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Awesome Comments

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Awesome Comments

  1. 1. Xianhang Zhang Bumblebee Labs iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  2. 2. <ul><li>2 person team </li></ul><ul><li>4 months old </li></ul><ul><li>Goal is to build “provocative social software” </li></ul><ul><li>2 product releases, 1 more in the pipeline </li></ul><ul><li>Happy to talk more after this about collaboration. </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  3. 3. iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  4. 4. <ul><li>For many people, commenting is their first </li></ul><ul><li>and possibly only foray into the social web </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  5. 5. <ul><li>“ Communications tools don't get socially </li></ul><ul><li>interesting until they get technologically boring ” </li></ul><ul><li>– Clay Shirky </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  6. 6. <ul><li>There has not been much innovation in the comment space </li></ul><ul><li>Slashdot pioneered their “Karma” system in 1997 </li></ul><ul><li>To this day, I’m not aware of any other system of that level of complexity </li></ul><ul><li>most major sites are still using the most basic commenting systems despite their obvious flaws </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  7. 7. iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  8. 8. iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  9. 9. <ul><li>Signal/noise ratio is too low </li></ul><ul><li>Insightful comments get lost </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of readership due to low quality </li></ul><ul><li>Hard time keeping track of the narrative thread of the conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Despite this, people yearn for conversation (Herring ) </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  10. 10. <ul><li>“ When all you have is a hammer, </li></ul><ul><li>all you can see are nails” </li></ul><ul><li>Sociability problems CAN be fixed through design. But… </li></ul><ul><li>They cannot be fixed through Interaction Design , a new discipline is needed </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  11. 11. <ul><li>As HCI researchers, we have been neglecting the development of tools to help designers solve sociability problems </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  12. 12. <ul><li>Small, personal blogs read largely by friends and family </li></ul><ul><li>Social networking apps </li></ul><ul><li>Highly targeted blogs aimed at a professional audience </li></ul><ul><li>Sites cultivating return audiences rather than drive by, search engine traffic </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  13. 13. <ul><li>Large sites </li></ul><ul><li>Sites with high traffic per page </li></ul><ul><li>Sites with low traffic per page </li></ul><ul><li>Entertainment sites </li></ul><ul><li>Sites with an influx of new users </li></ul><ul><li>Sites with controversial topics </li></ul><ul><li>Sites with low community involvement </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  14. 14. <ul><li>Poor explanation: </li></ul><ul><li>There’s a lot of stupid people out there </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  15. 15. <ul><li>Better explanation: </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  16. 16. <ul><li>Human behavior is governed by sets of constraints </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008 Laws of Physics Evolution/Genetics Cultural Norms/Legal Systems Contextual Norms Other People Free Will = Hard constraint = Soft constraint
  17. 17. iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  18. 18. <ul><li>With virtual systems, there are an additional set of constraints: </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008 Hardware Interface Software Social Systems = Hard constraint = Soft constraint
  19. 19. <ul><li>Individual constraints can be accomplished at different layers </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  20. 20. iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008 Works Doesn’t Work Personal Blogs Large Sites Social Networks Mostly new users Professional Audiences Entertainment Sites Returning Users Low community Involvement
  21. 21. <ul><li>Comments work when there are strong social constraints and weak interface constraints </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008 Hardware Software Interface Social Systems = Weak layers = Strong layers
  22. 22. <ul><li>Comments fail when there are weak social constraints and weak interface constraints </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008 Hardware Software Interface Social Systems = Weak layers = Strong layers
  23. 23. <ul><li>Could Comments work when there are weak social constraints and strong interface constraints? </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008 Hardware Software Interface Social Systems = Weak layers = Strong layers
  24. 24. <ul><li>Increasing barriers to participation (registration, captchas etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Moderation </li></ul><ul><li>Disemvowelling </li></ul><ul><li>ROBOT 9000 </li></ul><ul><li>Rating </li></ul><ul><li>Sorting/Filtering </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  25. 25. <ul><li>For conversation to happen, there must be a narrative thread . </li></ul><ul><li>If I refer to Comment X, you must have read Comment X to understand my reference </li></ul><ul><li>Rating systems must keep the chronology intact while making highly rated comments visible </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  26. 26. <ul><li>This is most often done via threading </li></ul><ul><li>Heavyweight approach, lots of intricacies </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  27. 27. <ul><li>Initial site developed over 12 hours </li></ul><ul><li>Very simple concept </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  28. 28. iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  29. 29. iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  30. 30. <ul><li>How do we prevent this site from being just a flash in the pan? </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  31. 31. <ul><li>Build remarkable content </li></ul><ul><li>Remarkable </li></ul><ul><li>adjective </li></ul><ul><li>Pronunciation: i-ˈmär-kə-bəl </li></ul><ul><li>Something which people will remark about. </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  32. 32. <ul><li>Initial user impressions are generally very positive but the site can quickly lose it’s appeal </li></ul><ul><li>In order to support long term growth, we needed to build conversation around each question </li></ul><ul><li>Design constraints: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anonymous everything </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Heavy reliance on external/search engine traffic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many questions, long tail of quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Primary navigation mode is random </li></ul></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  33. 33. <ul><li>Large sites </li></ul><ul><li>Sites with high traffic per page </li></ul><ul><li>Sites with low traffic per page </li></ul><ul><li>Entertainment sites </li></ul><ul><li>Sites with an influx of new users </li></ul><ul><li>Sites with controversial topics </li></ul><ul><li>Sites with low community involvement </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  34. 34. <ul><li>Commenting system designed from the ground up. </li></ul><ul><li>Goals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Drive out poor comments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support remarkable content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support real conversation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Give people a sense of ownership </li></ul></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  35. 35. <ul><li>Every comment has vote up and vote down buttons </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  36. 36. <ul><li>New comment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Registered users: 2.0 points </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unregistered users: 1.0 points </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Vote button </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Registered users: 1.0 points </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unregistered users: 0.1 points </li></ul></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  37. 37. <ul><li>Progressively degrade comment readability at lower scores </li></ul><ul><li>Show undegraded comment to original poster </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  38. 38. <ul><li>Voting is unbounded both up and down </li></ul><ul><li>but… </li></ul><ul><li>Makes it easy to find and promote remarkable comments </li></ul><ul><li>We are using the lack of information as a design feature </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008 Actual Score Displayed Score -2.3 -2.3 1.7 1.7 3.5 3.0+ 98.6 3.0+ 100.1 Awesome
  39. 39. <ul><li>Non threaded </li></ul><ul><li>Comments are sorted by displayed score, then by date posted </li></ul><ul><li>Reply button on all comments (coming!) </li></ul><ul><li>All replies to your comment are highlighted </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  40. 40. <ul><li>Original posters are highlighted </li></ul><ul><li>Identity can be established while maintaining anonymity </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  41. 41. <ul><li>Visiting a question/comment you made automatically upvotes all it’s children </li></ul><ul><li>Returning to a question/comment rewards your repliers </li></ul><ul><li>You are personally in charge of voting your repliers correctly </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  42. 42. <ul><li>All comments at 3.0+ are displayed in chronological order </li></ul><ul><li>Conversation can happen at 3.0+ </li></ul><ul><li>This is the default if you post as a registered user (2.0) who replies to a poster who regularly returns (1.0) </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  43. 43. <ul><li>Commenting systems are generally horribly designed from a sociability perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Better conversation is a force multiplier for the social web </li></ul><ul><li>Awesome comments is a ground up rethinking of how commenting should be implemented </li></ul><ul><li>Still very much an experiment, details will change as the system matures </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008
  44. 44. <ul><li>Bumblebee Labs: http://blog.bumblebeelabs.com </li></ul><ul><li>Am I Normal or Not?: http://www.aminormalornot.com </li></ul><ul><li>Email me: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Need a designer? [email_address] </li></ul>iSchool Research Conversation - October 24th 2008

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