Need to mix publishing and peer-sharing models

A traditional site or blog is all about one authority publishing. Consumers look to that site for "authoritative" information. Through comments, those consumers can create some semblence of a converstation but at its core, the traditional model is one-way (outward).

A social site is mostly about peer interacting. Status updates, photo sharing, etc. are largely kept within the peer group if for no other reason than the information is not easily visible elsewhere. It's almost an "anti-authority" model, with many-to-many distribution.

Take the community site here as an example. Lots of information is contained in the various groups, but unless you actively join the groups and follow the discussions, most info on this site is lost, buried within the groups (the "peers") that created it.

I think many people find comfort and familiarity with the traditional model, but there's empowerment and opportunity in the social model. I think there would be great synergy and power with the middle ground combination of those two, where peers interact and through community involvement some information becomes the authoritative published info.

I see the two part need to A) let the community elevate quality material to greater prominence in the site, and B) more built-in ways to display that elevated material.

The A part could be done through voting, ranking, or could simply be through counts of most-read, most commented, most retweeted, etc. Maybe there's some sort of "nomination" process through which people could say they think someone or some content is worthy. Maybe like with forum software, key items could be "pinned" and thus always visible. Then, there need to be built in methods to display that info: in boxes on the index page, as widgets, "featured" on a group's home page, etc.

I realize there are some ranking/voting plug-ins, but I think this is a core feature: anything should be able to be "bubbled up" (page, group message, picture, FAQ document, a file, a user, etc.) and thus the mechanism for bubbling should be more central than in "third-party" plug in. Additionally, each plug-in has its own means to either rank or display ranked items, making it difficult to implement the output side of the equation.




  • Maybe a faux pas to comment on my own post, but here's my rationale:

    I've set up a hobby sharing site using Elgg--an amateur astronomy site. What bothers me is that most people join and then do nothing. I get the impression that they sign up, look around, find nothing of value then leave and never come back.  In thinking about it, I've decided that most people are used to the traditional publishing model. They've come to my site expecting to get something without putting anything in. Now, I could publish articles, tips, etc. all on my own. But, I'm not really an authority on the subject, just an interested amateur. Besides, that's not the peer-sharing that the social web is all about.

    I think sites like this need a built-in way to let the community to decide who is the authority and what is the key content. And then there needs to be a built in way to get that information in front of the eyes of the rest of the info-consumers on the site.


  • Figuring out how to attract good content is a huge issue in the growth of a social network.

    I think your comments here are very interesting.

    I just tried to register for your site but never got the email confirmation.

    Could you approve me?

  • Ah, never mind - after half an hour it arrived in my Yahoo spam folder. I'm in now.

Feedback and Planning

Feedback and Planning

Discussions about the past, present, and future of Elgg and this community site.