The other thing that prompted me to write about why I like feed readers better than only using PlanetLotus.org was a post over on Andrew Pollack’s blog. Gaming Planet Lotus is Juvenile and Destructively Arrogant. Give it a read and chime in on the comments as I think it’s a pretty good discussion. The gist of the story is that someone had figured a way to post a PL link that caused a post to get over 4000 hits, which obviously skews things. And I agree, that sort of thing is indeed gaming the system.
The problem I have when I look at the (non-gamed) numbers on PL is that I don’t find the click numbers truly to be a good indication of what’s hot in the overall community. My reasoning is this: These numbers are only representative of a couple hundred users viewing PL. The most votes I can see on the story numbers for the past little while has been about 250 clicks. And it’s only people that use PL. Now if every single person in the Lotus community was using PL and only PL, then the numbers would mean something definitive to me. But that’s not the case. We’ve been talking about trying to break out of the echo chamber, but I believe this shrinks it a bit. You see, I read all these blogs via RSS in my feed reader. I bet there are a lot of others that do that too. I’m a member of the community, I read the story, but I never really voted to up that vote count.
The other thing that really kind of annoys me is that people are doing a really good job of writing enticing post titles that may or may not really reflect on the content of the post. More than once I’ve clicked on something (on PL or my feed reader) and found the content to be lacking. In my feed reader, that’s fine, but on PL I just increased the hit count on the story and made it more popular. I can’t take that ‘vote’ back at all. So incendiary headlines will always be more ‘hot’ than something that is plain jane.
Then there’s the prospect of promotion. We’re all bloggers and we want people to read our posts. So, we use what’s available to use to promote those posts. We’ll post tweets, or on facebook, or plurk or any of the various social networks. For example I might tweet about this post and put a link to it. So, someone following me on Twitter might click on it and read it when it’s available. I go to links from other people on Twitter all the time. Now, it’s been said that posting the PL link code elsewhere is gaming the system. So I can promote my story, but I can’t use a link that will make it more hot on PL. If I want the PL numbers to go up, I just need to point a person to PL and hope they click the link. Or I can give them a direct link to my site that bypasses PL, thus not increasing my numbers of how many people read the story. If I use the PL link, they get to the story AND the link number goes up on PL. Apparently some people think this is bad, although I guess to ME, I’m not sure why? My followers are almost all in the Notes community, and if they are reading the story, my story would be more hot, wouldn’t it? I don’t have any sort of answer, and I’m not trying to damn PL here. It’s just that those numbers are not useful to me, and I don’t feel that they are really a good indicator of what content is hot or good. Because of that, I dunno if the voting numbers are actually helpful to the community as a whole or not. PlanetLotus.org is easily one of the best community tools we’ve ever seen, but I’m not sure how to fix the read counts unfortunately. Anyone have any good ideas, or is it fine as it is and I’m just a nutbag? .