Suggestion: a 3rd way of posting, besides 'self post' and straight link: link with context
One thing I really missed on Reddit was that there were only 2 possible ways of posting : self-post (text) or straight link with nothing else. I would often have an intermediate 3rd way: a link, but with an associated short text.
- Being able to add some context for the link: where does it come from, why did I post it, what did I post it for, what is special about it, what part of it do I intend to discuss, how does it relate to a personal experience, and so on.
- Adding other links in the text, related to the main link (previous history of the same subject, link in another language / translation, counter opinions, ...).
- Avoiding misinterpretation; do I endorse the link content (in full, part of it?), do I criticize or condemn it?
- Doing the previous 1-2-3 points, without giving up the advantages of straight link: being still able for the readers to click and jump to the link straight from the group post list, possible thumbnail/preview/embedded display; and without resorting to a self-comment which will look awkward and get lost in the other comments after a handful of those comments are made.
In fact, if the goal of Tildes is to force a certain quality of post content and discussion, this mode may eventually be set to replace completely the 'straight link only' posting mode; in that case the following extra motivations come into play.
- Mitigate stupid and low effort posts by forcing the poster to explain/describe in at least n character/words his link. If the poster is not able to spend 2 minutes thinking and writing a description, his link is probably not worth the effort of reading.
- Mitigate trolling and malicious posts by forcing the poster to motivate clearly his posts, and not insidiously disguise his intent behind a fake innocence.
The accompanying context text should have a minimum and maximum length, for it should not replace well-developed 'self-posts'.
What do users and admins think about all that posting mode I sorely missed on Reddit?
This general idea has been discussed here:
and more recently here:
I'll post my own thoughts in a separate comment, or they may come off as hypocritical.
Personally, I like this idea:
This allows the poster to post context or thoughtful commentary, without having to pre-compose the text off site. Some groups could require the poster to fill it in, others could make it optional, and it could be considered part of the judging criteria of the submission for purposes of moderation. (This is already the case on many subreddits, even though it isn't an inbuilt mechanic.)
The advantage is that other comments can be made about the submission entirely independently of the OP's comment, and others can reply to them and vote for them, without the discussion having to revolve around what OP has to say. For voting purposes, they can be considered effectively independent, though a well formulated comment can provide a good incentive to promote the post as a whole.
So, that would be a 'sticky' comment, right?
I would not make it a sticky comment.
It's going to be the first comment new reader get when the topic is newly created. If it's something worth being voted, it will keep staying up. Otherwise others will take the higher position.
I'm not sure whether it should be sticky or not - maybe that could be something the communities can decide. My thinking was that it could act as just a "first comment" helper, but it may be worth looking at other ways of using it. For source links an auto-comment may be better as a sticky, but for others it can just be a convenient way to add their thoughts on a link from the start. (Some communities could require this as a way to ensure that OPs don't just "fire and forget" a load of links without adding to the conversation themselves.)
I am not sure any more... what difference do you make between a 'sticky' and your 'first comment'? For me, when I say a sticky, I mean a comment that always remains in upper position, near the title / link.
This special OP comment should have those qualities : always at the top near the title/link. Now, whether it bears the name 'sticky' (because a Reddit' sticky' happens to have those qualities and can thus be used for this feature) or a special new name for a slightly different function, does not really matter.
If OP just wants to add a regular comment, well, he would just add a regular comment that would be positioned like any other comment; the purpose is different.
I'm not sure I agree. I think there's a case to be made for allowing the OP to start the discussion, and putting features in place to facilitate that. Some reddit communities require the OP to add a comment to their submission, and this could be a way to help that. However, other top-level comments may be of higher quality, or more interest, and as such should rise above OP's comment.
Sorry for some of my wording above, I think it got away from me a bit. I'll go back and fix it.
Oh great, I will read those links now. Thanks.
OK, so I saw a repeated argument: that it would impair the votes, votes that rely on the link content only.
I disagree. Votes relying on the link content is how they are supposed to be; but that's not what happens IRL (In Reddit Life). What I see is people voting in function of the link content (a bit) and in function of the intent of the poster (a lot).
And I'd say they/we are rather right in doing so. Except in purely technical subs, there is always an intent motivating the post, and this intent shapes the reading and the comments.
Furthermore, I see more and more (badly) hidden intent; for example my national sub is flooded by right/far-right people posting minor news that happen to involve one migrant, liberal-right/right/far-right people posting obscure twitters of left/far-left parties and individuals (that's also related to the new fad of people posting almost only links to what they hate or want to ridicule, and not to what they like or find interesting).
That's why I think 'link with context' would help (a bit) cleaning those behaviours by making them more apparent, less insidious. Then users can more easily decide if they want to caution the poster, and moderators can also declare more easily that enough is enough.
So I think that 'link with context' could have a positive impact on that specific matter, rather than a negative. And since I do not believe that in the present situation people actually vote on the link content as they should, I don't think it can make this problem worse.
NB: I wrote a lot of "I think" and "I believe"; that's because I have no scientific metrics on the present situation, and even less certainty on the future; just personal observations and theories.
I think in that case, it might be worth considering not allowing link posts at all, but only text posts, and posters can put the link at the top of the text. Alternatively, the suggestion of an auto-comment box could be useful, as you could require OPs to add a (maybe substantial) comment, thus requiring more effort and leaving themselves more vulnerable in the cases you mentioned.
But then you lose some user interface advantages for the lurker, as I said there:
Your suggestions look fine to me, they allow to achieve the same goals as mine.
I think it depends on what you want to use it for. Comments aren't visible from the front page, so if you want to make the OP's commentary core to the post, a text post makes sense to me. If you just want them to be there to provide information or catalyse discussion, a comment (automatic or not, sticky or not) may work better.
The "text" is very underrated. Tildes has great Markdown support. Using that, you can add one or many links in a really well-formatted "text" post.. so your "option 3" is already there.. if your submission is not just "title + link", use the "text post" option.
Related: my comment with example on this same topic in a different thread
I don't like giving the OP a platform to shout from unless they earned it. AskReddit got rid of the text box because, similar to Twitter, it forced people to be succinct in their ideas.
Most people, including 'smart' users, don't need the extra space to contextualize something.
I really don't know how much we want to be emulating r/AskReddit. I'm sure it helps people be succinct, but that sub is not exactly known for having very deep questions either. As a counter point r/AskHistorians does allow text posts and just looking at the top posts for the last month over half of them are full text questions (although survivor bias may be at play). At the very least having a text post is a clear signal that the OP has thought about what they are posting and hopefully correlates with the quality of the post.
I do agree that soapboxing is an issue with this idea as has been pointed out several times before.
If someone right now is looking to soapbox they're either going to do it in the first comment once the link is posted, or simply make a text post with the link embedded in the rest of their content. At the same time, not allowing someone to post text with a link lends itself to people just dumping a link and walking away. That's a low effort post and leaves it up to the rest of the community to even begin any discussion on the topic... Is that what we want?
I 100% agree, but people with more experience running online communities than I do feel concern about it so it at least warrants some thinking before dismissing it as inevitable. Although, my gut feel is that as a people problem it cannot effectively be solved with a technical solution, but it might be solved by developing the right culture. I don't know if @Deimos is taking suggestions for discussion topics but I think talking about how we can minimize soapboxing as a community might be worth making into a daily discussion question.
Even in AskHistorians it's not really used to add necessary context on the whole. I'm sure there are constructive examples of its use, but I'm not really convinced it's necessary for links when the context is in the link itself.
The vast majority of people don't need 500 words and given the running room they devalue the content of the link posting their own opinion piece about the title of the article.
I think ~creative is the sort of place where there could be some flexibility. In that case, someone is likely sharing something they've made, so allowing them to post a link and then talk about it in the main post rather than a comment makes sense. So perhaps a few groups could have both options?
A text post with embedded links works fairly well for this, however. It just doesn't give quite the same weight to the link that's showing off the work.