54 votes

Daily Tildes discussion - "trial" groups?

I've been thinking a bit about this post about groups that @Kiloku made yesterday, and about how we'll be able to figure out when it's the right time to create a new group.

I had an idea (inspired somewhat by how StackExchange's "Area 51" works), and just want to see if you all think it's worth trying sometime, or if there are reasons that you think it wouldn't work very well.

Every week or two, we could have a thread for "group proposals", where people suggest groups that they think would be good to add and likely to be active enough. If there's enough support from other users (for some meaning of "enough"), we create the group and then give it a while (maybe 2-4 weeks) to see if it actually builds up a reasonable level of activity. If it does, great. If not, we could remove the group and move the posts back into another group with an appropriate tag.

So for example, if someone suggested a group for fantasy novels and a decent number of other users express interest, we could create ~books.fantasy as a trial. A few weeks later, if it doesn't seem to be working out, we move all the posts from it back into ~books with a "fantasy" tag (and can always try it again in the future).

I don't know if we'd want to do this anytime soon, but I thought it would make for an interesting discussion anyway, so let me know what you think of the general idea.

39 comments

  1. [6]
    Tetracyclic Link
    I think this is a good idea, as it would help highlight things that the userbase may be interested in that wouldn't necessarily end up getting created otherwise. For example if someone has a...

    I think this is a good idea, as it would help highlight things that the userbase may be interested in that wouldn't necessarily end up getting created otherwise. For example if someone has a particularly good idea for a more abstract group, rather than topic specific groups (for example Reddit's /r/changemyview or /r/writingprompts, though I'm not suggesting those would make good ~s, necessarily).

    I would suggest that perhaps each submission should be accompanied by say five examples of content that would belong there, and a rationale for why it deserves to be a separate group.

    17 votes
    1. Deimos Link Parent
      I think that's a good idea, and it's fairly similar to the way the StackExchange proposals I mentioned work. For example, here's the Area 51 proposal for a "Voice" site, you can see all the...

      I think that's a good idea, and it's fairly similar to the way the StackExchange proposals I mentioned work. For example, here's the Area 51 proposal for a "Voice" site, you can see all the example questions that people have come up with as part of it: https://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/117231/voice

      10 votes
    2. [4]
      balooga Link Parent
      I think there's a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation here. Should we create groups for conversations we're already having? Or should groups be created to enable us to have conversations that...

      I think there's a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation here. Should we create groups for conversations we're already having? Or should groups be created to enable us to have conversations that aren't happening yet?

      I'm not crazy about a requirement for showing examples of existing content that would fit in a new group. It may be that a new group idea could inspire people to have conversations they wouldn't otherwise be having.

      7 votes
      1. aki Link Parent
        This takes the question in another direction for me - what’s the purpose of a group? Is the group a purely organisational mechanic, to cluster posts of a similar topic on one page or is it a...

        This takes the question in another direction for me - what’s the purpose of a group? Is the group a purely organisational mechanic, to cluster posts of a similar topic on one page or is it a ‘space’, the impetus for discussion to take place? I personally am drawn more to the latter, the idea of having groups start to take on their own group identity is interesting to me and I think that the sense of community keeps people posting in the site.

        9 votes
      2. Deimos Link Parent
        I don't think @Tetracyclic was saying that it should be existing content, just examples of the types of posts that would be appropriate in the proposed group.

        I don't think @Tetracyclic was saying that it should be existing content, just examples of the types of posts that would be appropriate in the proposed group.

        6 votes
      3. BuckeyeSundae Link Parent
        Por que no los dos? In seriousness though, I don't think there needs to be that sharp of a distinction here. If a certain type of content is starting to take over an existing group, I think it...

        Should we create groups for conversations we're already having? Or should groups be created to enable us to have conversations that aren't happening yet?

        Por que no los dos?

        In seriousness though, I don't think there needs to be that sharp of a distinction here. If a certain type of content is starting to take over an existing group, I think it should be able to be suggested as a subgroup (but this would also be the sort of thing that is more easily supported by just looking at a group and seeing the content being posted, rather than the more abstract things that might need a larger lift to get going).

        3 votes
  2. [2]
    Vadsamoht Link
    I think this is a great idea, but it needs some refinement. One of the things that makes SE's Area51⇢beta⇢community pathway a good system is that there are clear benchmarks for when a site is able...

    I think this is a great idea, but it needs some refinement. One of the things that makes SE's Area51⇢beta⇢community pathway a good system is that there are clear benchmarks for when a site is able to progress to the next stage or be discontinued. This is crucial for the process of deciding when a trial has failed (less so for deciding when to start a trial in the first place) because when the system is open and fair you don't get people putting huge amounts of work into an area only to have it taken away from them when they thought they were doing enough.

    The problem, of course, is that with tildes still in its infancy it's difficult to tell where those boundaries should lie. For example, if a tag on here has >10 entries already, then it's probably worth seriously considering trialing it sooner or later, but a few years from now that would be a ridiculous suggestion. Similarly, a group that currently gets one post a day would be doing decently right now, but later that would be more like a ghost-town.

    The basic metrics you could use for determining a group's viability success seem to be, in order of decreasing importance:

    • Overall number of topics posted
    • Number of replies within each topic
    • Avg. topics posted per day (last x days)
    • Number of subscriptions to the tag (depends on whether people are auto subscribed to new sub-groups)
    • Number of votes

    Three ways of doing this at an early stage in the site's growth could be to:

    • Determine what the desired KPIs for viability would be for a site of, say, a million users, and then work out a roughly proportional requirement for the current popoulation
    • Require a level of activity that is above a certain portion of all posts in the parent group alone (but likely not other sub-groups)
    • Post the desired KPIs for a fully-mature site and simply give the sub-group a longer timeframe to achieve them (could work during the middle-growth period, but it seems like this would have too many problems to seriously implement at an early stage).

    tl;dr - especially for deciding when a group has been trialed but is not viable, there would need to be public and very clear benchmarks for what is and isn't good enough.

    9 votes
    1. Deimos (edited ) Link Parent
      Thanks, interesting suggestions. I think it's worth noting though that a "failure" on Tildes would be far less impactful than one on SE. On Tildes, it would just mean that the posts get moved to a...

      Thanks, interesting suggestions. I think it's worth noting though that a "failure" on Tildes would be far less impactful than one on SE. On Tildes, it would just mean that the posts get moved to a different group with a tag and the group stops "formally" existing. Nothing is really lost, and similar topics can still be posted/discussed/etc.

      However, on SE, a failure means that the site shuts down, everything's deleted, and the space devoted to that subject is completely gone. That's very drastic, and I think it makes the need for extremely clear metrics a lot more necessary.

      4 votes
  3. [3]
    anti Link
    4chan does this (or did, before it was sold by moot.) Trial boards were pretty successful. They let niche boards that you wouldn't have expected to work, work. No harm no foul.

    4chan does this (or did, before it was sold by moot.)

    Trial boards were pretty successful. They let niche boards that you wouldn't have expected to work, work. No harm no foul.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      pseudolobster Link Parent
      4chan's threads are ephemeral though, no one expects them to exist forever. What happens on a site like this where history is saved forever, and we decide to not keep a board? What happens to the...

      4chan's threads are ephemeral though, no one expects them to exist forever. What happens on a site like this where history is saved forever, and we decide to not keep a board? What happens to the posts that were made? The index of the group? Should it just get set read-only, remove it from lists? It seems like we'll end up with dozens of random groups with a dozen posts hanging around forever.

      2 votes
      1. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
        From Deimos' post:

        From Deimos' post:

        we could create ~books.fantasy as a trial. A few weeks later, if it doesn't seem to be working out, we move all the posts from it back into ~books with a "fantasy" tag (and can always try it again in the future).

        6 votes
  4. rib Link
    If you do add new groups I think in the short term it would be useful to have "New groups" on the homepage so people actually subscribe to them, otherwise they might get overlooked by everyone not...

    If you do add new groups I think in the short term it would be useful to have "New groups" on the homepage so people actually subscribe to them, otherwise they might get overlooked by everyone not a party to the 'suggestions' thread.

    In the long term it'd be more functional to have a "group suggestion" entry field, then people that nominated the new group could auto-subscribe to it upon group creation, auto-populating it.

    4 votes
  5. [15]
    est Link
    Reddit Karma, also known as "Interwebz wealth", is just a dead number. In order to make it "circulate", Tildes can implement some kind of "market price" to create new groups. People can spend a...

    Reddit Karma, also known as "Interwebz wealth", is just a dead number.

    In order to make it "circulate", Tildes can implement some kind of "market price" to create new groups. People can spend a large fortune of "karma" to create groups they like.

    Also if a group is dead, the karma is forever lost. If the group is active, each founder can be paid back like shareholders.

    How to properly set the "price" will a problem for site admins and mods.

    3 votes
    1. [6]
      rodya Link Parent
      I'm opposed to any kind of gamification of the site, the current system where votes are basically meaningless outside of judging an individual post's popularity seems pretty good to me.

      I'm opposed to any kind of gamification of the site, the current system where votes are basically meaningless outside of judging an individual post's popularity seems pretty good to me.

      7 votes
      1. [5]
        est (edited ) Link Parent
        Sure, that's understandable. When a site is very small, one person one vote is good enough. Any "gamification" makes the site worse. The "karma" thing I described is kinda like voting but with a...

        Sure, that's understandable. When a site is very small, one person one vote is good enough. Any "gamification" makes the site worse.

        The "karma" thing I described is kinda like voting but with a weight. It will increase the weight of an experienced person with more credit, new people to the site with less credit.

        If a site grows as large as reddit, tens of thousands of group gets created and abandoned everyday. There has to be some kind of "metric" to tell when it's good idea to create a group and when to close one.

        A lengthy discussion thread in "meta" group might work, but it takes a long and tedious bargaining. Admins and mods are often too busy to review every request and comment. People who don't get what they wanted will eventually leave the site.

        So, instead of manual involvement how to community evolves, we can setup a numerical, metrical "currency" mechanism, that will automate a lot of process. Actions like "invite new user" or "create group" cost some of your credit. If a user invited spams the site, you lose your "karma" credit.

        It's just something stupid I imaged, it will not necessarily work, but it might. lol.

        1. [4]
          Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
          That scenario would lead to karmawhores running the site - because they're the ones with all the karma to spend to make things happen.

          That scenario would lead to karmawhores running the site - because they're the ones with all the karma to spend to make things happen.

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            est Link Parent
            yes, that's the major problem we have to deal with. That's where admins and mods involves. Secondly, we can take measures like, not every upboat can be directly counted into 1:1 "karma". A upboat...

            yes, that's the major problem we have to deal with. That's where admins and mods involves.

            Secondly, we can take measures like, not every upboat can be directly counted into 1:1 "karma". A upboat that Deimos gives might have more impact than, say, the 10,000th invited person. We can dynamically determine the value of upboat by chain of trust.

            1. [2]
              Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
              Right. It can't be as simple as "whoever has the most karma can spend karma to run the website". Any decision to create new groups has to involve administrators and moderators. This is an idea...

              yes, that's the major problem we have to deal with. That's where admins and mods involves.

              Right. It can't be as simple as "whoever has the most karma can spend karma to run the website". Any decision to create new groups has to involve administrators and moderators.

              A upboat that Deimos gives might have more impact than, say, the 10,000th invited person.

              This is an idea that Deimos has discussed: "If done carefully, this could even apply to voting—just as you'd value the recommendation of a trusted friend more than one from a random stranger, we should be able to give more weight to the votes of users that consistently vote for high-quality posts."

              1 vote
              1. est Link Parent
                Mathematically, it can, since Deimos is the first user, any group he creates, he has the major share. All upboats happen in the group will be compensated to Deimos as profit. So his karma will...

                It can't be as simple as "whoever has the most karma can spend karma to run the website"

                Mathematically, it can, since Deimos is the first user, any group he creates, he has the major share. All upboats happen in the group will be compensated to Deimos as profit. So his karma will grow faster than everyone else.

                You might ask what if Deimos turns against the community? (a big IF).

                The answer is, majority of the people have to unite to overthrow the tyranny with their karma combined.

                This is the experiment I imagined.

                The "Trust based on consistency and accountability" is cool. Thanks!

    2. [5]
      Tenar Link Parent
      Hm, not a huge fan. There's gonna be some sort of trust mechanism though, so maybe that could be taken into account?

      Hm, not a huge fan. There's gonna be some sort of trust mechanism though, so maybe that could be taken into account?

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        est (edited ) Link Parent
        not every random person can start a new sub, you gotta cost some reputation (aka Karma) to start one. If one person's "karma" is not enough, several person can crowdfund together. This will...

        not every random person can start a new sub, you gotta cost some reputation (aka Karma) to start one.

        If one person's "karma" is not enough, several person can crowdfund together. This will guarantee a small but focused seed user group.

        1. [3]
          Tenar Link Parent
          Still, I think too many subgroups is terrible, I'm not a fan. For example there's a bunch of subreddits that all serve the same purpose, or vaguely the same. (/r/thathappened and...

          Still, I think too many subgroups is terrible, I'm not a fan. For example there's a bunch of subreddits that all serve the same purpose, or vaguely the same. (/r/thathappened and /r/quityourbullshit and a few in that general area, /r/awesome and /r/interestingasfuck and whatever other ones in that area, and to a lesser extent /r/aww and /r/wholesome<insert some group in that area> and /r/gifs or /r/pics).

          I'm much more a fan of (in this context, mind you) a benevolent dictator that sets up new groups, and listens to the people.

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            est Link Parent
            That's exactly what I meant. in order to listen to the people, of course the loudest voice speaks the most. Instead of by voting, just by donating your karma in order to sign a "petition" to...

            a benevolent dictator that sets up new groups, and listens to the people.

            That's exactly what I meant. in order to listen to the people, of course the loudest voice speaks the most.

            Instead of by voting, just by donating your karma in order to sign a "petition" to create a new group. The more karma people willing to give, the more importance that new group meant to them.

            The admins and mods reviews it the approves it.

            1. Tenar Link Parent
              Oh ok, I definitely misunderstood. Weighted voting could work out, although I'm divided on if I'd want it.

              Oh ok, I definitely misunderstood. Weighted voting could work out, although I'm divided on if I'd want it.

    3. [3]
      what Link Parent
      My main problem with this is that it adds an incentive to earn karma. Right now, karma is essentially meaningless, so users are fueled only by a desire to post quality content.

      My main problem with this is that it adds an incentive to earn karma. Right now, karma is essentially meaningless, so users are fueled only by a desire to post quality content.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
        It won't be meaningless in the long term, though. If I understand Deimos' plans correctly, post upvotes will be one of the metrics by which users can earn "trust", and higher "trust" will lead to...

        Right now, karma is essentially meaningless,

        It won't be meaningless in the long term, though. If I understand Deimos' plans correctly, post upvotes will be one of the metrics by which users can earn "trust", and higher "trust" will lead to a user having more powers on the website. Effectively, "trusted" users become the moderators on the site, with different levels of "trust" giving a user different levels of ability to run the site. It's a very decentralised moderation model, in that any user can become part of the moderation process, but it does provide an incentive to earn upvotes in order to become one of those users participating in the moderation process.

        2 votes
        1. est Link Parent
          supposing we turn the "trust" into a quantitative thing, it could be used to hold the site together, Suppose @Deimos have like 100,000 karma to start with, when he invites someone he knows really...

          supposing we turn the "trust" into a quantitative thing, it could be used to hold the site together, Suppose @Deimos have like 100,000 karma to start with, when he invites someone he knows really well, he spend 10,000 for the invitation and his friend gets 10,000 to start with, creating new group costs about 5,000 so his friend invited a bunch of FoF to the new group and content start to flow in. Everyone benefits.

          Anyway it just kinda like my showerthoughts. I am not sure if it works.

  6. aphoenix Link
    It seems to me like there's some kind of natural progression from often used tags within groups to subgroups. If a tag is used with enough frequency, and if a group meets a particular metric for...

    It seems to me like there's some kind of natural progression from often used tags within groups to subgroups. If a tag is used with enough frequency, and if a group meets a particular metric for activity, then I think it makes sense to make a subgroup for it.

    I think that top level groups make sense to use a trialling system like you're talking about though, and should have some kind of monthly review process.

    I think it would probably be a good idea to find and share some discussions on the difference between categories (groups) and tags to address some of the comments around moving entirely to tags and removing groups. I think dual taxonomies are great, especially if the taxonomic systems can function independently as they can now, but some references for the people asking for the removal of groups would be nice. (if I get time I'll try to find some tomorrow)

    3 votes
  7. [12]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [4]
      mistouflon Link Parent
      There are things I feel like posting but don't, because they'd all end up in the ~misc moshpit.

      There are things I feel like posting but don't, because they'd all end up in the ~misc moshpit.

      7 votes
      1. [3]
        VivalaNM Link Parent
        I too would feel silly posting about some of my favorite topics. Where would I post about unsolved mysteries, New Mexico or genealogy? I also feel like having more groups could draw in and retain...

        I too would feel silly posting about some of my favorite topics. Where would I post about unsolved mysteries, New Mexico or genealogy? I also feel like having more groups could draw in and retain a larger community.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
          That depends what you're posting. Are these unsolved mysteries scientific (~science) or general (~misc)? Is the New Mexican post about local news (~news) or cuisine (~food) or sporting teams...

          Where would I post about unsolved mysteries, New Mexico or genealogy?

          That depends what you're posting. Are these unsolved mysteries scientific (~science) or general (~misc)? Is the New Mexican post about local news (~news) or cuisine (~food) or sporting teams (~sport) or environmental issues (~science) or holidaying in the state (~lifestyle)? Genealogy itself could be considered a subset of history, which is a social science (~science), but sharing your family history is just a general discussion (~talk).

          5 votes
          1. VivalaNM Link Parent
            Thank you for the detailed explanation. I need to think on a broader scope from now on!

            Thank you for the detailed explanation. I need to think on a broader scope from now on!

    2. [7]
      crius Link Parent
      It's similar to what I suggested some time ago about having groups auto-form when certain tags reach a frequency threshold. At the same time, when a group activity lose.... Well, activity, for...

      It's similar to what I suggested some time ago about having groups auto-form when certain tags reach a frequency threshold.

      At the same time, when a group activity lose.... Well, activity, for some time, it become eligible for pruning and incorporated into its parent group.

      Imagine things like a subgroup dedicated to a game. If tildes get a big enough community of player, the system detect enough tag "gameName" in the ~games group, and create ~games.gameName.

      The group lose traction? After a couple of weeks it disappear and is merged back into ~games.

      6 votes
      1. [7]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. [5]
          merick Link Parent
          That's a good point you raised there. Off the top of my head I don't really know why tags can't replace groups. I'm sure there are differences, but those two features could be merged together....

          That's a good point you raised there. Off the top of my head I don't really know why tags can't replace groups. I'm sure there are differences, but those two features could be merged together. Make it so we subscribe to tags for our front page content and they're pretty much the same as a group.

          I guess the problem would be too many different tags being created. We'd end up having a bunch of tags for one subject (games, gaming, videogames, etc.). That would require users to be aware of the "correct" tag to use. On top of that, groups give Deimos the ability to control how the community grows in a way. Having a small number of groups helps keeping those active instead of having as many groups as we have users and all of them being dead.

          It's definitely an interesting idea. I don't know if that's the direction Tildes wants to go, but I like the concept of "dynamic groups".

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            aki Link Parent
            I think the problem could be fixed by having a set few ‘top level tags’ that every post has to be attached to. From there they’re free to tag other stuff too, but they need to filter into at least...

            I think the problem could be fixed by having a set few ‘top level tags’ that every post has to be attached to. From there they’re free to tag other stuff too, but they need to filter into at least one of several broads categories. Of course there’ll need to be a miscellaneous group for anything that somehow isn’t covered.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              aphoenix Link Parent
              Like... groups?

              I think the problem could be fixed by having a set few ‘top level tags’ that every post has to be attached to.

              Like... groups?

              9 votes
              1. aki Link Parent
                I suppose, the functional difference being that your other tags are all pages of their own too, those aren’t curated by the creation of set groups and the other tags aren’t dictated by what the...

                I suppose, the functional difference being that your other tags are all pages of their own too, those aren’t curated by the creation of set groups and the other tags aren’t dictated by what the larger top level tag is - like what a group would do now.

                I still like the groups system better to be honest, just suggesting ways that a tag based organisational system could work without fracturing the site.

                3 votes
          2. anti Link Parent
            The difference between groups and tags is that groups come with an expectation of community.

            The difference between groups and tags is that groups come with an expectation of community.

            1 vote
        2. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
          What about "news, but not politics except for Australian politics" ("I want to see world-wide news, but I'm only interested in politics if it's from Australia")? I can only imagine how complicated...

          even do more complicated combinations of tags (ex: news but not politics).

          What about "news, but not politics except for Australian politics" ("I want to see world-wide news, but I'm only interested in politics if it's from Australia")?

          I can only imagine how complicated this might get for ~tv or ~movies, as people try to create tag filters which include their preferred shows and movies, but exclude the others.

          And sports? "Not soccer, unless it's the World Cup" + "Not tennis, unless it's Wimbledon" + "Exclude car racing, but include Formula 1".

          Concatenating tag filters can get very complicated.

          3 votes