With a new year comes new opportunities and a chance to set goals for the year to come. Here is a grab-bag of new year’s resolutions for Netscapers, Diggers, Redditers, etc. If everyone took on a couple of these, the world of socially driven news would be a better place by the end of 2007.
I resolve to…
…double my contributions.
How many articles did you submit to social news sites last year? Try to double that number this year. The more you contribute the better. There is no such thing as too much.
The same goes for commenting on articles. Get your voice out there and you will end up connecting with lots of like-minded people.
…trim the fat.
Your front page ratio (defined as the number of your submissions that have reached the front page divided by the number of stories you’ve submitted) represents how lean your submissions are. Try to double your ratio by focusing on quality content. Knowing your audience helps where this is concerned. Combine this one with doubling your contributions for bonus points.
…double the number of friends I have on social news sites.
They call these sites “social” for a reason. The most rewarding part of participating in these communities is connecting with people who share your interests. Make it a point to add at least 1 new friend per day.
…search before submitting.
Duplicate submissions (“dupes”) are the enemy. They split the votes on a single story, making it harder for the story to get promoted. So if everyone took just 2 seconds to search their community for stories before submitting them, we wouldn’t see situations like this. It’s worth missing out on a hot story if it means you’ll preserve your front page ratio.
…not engage in mob mentality.
Don’t get me wrong. The wisdom of the crowd is extremely powerful. But when the crowd turns into a mob wielding torches and pitch-forks, it tends to become less useful.
Case in point: on Digg’s 2-year anniversary this year, they decided to celebrate with what can only be described as the world’s biggest virtual slap-fight. Every single comment except one was modded down. There is no good explanation for this. Users just saw a pile-on and decided to hop aboard.
Avoid getting sucked into this kind of thing. It just leaves your community looking like it got caught with its pants down.
…not break the middle-man rule.
Is that article you’re submitting the original source? It never hurts to double check. Often blogs and wire-news get re-published by numerous sources. It is generally considered bad form to submit a “middle-man” version of material instead of the original source (unless some value has been added). This is a common source of “dupes” and should be avoided whenever possible.
…ignore solicitations from content producers.
Content producers were soliciting social bookmarkers left and right this year to submit and vote on their content in exchange for goods, services or monetary compensation. And some social bookmarkers were found to be taking the bait. If you are solicited by a content producer, it is best to ignore them. Or better yet: forward their solicitation to your community’s support staff. If you take a content producer’s offer and get caught, you’ll likely end up banned from your community.
…consider just one thing when voting.
When you’re voting, down-voting or burying stories, there’s only one thing you should consider: the content. It’s very easy to get sucked into a popularity contest on these sites. There is also a rumor going around that one or two people out there are not reading articles before voting on them. It can be tempting to vote for all your friends’ submissions and bury all the stories that come from a certain site you dislike, but social news sites are at their best when the community votes based on their true level of interest in stories.
Get everyone you know who is into current events to sign up on a social news site. The more people who are involved, the more accurate these sites represent what is relevant. Then show them the ropes.
…compensate social bookmarkers for the value they add.
This is a challenge that I’m just going to throw out there. If you can come up with a way to compensate social bookmarkers for the value they add in a way that doesn’t disturb the integrity of their community (or perhaps even enhances it), you will surely be a king among men. I’m thinking it would have to be donation-driven and fairly transparent in its operation, but that is up to you. One way or another I’m sure we’re going to see social bookmarkers compensated in new ways this year.
I hope everyone had a fun holiday season and have a happy new year!
Derek van Vliet is a Toronto, Ontario native who has been programming for most of his life. In the last year he has been active in social news. He is currently a top 10-ranked user on Digg where he goes by the name BloodJunkie. He is also a professional social bookmarker (aka Navigator) on Netscape, where he goes by the name Neophile. Check his blog at http://neothoughts.com.