Forum / Thoughts and Concerns about Fictionaut from a Software Engineer (and Writer)

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    Matt Kang
    Nov 04, 01:54pm

    Hey Fictionauts-on-High,

    The following may be for the web developer you contracted to do this site, but I'll try and keep it in plain English.

    Kudos on taking the digg community-driven content model and casting it into an active literary magazine.

    I'm fairly certain this site will do very well: from what it looks like, there are a little over a thousand registered members on the site. Considering if you were to throw two invites to every member right now, and then factoring about half the members are active, that could potentially lead to 3 * 500 = 1500 writers. Give those 1500 writers 2 invites, even more, then open it up to the public, that's everyone. That's a lot of writers. An exponentially growing lot.

    Right now the new story feed is at an acceptable rate. A new story pops up every hour or so. With a large influx of writers as there may someday be, how are you going to deal with the feed pacing? Digg and Facebook dumps all those stories into a pool and uses some sort of deciding formula to figure what stories are especially popular to the masses (in Digg's case) or relevant to the user (Facebook), and creating an "official" feed that appears on the front page. Are you guys planning on doing something like that?

    You also must address later on, unfortunately, with story fairness. Frankly I mean collusion. Digg is fraught with "digging rings" where a person in the ring submits a story; he tells the ring about it, and the ring all vote that story up, propelling it to the front page regardless of its merit. Fictionaut can easily become a homecoming queen election rather than a literary community.

    Or you can just create a virtual Wall of China and only let a certain amount of active writers into the site. Inactive writers lose their membership, new invites get sent out. But that also has problems, too.

    Just some thoughts and concerns. Love the site, but I'm cautiously optimistic.

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    J├╝rgen Fauth
    Nov 05, 10:35am

    Thanks for your thoughts, Matt. We're considering a number of different ways to rearrange the front page display to keep up with increasing posting frequency, but we're fairly sure it'll stay a combination of latest and recommended feeds. Additionally, groups offer ways to add your story to slower-moving feeds where they might reach an even more targeted audience than the front page.

    As far as fairness is concerned, I don't think anybody has tried to game Fictionaut yet -- but we have a few ideas for filtering mechanisms and tweaks to our recommendation algorithm that would work as effective countermeasures.

    One of the reasons for the invite system is that it allows us to keep an eye on the way Fictionaut works as it grows, and make adjustments accordingly.

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