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By willcode4beer
via willcode4beer.com
Published: Mar 07 2008 / 16:17

The nature of the site has changed a lot in the most recent few weeks. Perhaps for the better for some, for me, it's a turn for the worse. I'm trying to make up for it by using tags instead of the whole list.
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User 239201 avatar

amphi replied ago:

1 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

Heh. Yea, the StringBuffer/String post was indeed a bit annoying. The topic itself isn't wrong per se - it just lacked the (imo) required minimum of depth. Even my comments over there have more value.

I for one wouldn't dare submitting anything that wasn't even 4 hours of work. That's my personal minimum threshold. The upper one is around 20 hours. If I spend that much time on a single article I always try to finish it quickly.

User 265881 avatar

Topnotch replied ago:

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There's STILL plenty of Java articles for those interested. Sheesh.

User 239201 avatar

amphi replied ago:

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Heh didn't really complain about that. Don't jump straight to a conclusion after reading the introduction bit. ;)

User 236137 avatar

dzonelurker replied ago:

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Java, Rails, .Net, Grails, PHP, HTML, CSS, ... It's all about Web-Programming.

User 1 avatar

rick replied ago:

7 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

Paul, first I want to thank you for your care and concern. Those are the magic ingredients, if anything, that one always needs to have if there is a real moment of crisis to work through. I am grateful, as is the whole DZone team, that we have passionate supporters like you who DO care enough to let us know and hope to fix problems.

I read your whole post and thought it over. You have several points intertwined, but to address them they need to be separated.

1 - A change in the balance of Java/non-Java links
I believe you are right in asserting that more non-Java links have been getting promoted, but IMO this actually makes DZone more reflective of the balance in the whole developer community. Depending on your perspective, there are some who would say that DZone has been too much Java and these other topics deserve a greater share of voice in the community.

Whichever camp one falls into, there's simply no question that there's too much of everything for any of us to keep up with ALL of it any more. This system is a fire hose, and the DZone team is very actively focused on building new ways to make it easy to personalize so that you can comfortably "sip the fire hose your way." If Java, Server and Architecture topics are what you are mostly interested in, then let's make it easy for you to have those and not have to spend your time filtering away other topics that have little relevance to you.

In this way, I think we're seeing DZone in its adolescence - that uncomfortable time between being a kid and a young adult. We need more of each topic for the topics to be at suitable velocity as standalones, but trying to consume the whole enchilada right now is simply unreasonable. The answer is EXACTLY what you keyed in on - you have to vote - not down, but UP!

2 - SEO links surfacing
I have not seen these, and I assure you that the DZone moderator team is openly hostile to bullshit SEO links being promoted here. I have a simple solution - let's give you the power to help keep the junk out! We nuke dozens of spam items from the queue every day, and we outright block spam submissions from hundreds of proven "repeat offenders." In short, DZone is incredibly committed to keeping the crap out, and if you feel we're missing some then my solution is to get you onto the moderator team! Let's give you a gun and see how long those SEO links last!

3 - The real problem (not the "politically correct" version)
The real problem is the utterly pathetic level of active participation from so-called community members. The truth is that a small handful of the same active queue voters basically picks what everyone sees at DZone PRECISELY BECAUSE the vast majority of the audience is shamefully passive. I have harped on this before, and I'll probably go to my grave harping on it - the only way to improve the overall quality of the links is to have more people regularly and reliably shouldering a little bit of the responsibility for choosing them. If we had even 3 queue votes per day from one quarter of our daily visitors, then we'd have over 10 times as many queue votes as we ever had on our biggest day ever. It is sickening to see 30,000 clicks per day moving through DZone links while only a few hundred queue votes are cast. If you have a solution, I am open to suggestions.

We have made it easy to login, we have made it easy to vote, we have provided a simple Firefox plugin that radically simplifies voting directly from the target link page, but every developer out there expects the other guy to do the work of voting. We hear the drum of "community" beaten often, but the truth is that precious few of the consumers here ever do a frakkin thing to make the place better. Do I wish they would? Heck, yes! I would love it.

It isn't about voting down the junk, it is about voting up the good stuff. When we have more queue votes we can raise the threshold scores required for a link to be promoted. It's simple math, and unless the audience stops being a lazy bunch of passive consumers this will be a difficult trend to reverse.

I'd be delighted to speak with you more about all of this, so feel free to give me a call at my toll-free number - (888) 678-0399, ext 104.

Best regards,
Rick Ross
President, DZone, Inc.

User 209464 avatar

willcode4beer replied ago:

1 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

I agree with you that the main way to "fix" is to simply vote. I must also admit to being somewhat apathetic on that too.
I do try to vote up things that I find interesting but, I must admit, I don't visit the "queue" very frequently.

Here's an idea for better user participation. "5 votes/day makes an ad go away" ;-)

User 75637 avatar

adobni replied ago:

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Rick: some suggestions on how to increase participation:
Make some use for votes. AFAIK once a link is promoted how many votes it has serves no purpose. Make more voted more prominent or make a low threshold filter for votes or an option for more voted first for ordering results on search.
Give a reward for voting. More active people get more than one vote (mmh, potentially unfair), or make it that a user can't save or share if doesn't vote (better check the use statistic of these functions). Slashdot give limited votes only for those who post or do some actions (may be contrary to increase voting).
It's not an easy problem.
Please add save and share to firefox plugin! I use share a lot.

User 211956 avatar

doylecentral replied ago:

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I'd put together a filter to track the page-offs or link-outs from dzone. Many times I'm kicked back and perusing the list o links and get called away to a meeting or a code review, totally forget to vote something. When I come back to dzone it's a pain to find the items i have looked at. Tracking what I went and read and having a side area somewhere easy to get to would increase my voting. See my other comment in here....

User 211956 avatar

doylecentral replied ago:

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One last thing that is a bit harder to implement is this .... If you are in a list of links of ten and you click on the third one you skipped the first two because of (fill in the blank). You can track skipped links that have not already been voted on, read or clicked out from dzone. You would have to take some type of polling of users for x time to see if that link was skipped and drop it or bury it. You would not need users to be logged in for this. Also you would need a bot filter and a user agent filter.

User 258689 avatar

gregf replied ago:

0 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

Personally I could go without java articles period so def not hurting my feelings.

User 107114 avatar

daniel replied ago:

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Interesting post. I've been using DZone since the beginning of time and I must admit to seeing the same trend you have. I think it's this way with any social filtering site. The masses control it, so the content which surfaces is that which the masses deem acceptable. This is why we get a lot of stuff like the SB vs concat (incidentally, I've seen almost precisely that same article maybe twenty or thirty times here).

Rick's certainly right that higher participation from "the enlightened" will result in better quality reaching the front page. At least, good stuff will get a higher push. I'm afraid it's almost futile for non-admins on dzone to fight the torrent of crap links, primarily because the down vote functionality doesn't really do anything. Seriously, down voting is entirely irrelevant to the link score (unless something was changed without my knowledge). The only thing down votes seem to accomplish is actually increase the amount of traffic a link receives. Just browse down the front page and compare clicks between a link with 6 up and 2 down and a link with 8 up, 0 down. The 6/2 link usually gets about double the number of clicks a 8/0 link does. Down voting literally does the opposite of what its name may suggest: it helps promote the link in popularity.

As for the balance of popularity, it's sort of a function of the masses. I do miss the days of Java dominance on DZone, but I think those days are as long gone as the days of Java dominance on the hip blogs. Tags are probably the best way to avoid this problem (as you suggest).

User 276074 avatar

aphpguy replied ago:

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I have to agree with daniel as far as down votes go. Possibly a down vote threshold to mark the link as possibly spam, as the spam links usually collect down votes quickly.

I also agree with the abundance of Java/.Net links, but as Rick says, the more we all vote on quality content, and as the different types of developers join up, the more heterogeneous the results will be.

User 239201 avatar

amphi replied ago:

3 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

>1 - A change in the balance of Java/non-Java links

Possible solution: a custom view

Basically you tick all the tags you're interested in and you only get to see those posts which use at least one of those tags.

>3 - The real problem (not the "politically correct" version)

Possible solution: removing navigation overhead

a) Give the user a recently viewed list

This makes it easier to vote things up/down later on. First opening the description page in a separate tab, then the page, then reading, then finding the description tab again, and then voting... it's a bit fiddly.

The other option - skipping the description page altogether - has the drawback that you've to find the post again, which can also be rather tricky if you scrolled down a bit and checked other links in the meantime.

b) Discussions

Following a discussion is very troublesome. You have to locate the link to the description page, try to remember how many posts there were last time, and then click on it if the number changed or if you cannot remember. While some brain exercise is always nice this isn't the right place for it.

So, what would be nice is some kind of thread view similar to a forum. With a thread link for each discussion you participated in (last 10 or 20 or so). That list should be sorted by the date of the last post and there should be a "new" marker if there was a new post. Additionally, there should be a way to remove threads from that list. This way overly active threads you lost interest in won't pollute your list.

While we're at it: make /this/ text area bigger. ;)

c) Up/Down

I give up votes to awesome articles and down votes to spam. I usually refrain from giving down votes to real articles, because that's usually way too drastic; putting it on the same level as spam.

I guess this effectively skews the rating quite a bit. Add a report link to normalize it.

--

a) and b) are sorta complicated and CPU/DB intensive, but I think they could really improve the usability and increase the interaction rate quite a bit.

User 276074 avatar

aphpguy replied ago:

1 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

1) Agreed, but browsing the New links is a good way to find things too. :)
3/a) Completely agree.
3/b) No complaints here, but having an asterisk or some kind of marker would make checking for new replies easy.
3/c) I also tend to do the same thing, if the article has bad information or spam I'll vote it down, otherwise I leave it alone. Again, completely agree that a report link button would make it a little more consistent.

User 211956 avatar

doylecentral replied ago:

1 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

I'm game if you want to create a blog aggregator you seem to have some good ideas. Have server willcode (for beer too). We could in theory have something up in two weeks. I like the third button idea "trite" doylecentral gmail

User 257922 avatar

fancyfootwork replied ago:

4 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

What we really need is a third voting choice: Trite.

To me, Up means good, Down means wrong, lousy, or incomprehensible. But a lot of what I see I can only call trite.

User 230068 avatar

www.callingshotgun.net replied ago:

2 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

There was this great chapter in the book "The Beach" where it described a similar situation in the world of travel. There was an island that was beautiful and quiet, perfect for vacation, and relatively obscure because it was only travelled by those "in the know", until it became famous for that, and ruined with an onslaught of tourists seeking a beautiful, quiet spot for vacation. Those "in the know" started visiting the next island over, but the process soon repeated itself. Then the next island over...
Anyway, first it was Digg, then Dzone. Next up is Reddit (programming.reddit.com). I'd add it to your bookmarks, and enjoy it before the cycle repeats anew.

BTW, a site with balls would add a rel=nofollow to all outgoing link articles, to keep the SEO out and make it more about sharing quality content, and less about leveraging a huge link authority to boost your pagerank.

Also, you can create RSS feeds of search results. I have "Coldfusion", "C#", "Android" and "CSS" feeds from dzone in Google Reader, so that I only catch the stuff that applies to me. Browsing top articles for digg & dzone make for a great timesink if you have an hour to kill, but for relevant information, you realy have to be be more proactive about pruning the list. RSS feeds for search results are the best way I've found so far to do that (at least as far as The Zone is concerned).
,

User 230068 avatar

www.callingshotgun.net replied ago:

3 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

Someone raised a good point: Add recently viewed items to the nav. Right now I'm looking at the left-hand nav and there are three tabs: "Rising Links" "Popular" and "Tags".

"Rising Links" has up/down arrows next to them. Why not replace (or add a 4th tab) with "Recently viewed items"?

And, I hate to say it, but what does voting up & voting down MEAN? Several of the comments have already described when they vote up/down. What if I thought it was an okay article, but didn't apply to me? Do I vote up in good faith that it mattered to someone else? Do I vote down to, as a member of a democratic collective, add my weight to the system in order to tilt the front-page articles towards what applies to me specifically? What if it was good, but not great? What if I didn't think it was necessarily bad, but just didn't CARE? What I'm getting at is that, as programmers, we're born as obsessive over-analyzers. Despite being wildly opinionated (cough OS WARS cough), we can often be paralyzed with overanalyzation of a simple concept like up/down voting, and no supporting documentation to provide objective context to those little green and red buttons.

Perhaps there should be an "abstain" vote- a little gray rectangle between the two triangles, just as a way, if "recently viewed items" were added to the left-hand nav, to clear off the things I didn't know how to vote on.

User 276074 avatar

aphpguy replied ago:

1 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

The recently viewed is a great idea.

I think as a few others have noted, the easiest way to solve this would be a report link and choosing categories you want to see results from for your account page. Possibly with a setting to choose categories for popular and/or new links?

If you're impartial to the topic, don't vote. If you like it, vote it up. If it's bad, trite, or incorrect, vote it down. And if it's spam/advertising, report it.

User 235974 avatar

warpedjavaguy replied ago:

1 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

I would actually prefer no voting system at all. The javabogs.com system works best I think. Whichever post gets the most reads ends up being the most popular. Simple. If the description on DZone doesn't interest me I'm not going to read it. If it does then I will read it and it will get promoted that way. A lot of links have a lot of reads and no votes. Surely a post that is read by many is more popular than one that is only read by a few.

Regarding the content, I still think there is a lot of good Java stuff here. The problem is that sometimes posts tagged with Java have nothing to do with Java at all. Maybe the moderators should look at removing tags from posts that do not belong there. If I set up a Java DZone feed, that's what I want to see: Java.

User 239201 avatar

amphi replied ago:

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>Surely a post that is read by many is more popular than one that is only read by a few.

Sort of. If it's read by more people it means that the headline/description is more attention grabbing. And well, that doesn't necessarily mean that the article is any good.

My most popular article (Firefox - :first-child, :only-child, and :last-child Broken Since 2001 [16:0]) for example isn't really all that useful actually. It's a rant fest with a shocking headline and no solution whatsoever. Well, writing it felt pretty good. ;)

And my most useful article (Never-ending Shuffled Sequences - When Random is too Random [11:0]) didn't even got 20% of the hits.

However, the traffic from dzone wasn't /that/ skewed. So, I guess the voting does have some kind of damping effect on attention whoring. (Even if you take the Java bias into account.)

Well, it's a pretty complex and controversial topic, but I think it's better to try something less drastic first. I.e. increasing the voter participation and see how that turns out.

User 107114 avatar

daniel replied ago:

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Re: the reads idea

Speaking as someone who's spent a while trying to police DZone for spam and link-gamers, it's a lot easier to game the clicks on a link than it is to game the votes. Gaming the votes requires you create multiple accounts, which actually raises red flags in the admin department in and of itself. Then you must individually access each account and vote on your link. This sets off blaring sirens in terms of the system and the weight of all of the votes drops to essentially nil. It's a really good way to prevent link gaming, but unfortunately it doesn't work so well with clicks.

Look left to the Rising Links box. That's effectively the top 7 links from the queue. Several times a day I'll see a link there which has only one or two votes but well over 300 clicks. If promotion were solely on the basis of clicks, the front page would be dominated by traffic-building crud like this and there would be no way to stem the tide.

User 209197 avatar

bbuffone replied ago:

2 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

I like the posts/votes rating idea as a way to measure quality of posters.

Not sure if you could do this, but if you could calculate the time a person spends reading a post and use it to measure interest as well as votes it might help out. Also, I think people don't like to publicly do anything; vote up and especially vote down things, providing a way to set that as a privacy filter might encourage people to vote more.

The lack of Java posts is something I see across the entire web, it is not cool to talk about Java and enterprise applications anymore and so people don't write on these topics.

One last thing that wasn't mentioned - getting people to comment more. Discussions are the thing I find the most interesting about posts a lot of the time. The writers opinion is good and hopefully has lots of great/useful information, but these discussions are what I like best about a social site.

User 211956 avatar

doylecentral replied ago:

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You could do it but dzone or rick would have to make a analytic tag for people who use dzone to push information out to readers. It's not a bad idea but it would be a little work on the dzone staff and the poster of the article. You might make those super posters. It could also increase add type reveune with hard data when making a case for cash. Can I have a Job at dzone?

User 200638 avatar

vladocar replied ago:

1 votes Vote down Vote up Reply

I think the problem is not just that the members are not voting the "New links" here nobody comment anything. The Power of this community is that we all are developers or programmers and still nobody says this post sucks, there are better solution for this problem or this post is great and is really good solution for that problem. Because the same links can be found everywhere(on Web) but only this community has resources for better tips and useful comments. Solution ->COMMENT more and try to share your programming experience with the rest of us. :)

P.S I usually don't comment a lot because my mother language is not English, but I vote a lot :)

User 278475 avatar

TroubleX replied ago:

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I did try to write a lengthy spiel about my dzone thoughts, but it turned out I was not logged in and after I went back to the previous screen everything I typed was fucking gone.

So, I shall revise my thoughts on the matter. The problem with dzone is the login system. It sucks. I have to log in every time, I don't want to have to do this. I use firefox, but I allow cookies and javascript for dzone, and other sites allow me to stay logged in, so should dzone. I also don;t want to have to register again and again because your site cannot remember who I am.

The openid implementation does not work either. Why do you have openid if it isn't properly implemented?

Start by fixing the login system and maybe then I can start to use dzone more fully so that I may be able to form a better opinion and help improve it. And yo ucan start by ditching the login whitebox effect, it is really annoying. If I must login just take me to a login screen, remember where I was, and then take me back. Although I'd prefer just to be remembered. It ain't rocket science.

@Rick, sure it's easy to blame the users for not getting more involved, but maybe you should be asking what is it about dzone that does not encourage people to be more participatory?

EDIT: It just happened again!!!!!!!!!!! FFS!!!!!

User 200638 avatar

vladocar replied ago:

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TroubleX I have the same login problem with Vista + Firefox with XP + Firefox everything is working Ok. Are you using Vista?

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