 2004


Amberglow: Actually, it's counting every unique link in the post. (If a post links to NYT twelve times and CNN three times, it counts as one for NYT and one for CNN.)
posted by waxpancake at 7:06 PM on August 6, 2004


really, wax? It doesn't seem like enough urls then. It included all of Ed's puzzle posts, and all of y2k's opuses? and trout's biggies? and all of those "each letter is a different url" posts?
posted by amberglow at 7:15 PM on August 6, 2004


ethereal bligh - you could oppose it by posting non newsfilter links
posted by pyramid termite at 7:37 PM on August 6, 2004


^^yes, maybe we should now do these ratios on a user-by-user basis and ban those who post <70% non-NewsFilter.

*puts on jackboots with Doogie Howser style ... and glee!*
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:48 PM on August 6, 2004


No wonder the front page is so boring these days.
posted by konolia at 7:53 PM on August 6, 2004



Hmmm… how hard would it be to refuse links to those sites?


Engineering-wise, I think Matt could just leave a wifi-enabled laptop next to the toilet for a day or two and it would be done. But he'd never take such a strong stance on anything so controversial.

Meanwhile, hordes of lazy people who don't want to have to read the news make MeFi their homepage, and a handful of smirking liberal fucks make it their job to bring the day's headlines (with a lefty twist, of couse) to their lazy doorstep. Laziness + Ego / Lefty Index = MetaFilter.

Spoken by someone leftier-than-thou.

pyramid_termite - finally we have some statistics to oppose your point, which has come up hundreds of times:

While 70% non-Newsfilter seems like a lot, one post per day from someone like Etheral_Bligh isn't going to tip the scale. We'd need more than 3 additional non-news posts per day to merely meet the Newsfilter tide. Overcoming it entirely becomes an asymptotic graph of diminishing returns. The power to tip the scales will always be in the hands of people like PostRoad.

Besides, like many others before you, you're assuming that folk like Ethereal Bligh and myself are *withholding* good posts as it is. We're not! Jesus, I post everything post-worth I find (and then some). There's absolutely no question of me posting more non-news stuff to counteract newsfilter. I'm not sand-bagging it as things are!

But, given the vast quantity of news headlines that are published every day, there is practically no limit to the shit that people can post if they just sit on their ass and rephrase AP/Reuters, as PostRoad always does.

Sorry, but you're wrong on this one.
posted by scarabic at 7:55 PM on August 6, 2004


Is there a reasonable way to look at this data in more detail? (without beating metafilter with a spider)

I'm wondering if the distribution has changed over time, or if it's always been like this, and it's just more obvious because of the volatile nature of many recent posts.
posted by mosch at 8:08 PM on August 6, 2004



But, given the vast quantity of news headlines that are published every day, there is practically no limit to the shit that people can post if they just sit on their ass and rephrase AP/Reuters, as PostRoad always does.—scarabic
That's really the heart of the matter. It's very asymmetric.
"Hey, could you guys hold it down...I'm trying to watch the movie, here."

"Dude, if you think it should be quieter in the theater, then do your part by being really quiet."
The whole point is that what scarabic and I think deserves to be posted to the blue is much rarer than what someone like postie thinks deserves to be posted. People like scarabic and me couldn't possibly keep up with the NewsFilter posters even if we tried. Our ability to effect change in that manner is limited. (Limited—but not nonexistent; and we are well-advised to do whatever we can to exemplify what we think MeFi should be.)

I really wouldn't care that much about this if it weren't for that fact that what MeFi is supposed to be is something quite rare and worthwhile—while, in contrast, NewsFilter is as common as spit. I do need MeFi to get the "best of the web". I don't need MeFi to get my current events news or discussion.

And almost no one reads MeTa, and those that do that also post NewsFilter don't really seem to care what people say on MeTa. That's why I'm also going to continue to (very discretely) snipe in the thread itself. I'm not happy about it, but I think at this point it's the only way to actually make a difference.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:45 PM on August 6, 2004


... (very discretely) snipe...

You mean "discreetly" here. Sorry, pet peeve of mine.
posted by vacapinta at 8:51 PM on August 6, 2004


Are you sure that souldn't be spelled "pieve"?
posted by wendell at 8:52 PM on August 6, 2004


Ooh, good catch. Thanks.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:53 PM on August 6, 2004


EB: I can make a difference by being an ass.

Don't ever change man.
posted by dame at 8:56 PM on August 6, 2004


I really don't think 3 out of 10 is bad at all. In fact, I think it's great -- and you also have to consider that many many links (especially NYT, Salon, BBC) point to feature stories that are of general factual interest (as opposed to necessarily recent news).

I hate when people do "Best-of-the-web" call outs, for the same reason I hate the off-topic thread call outs, and the "discussiony" AskMe call outs.

The fact of the matter is people like to talk about the news. Hell, people like to talk, and MeFi has an amazing community for conversing with. While it's fine and dandy to collectively drool over the latest Flash wizbag or magnificent obsession, I honestly take more lot away from the discussions that ensue regarding recent events or various interpretations of the movie I saw last week.

MeFi's community being what it is, I never understood why so many hate to think of it as a general discussion forum. Certainly, there is a place for on-topicness in several AskMe threads, and it would be a nightmare if every single thread devolved into irrelevant personal discussions -- but when I'm talking with my friends, I talk about the news, I talk about film, and our conversations jump from one to the other and back again naturally. I don't see where the impetus is for MeFi to be so different.
posted by rafter at 9:11 PM on August 6, 2004


Never forget the immortal words of Rock God Meat Loaf : "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad".

Let's face it; "Best of the Web" is a very low standard to live up to, and MetaFilter (as well its little sister with the Monkeys) are just about the best for my taste. And if you disagree, to paraphrase the most powerful man in the semi-free world: "Go Fark Yourself".
posted by wendell at 9:28 PM on August 6, 2004


I would just like to take this opportunity to whine about Mathowie's one-word one-link post that contains no description as to what the post is about - this is the 37th time in the past 84 months and furthermore blah blah blah blah . . .

Offtopic: does anyone ever get the sense that MeTa is responsible for 99.9% of MeFi's social ills?
posted by Ryvar at 9:38 PM on August 6, 2004


All this proves is that Metafilter is really good at linking to itself.
posted by DaShiv at 10:11 PM on August 6, 2004


i just like saying SMIRKING LIBERAL FUCKS!
posted by quonsar at 10:25 PM on August 6, 2004


Is it wrong that I want to NEVER include any of the top-25 again, no matter how interesting and compelling? I want to be part of the SOLUTION!! From now on, I'll go post-25.
posted by answergrape at 10:44 PM on August 6, 2004


Whoohoo! spoonfed.net, linked 3 times! SUCK IT!!!

(apologies all around)


feh, my domain's listed 3 times too, and quonsar's a whopping 20 times.
posted by t r a c y at 10:57 PM on August 6, 2004


Just to point out the obvious:
If it's not newsfilter, it is probably a double-post.
Carry on. ;-P
posted by mischief at 11:19 PM on August 6, 2004


emptybottle.org (4)

#2415, with a bullet!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:25 PM on August 6, 2004


I hate when people do "Best-of-the-web" call outs, for the same reason I hate the off-topic thread call outs, and the "discussiony" AskMe call outs.

The fact of the matter is people like to talk about the news.


With respect to what you hate but what you have no real argument against, you speak of reasons, yet you offer nothing but your own preferences and vague generalizations. The fact that people like to talk about the news has no bearing on MetaFilter in particular.

People like to discuss their pets, too. But this isn't a random discussion board. If people want to discuss this-that willy-nilly, they should choose some forum with better discussion features and open registration (and preferably one that's not kept alive by a labor of love out of someone's closest). This is perhaps the worst choice of all websites for a place to drop crap that "people like to discuss." Survey says XXX. Try again.

The "fact of the matter" as you say, has been dropped here before. I've shot it in the heart a million times before, yet, like the night of the living dead, it keeps rising to its feet for another bullet in the chest. Perhaps this is the best argument against open registration: newbies just think newsfilter is so *discussable.*

"But I thought it was interesting," is about as stupid an excuse for a Newsfiltery post as "I'd never seen it before" is for a double post.

The 'fact of the matter' is that the dead want to eat your brains. So please go out to your local cemetary and crouch on your hands and knees, cranium up, to facilitate the process.
posted by scarabic at 11:31 PM on August 6, 2004


I'm going to do what little I can to oppose that by continuing to piss and moan about it. I know it's annoying.

I guess people were right about you after all. How disappointing.
posted by rushmc at 11:46 PM on August 6, 2004


Way to bring a personal attack into a topical debate, rushmc.

Typical.

(DOH! I did it too!)
posted by scarabic at 11:54 PM on August 6, 2004


Seriously, my reading of the situation is that complacency (or acceptance) would allow the problem to grow beyond the status quo to levels that would be unacceptable to most everyone. There has to be some resistance. Scarabic and mine and other people's complaints about it are the beginning of that resistance. Yes, the majority has a tolerance threshold that's higher than ours. There's no avoiding that spectrum. Or, another analogy. It's like a tug-of-war between "Best of Web" and "NewsFilter". Most people like the status quo. But that status quo only exists because of the the current tension. The tension is annoying, but it's the only way to preserve the status quo. There's gotta be some of us on this side really digging in our heels.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:58 AM on August 7, 2004


There's gotta be some of us on this side really digging in our heels.

Ryvar: Eeeeehhxcellent. So at last they reveal their weakness.
Postroad: Sir?
Ryvar: As we conquer each new holdfast of the "best of the webbers" instruct each of my generals that he is to break the heels of every last man of our opposition - soon, they will be unable to resist us at all! *Mwahaha*
posted by Ryvar at 2:04 AM on August 7, 2004


Two out of three ain't bad, but it ain't great either. Three out of three is great.

EB is on the money. I've made fuck-all posts in my membership life, and I regret about half of them.

Metafilter: the noise IS the signal.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:21 AM on August 7, 2004


The tension is annoying, but it's the only way to preserve the status quo.

I think you are greatly overestimating your influence here and discounting the likelihood that whining in threads you dislike is pointlessly irritating.
posted by Zetetics at 7:56 AM on August 7, 2004


I think you are greatly overestimating your influence here and discounting the likelihood that whining in threads you dislike is pointlessly irritating.

Indeed, it makes me feel more like supporting Newsfilter out of sheer contrariness (see also "The High Signal Posse" and those fucking Truth.com kids who really make me want to start smoking again).
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:48 AM on August 7, 2004


The 'fact of the matter' is that the dead want to eat your brains.

*sigh of relief*

Truth be told, I don't necessarily mind newsfilter that much. I don't think it should dominate or anything, but we tend to get more interesting discussion than other boards, so in the end it's not so bad.
posted by jonmc at 10:17 AM on August 7, 2004


I though Metafilter was about discussing what was new and interesting. I don't think there is a ban on news per se, just a ban on rote reporting of daily events. In my opinion the calls on "double-post!" and "newsfilter!" are the most annoying thing about this place.
posted by xammerboy at 11:06 AM on August 7, 2004


Interestingly, my old, lost-to-the-websquatters domain oneswellfoop.com, got 5 links, as many as votenader.com, cnet.com, jesus.com and cagle.slate.msn.com (Cagle's Political Cartoon portal), and none of my current personal sites show up at all (I thought I'd done more link-whoring than that...)

Of course, using Google News or MSNBC Newsbot, you should be able to find other news sources with the same content as one of the Top 50 sites. But why bother?

What posters should be doing is researching to get as close to the original source as possible, and Yahoo News (which, in two different subdomains is #5 and #8, with a combined count that would make it #2) is usually a sign of laziness.
posted by wendell at 11:43 AM on August 7, 2004


Whoohoo! spoonfed.net, linked 3 times! SUCK IT!!!

(apologies all around)

feh, my domain's listed 3 times too, and quonsar's a whopping 20 times.


Well, the sad part is that two of those links to Spoonfed were for my ol' Metafilter parody. The really sad part is that one of those links spawned 9622.
posted by solistrato at 1:55 PM on August 7, 2004


I think you are greatly overestimating your influence here and discounting the likelihood that whining in threads you dislike is pointlessly irritating.

I apologize for giving that impression. What I mean to say is that whatever influence (however small) I have in acting thus is the greatest influence I have. I suspect that whining in MeTa counts for much less. I wish that weren't so, but I've come to the conclusion that the MeTa discussions about NewsFilter are close (not not entirely) unproductive, mostly because I think the people that regularly read MeTa are a very tiny sliver of the MeFi community. On the other hand, the people that make NewsFilter posts are the the people that read NewsFilter posts.

I dunno. I've been very uneasy about that decision since I made it. I'd greatly prefer that MeTa were functioning more effectively in this regard.

[thoughtful pause]

Okay, fine. Because I'm such a heavy contributer, and in some ways controversial, maybe it's especially unproductive for me to whinge about NewsFilter in NewsFilter threads. So I won't. (Unless it's really egregious and I'm in a bad mood, and I'll try to avoid it even then.)

But I hope that other people will continue to let (at least the worst) NewsFilter posters know that they shouldn't be posting NewsFilter. I think it's the only way anyone will get the message and the only way to hold the line on it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:42 PM on August 7, 2004


But I hope that other people will continue to let (at least the worst) NewsFilter posters know that they shouldn't be posting NewsFilter. I think it's the only way anyone will get the message and the only way to hold the line on it.

Its not the only way. Here are some additional suggestions:

1) As noted already, make posts of your own that fit the type of posts you'd like to see. Yeah, one person's influence is small but lead by example.

2) Make a comment in a thread you really like, especially one with only a few comments. Positive feedback will help that the people whose posts you do like will post more often, otherwise they think "Ok, nobody seems to care, why should i bother?"

3) Avoid making comments in "Newsfilter" posts unless you have somehing really valuable to add. Avoid posting just to give your opinion, unless you have some inside info or special knowledge, otherwise you're just raising the noise level.

4) Dont reprimand the worst posts. Just ignore them. The people who post the absolute worst posts thrive on stirring people up. Whether the attention is negative or positive doesnt matter. Have you considered what would happen if people just posted really lame opinion piece posts and they were just ignored?
posted by vacapinta at 4:08 PM on August 7, 2004


All very good suggestions, vacapinta. Thanks.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:21 PM on August 7, 2004


EB, in all sincerity, I thank you for the absence of your whinging in future newsfilter threads.
posted by Zetetics at 7:53 PM on August 7, 2004


what vacapinta said in spades. here's to more positive and less negative reinforcement. As long as news posts get tons of attention and many "best of the web" posts seemingly wither on the vine, the mix will continue to list to news.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:46 PM on August 7, 2004


Problem is, madamjujujive, a lot of the "best of the web" stuff isn't necessarily that discussable. I mean, you could post some art site that's truly, staggeringly brilliant, and all most people would have to say is "[this is good]". Which you can't really disagree with, not when it's put in such simple terms, anyway, but it doesn't make for much of a conversation. Give somebody a news/politics post, though, and it seems the more well-worn the topic, the easier it is for them to spout out reams of predigested, party-line spewin' pontification.

I'm wondering, though, if anyone's sliced up the data to determine if the news:non-news ratio actually *is* increasing, or if it just seems that way.
posted by arto at 9:59 PM on August 7, 2004


Yeah, unfortunately, number of comments is a bad metric for the quality of a post. On the other hand, as a practical matter for most people, it is a metric for the quality of posts. This is where the tension between "best of the web" and "discussion site" is the greatest. It causes a lot of confusing ambiguity—but it's working "as designed", even if Matt wasn't truly congizant of the problems inherent in creating a discussion site that wasn't primarily a discussion site. :)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:49 PM on August 7, 2004


Arto said: a lot of the "best of the web" stuff isn't necessarily that discussable... it doesn't make for much of a conversation.

But I just don't know about this. For example: I recently put together a tiny modest post about WWII illustrated envelopes, certainly not staggeringly brilliant by any measure, but not NewsFilter either -- in short, the sort of post that you'd expect to be received without many comments. And although there wasn't much discussion there, among the sparse (tho' uniformly kind) comments was, posted by GaelFC, one of the most wonderful short comments that I've read in some time. The image that GaelFC conveys therein -- the shattered, battle-scarred palm trees -- is something that I've never thought of, and is something I won't soon forget. To me, this detail made the post, far outweighing any of the links I started us off with.

All of which is a long way of saying that we've got a group of very insightful people here, who can talk nice on a astoundingly wide range of topics, when they want to. Which is a long way of saying that I agree with madamjujujive... who agrees with vacapinta... etc.

On preview: number of comments... as a practical matter for most people, is a metric for the quality of posts. Is this really the case? And if so, what's the metric? A bell curve of sorts? What am I missing?
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:56 PM on August 7, 2004


As long as news posts get tons of attention

You're talking about the long winded, dead-hourse beating contests like Bush is Bad and Israel is Evil. Those are always going to attract high comment counts, often from just a few people. But I'd hardly consider them vibrant and healthy and valuable contributions because of a high comment count.

Put another way: there may not be much to say about the best-of-the-web links, but there isn't anything *worth* saying about some of the recurrent Newsfilter topics.
posted by scarabic at 10:57 PM on August 7, 2004


.kobayashi.: I personally don't feel that number of comments is a good metric (or a relevant metric at all). But I am absolutely positive that some people think so, more people feel so, and to most it matters at least a little bit. So I do think that positive reinforcement in non-NewsFilter threads is a good idea—even if it seems redundant or unnecessary.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:04 PM on August 7, 2004


EB: I don't disagree with you one bit about the irrelevance of the metric. I just bring it up because I'm a little bit... shocked. Thinking about it now, I suppose that such a measure may be intuitive to some, but... it just never occurred to me. Which is why I ask: is this what people think? Anybody want to cop to it, and shake me out of my disbelief?
posted by .kobayashi. at 11:11 PM on August 7, 2004


yes, it is true, .kobayashi., given that it is the only possible form of feedback on a post, the number and type of comments tends to serve as a sort of guidepost for a lot of posters. There are many, many things that I think are great that I don't post here because I don't think that the readership is very interested in them, from what I've observed over time.

I was very happy with the proposal of some sort of (anonymous) voting system that would add a little star to a post that most members consider good quality, but it seems that is idea dead. The problem here is the dichotomy between what people are interested in seeing, and what they feel like commenting on... Good games and interactive things like quizzes, etc. get comments because users can relate their specific experience. Newsfilter gets a lot of comments because most people have opinions they feel like airing. Miguel was great at taking a subject, expanding it along a theme line, and pulling in participation by asking questions related to the topic; lots of people hate this style, but these have been some of the few posts that weren't news-related or controversial that also engendered a lot of discussion.

Then you have the "neat thing", which most of the time gets few comments, which is a little disheartening to the poster, and additionally it's not uncommon to read comments in MeTa denigrating this sort of post. In all the heated newsfilter discussions there are always a few people who say something like, "I'm bored by/hate/couldn't care less about the gallery posts, the flash posts, the history/culture posts. Sometimes they even point out specific serial "neat thing" posters, to say that they never read these posts. Altogether, it is not the most nurturing atmosphere for posting off-the-beaten track material. Some of our best posters for cool and unusual things post rarely if ever any more, and I don't think that would be the case if there were some way of providing them with some encouragement. (Assuming, of course, that we do want to encourage them, which I'm not always convinced of.)
posted by taz at 11:58 PM on August 7, 2004


Hmm. I'm having thoughts. [writing and deleting]

I've tended to take "best of the web" very literally and exclusively. That's made sense to me because, although vague, it does have meaning.

As should be apparent to most, I'm interested in about a bazillion subjects, don't have a life, and spend most of my time (when I'm not reading) on the net researching stuff. I often think of topics that I'd like to craft a y2karl-like post out of. I never do, because although I think y2karl's posts are good (even when they're biasfiltery), this doesn't seem to me to be what MeFi is for. It doesn't satisfy the "best of the web" test.

But then, very little does. I've only made three posts, and I don't think they measure up by my standards at all. So it's occuring to me that my conception of what MeFi is or should be is so restrctive as to be unrealistic or even useless.

But, on the other hand, it's not a discussion site for current events, it's not someone's-odd-thoughts-on-arcane-subjects-blog, it's not fark, it's not sa, etc. Except, in practice, it is. It's like all those things except filtered through a "best of the web" criterion. Kinda. Sorta. And a relatively exclusive community.

Fuck. I don't know what MeFi is, except that I pretty much like what it is, except that I think it should be (or try to be) a bit more like what it is and less like what it isn't.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:19 AM on August 8, 2004


taz, you expressed many of my thoughts better than I could. Number of comments may not be a metric, but getting little or no feedback sure feels like a metric. It can be disheartening to see a post you make sit for several hours with zero comments when the next few news posts or, worse yet, double posts, rack up lots of comments and witty repartee within minutes. I doubt anyone will ever cop to the idea that they select posts by number of comments, but I am fairly certain many do - just like most people on vacations claim they don't like "the touristy" things, but they are still the most visited places. Human resources studies have shown tht pay is not necessarily the best motivator, but conversely, lack of pay is indeed a huge demotivator.

.kobayashi. I almost used your post as an example - you found something very cool. Given that you are a relatively new member/poster, I would have hoped that more of the "best of the web" proponents might have dropped a quick "cool" or "thanks" in your thread.

...and while I would agree to a point, arto, about BotW posts not always lending themselves to conversation, I still think positive feedback helps the poster know they are not just posting to a void. I miss plep's great posts gracing the front page, but I could certainly understand if he felt "why bother?"

If you want flowers in your garden, it's not sufficient just to pull the weeds, you have to water the flowers now and again.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:21 AM on August 8, 2004


and like, use grow-lamps, man!
posted by quonsar at 8:45 AM on August 8, 2004


If you want flowers in your garden...



...hire Chance.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:02 AM on August 8, 2004


just a few comments, mostly in response to taz & madamejujujive

1) Yes, I see that absent any "rating system," comments is the closest you have to approximating that. But, taz, at one early point there, you're conflating two very different things, aren't you? (1) number of comments, and (2) type of comments. I can see how type of comments matters a great deal, though only once you've clicked on the thread. Number still seems odd to me, again, unless it's a sort of bell-curve, with a minimal number to suggest that it's worth noticing, but also with a higher cut-off number that would that what's contained therein is probably a shit-storm. Likely the high and low markers would change based on what sort of post the post seems to be (based on a cursory read). All of which suggests that number may not easily serve as a useful indicator on its own, even for those who'd want it to. But if it's type that's important, than even simply a few really good comments ought to go a long way, no?

2) I doubt anyone will ever cop to the idea that they select posts by number of comments, but I am fairly certain many do...
I don't know why anyone wouldn't. If people do this, I doubt that it's something to be ashamed of. Unless I phrased the question itself in such a way that betrays a bias against such a shortcut, and I hope I didn't do that. So, I'll clarify: I ask, not to judge, but because I'm curious what the criteria is, as it likely isn't an assumed linear progression between number of comments and quality of the post. So far, we've just speculated that others do this. If that's the case, I'm curious about how they do this.

3. I ask all this particularly because I'm still new-ish, and I don't feel any need for more comments in that post to encourage me. This may seem shocking, but for newer members like me, who spent so much time on the outside, less feedback/encouragement may be necessary, because a) we know how the site works by now-- we've truly been here for a while, if only active for a shorter time, and therefore we're not easily discouraged; and b) we know that there's a lot of folks looking at our posts who appreciate them, but can't say a darn thing about it. So, madamjujujive, I hope my linking to that thread didn't come across as a "here's something I did that no one noticed" whimper, as that wasn't the intent at all. The intent was to show how, in a post with a small number of comments -- in a post that may be of the sort that wouldn't allow for much commentary (compared to NewsFilter) -- the quality of the conversation can nevertheless be quite strong. All of which is, once again, a long way to say, when talking about comments, number may not be quite as important as type.

4) Finally, "I miss plep's great posts gracing the front page" -- when I was still on the outsite, it was plep's posts that went a long way towards convincing me that this really was a community that I wanted to participate in. I realise that I haven't shown my appreciation for his posts anywhere nearly enough, now that I can. To the extent that the encouragement matters, I'm embarrassed about that now. So, thanks plep. For all of it.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:51 AM on August 8, 2004


*sigh* And, once again, I've posted something far too long here. Perhaps more should be done to discourage newer folks from posting to MeTa, in particular...
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:55 AM on August 8, 2004


Here's a radical idea. Why not stop showing a comment count? Just note on the front page whether comments have been made, and if you've got the Golden Cookie, whether they've been made since your last visit. (And I also wholeheartedly support moving as much as possible of the member-tracking data to a client-side process if it would take pressure off the MetaServer)

Talk amongst yourselves. I'll be back later.
posted by wendell at 12:31 PM on August 8, 2004


Well, number and type, .kobayashi. ...I once made a post that got two comments, both saying it was garbage - the best of both worlds! So number, because if you get no or just one or two comments, it is discouraging, and type, because if you just get a whole lot critical comments, the fact that there's lots of them wouldn't really cheer you up much.

Anyway, I think it also kind of helped when we still had trackback, because you could see many posts that appeared not to get much local attention being linked to by other sites, which was kind of nice.
posted by taz at 1:12 PM on August 8, 2004


i miss trackback--i discovered some good places thru it.
posted by amberglow at 1:33 PM on August 8, 2004


BBC and Guardian ranked so highly--they cover stories our media isn't.

And with even greater bias.


He's right, the BBC is biased in favour of Israel.
posted by biffa at 2:18 AM on August 9, 2004


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