Facebook-like Newsfeed tab (As a means to better mix topics from high-volume and low-volume categories)

I was thinking about adding a category on a new forum that could risk being very noisy. The basic idea is similar to what is described here: Wanted: Discourse Hacker News Plugin

My concern with adding such a category is that it could dominate the latest page if people post too much. But I don’t want to discourage posting anything interesting here. And I’m not sure that I want to completely hide the category from latest, because that could also damage its usefulness.

So the first thought that came to mind was adding a setting on categories that would limit how many topics show up on the latest page… Sounds like a simple approach, but it has some issues. Let’s assume we put the number 5 into the forseen max_topics_on_latest box.

If it were really noisy, those topics might always be newer than everything else. So they’d just be stuck at the top of the topic list… not ideal.

So, what if instead it was a limit_percentage_of_latest box instead? And so if I put 10 in the box then at most 1 of every 10 topics shown on latest would be from this category?

Well that opens a small can of worms since chronology will get disrupted in some fashion.

Which leads me to think the best way to approach this problem is to come up with a tab that isn’t exactly Latest. Rather than the strict chronology we’re used to here on discourse and on twitter, I imagine a more facebook-like approach would be necessary. On this ‘Newsfeed’ tab, strict chronology would not be a promise or an expectation. Instead, what is displayed would attempt to balance different content, taking user preferences into account based on what they read more of, who they interact with more, plus some influence from the moderators on what they want to see promoted, etc.

What do folks think of this idea?

Some other related topics:

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Sounds a lot like /top to me?

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There is a lot in common, true.

But some aspects where it might differ:

  • It would be targeted to each user differently (what is top for you might not be top for me)
  • It would know what I’ve read and on refresh, I might get some new topics that I haven’t seen before
  • It would not have a date-range
  • It would have infinite scrolling

But maybe I’ll try this out as a first step for my particular use case:

  1. just create the category. It might not be as noisy as I think
  2. If it gets too noisy, hide it from latest make sure people know about the category page, and the /top page