“If I Were President…” Of A Social News Website

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Uncategorized - Thursday, August 25th, 2011

“If I Were President…” Of A Social News Website

As has been pointed out in many places, “social news will always suck”. We see Digg, Reddit, Slashdot, and other train wrecks, where the quality always drops to rock bottom and the Lowest Common Denominator rules. But if we create a social news site with a fresh template, what would we do to avoid heading down the same path? Here’s some ways I think I could make it suck less if I started a social news site…

1. Charge a membership fee. Something modest, like a dollar per month.

This fixes (or helps to limit):

(a) Spammers.

(b) Astroturfers.

(c) Sock puppets.

(d) Poor service due to lack of funds for servers/admins. A dollar per month per user ensures that the resources will always scale with the community.

2. NO “Self” posts!

This fixes (or helps to limit):

(a) Ego-stroking circle-jerks.

(b) Attention whores.

(c) People who use the submission box for their personal blog.

(d) “Does anybody else blink?”

3. NO duplicate submissions – period! AKA The Robot9000 approach (see link at the end). (Note: Better make sure you have an awesome site search/ archive interface for this one!)

This fixes (or helps to limit):

(a) Reposts of stale old garbage coming back every six months.

(b) Flooding the front page with one story.

(c) User amnesia.

(d) Having the same flamewar over the same old troll post over and over again.

4. “Smart” submission filter screens stories to limit multiple submissions of different sites pointing to the same story. For instance, once five links with the keywords “Gulf”, “oil”, and “spill” have been posted, allow no more submissions with those keywords for another 48 hours or so.

This fixes (or helps to limit):

(a) Flooding the front page with one story.

(b) Mob hysteria.

5. Idiot filter – rejects titles with various annoying patterns and memes.

This fixes (or helps to limit):

(a) OMG! WTF! BAC0NZ!!!!!!!! U HAZ 2 C THIZ! MOST AMAZING EVAR!!! MIND = BLOOOOOOOWWWWNN!!!!!!!!!1111one one eleventy one!

(b) Titles that do nothing to describe the content they’re linking to. “Here’s a video!”

(c) Flat-out trolling headlines.

6. Meme filter that applies to both submissions and comments. Once it’s been posted 99 times, that’s it, it’s not funny anymore. Forever.

This fixes (or helps to limit):

(a) Stupid in-jokes that never go away for ten years.

7. A block feature. Users, just for their own view, can block any one of comments from a user, submissions from a user, comments containing certain words, or even submissions containing certain keywords.

This fixes (or helps to limit):

(a) Flamewars that go on forever.

(b) Trolls.

(c) Seeing the same story over and over when you’re sick of hearing about it.

(d) Mob hysteria.

8. Repeat site submission filter. You can only submit, say, five consecutive links to the same base domain in a row, and then you have to submit something from somewhere else before submitting that URL again.

This fixes (or helps to limit):

(a) Spam.

(b) Astroturf.

(c) Shills.

9. Offer REAL REWARDS for “good karma”! Not just a point score, but tangible benefits in exchange for being a good site citizen. These could include being promoted to moderator, being awarded one’s own personal page onsite, being awarded extra moderation votes, getting one’s own subfolder, a waiver of some submission filters, and (at a certain score) a waiving of membership fee for as long as you continue to score high. This last would be well-worth the trade-off, since top-tier citizens add more value to the site than the measly dollar-a-month.

This fixes (or helps to limit):

(a) Trolls.

(b) Burn-out.

(c) The feeling that the site just uses you without giving back.

For a related one-blog brainstorm, see Randal Munroe’s ROBOT9000 manifesto. Note, 4chan just cut the /r9k/ folder.

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