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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Solicitation for feedback about ranking

Category: Suggestion Box
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  • It’s very clear to me that this site involves ranking, and so I do, within a category. What was NOT clear to me, was that you could rank your own entry (and are encouraged to).

    It also appears to me that every time I visit a category I can re-do my rankings (regardless of whether there is a new entry). It seems I could submit the exact same rankings multiple times, although I’d only do that to try and rig the rankings—but I assume you’ve built in protections against that so I haven’t tried it yet.

    Also, after about 8 entries in a category, I experience “ranking fatigue.” With an absolute scoring syste (like I have used as a teacher or as a grant reviewer), it’s easy enough to apply each time. But keeping track of more than 8 stories or writeups is difficult without resorting to a notepad and paper… which is more effort than I’d like to apply when I visit the site. I like the ranking, it’s part and parcel of the site, and it’s fascinating… I’m simply noting that my mental capacity is full at about eight entries.

    I may end up doing a workaround and only ranking the top 8 relative to each other and the rest push below the “I don’t like these” line.

    One more thing: I came here from Everything2, and your explanation of this site was that it would provide instant feedback on writing. Well, that was how I interpreted “Writers get near immediate feedback about the relative quality of their work.” But I’m not sure that ranking provides -useful- feedback about quality. To improve as a writer, I need constructive criticism… which could conceivably come from comments… although I didn’t see any instructions or encouragement or FAQ about using comments to give writers feedback. As the user base continues to grow, I can see that ranking feedback will give a writer a general sense of where they fall in the audience’s perception of quality… and -maybe- reading those ranked above one’s own entry could lead to an improvement (or, if Everything2 is any indication) ranking could simply be an indication of the audience’s taste (for anything related to ninjas, zombies, etc.)

    Posted by Captain Vegetable  on  10/06  at  06:07 PM
  • I agree with Captain Vegetable that ranking is at least not the only type of useful feedback for quality.  Perhaps its just my impression, but at times ranking seems to be based more on a gimmicky hook than on the overall piece.  I’ve completely changed my mind on some pieces that were slow starters once I read the whole piece. 

    There are two kinds of popularity that writing can enjoy, instant (but fickle) attention and deeper appreciation.  Granted we all hope that our writing grabs readers with the former and holds them for the latter, but how often does that actually happen?  Many a piece has gone downhill soon after the beginning, while others build to a crescendo.  Are we looking for merely what’s quickly salable or for quality?  The two don’t have the same criteria.

    I joined recently and have now finally caught up with my ranking, which is a bit of a draining process to continue for long at a time because it demands careful attention.  Now all I have yet to do is post my own product (a marvellous word interpretable in so many ways and yet always applicable to my work!)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/30  at  05:37 PM
  • Iconoclast,

    You bring up a good point that the rankings can reflect the gimmicky hook rather than the whole piece.  The site currently requires you to fully rank a category before you can change any of your decisions, and I realize that it’s a lot of work to get there.  I will consider adding a feature that would provide links to “re-rank this against other pieces”.  I could add these at the bottom of each piece and they would show all the others against which you’ve ranked it, allowing you to change your vote.

    Anyway, thanks very much for submitting you votes.  I’m looking forward to your “product” - so it better be good wink

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/30  at  08:42 PM
  • People don’t rank stories because there’s no obvious incentive to.  I didn’t even know there was a weekly prize, for example, and there’s no way to even know how your story is ranked without clicking on the category and adding up the votes.  If it’s there and I couldn’t find it, that’s a problem in itself.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/11  at  01:13 PM
  • Josh,

    I’ve tried to make it very difficult for a visitor to read many stories here without voting on which of two they liked better.  Basically, I wanted the incentive to be that you get to read good stuff.  Maybe it’s not enough of an incentive though, so I’m considering some sort of lottery or something to fix that.  But making it more obvious is a good idea.  I’ll work on that.

    Anyway, here’s how you can check out the ranking for any story, as long as you’ve judged it against one other piece:  Click “permalink” at the bottom.  The permalink page displays only one submission and indicates its ranking in its category.

    The weekly contest referred to in this post has been replaced with ad-hoc selection - whenever there are enough votes to justify selecting a piece for publication.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/11  at  10:22 PM
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