I've posted about these before, but putting all our thoughts in a central location makes sense:
I'm a fan of the story queue. It reduces the load on the editors, and gives me a reason to check the site during quieter times. The timing between the stories is a matter of fine tuning: The higher the traffic/comment rate, the more stories can be reasonably posted.
Prioritising stories based on urgency is also a good idea. When a story is submitted or hits the queue, it's marked with a time-priority. So a story about Russia cutting the Ukraine off from the internet is breaking news and would get maximum priority, while somebody reminiscing about how drum memory made certain coding styles easier would be the lowest. On a busy week it might continually be bumped to the back of the queue and come out at 5am Sunday morning.
We should also take the chance to re-think how the editing process works as a whole. One of the strong points of slashcode has always been the moderation (and meta-moderation) system. I see no reason the same principles couldn't be applied to story editing. A few vague ideas about it's structure:
At best that system would have a tonne of testing and modification before it could go live, at worst it's a socialist dream that will never work. If it does, it could be beneficial to the site while cutting down the number of required 'staff' substantially.
This site was built on the community and slashcode. Why not use the strengths of both of them?
Indeed. Maybe Laminator_X didn't reach our high standards on that particular day, but we can still recognise his efforts to contribute something positive, and be respectful of that. While I'm sure everyone appreciates the constructive critism, we shouldn't simultaneously attack the people who are at least trying. The last thing we need are more people giving it in.
So to all the SN contributors, well done on making it this far. We do appreciate it!
I second this. Great Job!
I agree with "quality over quantity". I would be fine with half of the stories that we get if it would mean higher quality of stories and discussion.
Agreed, voting submissions down before they appear on the front page would save it from receiving only angry comments.I don't mind if any submissions I make are changed, as long as they end up factual and with a neutral stance (as the submission should have been), I really just want that story to appear in some form.With prioritisation some submissions may be put back, and then end up out of date and then rejected, but I don't have a problem with that either, as long as we have good quality stories coming through.I would ask that the queue of submissions is rationalised, stories that are accepted but not published are not visible, which makes it difficult when checking for dupes.
Agreed. An additional advantage of shifting some of the control to the community is that the flow of stories will better reflect the time zones at which the community reads the site. That could be a big benefit to international readers.
One of the strong points of slashcode has always been the moderation (and meta-moderation) system. I see no reason the same principles couldn't be applied to story editing.
I suggested something similar to this for submissions last week [soylentnews.org]. We the Soylent people should be able to contribute to the editing and approval process somehow.
I'm very wary of rushing stories to the front page. I see this site as more of a review site where we can take the time to make sure stories are factual first and then sit and discuss the implications. The market for "urgent" news which may or may not be factual is already fairly saturated: it's easy to get to-the-minute news, but the kind of in-depth discussion you get here is harder to find.
I like your suggestions about editors, seeing something like that come to fruition would be good.
I went with the "It's not that simple" option. Popeidol's explanation is close enough to what I was going to explain that I'll simply endorse it rather than rephrase it.
I've posted about these before, but putting all our thoughts in a central location makes sense
Agreed. Here is a slightly improved version of my comment at the "SoylentNews Status for Feb 27" story [soylentnews.org]:...I agree that breaking news should be given some special treatment. I assume you mean the submitter would flag his/her submission as such, so that the editors may more easily choose to consider it immediately - possibly even drafting in help ("dude I'm busy for the next two hours, could you take a look at this breaking news submission?")
With regards to holding back stories, I agree there is some merit to spreading things out. But this shouldn't be an absolute rule, and for breaking news it's worth breaking the rule.
A word of caution though. We shouldn't go too far in all this. The editors shouldn't be panicked into a race to publish first. If an editor is available to apply all the editorial standards and publish a breaking news submission to the front page fairly quickly, then great. If not, it doesn't matter that much. It's the discussion by the community that really matters, and timeliness is not the biggest factor affecting the quality of the discussion.
And I hope it doesn't sound like we are loading onerous responsibilities on the editors. Everything I've said here is what I'd consider an aspiration, never a grounds for criticism. I'm grateful for all the editors' hard work. Thanks people!
I wasn't sure whether it should be the submitter or the editor who tags the priority. While the submitter doing it makes it more likely to hit the queue quickly, it also could lead to abuse with people 'accidentally' mistagging articles as urgent to get it looked at faster than everybody who used the tag correctly.
You're right about the rest as well: The option to push breaking news is nice, but it should never become a focus. That's not what we're about.
IMHO the submitter should never tag the priority, as it will either be a) abused, or b) ignored. In a previous workplace our bug tracking system had 2 priority fields. One was visible to the users, who always tagged everything as top priority and highest urgency. The other was visible to the tech team who estimated the real priority from the user-suggested priority and a broader knowledge of the organisation. It would have been a career-limiting move to allow the users to know this.
Let the editors make these decisions and maintain an independent viewpoint.
In the system I'm proposing, the urgency level would simply be the submitter's opinion, which the editor would be made aware of - possibly at the same time as being made aware of the Karma of the submitter. It would still be down to the editor to chose if & when to post any particular story.
My take on some priority levels:
I suppose I'm assuming that every now & then, an editor thinks "right, time to post a story", and has a look at all the submissions. When they do so, they might sort by urgency - as long as they don't defer to it too much (because we certainly need level 6 submissions quite often).
Furthermore, some editors might chose to receive an alert (email, for example) whenever a user above a certain Karma level submits what they claim is a level 1 or 2 story.
Most "Ask Soylent" type submissions should be Urgency Level 6.
I've submitted two stories so far, and I would have declared them as levels 3 and 5 respectively.
6. Ideally, change tracking. For each article summary you can click back and see the original submission and who made what changes afterwards.
I think such a system could also include/replace my idea [soylentnews.org], where the purpose is to remove the outer level of 'recursive quoting'.
So this ...
"Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian reports that "Edward Snowden is quoted as saying that "My NSA manager told me he's an "alien from Neptune"."."."."
... becomes this ...
"The Guardian reports that "Edward Snowden is quoted as saying that "My NSA manager told me he's an "alien from Neptune"."."."
I'm here for the comments, however I do like the fact that the community is being engaged on some really great ideas as to how the best of all worlds could be achieved by extending the technical framework of the site.
Regular scheduled stories are great as, dipping in and out of the site from a non-US country, it does mean that there is always something to look at, the odd 'as it happens' would keep the site really fresh. Ensuring that quality is high and the overall frequency is not too high so as to keep the discussion density growing is really important at this stage in proceedings. Besides, without lots of comments what are we to do with all the mod points??
All said and done, if you are expanding the list of editors, it would be great if you could have a "dupe nazi" or perhaps even a big Editor Karma hit for repeat offenders. Given the fact that comments are what it is all about, duplicates have the unwanted side effect of diluting or splitting discussions across multiple locations, as well as the usual raft of sarcastic remarks.
Keep the site polls coming, they are great!
Personally, I'd like a mix of regular and breaking-news updates. In general, a regular update cycle is fine for me. I don't care whether it's every 30, 60 or 90 minutes, I'll leave it to you to find the right workload that editors can handle without hurting the editorial quality. I think there will be the occasional breaking-news item that would benefit from being posted sooner. Again, though, do not trade quality for speed here. Posting sooner doesn't have to mean "right this second"; 10 to 15 minutes of thinking about it are always fully acceptable.
I like the mix, but maybe back off on the number of articles in a day. Not everyone has unlimited hours available to read stories, peruse comments, reply, and (occasionally) moderate.
Breaking news (when actually is breaking news) should always be pushed out right away and edited to keep the information accurate and up to date.
The release rate for other news stories should be based on when people are actually visiting the site. If the community is constantly checking in through out the day, releasing content more frequently is probably a good idea. If they are only checking in once ot twice a day, then the release rate doesn't need to be as frequent.
I would also sugest deciding how many non-breaking news stories you think should be released within a given day. I think I saw 14 or so on the front page for today so far. If I were to check in off and on all day that might be fine, if I only get to check in once a day that might be too many to have up by 2pm est. There is a balance that needs to be struck between quantity and quality.
Personally, I'd like
And that's perhaps a good insight. What if the flood could be personalised? Five (not too much, just enough to sort it a bit) categories which can be checked or unchecked, thus enabling to streamline the frontpage. OR two landing pages: one personalised and one regular. Like when I have time to burn I'd hang out on the regular one, when time is a tad more precious (like lunchbreak) I could scan through the personalised one.
There are instances when the same story is submitted by multiple users. You need to determine these duplicates, especially when the subject is worded differently. Also, you need to ensure that the person who posted first is selected for publication. I request you to weed out all stories which are not tech related. My best wishes to all contributors. Please keep up the good work and I hope that SoylentNews becomes a large thriving tech community very very soon.
Yes, your comments are valid and should be considered ...
i'm not so sure about first. maybe the best instead and a credit for the guy who was first.
Keep doing what you're doing... the kinks will work out.
Post breaking news quickly... if it is truly important, people will forgive errors.
Non breaking news of lesser importance can be queued.
Wish I had the time and expertise to help you all out better, but it seems you are putting together a good team and trying hard to do it right. Keep going and don't let the haters ruin your game... haters always try to ruin other peoples things 'cause their own lives are crappy. Just keep going.
And give me green! :)
Also make it simple to see when a story has been altered. Don't simply change it as then some of the first comments don't make sense anymore. Use HTML STRIKE on the erroneous text, with the new text in some different color/font/type.
I'd have less posts on the weekends as people are generally busy doing other things.
I like the idea of a pipeline of approved stories that can be released via an automated process, and *that other site*'s ability to vote on potential stories before they made it in. You could make this more intelligent, people submit a story un editted, it gets voted down if it's crap, the ones that make it get editted and published etc
I don't know where the people who currently edit things are based globally but it would be nice to see some Asia stories in Asia hours, EU stories in EU hours etc. That way there will more than likely be comments on stories from that region when that region is more likely to comment.
'Weekends' are different days of the week in different parts of the world. Some of us work weekends, and it's nice to have some interesting distractions with like-minded geeks. Some of us are insomniacs or just have weird body clocks, so what works well for the international crowd works well for everyone if the interesting articles stay up long enough for good conversations.
One of the things that I have noticed over the years is that Slashdot likes to lead off the day at about 8 am EST with a very strong story that sets the tone for the day. I called this the "anchor" story for the day and I have noticed that when editors post a strong anchor story that gets a lot of comments, the rest of the day seems to go well and there are lots of comments on the following stories. 8am is where you want to post your strongest story - one that is get to get a lot of comments.
I think this must be due to the fact that a lot of readers come to slashdot first thing in the morning after they get to work and if they see something interesting story first thing they will comment and this gets the ball rolling and they may often come back later in the day to see the comments on the anchor story.
The goal should be to allow a story to get a "critical number of comments". If I see story that only has 4 or 5 comments I'm not going to look at it. If I see one that has 30, 40, or 50 comments then I'm going to take a look at it because I know that is one that has interested other readers and there are likely to be some insightful comments. If a story hasn't garnered more than half a dozen comments by half an hour in, then it's time to post another one on the hour.
During the day about one story an hour is about right but I have noticed that on slow days, the editors can get more comments on the stories by slowing the story flow down to one every 75 minutes or 90 minutes.
The same thing takes place during the night. There are fewer readers at night so the story flow needs to slow down to one every two or three hours so that stories can garner a critical number of comments.
Who's 8AM are we talking about here, GMT?
No he's talking about us east coast time, as only America matters.
Once stories have been identified to be put in the queue, I think they should be released on a schedule that maintains a certain queue level. If there are a lot of stories in the queue, then release them more often, and vice-versa, with the goal of maintaining a certain maintenance level in the queue.
This -- we don't want a backlog accumulating in the queue, but we also don't want a two or three stories dumped in 5 minutes apart, followed by a couple hour gap. A feedback system controlling the time between stories can take care of this easily. This being SN, I'm sure there's plenty of engineers with at least a smidgeon of controls knowledge to help you tune the loop as needed, but I'd start with a proportional feedback system.
Bonus points if you can push breaking news stories straight through at once, but have the automatic release timer be reset at that point. So if the rate-limit currently works out to 1 story per 30 minutes, and you push a breaking story 28 minutes after an automatic story, the next automatic story comes in 30 minutes after the breaking story, not 2 minutes after.
(Any SN admins reading: If you've got or can conveniently data on when each story was approved for release, I'd appreciate a look at it. I'm thinking about throwing together a proof-of-concept auto-release simulator; I can obviously scrape SN for the times they were released, which will give me the average time, but I wonder about the burstiness of the approval process. Since policy has been to future-date articles to avoid burstiness in the output, I can't recover that info from this side.)
We have that data. The editor's username is on each edit, with the timestamp of approval. If you want to play around, get a dev VM going or play around on slashcott.
Thanks, mattie_p. One more reason I need to get around to installing that vm...
...where registered users see submissions that are pending and can vote them up or down (I suggest it be named Purgatory), then either do not allow comments or else retain any and all comments made when the submission is converted into a story.
Surely there is some value in allowing comments that pertain not to the story itself, but to the submission about the story - whether it should be posted to the front page, and in what state?
I don't see a problem with it as long as it is clearly stated that comments won't be transferred across. If people are itching to get the main discussion under way, maybe have a feature that allows them to be notified if & when the submission they are commenting on gets published? Or just encourage them to keep an eye on the RSS/Atom(?)/Twitter feed?
Popeidol and others have posted some interesting ideas for formal enhancements to the story submission & editing systems/processes.
There is something informal that could be set up in an hour, and remain in place at least until any more formal stuff is ready. There could be an email distribution list of people who might be able to provide fast feedback in support of the editorial process. I would be the first volunteer, as would I see it as a low-commitment way of (potentially) helping.
A typical message to this group would be "I intend to publish the following on the front page in 10 minutes. Any comments? ... " Obviously only a minority (10% perhaps?) of recipients would be sat in front of their email client at any one time, but that could still be enough people to catch dupes, typos, etc.. Also, there could still be some value in replies received after a story hits the front page.
This idea is just something for the editors to consider. Do they think it would help them? Or would it actually be counterproductive, adding the burden of an extra layer of bureaucracy, delays and a load of snarky comments? It shouldn't be mandatory for editors to actually use this group, and it should be the editors themselves controlling the group's membership list. (Or maybe individual editors would prefer to maintain their own private email list of trusted 'feedbackers'. If any editor wants me for that purpose, get in touch.)
One possible disadvantage is further claims of fragmentation, like those seen here [soylentnews.org].
If any editor wants me for that purpose, get in touch.
Incidentally, is there any easy way for 2 SN users to make contact with each other with a degree of privacy? The messaging system [soylentnews.org] only seems to support messages from the system to the user. Ideally I don't want to post my email address in a public comment / journal entry.
N.B. I said "easy", because I wanted to pre-empt any suggestions that I could encrypt my email address with my recipient's public key and then I would be able to post it publicly. :-) I'm thinking more along the lines of a new type of message in the messaging system: "User Example66 has shared his/her verified email address with you and asks that you make contact: email@example.com"
P.S. Sorry for being off topic.
Note that IRC supports private messaging, and there's some effort towards linking IRC authentication to slash authentication in some way. Once you have the ability to know that "example66" on IRC is the same person as "Example66" on slash, you could have a link on Example66's public profile page that would open the web-based IRC client directly into a PM to example66.
Of course, making this work asynchronously (i.e. if the recipient is not online) requires a bot to save the message, and deliver it next time they log in. Then to ensure they'd know to login to IRC and receive the message, you'd need... a new type of message in the messaging system. So this may not be simpler, but it does provide general private communications (vs. just sending an email address) without implementing yet-another-pm-system inside the slash messaging system. Maybe the right answer is both...
If we want to beat Slashdot, we have to post the stories ahead of them.
Even better, let's see if we can dupe the stories faster than they can.
Ya, there are certain things we don't want to beat Slashdot in. Sacrificing quality for speed is maybe not the best focus. Instead of making it so much a competition with that "other site", we should use this opportunity not to compete, but improve in our own way. Staying transfixed on what was may only lead us back to that state.
Meh. I'm not interested in "beating Slashdot" no matter how the word "beating" is defined. I'm interested in "being Soylent News". It was a competition for a couple of weeks as "AltSlashdot" got up and running. Right now, I think we're doing pretty good as our own entity. They can do their thing and we can do ours. Let individuals figure out where they want to be. There is no need to be overly aggressive. We can share. Our stories don't have to come out before theirs do. Honestly, why should a person care when a story hits the front page as long as it is within a week or two of when it originally came out on the 'Net? I read Soylent News to catch the science articles I missed and for the comments. So far, I'm pretty happy. Being the fastest to get a new article up isn't why I come here. I want quality, not quantity nor speed.
On a side note, I like going to both Soylent News and Slashdot. Right now, I find they are very different from one another. (Still hate Beta with a passion.) And before people go accusing me of being a traitor, I put 98% of my comments here. I read every article here, but only read about 5% of theirs.
Wasn't Slashdot originally a blog? A place for posting stories that an individual person found personally interesting? Rather than thinking of it as 'news', maybe something similar to this format would get this site back to more organic roots.
Maybe story quality can be measured, but putting stuff up that you find personally interesting, and not worrying about having a story up every two hours like clockwork, might orient the site back towards quality and utility rather than timing or hits.
I agree. I don't think timing should really be the focus. Interesting and important news should be the focus. If there's nothing good to submit, then don't submit anything until there is versus filling the site with "fluff". If there isn't anything new at the moment, I'll check back a little later during a work break. No big deal. Site submissions maintain a high level of relevance. I get work done. It's a win win.
I agree that quality is much more important than quality with regard to stories. However, I appreciate how a community can provide context and validation to breaking news story independent of the editors choices. I suggest that after an editor does due diligence that breaking news actually exists, post it without delay such that the rest of the community can weigh in.
If you want people to give comments, you have to give them stories to comment on. If the stories I want to comment on are sitting in a queue when I have time to comment on them, I won't have a chance to comment on them.
Seriously though, if a story is ready, post it. I don't sit around checking Slashd--I mean, Soylent all day long. I check it once, maybe twice at most. If you queue up stories, then when I check, there might be nothing I'm interested in, but there might be stuff I am interested in in the queue, so I'd miss it.
CowboyNeal stories per hour.
more important is perhaps how many per day?one/hour (24) is way too much I say, but perhaps 10 per day is nice?that would not mean that stories should be delayed 2:24 hours but rather some wayto tell if we have already have enough or too few at each moment
We've already had this poll, almost time for a poll on the site name - the 'biggie'!