Yesterday we had quite a few topics posted in ~tildes related to "fluff" content and some similar topics. Today I want to talk about a few related things, and some changes that I'm planning to make in the near future.
Not a reddit replacement
First, something I obviously haven't done a very good job of making clear (and needs to be added to the FAQ) is that Tildes really isn't intended to be a replacement for reddit. It's not my goal to have most people want to move here away from reddit. The goal is much closer to a complement—reddit is making a lot of choices to prioritize "quick entertainment" content, often at the expense of more in-depth content and discussions.
Reddit wants to prioritize that kind of content because it works better for the business goals they have. "Fluff" content attracts the most users, and supports showing far more ads. You can show a lot of (in-line) ads to someone skimming down through hundreds of cat pictures, but you can't really show any to someone that spends an hour having an in-depth discussion inside a single post. So naturally they're going to prioritize quick content—it brings them more users, and directly makes them a lot more money.
Tildes doesn't have the same incentives, so my goal is to be a better home for that in-depth content that's slowly getting pushed out. Reddit can keep the fluff. It's going to be better at it than Tildes ever will be anyway, due to displaying images and autoplaying gifs in-line, and many other design choices they're making to prioritize that type of content.
Concerns about current quality, and some changes
That being said, even though we're really not getting image posts or anything similar yet, we have been getting a lot of "what's your favorite?" type threads, which are especially prominent due to the default activity sort. For example, if I look at what a new user on Tildes would see right now, in the first 20 posts we have:
- Favorite desktop environment for Arch?
- Name the online accomplishment you are most proud of
- What upcoming video games are you looking forward to?
- What are some TV shows you find yourself constant rewatching?
- Here's an idea. Comment something really unique (in a good or a bad way) and relatively unknown about a place you're living in or lived in.
- Name a cool, mostly unknown feature of your OS of choice
- What are the most influential books to you?
- What's everyone's favorite movie?
- So, what have you been working on?
And a few more that are similar as well. None of these are bad topics at all (especially the ones in ~talk where that should be expected), but they're pretty much all just "casual discussion" and not really what I'd consider particularly high-quality content. I don't want to discourage these or start removing them or anything, but I do think we probably need some changes to make them less prominent (or at least easily avoidable if people don't want to see that type of topic right now).
So here's my plans for the short term (all three should happen today, I think):
- Implement filtering for topic tags - I have a basic version of this almost done now, which will allow people to set up a (global) list of tags, where any posts with any of those tags will be filtered out of their view. There's a "show unfiltered" toggle as well that allows you to easily see everything.
- I'll start editing tags on other people's posts and/or giving other users the ability to do this. Primarily, all "what's your favorite?" type topics should have a common tag so that they can all be filtered easily. I'm thinking "ask" or "survey" or something similar, suggestions are welcome.
- Allow users to set their default sorting method for the home page and individual groups, and then probably change the default away from "activity".
Let me know what you think of these plans, or if there's anything else you think we should consider doing.