Amazing Data

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Improving the Upcoming Queue

Category: Amazing photos

Hello,
everyone! Yesterday, Neatorama user rellimz submitted a post to the Upcoming
Queue, which subsequently got
promoted
to Neatorama’s front page, about how the Queue is wreaking
havoc on the blog. Overnight, the post got over 100 comments from other
readers voicing the same concern.

First of all, please let me thank rellimz for the interesting post, and
all of you who posted a comment for giving us your feedback. I’m going
to tell you what we’re going to do about the Queue, but first, please
let me give a background on why we have the Upcoming
Queue
feature in the first place.

Why Do We Have the Upcoming Queue in the First Place?

As much as I enjoy writing for Neatorama, blogging is kind of a "closed"
enterprise. Traditionally, blog authors write and blog readers read (and
comment, if they like). For something that is supposed to improve interactivity
on the Web, it’s pretty much a top-down approach or a one-way street.

For a long while, I’ve been thinking of ways to improve user participations
– and thanks to the good folks of VideoSift
and VaroCMS, I think we’ve found
the answer. The Upcoming Queue is a place where people can write their
own Neatorama posts and have their submissions be reviewed by the community
(through voting) and Neatorama editors.

Submissions that get enough votes (and therefore deemed "good"
by the community) are promoted to the front page. Conversely, those that
are spammy or of dubious quality get voted down and actually purged from
the Queue. That’s the theory, anyhow.

In practice, community votes may not be enough: good posts that are written
up poorly don’t get votes. Bad posts may get promoted because of coordinated
gaming of the system. Moreover, unless you’re a hardcore Neatorama reader,
you may not have noticed that the submitted post had already been covered
on the blog before. Because of its size, a small number of users can dominate
the Queue.

Like any new project, there will be bugs and kinks that need to be worked
out – and the Queue is no different. A couple of days ago, we had a massive
influx of promoted submissions of dubious quality. We had since tighten
up Queuebot’s algo, and the problem seems to have largely been solved.

It has been a learning experience, and I’m not ready to get rid of Queuebot
nor will we completely discount the community votes (if we were going
to do that, why have the voting in place in the first place?). I think
the Upcoming Queue has a place on Neatorama. We’re not going to change
the blog into a web 2.0 or user-generated content. Instead, we will use
the Upcoming Queue as a supplementary source of posts.

What We’ll Do to Improve the Upcoming Queue

Here are a few things we’ll do to make Queuebot better:

Tighten up the promotion algorithm
It’s now harder for a post to be automatically promoted to the front
page. While this will have a negative effect of throttling down the
number of posts that make it, it will also rid the front page of lower
quality posts.

Greater editorial control
Neatorama admins can now flag submissions that have been featured on
the blog before as "dupes." This stops the voting, but lets
the submission be visible for the alloted 24 hours in the Queue.

We haven’t been as aggressive in marking things as "spam"
in the Upcoming Queue before, but we will start doing so soon. We will
also edit the descriptions to make them more "Neatorama-worthy"
whenever applicable. (Give us a couple of days on this one!)

Fishing from the discard pile
On the other hand, stricter rules will undoubtedly mean that "worthy"
submissions end up being discarded rather than promoted. We will continue
to fish these out of the discards and promote them manually. This also
guards against hateful downvotes, where a user downvotes a worthy post
simply because he or she doesn’t like the submitter.

Queuebot-Less RSS Feed

One big reason that I stopped using an RSS feed reader is the ever-increasing
number of unread post displayed. It’s disheartening to open your reader
in the morning and find that you have 500 unread posts.

While I think that the fixes above should greatly improve the quality
of front page posts on Neatorama, if you hate Queuebot that much, here’s
an RSS feed that will display every front page post except those
promoted from the Upcoming Queue:

/feed/?author=-5587

Simply copy and paste that into your feed reader and voilà! No
more Queuebot posts.

Again, thank you everyone for your input – we take your feedback seriously
and will work hard to make Neatorama a blog you can enjoy daily!

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