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Considering Front Paging a Node?

by Mr. Muskrat (Canon)
on Jan 15, 2003 at 23:06 UTC ( [id://227268] : monkdiscuss . print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Then you should stop, and take a hard look at that node before continuing!

The following is a transcript of a chatterbox conversation:
ibanix> is there a node that explains or discusses what "should" or "should not" be front-paged?
tye has been thinking about writing one
tye> most nodes that get approved should be front paged. Be careful not to front-page ill formatted nodes or long nodes w/o READMORE (usually shouldn't approve these either). Reason to approve but not front-page...
tye> you should approve "bad" questions if posted by anonymonk or new monks so they don't repost thinking it got lost. Border-line nodes might be good to approve but not front-page.
tye> nodes by people you don't like are good to approve but not front-page as it makes it more likely noone else with front-page it and so they'll lose the XP bonus.
tye> oh, sorry, that was for my private list of instructions. ):

Not everyone views front paging in the same way.

  • tye: By far, most FP-able nodes are SoPW and more than 1/2 of those should be FPed, which means most should. The FP is not "the best of", it should be "all but the very worst of".
  • ybiC: Rather than "best of" or "all but the worst", I see it as place for nodes that we particularly want new-to-PM folks to see.
  • atcroft: my impression was always that since it is the first part someone new sees, it should be relatively representative of the breadth and width of who we are...
  • Aristotle: I usually frontpage very specific questions that don't seem to be catching anyone's attention and don't have any replies. On the frontpage it might catch a stray anonymonk's attention or other people who may not have much time or dedication to browse the site extensively.
  • jcwren: Only a few percent of nodes should go to the front page. However, front page turnover should be moderately high, to keep it fresh.
  • footpad: I agree that the FP should be updated regularly, much like a newspaper; however, I would caution against FP-ing indiscriminately. After all, too much change can be as bad as too little...

Whatever your view of the front page, care must be taken to ensure that we do not give the wrong impression. Nodes that would put Perl Monks in a bad light should not be front paged. Remember that the front page is the first thing that a visitor (and many of the regulars) sees when they come to Perl Monks! We want to make a good impression on everyone. Nodes that are a blatant rip-off of someone else's work should obviously not be front paged (nor approved).

Simple spelling and grammar mistakes should not be the only reason for not front paging a node. Perl Monks is an international community. We have members (and visitors) who do not speak English as their primary language.

Meditations and Perl questions, in my opinion, are the nodes that are front paged the most often. So you should pay extra attention when checking one of these out as a front page candidate. Thoughts, ideas and questions that we see often but are worded in a new way should be front paged. Common questions should be front paged provided the same question has not been front paged recently. Remember that we are here to teach and to learn more about Perl! Having the common questions on the front page shows that you do not have to be an expert to fit in here.

Poetry should be front paged. A poem should have a flow to it, a sense of creativity... It should not matter if it is a haiku, "normal" poetry or Perl poetry (although Perl poetry is much cooler). It is something that you do not see every day (or even every week) so front paging it will help keep the front page looking up to date. I feel that poetry shows that we are not solely a technical bunch. Just remember that not all poetry belongs on the front page!

Obfuscations that you have to work at to find out how it works, should be front paged. If an obfu utilizes a new way of obfuscation, then front page it. Obfuscations, like Poetry, are fairly uncommon and should be front paged whenever possible. Should you front page print reverse split//,'hpaj';? No, it is much too simple. The more obfuscated a script, the better!

As of 2002-12-04, the front page shows many more nodes than before. If I read the code correctly, it will show up to 12 SOPW, 2 Craft, 2 CUFP, 4 Meditations, 2 Poems, 2 Obfus, and 3 Discussions.

And now for some different points of view that were submitted to me. (I rearranged them into the same order as mine):

  • jcwren:
    • I complete agree regarding issues promoting bad impressions.
    • While there are non-native English speakers, you can usually derive that. Basic incompetence in grammar and spelling should prohibit a node from being front paged.
    • Poetry should NOT be front paged.
    • Obfus are questionable. *really* good ones, yes, the "This is my first one, be nice" should not be.
  • footpad: I've been known to FP questionable root nodes if there are exceptional or keenly insightful answers.
  • tye: The front page is heavilly used by people who have votes. It isn't just for new visitors.

In addition to comparing and contrasting the different views on front paging, I've decided to give a fairly complete list of relevant nodes:

* denotes a requirement to be level 6 or above in order to view it.

The bottom line is that you have to use your best judgment.

Many thanks to the following people:

  • ibanix: asking this question in the chatterbox.
  • tye: giving answer after answer and providing a bit of humor... Oh, and for putting up with my million and one private messages. (:
  • ybiC: pointed out my lack of mention that the front page is the first thing most people see and also offered his viewpoint.
  • theorbtwo: mentioned that Friar does not have a level requirement.
  • atcroft: reviewing and adding his view on the front page.
  • Zaxo: looking it over and asking about the number of nodes represented on the front page.
  • Aristotle: sending in his thoughts on front paging.
  • ar0n: proof-reading and correcting my bad spelling.
  • jcwren: taking a good portion of his morning to read and critique this, as well as write up and send me all of those wonderful comments!
  • footpad: pointing out that I still had spelling and grammar mistakes, HTML suggestions, additional comments, etc...
  • boo_radley: encouraging me by saying that he thought it should be a FAQ.
  • virtualsue: being herself.
  • everyone who has ever front paged one of my nodes.
  • some guy named vroom.

Edit by tye, add READMORE

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Considering Front Paging a Node?
by footpad (Abbot) on Jan 16, 2003 at 01:01 UTC

    Whatever your view of the front page, care must be taken to ensure that we do not give the wrong impression. Nodes that would put Perl Monks in a bad light should not be front paged. Remember that the front page is the first thing that a visitor (and many of the regulars) sees when they come to Perl Monks! We want to make a good impression on everyone.

    While I agree with the underlying sentiment, I think it's also important to promote healthy debate and to demonstrate that we're willing to admit and seriously think about our shortcomings.

    For example, here are a few threads that were front-paged at one point:

    (Note: Please understand that I provide these links as examples designed to support the point I'm trying to make, namely, that we have previously frontpaged nodes critical of the Monastery. I am not trying to embarass the parties involved or to dredge up bad blood. If anyone is offended by my posting of these links, I sincerely apologize.)

    In short, I agree that we shouldn't air dirty laundry in public, but neither should we err too for in the other direction. Criticism is healthy to a growing community and how we respond to that is an important indicator of our maturity and professionalism.

    Incidentally, I ran across this thread while locating the others and it reminded me of a corollary idea:

    Let's avoid front-paging nodes that are derisive or critical of other people, sites, tools, and/or whatever without supporting documentation to back up our claims. After all, most of us work in professional environments where the appearance of a conflict of interest can be as damaging as an actual conflict of interest. So, let's keep things professional and let our actions speak for themselves.

    And, when we must criticize, let's use care to examine actions, rather than cast aspersions. Let's focus on providing solutions rather than making others look bad.

    In closing, here's a quote that illustrates one way I determine whether or not a node should be frontpaged (or edited, for that matter):

    Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of the which one must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of others.
    -- Hamlet, Act 3, Scene II (aka Hamlet's Advice to the Players)


    P.S. Reminder: If, on the off-chance, you're not sure whether a node should be frontpaged or see one that you think should not have been frontpaged, please /msg a janitor or bring it up in the Chatterbox. I've seen Mr. Skinny clean graffiti off the Gates before; I'm sure he'll do so again.

Re: Considering Front Paging a Node?
by ibanix (Hermit) on Jan 16, 2003 at 00:34 UTC
    Great node! Muskrat++

    (How the hell did I get this started? :-D )

    I was hoping for a fairly similar group opinion on this, but it seems that does not exist. Different people have different ideas of what is correct for the front page. In light of that, I would ask a different question:

    * If most everything that is approved should be on the front page, then what is the standard for approving a node?

    Is it easier to say what should not be front-paged?
    * Long post, no readmore
    * Very bad spelling
    * No code
    * Not perl
    * Looks like homework
    * Might cause holy-war
    * May induce hair-loss

    .. maybe not that last one.... :-)


    $ echo '$0 & $0 &' > foo; chmod a+x foo; foo;

      Yes, it is easier to say what should not be approved/front-paged.

      Don't approve very badly formatted nodes as they mess up the whole section display. Don't approve really long nodes that lack READMORE. Don't approve nodes that are in the wrong section or that you feel are too off-topic; if you don't feel comfortable about it, then just don't because either someone else will or everyone will be uncomfortable and it shouldn't be approved.

      One exception is that you should be quick to approve nodes by Anonymous Monk or by new members as they are likely to not figure out where their node went and just post again (sometimes several times). Better to approve it (perhaps even to the wrong section in some cases of really impatient, short-sighted users) in order to get them to read a reply to it so they get a clue, and then fix it up later. Of course, don't front-page in these cases.

      My "rules" for front-paging are basically the same, just more so. If you decide to approve a node but hesitated, then don't front-page it (someone else will or it shouldn't have been). A node that lacks READMORE but is only somewhat long might be worth approving and considering but not front-paging.

      editors should probably approve and front-page most nodes after they fix them up.

      Nodes that get front-paged get lots more votes than nodes that just get approved. This means that there are lots of monks with votes who read via the front page (this was true even before the "front-paged by" tag existed). This means they've been around long enough to have gotten votes. So it appears to me that, in terms of number of monks, the frontpage is used more than the rest of the site.

      So leaving something off the front page means that you want to hide it from most of our members. I just don't think there are many nodes that deserve that.

      This was certainly not always how I felt about the front page. I used to think it was ignored by all but the casual visitors and newest of members and that it should be a reward for the best or most noteworthy of nodes. But I don't have any other explanation for why FPed nodes get so many more votes. Besides, I don't see any harm in having 90% of the new root nodes on the front page (more than that after the common formatting problems get cleaned up by editors).

      It is convenient to have one place to go to see all of what is new without having to click to see more than just a title. I don't use it, but now that I think about it, that is, in no small part, because I don't want to miss something just because it didn't get front-paged.

                      - tye (must IMHO, of course)
Re: Considering Front Paging a Node?
by Trimbach (Curate) on Jan 16, 2003 at 05:44 UTC
    I strongly agree with tye that virtually all approved nodes should be front paged. The front page of the Monastary is like the front page of a newspaper: it has to remain dynamic and interesting or it's easy for newbies to lose interest. The first time I visited PerlMonks (through the Front Page, of couse) I thought it was great... there were questions, discussions, new code, etc. I read through the front page and came back the next day only to find that nothing had changed. It took almost a week for any new nodes to show up (at the time... this was within 6 months of PerlMonks opening shop) so I thought "good idea... wish it were more active." It took me a year to come back, and discover the joy of the Newest Nodes. I don't want that to happen to anyone else.

    I would also stress that it isn't important that the nodes be unique. You never know when a new visitor will "join the conversation." It might be old hat to those of us who've been around for awhile, but that doesn't mean it isn't new to the Monk who signed on last week. Sure they can use Search, but I think most people only resort to search when they have a specific problem or interest. I read PerlMonks like a newspaper, not because I only want to read one thing, but because I want to see what's going on in the world. Remember that magazines like "Bride" and "Home and Garden" recycle the same content over and over again, to make sure that when someone needs to know about something it's there on the front cover.

    Just my two cents. :-D

    Gary Blackburn
    Trained Killer

      I definitely agree. When I see a question that was asked twice or thrice recently already, I frontpage it just because it came up so frequently. Maybe the next one who comes around a day later to ask the same will stumble across that one instead of posting an entirely new one.

      Makeshifts last the longest.

Re: (nrd) Considering Front Paging a Node?
by newrisedesigns (Curate) on Jan 15, 2003 at 23:20 UTC

    Great node, Mr. Muskrat.

    What I've found to be the best "guideline" for frontpaging is asking myself is, "Will the other monks find this just as or more useful/interesting than I do?" If yes, frontpage.

    John J Reiser

Re: Considering Front Paging a Node?
by mojotoad (Monsignor) on Jan 16, 2003 at 01:46 UTC
    Well darn if this discussion doesn't present a conundrum to me. For my own part, I ususally FP a node that I consider a "gem", a node that I consider really notable or one that presents tough questions that broader exposure might enhance.

    If it is of general quality but not gem quality, then I will ususally simply approve it.

    Now, based mostly on the stance tye has assumed, I feel like I might have been slapping people in the face when I approved a node but didn't FP it! This is in no way what I ever intended, but tye makes it sound like approval sans FP is a great technique to dampen votes cast towards someone you may dislike. Admittedly this was tongue-in-cheek on tye's part, but the basic premise is not so much a "cream of the crop" FP function as it is "filter out the flotsam and jetsam, but all else hits the front page".

    I don't mind shifting my assumptions here, but I remain somewhat taken off guard.


      Please don't feel bad. Most people were certainly approving and not front-paging nodes recently. About a month back I was seeing well under 5% of SoPW nodes ever getting front-paged.

      At that time I started "spreading the word" via the chatterbox that more front-paging was desired. I'd hoped to write a root node on the subject but never found the time for that particular task.

      So I really doubt anyone would have been offended by you approving a node but not front-paging it. I could see someone feeling bad if you were front-paging lots of nodes and only approving theirs. But in that case I'd wonder why the person was paying so much attention to who was doing what.

      Actually, the approval nodelet makes it pretty easy to tell when a node has been approved but not front-paged and to then front-page it, so even my joke doesn't carry much water in the current system.

      At the time I made it I was faced with lots of approved SoPW nodes (I could tell they had been approved by looking at Seekers of Perl Wisdom) but that it was very difficult to tell how many had been front paged. I really wanted a "front page" check box to appear on such nodes when looking at Seekers of Perl Wisdom. But since then I increased the number SoPW nodes that show on the front page (from 2 to 12, I think) so even that isn't so bad any more.

      And I don't think you should feel bad about approving a node and not front-paging it now.

      It isn't that I think each person should front-page 95% of the nodes that they approve. It is that I think people should feel free to front-page nodes that they feel should be (not just outstanding nodes) and that this will result in about 90% of nodes being front-paged (not all by the person who approved them) and that this is a good thing.

                      - tye
Re: Considering Front Paging a Node?
by rozallin (Curate) on Jan 16, 2003 at 18:15 UTC
    Mr. Muskrat++ for a well-written and informative article.

    I have to admit that I've been very hesitant about clicking the "Front page" button, and I believe I've yet to do so. I've always been under the impression that only the creme de la creme of the Monastery should be front-paged. (And therefore usually somemonk had beaten me to it).

    I agree with Aristotle and atcroft that the front-page should be representative of the breadth of the community; that SOPW posts by "newbies" that feature good, clear answers should be front-paged along with the more advanced meditations to show that PerlMonks is a valuable resource whatever your ability. I have to admit to being a little bit intimidated and scared off by Perl initially, so much so I didn't really start frequenting the Monastery until three months after I had joined. I also think that front-paging nodes that have yet to be answered, lest they have been casually overlooked, is a good idea that I intend to practice in future.

    On the subject of spelling, I have on occasion sent a gentle private message to a couple of monks whom I've noticed have nodes which contain spelling errors while I have been approving nodes, and I'm wondering if this is being a little bit too pedantic, or whether other monks approve of this. What are your guidelines regarding speling errers? :)

    Rozallin J. Thompson
    The Webmistress who doesn't hesitate to use strict;

      I, for one, appreciate it when people point out my spelling mistakes, much as I appreciate it when they point out spinach in my teeth after eating.

      What are we, anyway, a bunch of unwashed heathens! Off with you. Back to your illuminating! :)


      As far as spelling errors are concerned, I try not to be too pedantic, but I do send people /msg's all the time - esp if the mistake is glaring or even changes meaning. I don't think it's necessary to be extremly gentle - mine are usually along the lines of /msg paco [id://31415|s/I thing/I think/] :) I too appreciate when I'm made aware of.. mispelinks. What I decided I don't like (after I did it a couple times myself) is post a note in reply saying "I think you meant foo" - it just isn't warranted.

      Makeshifts last the longest.

Re: Considering Front Paging a Node?
by Wysardry (Pilgrim) on Jan 19, 2003 at 14:51 UTC

    It's not immediately obvious to a new user that there even is a <READMORE> tag. When I first posted here, I expected the script to handle that automatically, as there was only one textarea to type into.

    Perhaps the <READMORE> tag could be mentioned more prominently in the help documents and/or two textarea fields made available in the posting form (one for the "lead paragraph" or summary and one for the main text).

    I'm not sure that adding the majority of posts to the front page would be a good idea, as that would also mean that posts were removed more quickly, given that there are a finite number that can be featured there.

    I was under the impression that the purpose of the front page was to draw attention to the more noteworthy posts rather than ensure that everyone gets their "15 minutes of fame". The former would be more consistent with the "front page of a newspaper" analogy after all.

    Yes, new users might be confused if their post isn't featured, but it would be just as confusing if it quickly "disappeared". They may not return for a day or so after they find out that their post doesn't appear instantly, by which time it may have been dropped off the bottom of the front page anyway.

    I would suggest that moderators approve articles for inclusion into the most suitable sections, and the higher ranked admins feature 2 or 3 of these per day on the front page, thus keeping the front page fresh, but not excessively so.

      Our ideas about what the frontpage is supposed to be about are all well and good, but any rules for frontpaging nodes must take into account how the people who visit the frontpage actually use it - rather than how we'd like them to think of it. In that regard, tye's conclusions are certainly more in touch with reality than anyone else's.

      I'm not sure why threads dropping off the frontpage fast is a bad idea. In fact it seems like an excellent way to ensure a fairer distribution of votes - more threads get a more equal amount of exposure.

      Makeshifts last the longest.

        Well, if you raise the number of articles that appear on the front page, people are likely to use it differently. If 90% of the posts are displayed there, it basically becomes another version of Newest Nodes with extra detail added.

        The way I personally use the front page, is as a convenient way to see handpicked posts from the various sections on one page, which is ideal if I'm in a hurry. If I have more time to look around, I'll either head to a section on a specific topic, or look at Newest Nodes.

        Once I've been here a while, I may pick another section to bookmark, but currently the front page is where I stop first. I imagine that is how most of the newer users do things and as mentioned earlier in this thread, more experienced users tend not to use the front page as much.

        The reason I suggested that having items drop off the front page quicker was a bad idea (in my view) is that it goes against the principle of placing posts from new users there so they can find it more easily. If their post drops off quickly, they may not realise it was ever there, and as tye mentioned, they may post the same thing again.

        I can understand people wanting to treat everyone fairly by not hiding threads in other sections, but when they fall off the bottom of the page they become hidden, which would happen quicker if so many more posts ended up there.

        Everyone is going to have their own ideas about this though, and I'm not sure it's that easy to know how others use the front page - even by checking the traffic logs. It might be an idea to run a couple of polls on this, one on what the percentage of items should appear on the front page, and another on which page people visit first.

Re: Considering Front Paging a Node?
by Mr. Muskrat (Canon) on Jan 22, 2003 at 18:05 UTC

    Are you going to create a FAQ based on the root node and it's replies? Or do you want me to?