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Behind the scenes, we’ve been working on some new features to reduce spam and encourage quality posts. Here’s a rundown on what’s coming.
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from dannysullivan 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 3

First, we’ve had to customize the software to provide better tools for our moderators. Out of the box, they aren’t able to police and manage things as well as admins, of which we have fewer. So they’re finally getting improved tools this week. Next, you know when you ask for a story to be deleted because of a duplicate submission or some other reason? But the story still lives at the URL, if you know where to look? Hopefully by the end of the month, that will stop. If a story is removed, it will fall behind a special area that only mods can access, not general users. That area is also going to be home to Spam Jail. I’m super excited about Spam Jail. Here’s how it’ll work. Every item will gain a "Report Spam" button, hopefully by the end of the month. A regular Sphinn user can push that, and you’ll see it go partially red. If two or three more push it, bam -- the story shoots out of the public view. Or a Sphinn member with a good rep in the system (based on your activity here, submits, comments, etc) can cause something to immediately get removed. So next time you see someone asking if you’ve seen the latest Viagra Candle site, you can take out your upset using the spam button. Ah, but what if that’s abused. What if like say at Digg, people start calling stuff they disagree with as spam? Well, when enough member cause an item to get pulled as spam, it will go into the arrested area. Here at Sphinn, spam is not necessarily spam until convicted. To be convicted, moderators will all see the latest things to flow into the "Arrested" area. If they agree with the arrest, they confirm and the story shoots to the convicted area, dead for good. And that means dead like even if you know the URL, you can’t get to it unless you’re a mod (same is true for items merely arrested). What if something was arrested by mistake? Mods can send the story back out to the main site. FYI, if a mod sees something on the live site that’s spam, they can convict it automatically. Hopefully, the changes will make it easier for members to help kill spam and let the mods all be able to go to a centralized area to ensure that the spam tool isn’t being abused. On to Desphinn. That story that looks to be going hot, that you think’s not? Bury that sucker! OK, more politely, we’ll going to enable the Desphinn feature that we disabled from the start. The reason was many are familiar with accusations that there’s a bury brigade on Digg that can silently kill stuff off. Our feeling with the admins is that members should be able to vote against things, as well as vote for them. That’s doing a Desphinn. But to do it, you’ll also have to make some type of comment why (sure, "I don’t like it" will be enough, but at least you say something), and vote against will be part of your public profile. So if you care enough to just say no, folks will know. Desphinn should happen by the first or second week of December. That’s also when Save should come back, another feature we initially disabled. This lets you save an item you like, but it doesn’t cast a vote for it. Also by the first week of December, we should have a new box right below the ad in the sidebar on the site, on every page, showing the top most sphunn items in What’s New. We think that will help people see what’s getting the most attention, something sometimes lost in the chronological list. Below that will be a box showing the last 10 comments. Sphinners comment TONS, and that’s not obvious when you come here. The box, we hope, will help. That’s it. After the New Year, we hope to move on to improving the networking and friending features. Comments, concerns about what’s coming up -- let us know below!

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from kelvinnewman 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

sounds positive , especially people having the ability to desphinn but only if they want to take responsibility

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from floppy 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Oh, I like it.  All and all, I think it is a move in the right direction for a better overall user experience.  Curious to see this spam jail in action!  Keep up the good work.

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from Harith 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Danny,How could you be sure that there wouldn’t be a "Sphinn bury brigade" that can silently kill stuff off?

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from SamFreedom 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Same questions as Harith.  A bury brigade doesn’t even have to do a total bury job... they can just prevent something from going hot, even for a little while, and that would be a tremendous hit on potential traffic.You could even rename it a DENT Brigade.  Dents won’t finish off the car but they sure will make it ugly or less efficient.Also, consider keeping track of what people DeSphinn or try to bury.  It’s only fair that we should be protected in the OTHER direction... not just from Spammers but from habitual abusers.  Abusers will definitely begin to show a footprint that the more genuine users here will not.Please think about it.  It’s going to take a chunk out of our efforts to have things DeSphunn or waylayed, even if a moderator/admin sends it back every time.  So have a way to spot patterns of abuse by individuals, please.Thank you.

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from TimDineen 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

All positive - in my view.As for a Bury/Dent/DeSphinn Brigade, I’d think the public aspect is a great solution.  If you’re forced to explain your reason for voting something down then everyone will see it.  If that’s abused the whole community will react - try stopping us - and we’ll know exactly who to point the finger at!

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from AndrewGirdwood 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Looking forward to this. I think it’ll encourage me to comment more - sometimes I sphinn a story and think "I know why I like it... why haven’t others sphunn it?" Now I’d worry it might get unsphunn (desphinned!) so I’d be more likely to comment on what I thought the sphinn-worthy insight was. Which is good.

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from LocalHound 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I don’t know if I like the idea of DeSPhinn... Sphinn is a friendly place and I hope that doesn’t change.  If people use comments as an opportunity to educate when they desphinn  it could make  sphinn an even better site.   If it gets personal... it could go the wrong way fast.On my wishlist would be a function that would simply sphinn an article that I went to submit... if it was already submitted. 

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from SlightlyShadySEO 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I have 2 things...1)With the "spam" flag. Can there be penalties for someone that submits too many "spam" reports that are later de-flagged? As someone that submits articles that people frequently disagree with(any many others enjoy), I can definitely see the use of such a feature. Also, it could help to eliminate people who bury things as spam on time-sensitive issues to eliminate competition for time-sensitive articles (the point would be moot by the time it got let out of "jail")2) Are there any plans to smooth out the new user setup? I dropped something in the help thread, and kind of hoped this would be on the new update. Pretty much, the timer for last-submitted story is wrong. Even now I can’t, and my last article submitted was a bit over 2 days ago now.

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from BrettBorders 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

good stuff... Sphinn needs a little bit of policing, particularly in the new submissions areas. thanks.

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from jeffquipp 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I’m looking forward to it Danny ... bring it on ... and hopefully sooner rather than later!

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from NickWilsdon 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

All sounds well thought out Danny - looking forward to seeing it in action.

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from hybridsem 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Nice touch.. I hope rebecca and tamar are not trigger happy ;-)

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from Lisaweb 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@LocalHound: My sentiments exactly. I hoope it’s not so, but I am very apprehensive "desphinn" will make this an ugly place overnight. There is enough ugliness on the net already, without having to willingly visit it.... so if it does, I am soo out of here.

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from MattCutts 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 2

So people with comment activity will get more trust?Just asking in this comment here. :)  

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from rotatedspectrum 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

can we sphinn the spam?  you know...best spam awards of 2007? ;-)ug...proof I need more sleep. Glad to see admins taking an active role in development.  Thanks for your timel

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from iBrian 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Sounds like some very useful features - hope to see them working well. :)

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from JohnWeb 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Is, "It’s a rambling and incoherent Sphinn that sounds like it was written by a crazy person." a good enough comment to Desphinn something?  I hope so.

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from baiduyou 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Probably not great news for members of the community whose comments sometimes appear to have -1 vote by default, but sounds good to me.I think Sphinn is small and personal enough for down-voting to work - especially as it’s going to be a transparent system. I expect that most people will rarely feel the need to use the feature anyway. If it doesn’t work well I’m sure Danny will review it.Don’t think spam is much of a problem here yet (or maybe the mods are just zapping most of it before I see it), but the Spam Jail should stop one developing.Good stuff Danny.

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from robwatts 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Good stuff! Look forward to being able to have a little play.

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from nsmseo 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

As quoted by Danny, "Or a Sphinn member with a good rep in the system"I didn’t know there was a point grading system - Can we access the sphinners rep table/league? Or have I read this wrong?Please disregard the above statement - i just found the Network tab - im such a dufus.All the changes seem positive. :)

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from massa 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I always thought the  member rep, comment voting thing at search engine watch, (the first place I ever saw that type of thing) was a great way to encourage people to make quality posts. I thought the "xxxx is just really nice" quotes were kind of lame but the point certainly got across. 

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 1

So catching up with some responses!Regarding a possible bury brigade, that’s why we want to make Desphinns public. Anyone will be able to track what someone is desphinning -- and you bet -- moderators will be watching for odd patterns that might show up.If it doesn’t work or gets abused, we’ll change, alter or remove it. We purposely disabled the feature from the start to let the community grow and so we could think more about how it would come in. But some have wanted it, and I suspect here it’s going to be used by members very selectively -- if they see something go hot that they really don’t think deserves the nudge (especially if they feel there’s just friend voting more than anything pushing something hot).Anyway, the main point is that we will keep an eye on it, but it seems worth to try and experiment with.In terms of penalties for those who flag spam that’s not spam, as I said, the mods will review all spam submission. If we see someone routinely calling something spam that’s not really, we’ll follow up with that person appropriately. Also, we have a number of mods, so I think you’ll find that thing are being reviewed in a very time-sensitive manner, especially with our new set-up. I know spam sometimes has sat on the site for a couple of hours (while other times, it goes within minutes), but the new centralized system will help us.As for the new user setup, I’ll take a look at the help thread and see what we can do.As for commenting activity and trust, two things. First, everyone has a "trust" score or "karma" in the system that we don’t show, primarily because we don’t yet use it for anything. The core software calculates this based on your submit, submits gone hot, votes, activity, commenting and other things. We will tap into karma score in terms of spam reports -- if you’re above a particular level, an ordinary member will be able to get spam removed immediately, while those with less trust start the ball rolling, but other members have to nudge it along.Stories themselves go hot based on a share of actual votes as well as commenting activity. It’s possible that a story could go hot only on comments alone -- though right now, it would take a lot of comments! But we’ll likely make commenting activity a bigger chunk of the overall score in the coming weeks. We definitely wanted stories that generate discussion to be rewarded.

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from tomcritchlow 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Overall great work Danny - really looking forward to the new features!My $0.02 - when you say that you’ll be rewarding items which have more comments on them, the problem with this is that most stories don’t get any comments until they hit the homepage (from what I’ve seen). I think this is due mainly to the fact that most sphinns come from people using a sphinn this widget on the site itself.Until there is a decent upcoming section like on digg (or some other system) which allows people to be made aware of new stories before they are hot I’m not sure placing emphasis on comments will help - all it will do will mean people will start leaving comments like on SU such as "taken from the page....." and just quote something from the article.I agree that discussion points should be encouraged and I like the fact that this more of a forum community than a site like digg but I’m concerned it may lead to things which we don’t really want?Anyway - I’m sure you guys will keep on top of it and the best way to find out is to suck it and see! Just wanted to share my comments really.

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from NickWilsdon 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@tomcritchlowThere is actually an upcoming page here but it’s not publicisedhttp://sphinn.com/upcoming/mostpopular/I imagine one reason maybe that sphinning topics on that list - that more than often go hot may increase your ranking in the system. - or maybe Danny just hasn’t had time to add it to the menu :)

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from NickWilsdon 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Oh great you’re giving Matt a bury button ;) heh

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from wheel 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think the changes are great and go a long way to fixing some issues.  One point however, and I think there’s likely no real fix to this.  If the point system for posters is based on comments and sphinns, we’re again back to a digg style control where a few strong members can manipulate the system.  Sphinners who are already gaming the system show up as strong networkers already, these changes will give these folks even more power.  When I look at the top list of posters, I already see the odd one that AFAIC are gaming the system.  And some of them are going to effectively be power users under the new system.Anyway, that’s just a general rant.  Either it’ll work itself out or it won’t.  Overall I like the changes that are coming.

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from Lyndon 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Cool, bring it on.

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from Gamermk 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It’s nice to see that you’ve taken the feedback of the community to give us a set of features that will be really beneficial. I have to sympathize with you though that these look like they will take a lot of time and effort to build properly. On a somewhat related aside, any plans to change the number of sphinns required to become hot as a result of the desphinning feature’s implimentation?

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

To be clear, a user’s cumulative reputation within the system does not now, nor is it going to without some discussion, be used to push stories to the home page. Right now, all votes are equal, as are all comments. But when it comes to tagging spam, reputation will be used to let some members kick stuff off the site and into moderator review on their own, rather than requiring several member votes.In terms of changing the number of sphinns, probably not. So far, we make changes as slowly as possible. I think we won’t actually have that much desphinning, so it makes sense to keep the number of sphinns steady and see how it goes.

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from sza 2535 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It could be interesting to see how "Greatest Hits" will be changed by desphinns. It’s a relatively static list with presumably high prestige attached, so it might make sense to shape it by desphinning articles that one doesn’t consider worthy of being there. 

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from Gamermk 2534 Days ago #
Votes: 0

sza makes a good point. This story in particular is a perfect example. Sure it’s something that the community wanted to know about, but it’s close to being on the first page of the greatest hits of sphinn which it certainly doesn’t have any place being.Have you considered simply adding an announcement area to the top of sphinn where you can list site updates?  (perhaps you could unveil it using the feature itself ;)

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from wheel 2534 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Thanks Danny, you’re absolutely right.  Makes sense now that I’ve had it explained to me with handpuppets.

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from AndyBeard 2534 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Wheel & Sza - you know that green web2.0 starburst doesn’t attract a lot of attention for your submissions.Voting buttons on a site do help a little, but ultimately provide no guaranteee for big sites like SEL & SEJ for stories to go hot.They help a little on my site as well, but more that people won’t be scared to Sphinn something if it is already submitted.Ultimately what gets sphinns are reputaion being high enough for submitting quality content enough for people to read an article or bookmark it for later, great titles that grab your attention, and descriptions that tease or encourage someone to read.This was an interesting comment by MattSo people with comment activity will get more trust?Just asking in this comment here. :)  Is that a hint about Google SERPs for blogs? Is it patented? ;)

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from Kalena 2527 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I was interrupted reading this post the day it was sphunn and have just now found it again. Wow! Can’t wait for these new features, they sound ideal for this environment. Pretty ground-breaking stuff you guys are doing in the social networking scene - I’m loving Sphinn these days. It’s very tempting to spend hours in here and avoid forums (and my in-tray) altogether.

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