Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
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the variety of sections is only useful if there are enough people interested in them.

This is the salient point of that comment concerning "section" usage.

The methods (mechanical and intellectual) and extent of automation employed to divide ("to classify") a large quantity of information are different procedural questions determined by a website's administrator and patrons as is the enumeration of attributes employed to define one or more classes of "story" or "diary" which constitute a category of stories or diaries, a "section".

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 10:17:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A few more things about "reclist generated sections":

(1) There are no diaries that languish because they are entered into less heavily frequented sections. All diaries that get put up show up on the recent diary list, and all diaries that accumulate enough recommendations get on the reclist, and those continue to be the two lists on the side of the page.

(2) Given 1, being in a less heavily frequented section can be a good thing, since you stay on the "main" page of that section longer, and attract more comments from those who are interested in that section.

And that leads to (3) ...

(3) The content of each section is guaranteed to have attracted the interest of people, who feel it "belongs" in a section as defined by the kinds of stories recommended into the different sections. So there is a positive learning loop between those diarists who are learning to write diaries that attract recommendation into various sectional reclists and those audiences who find various types of diaries of interest.

The flaw of most sectioning systems is that they try to impose a view of what piece belongs in what section based on the view of an author or editor. But the authors and editors are unpaid volunteers.

This system relies on the desire of readers to express their appreciation of diaries that they appreciate, and the reward for the act of selecting a section when recommending a diary is seeing those diaries that attract sufficient agreement move up the sectional recpage.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 11:16:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand you correctly, your proposal is to alter the "home" layouts below.

READER logged ON, comment count updated REDREADER logged OFF, comment count NOT updated

And alter the navigation option bar item DIARIES (ascending chronology of "front page" artices, excluding "OPEN THREAD" records) to display a reader's choice of "sections" listed (navigation option menu). Note that your suggested list obviates redundancy of display of RECENT DIARIES and RECOMMENDED DIARIES currently listed in the sidebar.

Further, some programming routine will be written to generate dynamically (update) the DIARIES menu options as registered readers assign a "section" category from an option list of sections displayed with each published RECENT DIARY. (Your list is much briefer than the one Lily suggested in her earlier diary.) Also, a reader may (or may not) "recommend" a RECENT DIARY. A db-polling routine counts reader recommendations per diary per "section" in order to display an ordered list of "section" articles at any time.

Here you suggest: "One code to generate a page from a reclist, with a parameter on which type of rec is being looked up." I doubt this programming strategy is feasible or desirable for a number of reasons. Chief among these is reversability of recommendation and "section" assignment at any time. Note that irreversibility of assignment poses a host of ethical challenges to site administrators that guarantee future so-called debates about ideology, validity, and "user-friendly" and authoritarian functionality.

Aside all that, I hafta object to the overweening attention you give to rewarding writers with recommendations (another form of automatic "rating" incentive) and your assumption that diaries "languish" if the publishing platform provides no rating mechanism. You do have an idea how many blogs and webzines do not employ comment or article rating systems of any sort? If not --and absent any empirical analysis of page view data NOT VISITS or UNIQUE VISITORS remotely comparable to that DKOS fella who turned the charts-- I'm having some trouble accepting your guarantee (3) to "improve" as Lily might say, if Lily had something to measure like reader interactivity to lurking, exposure or "influence" potential, market penetration or "impact," or whathaveyou, attributable to "section" assignment.

:)

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 03:15:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that your suggested list obviates redundancy of display of RECENT DIARIES and RECOMMENDED DIARIES currently listed in the sidebar.

{Wait a minute while I look that word up} ... No, it doesn't, not at all. Indeed, it relies on the display of RECENT DIARIES and RECOMMENDED DIARIES sidebars. The recommended and recent diary list is what prevents the borders between the sections from becoming ossified.

Aside all that, I hafta object to the overweening attention you give to rewarding writers with recommendations (another form of automatic "rating" incentive)

That's the present institutional state of play you are objecting to ... I'm not proposing to change that, except to leverage it into getting the work of sectioning done.

and your assumption that diaries "languish" if the publishing platform provides no rating mechanism.

I didn't say any such thing. Diaries languish in sections that get no company, because when there is no new content, the audience dwindles, and when the audience dwindles, the contributions dwindle.

A few, broad, categories are better than a larger number of precisely defined categories, since it is easier for the commentariat of the site to evolve the distinctions between the sections for itself.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 05:23:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm, I'll tackle just one of my misinterpretations.

it relies on the display of RECENT DIARIES and RECOMMENDED DIARIES sidebars.

I had imagined the DIARIES option menu of SECTIONS included RECOMMENDED and RECENT DIARIES --AND-- RECOMMENDED and RECENT DIARIES displayed in the sidebar. One of these sets is redundant.

Thanks for clearing up my misunderstanding: RECOMMENDED and RECENT DIARIES lists in the sidebar only.

"Occasional Reader" (OR1,to you) double-clicks a title in RECENT DIARIES. As usual full text of story appears in new window with sidebar navigation elements REC and SECTION enabled (disabled? if OR1 has ever elected an option, making assignment irreversible). Perhaps too a list of SECTIONS currently assigned to the title appears in the story sidebar.

OR1 elects REC (t) and elects SECTION [VATICAN] from option list.

(Meanwhile, OR2 comes along to elect REC (f) and elects SECTION [HUMOR]. OR3 elects REC (t) and elects SECTION [PUBLIC POLICY]. OR4 selects DIARIES menu OPTION [VATICAN], run-time opens new window to display all VATICAN titles. Alrighty then.)

The need for RECOMMENDED DIARIES in the sidebar is not yet obvious to me, given the DIARIES new functionality: display [SECTION] RECOMMENDED and RECENT DIARIES.

So which RECOMMENDED DIARIES appear on the home (index) page, if at all?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 07:36:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they are not redundant.

A page view of the most recent diaries, and a page view of the top of the reclist, is not identical to the reclist, or the recent diary list. One contains more information about the diaries about the top of each list ... that is, the above the fold section of each diary ... while the other contains a longer list of titles alone.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 10:58:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here you suggest: "One code to generate a page from a reclist, with a parameter on which type of rec is being looked up." I doubt this programming strategy is feasible or desirable for a number of reasons. Chief among these is reversability of recommendation and "section" assignment at any time. Note that irreversibility of assignment poses a host of ethical challenges to site administrators that guarantee future so-called debates about ideology, validity, and "user-friendly" and authoritarian functionality.

You are suggesting that it is impossible to generate the reclist, since given the ability to generate the reclist, there is the ability to generate a page from the top items in the reclist.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 05:30:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are suggesting that it is impossible to generate the reclist

Nope, not at all impossible. I'm suggesting however the "occasional reader" could perceive the list unreliable, if RECs are reversible and/or a title appears on multiple SECTION (index) pages, as called from DIARIES option menu selection.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 07:45:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Recs are reversible today. That makes a causal reader find the Reclist unreliable?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 10:56:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sections are a different issue, and I still think manual tag filtering rather than fixed categorisation is the way to go there. You could add a few simple buttons and the mechanism would be intuitive and obvious. (I'm not sure about the Scoop side, obviously.)

Otherwise, the rec process seems to work. It reflects community sentiment about the value and readability of diaries. In practice most diaries at the moment end up rec'd, even if it's only for a while, so it's not obviously restrictive.

This doesn't guarantee that outsiders will like a diary. But how would it possible to make diaries more appealing to outsiders, without knowing who those outsiders are?

The system even works on dKos, more or less, in that diaries on the rec list do usually seem to be worth reading - although they've taken to propping it up with their rescue ranger system to give more exposure to worthwhile diaries that fall off the list.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 09:37:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sections are a different issue, and I still think manual tag filtering rather than fixed categorisation is the way to go there. You could add a few simple buttons and the mechanism would be intuitive and obvious. (I'm not sure about the Scoop side, obviously.)

Otherwise, the rec process seems to work. It reflects community sentiment about the value and readability of diaries. In practice most diaries at the moment end up rec'd, even if it's only for a while, so it's not obviously restrictive.

Author assigned tags are a good way for a prolific author to categorize their work so diaries in the archive may be more easily found. And they would certainly make it easier to index diaries. So they are useful.

They don't work very well for generating common sections, though, without the overhead of a committee of worker bees that go through the tags and clean them up.

The sectional reclists is a version of sectioning that leverages what already works.

This doesn't guarantee that outsiders will like a diary. But how would it possible to make diaries more appealing to outsiders, without knowing who those outsiders are?

I hadn't been aware that was the goal, so I hadn't thought about how to achieve it.

The system even works on dKos, more or less, in that diaries on the rec list do usually seem to be worth reading - although they've taken to propping it up with their rescue ranger system to give more exposure to worthwhile diaries that fall off the list.

There's a lot of aggressive behavior on dKos involved with the fight for the position on the reclist that ensures hundreds of comments and hundreds of recs and comments and lots of "mojo".

Power law distributions being what they are, its not likely that the European Tribune will expand to that size, but if it did, that would turn sectional reclists from a nice feature into an essential one.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 10:00:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't need worker bees. You just tell people there are six or eight (say) broad tags, and they click one or more buttons to autotag their diary when they're done.

Section views display only the selected tag category/ies. Problem solved. It's not a perfect solution, but it's relatively simple, and it's easy to understand.

I can't see the point of infinitely granular tagging, except possibly as a not so effective way to speed up searches.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:14:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This does the same thing ... though fewer categories ... except without the strategic dimension of the author picking the category.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 12:52:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But how would it possible to make diaries more appealing to outsiders, without knowing who those outsiders are?

Quite.

The premise of this 2-part foray into "user-friendly" design "improvement" of ET is the unknown quantity of "occasional reader" (Lily). Let's not forget: Acquiring ("attracting") and converting an unknown quantity of "occasional readers" into ET um insiders --presumably persons distinguished by frequency of visible activity-- is a problem, she identified more or less, for ET administrators to solve.

  • Size: universe of ICT subscribers excluding cumulative registered users, visits per month, unique visitors per month (for comparative  value perhaps).
  • Usage: e.g. views per story, time per story, comments per story, services (rating by type, search, wiki, published stories etc. per diem and by device (whot, no ET Mobile proposals? RSS?). Analysis of such data informs reader segmentation
  • Preferences: i.e. how "occasional readers" specifically prioritize value of website services. (That's a data collection challenge no diary-with-poll can service!)

Why is this piece of interface design proposal writing a big fat void thus far? Could it beeeee (1) unknown by definition (2) no model demographic of "occasional reader" (3) no target demographic of desirable "insider"? heh.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:13:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or 'not actually an interface problem.'

Blogworld proves that interfaces are less relevant than content, intent and leadership.

People love them some Myspace, even though most pages look like they fell out of a textbook on screwing up and uglifying HTML.

Yet, popular. Therefore.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:19:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
not actually an interface problem. LOL

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 01:11:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the only 'inside' and outside' i can relate to is the  readers who don't post being 'outside', and the posters 'inside' because someone has to, lol!

ET as 90% lurkers and 10% bloviators?

i bet large numbers of readers here would have something valuable to share, but feel too intimidated to even post to say that they're intimidated! i'm actually not very attached to this issue, except tangentially, as size is not really the important part of ET for me.

if intelligent old-time posters like redstar and metavision, and more lately valentinD and Lily try to offer opinions about what's off-putting about some patterns of group behaviour, or suggest ideas to make the website more expressive of a wider set of points of view, or just plain nicer to look at and navigate, then i think we'd do well to be grateful for their input. all 4 are too smart to be criticising just for the hell of it, and all have at one point or other enriched these pages with good-to-great content and heart.

sometimes it appears a bit that there's a bit of a kneejerk defensiveness, that implies that ET is such a precious jewel that even to say you don't like something about it disempowers its mojo, or impugns its honour.

it's a (pretty) free-ranging, flowing collection of thoughts, and should be happy to mutate if enough people think its a good idea.

how else are we going to get new ideas to keep ET evolving, if we don't listen to feedback, even if we don't agree?

prickly comments and sometimes subtle and in-group witticisms betray insecurity and a slight snobby edge. it doesn't bother me as much as it used to, but it seems tone-deaf to ask for more diaries, then make people feel shot down when they come along with fresh ideas, maybe because they're not uber IT geeks, they don't realise how much work it is, but then sometimes the coders aren't omniscient and learn from each other (yay open source!), and things that were thought too hard are in fact attainable.

i think we should keep doing exactly what we're doing, but just more attention to respecting people, cutting them some slack before retorting, just maybe there was a conclusion jumped to, and later you'll have to cop to it.

most here are charming, but it only takes a few to cast quite a pall sometimes, it's no capital crime, just a few tics that can be less than inviting, unless that is the intention, to send between-the-lines messages to those who think or believe different to go away, or pipe down until they have gone through all the archives in case maybe they say something we've already hashed out...

red carpets aren't necessary, but little puddles of insecurity left in the doorway are a little less than as inviting as the hearty exhortations in the salon blurb, or whataboutbob's earnest entreaties to contribute more.

i did my best with what i could find to hand bob, 2 diaries with a total of under 10 comments!

blogs usually die because they get dull from too many trolls staking territory, and repetitive loops of old chestnuts around a cozy fire of regulars, gradually isolating themselves by their desire to keep cosy.

colman picked up on this recently, asking some good questions, and getting some spirited debate going...

the world is falling apart, the squabbles here are like arguing over pieces of candy in a plane going down.

it can be very depressing, reading the news every day, and i'd like to thank all the posters for their humour, it makes the grim reaper's approach a lot slower! thanks also for posting positive stories.

with all the extreme dramas going on world wide, i find it very interesting how many more comments come out on the meta diaries. i am ever more certain that the attention to inner things will come to balance out all the attention to the outside world. whether it's poemless' hilarious (and razor sharp) odds and ends, jerome's amazing deconstructions, the wonderful photo diaries, these are the sweetener that keeps the bitter medicine of learning the more difficult lessons to be learned here at ET.
 'Know Yourself', isn't that the oldest european wisdom we have?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 07:43:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As it happens, I traveled several times over several years to Barcelona to revisit la sagrada familia, specifically.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:48:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the compliment.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:52:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
occasional reader. Casual reader is another horse altogether, innit? One reader modified by time, the other by behavior. Being an GUI designer now, such distinctions are strategically informative. Could end up with Streaming Big Type, 200 word story limit or 30 sec-audio promos for ET podcast distributions.

So what I'd hope to show through my crystal ball above is two results of contigent tag assignment --volatility of location, ambiguity of SECTION attribute. (See how a Wordpress blog handles the dilemma. Scroll to Add Tag. Click it. LOL)

The "occasional reader", presuably prioritizing speed and accuracy in locating a particular class of article, could likely conclude over a period of time (say, months) the DIARIES menu fails to satisfy this expectation and is an unreliable method.

Especially if he or she cannot relocate a favorite article in the section last visited, because some number of other "occasional readers" migrated it elsewhere and the title is long gone from RECENT DIARIES list.

On the other hand, the occasional reader may appreciate the entertainment value --GOOG Feel Lucky Quotient-- "user-friendly" promotions add to ET navigation.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:55:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't want to interrupt the technical debate here, just quickly jump in. Even if the occasional reader is happy about speed and accuracy, I don't believe that occasional ET readers come here - and stay! - when they want to feel lucky and be entertained.

Maybe this aspect (provided I assess it correctly) would take one worry away?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 12:04:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Especially if he or she cannot relocate a favorite article in the section last visited, because some number of other "occasional readers" migrated it elsewhere and the title is long gone from RECENT DIARIES list.

There is still the learning process ... learning to click "+" if you are going to want to revisit an article is one of the things to learn.

But for the weekly reader, speaking as an oft-times weekly reader, it would without a doubt be appealing to have sections that you could page back through to look at what had happened in the week.

The "occasional reader", presuably prioritizing speed and accuracy in locating a particular class of article, could likely conclude over a period of time (say, months) the DIARIES menu fails to satisfy this expectation and is an unreliable method.

I don't see the likelihood. Given a small enough class of categories that are defined in terms of the types of diaries that are commonly posted, the regular users of ET that recommend diaries for the reclist will be far more reliable in forming coherent groups than a sectioning that relies on each individual author's interpretation of the meaning of each section.

And whereas in the author-selected sections, in a blog with the level of traffic of ET, there's a very strong incentive to pick the section that gets the most traffic, and we're back to the "all diaries in politics" scenario.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jun 1st, 2009 at 12:31:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand you correctly, your proposal is to alter the "home" layouts below.

No, didn't say anything about modifying the "home" layouts.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun May 31st, 2009 at 05:47:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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