How do you standardize clarity?

I have been an active Narrative member since before Alpha launched. One of the most fascinating things about being one of the early adopters is getting to watch how the platform continuously change, as new crops of people affect the development of it. It is truly exciting!

As of late though, I am noticing a voting tendency, that I would like to call attention too, because in my opinion could  become quite problematic.

I am noticing Niche down-voting  tendencies because the description "could be written more clearly", than what is offered. I believe many people, myself included, want to see this platform maintain high standards of quality. In the earlier days we  had many discussions on what 'Quality' is. But i think what people need to remember is that Quality is going to be subjective to different people -- and to a certain degree, that is ok.

I think we can all agree that spelling and grammar is important to  maintain, but when I see a growing number of comments how the description could be more clearly written than what it is, then I have concerns about whose standard is in charge, and how do we quantify that. With reputation now in play, that comes with unequal vote distribution, these standards of "could be clearer" quickly becomes problematic to me.

I pose two questions for people to ponder.

1. It has been suggested in vote comments, that description should be spelled out so that even a novice can understand the topic. Why???? I mean, if someone is actually looking to submit content to a subject that they know nothing about, and the topic description is a bit obscure to them, then if quality is a standard, then why shouldn't it  be expected that the person unfamilar with the topic, should actually conduct some  research? Conduct a google search if you need more clarity. WHERE is it written in the spec paper, that niche descriptions must be so clearly written that they are inclusive of people whom know nothing about it?

2. Are niche suggestions only for people who can achieve a grade of A+? Is there any room for people in Narrative whose writing skills achieve only C's and B's?? What about D+, do they just get relegated to sitting in the corner with a Dunce cap on? How does this encourage these same people to actually submit content? If this is where we are going with Narrative, I promise you it will be a very small classroom of people. And if it is a small classroom, well we most likely are going to find very few rewards shared amongst us, because advertisers spend their money where there is critical mass, these days.

So I think as regular voters, we need to be a bit subjective. @MOLLY O post  about standards for niche and descriptions is a good post.  But still it is only a post with suggestions. It is not in the Narrative specification. This is a democracy (albeit and electoral collage democracy, because votes are not one for one) and we need to determine outcomes with the structure that is provided to us, and then we need to use our intellect, our intuition, and our ability to look at the entire big picture, to guide us the rest of the way. 

And finally the niche Biscuit. Common on...this is utterly harmless, who cares if the guy means Cookie because he is probably British, and in America it means cracker, and he didn't define  which snack he meant.  If a person writes and submits about the baked snack that has has more sugar than salt, or the snack that has more salt than sugar, I think it will be ok. People can vote yes for this! It is clear enough. It is a solid A- and if you are a tea drinker from a commonwealth country it is a right solid A+.

Mini-rant over. Peace out. 

Original Post

You raise excellent points and concerns. I fully agree with you about standards because it's easy to default to a journalistic or academic research standard of what excellent writing is, even though most people don't communicate that way. I also find myself up-voting topics I use to deem repetitive because the content posted and vibes of each niches may feel completely different. What if only 1 TV station was allowed to report thunder storms. Haha What if the 2nd duplicate niche owner is excellent at marketing and quickly surpasses the 1st niche in submissions and new members?

I loved this rant Emily!  And I agree with most of it.

I've been around since before the Alpha too, and I agree the patterns in participation and voting since the early days have been fascinating!  I'm loving, in particular, that the latest wave of niche writing has been really good (and I attribute that in part to the strictness of our voting: when standards are too lax, people just don't try as hard).

Subjectivity: yes, it is inevitable, and perfectly acceptable to have our own standards for voting.  As long as they are using the guidelines as a starting point, we're squarely in the green.

So I suppose all I can do, as @Drixx Madison has done, is to respond with an approximation of what my voting style is, in all its subjectivity.

WILL PEOPLE BE CONFUSED

This is my most important guiding principle.  If there is a difference in scope between the niche name and the description, for instance, people will be left doubting whether their content belongs there if it satisfies the broader scope, but not the narrower one.  An example: a niche called Sleep Disorders, with a description of "All about sleep apnea" would leave people wondering whether their content about sleep walking belongs there or not.  This is not acceptable to me: the prerogative is for users to proceed with confidence, because if they don't, Narrative suffers as a whole.

Beyond scope, if a niche is so poorly written that I feel a substantial amount of people won't be sure what belongs there, I'll down vote it too.  People who write in this way are free to contribute content, but getting a niche accepted is a very different proposition to being a contributor of content, for reasons already discussed elsewhere.  If someone feels hurt their niche was rejected, and wants to leave the platform as a result, should we be chasing them?  All we can do is message clearly that all content can be submitted, but niches, as part of the infrastructure of the platform, have to serve their function well.  In the physical world, I would not expect to be hired for a writing position, if my writing is incoherent, obtuse, or riddled with mistakes.  My German is not so great - I would not dream of being butt hurt if I were told my niche suggestions for German Narrative don't meet the grade (when Narrative expands to German in the future).

DID THE PERSON TRY

If there are multiple typos, or glaring ones, I will downvote as well.

We have a problem right now, that I wish the @Narrative Network Team would acknowledge and address: we are unaware of any mechanism that will make sure these mistakes get corrected.

So not only will I downvote because we are currently the only enforcement mechanism in existence: I'll downvote because people are getting reputation points for approved niches, and a system that rewards people when they don't try leads to mediocrity.  If someone isn't willing to reread their one sentence description two or three times to check for errors, why should we cater to their egos by accepting the niche, rewarding them with better reputation?  It makes no sense.  No endeavor thrives on rewarding actions that shifts the burden to others to do more work.

We should keep in mind that people with poor writing skills can get help before they submit a niche: all they have to do is ask for it.  Everyone knows someone who writes well, and even if they don't, right here on the forums there are people willing to help.

Writing a blog post, or a comment online, with imperfect writing: no problem.  Submitting a grant proposal with imperfect writing?  Expect a poor outcome.  That's just the way the world works, and rightly so.  There are types of writing where more effort is mandatory - niche writing is one of them.

OBSCURITY

I agree that people will be posting to niches they know the meaning of.  People who want to write about the band Tool will already know they are a band, so the niche description consisting of only the band member names will work just fine for them.

But those people are only one side of the equation.  What about the people subscribing to niches so that they can receive the content?  If half the niches they read descriptions for don't tell them anything they can relate to about what the content is - do you think that might be off-putting?  Many people consume content to discover new things, and discovery is generally only enjoyable if the entry point to it is somewhat accessible.  Tell them Tool is a band, and you've satisfied that need for accessibility.  They can then make an informed decision on whether they want to learn more.

A description is meant to be.... descriptive.  Aren't we failing in a very basic way, if we fail to use the word 'music' or 'band' when describing a music band?  The only exception to this is when the object of the niche is so famous, either everyone knows what it is, or the few people who don't can infer from the lack of description that this is something so famous, they probably should make the effort to discover it either by searching or sampling the niche's content.  The Beatles are a household name, and are literally the definition of musical success.  We tend to accept that such entities need less introduction, and if we haven't heard of such entities, we accept the cue that perhaps we need to crawl out from under our rock, rather than expect the world to crawl under it with us.

INTENT TO PURCHASE

If the suggester intends to purchase the niche, says so in the comments, and says they will improve the definition based on comments received - even though this is not a guarantee the problems will be fixed, I will upvote.

GENERAL ACCESSIBILITY

This is the x-factor for me.  My final question to myself about a niche is, despite typos and strange phrasing: would this niche function as is?  If nobody corrected the issues?  This is where @David Dreezer's 'consider the audience' comes in.  Will gamers be turned off by a description that says "Come share your hiscores and have some lolz at epic game fails'?  Probably not.  

But the same types of liberties with spelling on a niche about Sobriety just doesn't fly.  The target audience is much broader, and much of it would get the wrong impression about the niche, and about Narrative.

------------------------------------------------

An example from the 'real world'.

Anyone who has worked at a company has to accept that they won't get to participate in every aspect of the company's operations.

I'll take my best corporate employment as an example (since we want Narrative to be comparably awesome).  I worked at Weta Digital on the visual effects team for The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Avatar and others.

I was good at some things, average at others, and completely inexperienced at yet others.  Did I, for one second, expect my coding skills to become part of the lasting infrastructure of the company?  I was moderately proficient at coding pipeline and artist tools, but there were people who were far better than me at doing both.  Did I expect the company to pay me to do that aspect of the work, or them?

This is a concrete example.  I worked in four different capacities/departments during the 5 years I was there, and I greatly enjoyed the mobility.  But when a job came up to code for the character animation department, and I was denied by the head of the department for the job - the only sane response was for me to recognize that there were almost certainly better people on hand than me.  And I wanted Weta to do its best work.  That's why Weta is Weta.  It is why they win Oscars, and are considered one of the best VFX companies in the world - because they hire the right people for the job.

If a leading company discovers in their midst a person who wants to leave the company because, though their skills are in lighting, they are upset that their bad character animation is not making it into the movie - should the company fight to retain them?  Not if lighters are lining up to take their place.  We have to have the confidence to know that if we do good work here, the way Weta does good work, quality contributors will be in no shortage on Narrative.  In fact the best way to guarantee a shortage of good contributors here, is if what we produce is not good.  Skilled people don't strive to work at places that output low grade work.  That's just the way of the world.

Let's output excellent niches.  The people who can't help us do that are free to try harder, to get help doing so, or to contribute in other ways more suited to their abilities.

    @Emily Barnett This post got everything off of my chest that has been growing there.

This is why I used the description I did about Molly's post.  It is mean to help people that want to learn to write more attractive Niches.  It is not the 10 Commandments of Niches.   You get it. Thank you!

Your thoughts over Biscuits are exactly where I am with the failed Tool Niche.  I'm heartbroken for the guy that suggested it.

Look, spelling  does count. Descriptions do count.   If I'm writing Red Sox content and the niche was accidentally Red Socks I might not find it in a search, therefore I might not submit my content to it.  I get that.   But we have comment fields that we all asked for to converse with the Niche suggester and to see if they are planning to buy the Niche and willing to make the edit. And if they are not willing to edit well, maybe they just bought a bad niche and that's all there is to it?  Or they buy it and it goes to the Tribunal?

All I am asking, as "just a guy"  is that people have a little thought to who is using this thing when they vote, that's all.  It's. Just. People.

But vote!   It's important!


I'm done with my soap box now.  

David Dreezer posted:


Your thoughts over Biscuits are exactly where I am with the failed Tool Niche.  I'm heartbroken for the guy that suggested it.

Look, spelling  does count. Descriptions do count.   If I'm writing Red Sox content and the niche was accidentally Red Socks I might not find it in a search, therefore I might not submit my content to it.  I get that.   But we have comment fields that we all asked for to converse with the Niche suggester and to see if they are planning to buy the Niche and willing to make the edit. And if they are not willing to edit well, maybe they just bought a bad niche and that's all there is to it?  Or they buy it and it goes to the Tribunal?

All I am asking, as "just a guy"  is that people have a little thought to who is using this thing when they vote, that's all.  It's. Just. People.

But vote!   It's important!


I'm done with my soap box now.  

I have empathy for anyone who sees a niche they suggested being rejected, but my heart doesn't break for them.  In the scheme of things, it just isn't a big deal.  We improve by failing, and by learning not to fail in the same way the next time.

In a funny way, the way the Tool niche failed is the same way the Narrative team are failing over this very issue, so there is a strange kind of logic in your empathy for the suggester.  The team is currently assuming it has communicated how the Tribunal will vote and how quality will be assured, in such a way that the community will be confident in how we should vote.  In reality the Team has not communicated that clearly.  Just as the Tool niche suggester probably assumed he had communicated enough about Tool for the niche to serve the community as a whole.  He hadn't.

When it comes to just chalking things up to 'maybe he bought a bad niche' or 'it goes to the Tribunal', neither of these are solutions.

It isn't just one person who spent money on a bad niche - it is the network saddled with a bad niche.  That means an entire realm of human interest poorly represented on the network.  An entire community condemned to reduced potential.  Ignoring this is precisely how the potential for widespread success can erode without us even acknowledging it is happening.  We can pat ourselves on the back because we have thousands of niches, and imagine that means Narrative is a massive universe - all the while ignoring that perhaps a quarter of those niches might be operating at half of their potential... that could translate into a massive 15% in lost quality, and lost revenue.  Serious companies take 1% in lost revenue seriously.

The Tribunal doesn't fix problems: that's part of what needs to change.  The Tribunal doesn't correct spelling mistakes, and it doesn't correct grammar.  It doesn't seem to care about mismatches in scope half of the time.  So it is a very blunt instrument right now.  Either it rejects a niche - which is not a good solution once the niche has been bought - or it accepts it.  Every time it accepts a niche with mistakes in it, we've missed an opportunity to fix a problem... for literally no reason.  It is hard to imagine how anyone could fail to see this is a missed opportunity.  After the Tribunal has approved a niche with mistakes in it, there is no defined path for making sure they get corrected.  I'd love for someone to tell me how that's something we should just accept.  We're admitting defeat on a very basic aspect of functionality, if we can't articulate how we're going to make sure our content categories are well written.  Other companies solve this easily by putting people to work assuring quality.  Is this truly beyond us?  Really?

The Tribunal's job isn't to fix problems or edit typos.  They Tribunal's job is to review those changes. And they do. They adjudicate. That's what they do.  

People submit Niches with typo fixes almost every day.   

It's the Community's job to do QA, not the Tribunal.  And not the company.  And the Community is doing that.  HOW that QA is done, is the discussion here, right?  

David Dreezer posted:

The Tribunal's job isn't to fix problems or edit typos.  They Tribunal's job is to review those changes. And they do. They adjudicate. That's what they do.  

People submit Niches with typo fixes almost every day.   

It's the Community's job to do QA, not the Tribunal.  And not the company.  And the Community is doing that.  HOW that QA is done, is the discussion here, right?  

Narrative Company has decided the Tribunal should not fix errors, but that doesn’t mean we can’t question the efficiency of that decision.  

Until someone clarifies a way to be certain the problems get fixed, if the Tribunal is going to adjudicate in such a way that the problems persist (approving niches with problems) then we haven’t solved anything.  

If the solution is for niches to bounce back and forth between the community, suggester and Tribunal multiple times - shouldn’t it be for more fundamental problems than typos ?  And with this system, if the Tribunal approves niches with typos, there is no further corrective mechanism.  

So that leaves only the community voting as the safeguard for typos - but you and others from the team seem to think we are too strict if we downvote because of them...

Malkazoid posted:
David Dreezer posted:

The Tribunal's job isn't to fix problems or edit typos.  They Tribunal's job is to review those changes. And they do. They adjudicate. That's what they do.  

People submit Niches with typo fixes almost every day.   

It's the Community's job to do QA, not the Tribunal.  And not the company.  And the Community is doing that.  HOW that QA is done, is the discussion here, right?  

Narrative Company has decided the Tribunal should not fix errors, but that doesn’t mean we can’t question the efficiency of that decision.  

Until someone clarifies a way to be certain the problems get fixed, if the Tribunal is going to adjudicate in such a way that the problems persist (approving niches with problems) then we haven’t solved anything.  

If the solution is for niches to bounce back and forth between the community, suggester and Tribunal multiple times - shouldn’t it be for more fundamental problems than typos ?  And with this system, if the Tribunal approves niches with typos, there is no further corrective mechanism.  

So that leaves only the community voting as the safeguard for typos - but you and others from the team seem to think we are too strict if we downvote because of them...

But that's entirely incorrect.   If the Tribunal were to approve a Niche with a typo AND the owner doesn't correct it then it might gain little or no content, fail, and ultimately dies due to poor reputation.  You don't look at it, I don't look at it, and and it then goes away.  It's incumbent upon the Niche owner to get it right. If they fix the issue then it has a better chance of success, if they don't then the Community ignores it and it fails.  The Community will have spoken by the Niche's failure.  I'd call that the right kind of corrective.  

Conversely, if it does gain traction WITH a typo then who cares anyway? Who did that hurt?  The Community will have spoken on that side of the balance.

Maybe we're all so focused on grinding on Niches right now because that's what there is that we're forgetting what comes next?

David Dreezer posted:

But that's entirely incorrect.   If the Tribunal were to approve a Niche with a typo AND the owner doesn't correct it then it might gain little or no content, fail, and ultimately dies due to poor reputation.  You don't look at it, I don't look at it, and and it then goes away.  It's incumbent upon the Niche owner to get it right. If they fix the issue then it has a better chance of success, if they don't then the Community ignores it and it fails.  The Community will have spoken by the Niche's failure.  I'd call that the right kind of corrective.  

Conversely, if it does gain traction WITH a typo then who cares anyway? Who did that hurt?  The Community will have spoken on that side of the balance.

Maybe we're all so focused on grinding on Niches right now because that's what there is that we're forgetting what comes next?

It is not incorrect.  Lets walk through it.

As I've previously mentioned, a niche holds a space that cannot be duplicated (uniqueness).  So a niche we approve, but that fails to gain traction because of its name or category doesn't just die due to poor reputation: it prevents what could be a successful niche from existing.  Can we agree that that is worth being concerned about?

Second, following your hypothetical that a niche gains traction WITH a typo - you ask who cares.  You should care.  A niche that gains traction means more eyeballs, which means more eyes that see the typo, which means a larger amount of people who gain a negative impression of the network.  You're  only looking at the visible portion of the niche's performance: it has a fair amount of traffic, great!  We're sweet then.  No.  We're not sweet.  Success requires looking at what market we're not capturing: resting on the laurels of decent performance works for a while, but in a competitive market place, there will be networks out there who do more than that, and they will, on a long enough timeline, stunt your growth.

Concretely, lets look at an imaginary Buddhism niche (not inferring there is anything wrong with the ones we actually have).  There are lots of people interested in Buddhism, which will guarantee that even a description with a typo will still get thousands of members.  The Team might think: great, nothing wrong here.  But hopefully someone pays closer attention and realizes that our Buddhism niche is under-performing compared to its potential (which can be measured with data of growth of identical channels on other platforms).  If it turns out our niche has 1,000 followers and 1,500 articles after one year, when other Bhuddist channels on other networks grew twice as fast, should we be celebrating, or starting to think we should have fixed what we KNEW was wrong with the niche's presentation?

This is literally an insane thing to even be arguing about: on a platform that trumpets it is aiming for quality, I frankly don't think anyone was expecting this much push-back from the company on making sure we correct spelling mistakes.  What is the upside to not making sure they are corrected?  Is there any advantage at all?

Sometimes I get the sense that the idealism of the Team, in terms of refusing to be a middle man, goes too far, without proper reflection.  Literally nobody is going to fault Narrative if the Tribunal corrects spelling mistakes and typos in order to approve a niche that is truly fit to represent the platform and what it claims to offer.  Nobody is going to point a finger at you and say: you censored me.  You robbed me of my 'right' to misspell and use poor grammar.  And if they do, let them leave if they want to, and be glad they're not part of the community.  That's the 0.1% of people you don't want around.  Its fine to make a mistake, but if you're going to kick up a stink because others kindly fixed it for you, you're not exactly bringing anything good to the table, right?  I guarantee, for every 1 person who has a problem with that sort of fix, there are 50 people who will think poorly of Narrative if you DON'T fix it.

Online, when you see misspelled phrases or poor grammar in areas that are thought of as under the control of the site, your mind goes straight to: am I even on the legit site, or did I somehow end up on a fraudulent copy of it, that is going to capture my password and scam me.  

Crypto, fairly or unfairly, already has a bad reputation for fraudulent operators - you don't want to do ANYTHING to add to that aura.

How many first time users will you lose to this?  10%  5%  Even 1% is 1% too many because it so easily PREVENTABLE.  And even if you don't lose them the first time around, you'll still be triggering that negative and distrusting reaction each and every time the user returns and sees another mistake.  It will reduce participation, minimize positive referrals... etc...

I really don't think the Team has given this enough thought - and that's fine.  What isn't fine is resisting those in the community who are trying to complement you, by bringing it to your attention.  The time you have spent in this thread is literally the first time a Team member has tried to discuss this quality control, despite several community members spelling it out to the best of their ability.  We've been saying there is something missing in the QA pipeline, for a long time now.  All we've got in return is signals that we're voting too harshly.  It would be nice, instead, for you to approach this situation with more of an open mind: maybe, just maybe the community has a point?

I'm not angry, just a bit tired because it boggles my mind that innovating by being the first social platform to deliberately decide not to fix typos, spelling mistakes and poor grammar in content categories and descriptions - seems like a valid way forward to people I would prefer to see as visionaries.  You've taken on a massively ambitious project, so people can easily become concerned when even something as basic as this seems to be being overlooked.  Can't we spend our energy arguing about something that is actually controversial?  This should be a no-brainer.

The wisdom of the crowd, and crowd sourcing most tasks on the platform, will only get us so far.  We must be prepared to be real about the limitations, and know it is ok to step in to get us the extra mile to not just excellency - but in this case, mere basic competency.  We will be negatively compared to all the other social networks who don't have this quality control problem, and there will be a degree of incredulity that we thought the ideal of being 100 percent crowd sourced somehow trumped basic fixes to misspellings of our content categories.

Is the bar we aiming for Medium, or Steemit?  Letting content categories and descriptions have mistakes feels a lot more like Steemit to me.  The reasoning behind letting it happen doesn't change one bit what impression it will make.  Nobody will care about our mantras of 'wisdom of the crowd', and 'we don't want to be middle men'.  Many will just see mistake after mistake as they read through niches... and think: really?  I'll just use medium to source my content.

 

 

Glad you like my rant @Malkazoid after an intense season of work, it feels good to be back in the Narrativerse!! Ha..I hope I was missed a little. Boy this is a good topic because I really can get behind both @David Dreezer and some of your points too Malkazoid. I think what that says is that the answers are very close and we just need as staff and community to try and stay away from the fringes.

Basically I agree with everything David said with one exception. As it stands the idea that the community attention will be the deciding factor...in principle I do agree, but because there is a mechanism that blocks users that get rejected, and that there is no removal of dormant niches, and because currently the niche suggester cannot fix the niche to help it's odds of getting purchased (WHEN crypto recovers), Malkazoid's points do hold water.

Buuuuut.... I disagree, probably for the first time with a lot of what you initially said Malkazoid. And i will unpack that a little bit.

Screen Shot 2019-01-18 at 1.54.35 PM

Two things. To continue to use the example of Tool; maybe the band is this persons passion project. He may be totally interested in submitting content, purchasing the niche, and who knows, maybe he is president of the Tool Fanclub and stands to bring 20,000 followers with him into Narrative. We don't know. To be so dismissive of his disappointment is a tad bit cavalier. And personally In my opinion, I think that all of you who voted "no" got it wrong. In my comment, I had asked for people to  do a simple google search before voting. Typing in just the description of the 4 names. It clearly gets you plenty of first page listings for the band tool. Just search the title...you get the band in the number one listing not a hammer or screw driver. Also I have never met a hammer named Danny.

Screen Shot 2019-01-18 at 2.04.30 PM

Screen Shot 2019-01-18 at 2.05.53 PM

In the real world Tool (which is easily understood despite the font) is NOT obtuse, as you suggest. It is a page one--top of the page listing with a simple google search. 

Regarding your response about being obtuse, and how will people know if their their content actually fits...well i respond with, that is why we have paid moderators. The onus is not all on the description. It is exactly the moderators job, to make sure the content fits the niche. That is why they collect 6% of the niche rewards. 

Here is a different perspective to consider, perhaps this niche owner is intentionally being a little obtuse because he wants to attempt to have some control over quality content....perhaps he plans to make this a really good niche and doesn't want a lot of people making junk content, pretending to be fans, just to cash in on all the activity...after all he has no control mechanism to stop the junk content from being added. Maybe using the band's actual font is his only control mechanism to speak to true fans of the band, and he just got voted down because a bunch of people said it wasn't mainstream enough. Bam! he just lost his quality control and his niche, and got locked out of of the suggestion system for a week. Just a different way of looking at it.

Finally, the statement about second languages and expecting to be hired as a writer, etc, etc. This isn't a job interview. This is a social media platform. You cannot blame people for wanting to be a part of it now, at the beginning, whatever their language capabilities are.  We need to be somewhat sensitive to the fact that people are not all English speaking as their first language. The fact that many initial investments came from people who do not speak English as well as others, should be remembered. Some of their money is also part of the rewards that we will reap. How hypocritical to try and exclude them now for pedantic reasons. They were good enough for Narrative when it came to money, so lets as a community try not to be hypocritical now that we are getting closer to launching. I just really think we can find a balance of  inclusion, tempered with quality. 

And finally I will say this. There is a growing tendency in the niche voting lately that is feeling kind of finger wagging, and knit-picky, being disguised as quality control, and with reputation in play now, that is maybe something people need keep in check.

I have been a proponent of quality all along, but not at the expense of growth. Growth is still way more important to me when it comes to Narrative. There is plenty of crap on facebook, but I still make posts there daily...why, because it is big and I can cultivate a niche community because of it's size.

Everybody needs to remember this isn't a job, this isn't school, This isn't the New York Times, it is social media. Nobody joined Narrative to be schooled, so let's not let the desire for quality, intimidate people to not participate. And lets make sure it is still fun to be here. That's all. I am ok with lots of A+ and some B's and some C's and maybe even a D if the intention is there. Obviously there are lots of stuff that shouldn't get passed, but I am seeing quite a bit of good stuff that is really on the fringe of passing, or worse getting rejected all together, for really knit-picky things.

With all that said, I am now going to go submit Tool to the Tribunal, because I think it deserves to be a niche, and my vote wasn't strong enough to help it get through.

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Apparently I'm late to this discussion. I think it's fairly obvious that I agree most with Malkazoid's perspective, though my voting is probably viewed as "harsher." I am autistic, so I do have my own standards based on my interpretation of the rules and suggestions we've been given about new niches because that is how things make sense to me. If I'm the only person who votes to reject a niche, I'm okay with that, because I have generally commented with my reasoning, which I hope will be taken into account when the niche I voted against is inevitably approved and the eventual owner has the ability to edit the name and description.

I'm coming up on the 10th anniversary of my freelance writing and editing business, where most of my clients have been marketing agencies outsourcing content creation for their own clients. Before that, I did essentially the same sort of thing, but I was an employee of an internet marketing agency. Before that, I was a quality rater for Google. And while their algorithms have changed drastically since then, the basic tenet is still the same: does any given page serve up what the user searching for it is actually looking for? That's my standard of clarity. Will people who want to read or contribute to any given niche be able to find it based on the name and description? If not, it's unclear. (Before the Google gig, I was a moderator for a popular teen website, but we're talking niche suggestions, not moderator elections.)

My issue with the Tool niche was that typing "tool" into the search bar on this site would NOT have returned the suggested niche with its unusual characters. Random browsing on niches would eventually turn it up, but if someone's searching and can't find it? They're not going to bother looking through every. single. niche. to find it - they're going to move on. As for Biscuits, when a word has different meanings in different English speaking countries, either the title or the description needs to make it CLEAR which definition of the word it is about. It wasn't clear, and the person who suggested the niche decided to call me pedantic instead of answering my question - refusing to clarify even in the comments section. Yes, I'm pedantic. I'm autistic. It's how I process information. I can't change how my brain works. My question was legitimate, and the lack of clarity helps no one. Yes, both definitions are legitimate, but users still need to know if their Southern-style buttermilk biscuit recipe belongs there or not.

I'm not trying to be harsh when I vote to reject a proposed niche. I want what's best for Narrative as a whole. If I could personally go through and correct all the grammar and spelling errors, and provide more clarity for niches with descriptions that are sorely lacking, I would do it. But I can't do that. All I can do is vote to reject when something's not right. I've been trying to make an effort in the past few days to comment with suggestions for resubmitting a proposal for a problematic niche to soften the blow.

Emily, it is great to have you back!

Regarding your opinion that I am being cavalier, I respect your opinion, but I think you are wrong.  As I've said explicitly in this thread, I have empathy for anyone who has their niche suggestion rejected.  Rejection of any kind is not most people's idea of fun.  But we have to keep this in perspective.  A healthy response to rejection is to try again. 

As my many comments on niche approval pages will attest, I tend to take the time to encourage people explicitly to resubmit a niche if their first attempt has problems that caused me to downvote it.  We should not sacrifice accessibility to our content categories just to ease the pain of having a niche rejected, but we don't have to be jerks about it, and I have been quite the opposite.  I don't ask for praise for the time I take to encourage many niche submitters, but it would be nice to not be called 'cavalier' about their disappointment.  How I feel about their disappointment, and how Narrative should proceed to make sure we're not stuck with poor accessibility on our content categories, are two very different things.

TRIBUNAL

I'm sorry you are submitting the Tool niche to the Tribunal - it would be better to get the Team to act on their decision to remove the 7 day ban, so that the niche submitter can resubmit it with a better description straight away.  As @Christina Gleason pointed out, reputation now ensures people will think twice before spamming the network with niches that don't meet the standards - so banning people from resubmitting a niche for a period of time is unnecessary... or at the very least should be switched to kicking in after 2 or 3 consecutive rejected niches.  I don't imagine this is a difficult change to make to the system, but the @Narrative Network Team may inform us otherwise.

The Tribunal will probably approve the niche as is, if their past voting is anything to go by, when simply adding words 'band', or 'music', or both to the description would make the niche more accessible to those who have never heard of it.

SEARCH

Of course people can use search to find out about the niche, but let's be real here - when people are casually in discovery mode for new content, few of them take the time to do that.  When something completely unfamiliar crops up, with no angle by which to start understanding it, most people ignore and move on.  And that's in the real world.  Online, people's patience is in even shorter supply.  And when one is in browsing mode, it is even more true: when scrolling through a list of subjects, the finger is already on the scroll wheel, already in channel-switching mode, so-to-speak.  The brain is in pattern recognition mode, looking for a sign of something interesting to latch onto.  A niche that has zero identifying markers of something they can determine as interesting, stands VERY little chance of halting the momentum of browsing.

And as @Christina Gleason points out above, it is also people's searches on Narrative that will not come up with the Tool niche.  Search for music, or band, or even for the correct genre?  You won't find the niche because NONE of that is in the niche name or description.  That's a big fail.

And the nuances of what we have already discussed about this niche are important.  It isn't just searching for the name of the niche.  We're asking people to:

a) decide to dig further despite zero information allowing them to sense there might be something of interest at the end of their search

b) think enough to realize a successful search will require more than just the title with the bizarre characters (which yields zero google results): it will require the unrecognized names from the description, or guessing that perhaps searching for plain characters Tool will find what the niche is unnecessarily obscuring.

Familiarity with the psychology of the unknown, alongside what we know of online behavior trends, tells us most people won't bother.

But if you give them just one entry point - which requires just one extra word - you increase the stats dramatically.  Add the word 'band', or 'music' (or both - it only costs typing a few more characters), and suddenly anyone who loves music has a reason to find out more.  Everyone who is interested in discovering bands they don't know becomes armed with the knowledge they need to motivate them to look further.  Humans are not web-crawling code.  They don't scour the web because their code makes them do so.  They need to be motivated to search.

This is important, because we aim for Narrative to be around for decades.  That means decades of missed opportunities to unite people with content that will enrich them.  When all we had to do was add one word.  

Please think about it.

Here's another thought, although there seems to be a lot of resistance to the Tribunal doing anything beyond rejecting or approving.

Why can't the Tribunal appeal become a two way street?

When the community has gone to the trouble to point out a niche is not meeting a standard of clarity, and has often suggested fixes in the comments - why waste this?  Why doesn't the Tribunal use those comments as a starting point to offer a revised niche description to the niche suggester, which the suggester can either accept, or refuse.  If they accept, the niche goes through, if they refuse, it is rejected and they can resubmit it later?

Tribunal members are already taking the time to explain their votes so this step would not be much more onerous.

There is a problem here and the community is offering all sorts of solutions.  @Christina Gleason has helped us realize we don't need to freeze niche submitters out anymore when a niche of their's becomes rejected.  I've offered that there should be nothing wrong with the Tribunal fixing a type or grammar mistake when they crop up.

I'm now offering that the Tribunal could use the community's suggestions to offer an improved niche description back to the suggester.

All of this is solvable, and the community is offering solutions.  We now just need to get the @Narrative Network Team to admit there is a problem, and choose a solution from the one's we've suggested, or from within their own brain trust.

Oh, @Emily Barnett, just one more thing that disturbed me a little: I'm quite sure I never said the Tool niche was 'obtuse'.  I used that word in a paragraph that had nothing to do with the Tool niche, and was talking about niche standards in general.  I take it this was just a mistake you made, and not an attempt to make me look like I'm being a jerk to the Tool niche suggester?  Because between this, and the 'cavalier' comment, I am wondering a little.  I have not been anything else but helpful towards niche suggesters.

Also, I see you have submitted the rejected Tool niche to the tribunal, but you have also suggested a new, improved Tool niche...  I'm not sure what the outcome of the Tribunal review will be, considering you've now submitted the niche again with a better description?  I've upvoted your niche suggestion.

Christina Gleason posted:
Malkazoid posted:

considering you've now submitted the niche again with a better description?  I've upvoted your niche suggestion.

I have as well. THIS is what a good name and description look like!

Exactly - problem solved!  In the end, I think this shows the way forwards.  We should take rejection in our stride, even if it sucks - and just resubmit an improved niche.  Everybody wins, because the network becomes a place where content is easier to find.  

Onwards!

 

Narrative is really frustrating me. Like to the point where I feel that it is a chore currently. Not the format. But this exclusionary approach that has been happening since the rep has been added, when it comes to voting. 

Here is the thing that this thread was about when i started it. The rejection rule is: "Is the Niche name/description unclear or incorrect". It doesn't state "could it be clearer or better marketed" that would be a different reason for rejecting, which is not a currently offered as rejection criteria. @Christina Gleason you keep saying in Alpha and here,  how you are predisposed to a pedantic way of thinking, that rules are the thing you must follow, and yet in my opinion you are one of the people, that on many occasions, has voted to reject because you feel the person could have done better. The rejection rule in more simple terms is: Do you understand it --yes. Do you not understand it -- no.  The rule isn't: did this satisfy what I feel this niche should have said. 

Christina, clearly you are a very articulate and meticulous person, at the very least when it comes to writing (I don't know you to determine anything else). You obviously are very educated, and you have pointed out your plethora of related work experience, but you didn't need too, it was already evident, and frankly it doesn't impact my concerns. I am glad that you are here, and I sincerely look forward to seeing what kind of content you submit. But here is the thing. A person's level of education, work experience, or even the way your brain makes you process things, doesn't give a person license to reject niches because  it could be better written.  Yes indeed, there are times it could be more articulate. I too don't like how some things are written. But quality has never mean't that Narrative is  just for the über educated. You need to make room for people whom don't have the luxury of your level of intellect, education, or work experience. 

SO I REITERATE:
How clear something is, is subjective.                                                                              Please think about this perspective-- I can look through a red piece of semi-translucent plastic and be able describe everything with extraordinary detail, because I good eye sight or at the very least can afford corrective glasses. The next person may come along and look through the same red plastic and can  see the same lines and shapes as I do, but not with the same detail, because they cannot get the glasses they need. That does not mean that the second person can not participate in describing what they see. If everyone here has to maintain your level, and that of a few others, for clarity, I am afraid I may find this to be a dull environment. And currently I am seeing people starting out with reps of only 0 or 1, just not being able to get a foot in the door, because of need to satisfy your standards of clarity. 

Don't be so threatened by the lesser niche description. Who cares if it doesn't indicate if it is a British Biscuit or an American biscuit...maybe he wants both! Splitting a Hair is exhausting!! If it is poor, it will not get much attention. The cream always rises to the top, anyway.

 

 

@Malkazoid, sorry for the 2 day delay getting back to your comments.

I didn't mean to offend you. I definitely wasn't trying to make you look like a jerk. 

Now I am walking a fine line here, because it wasn't my intention to call anyone out with this thread, nor was the "Tool" case not actually even one that i was  even referring to with this thread...it just kind of slipped that way. I actually don't  find you to be one of the people who is voting things down consistently for not being clear enough...or could be better worded. I find you to be very fair in determining if a niche is clear enough to proceed vs you understand the meaning, but  you prefer it to be better/ clearer than it is. These are different.

And that is not to say that each of us will find ourselves voting this way from time to time. But since reputation has been introduced, it is starting to become a new voting standard, that is not currently offered. And with people getting blocked out, it certainly can be construed as a way to game the system, even if that is not the person's intention. Rejecting most niches at tribunal or suggestion niches,  because it doesn't meet the highest standards of clarity, while gaining reputation, and keeping others not even able to start earning much, has consequences. I said it before and it is worth repeating since no-one addressed it, there is room for marks that are not all A+.

People are starting to get too wound up about how accurate everything needs to be for Narrative to be successful.  If a niche is sloppy, once content gets going, it will sink to the bottom. This is the structure.

Can we at least let the proverbial B team come to the game and wear a jersey. Is that really going to make Narrative look so bad. 

 

@Emily Barnett - do you really, sincerely feel some people are gaming the system by downvoting insincerely, to prevent the people they are downvoting from gaining reputation?  You mitigate your sentence somewhat by saying 'even if it is not the person's intention'.  But if it isn't the person's intention, it can't be 'gaming the system'.  Either people are sincerely voting what they feel is best for the platform, or they are gaming the system... it can't really be both.

So if it is gaming the system, I think you may need to be specific - even though you don't mean to call anyone out (and I appreciate your clarification that you find me to be fair in my approach).  If you really feel someone is gaming the system, it needs to be addressed...

My perception is that the stricter voters are voting based on their perception of what the standards should be to have a network that presents well.  I value those voices because there are not many of them.  There are certainly more lax voters than there are very strict ones, and I think this is a situation where we need to put our preferences aside and value the diversity of viewpoints in voting.

I will name one name that is an obvious one: @Christina Gleason is aiming for a very high standard of quality.  Even though I am quicker to upvote than she is, I value her input.  Consider that she has professional experience in quality control for Google.  We're really lucky to have her and would do well to consider her approach a bit more carefully, rather than rest within our own personal inclinations.  Most of us in the community are hobbyists when it comes to building this network.  We have the passion, and we're not dumb, but we don't have any prior experiences in maintaining online categories to a big league standard.  @Christina Gleason does.  That doesn't mean she is right all the time, but it certainly makes me question my opinions a little more than if she were my peer in inexperience.

I think that these differences are unavoidable and healthy.  

I also think that it can be detrimental to be annoyed at the voting patterns, or to speak in terms of people being 'exclusionary', or of yourself as being 'of the people'.  That feels a little populist, and paints those you disagree with, by contrast, as elitist.

Just as those polarising tendencies in US politics are increasingly dividing the country, I would like to avoid emotions riding too high unnecessarily on Narrative's niche approval voting.

Higher standards are not exclusionary - everyone is welcome, and all non-redundant niches are welcome: all you have to do is make sure your niche is worded clearly, and doesn't cause users to be confused, or wonder why our network seems to predate spell and grammar checks.  Everyone is able to either write this way themselves, or get help in doing so.  And if their first attempt gets rejected, they still are not excluded - they just have to resubmit.

As I've said to you before - if it is the reputation hit that is troubling you, why don't you join @Christina Gleason and me in asking the @Narrative Network Team to remove the 7 days lock out from submitting niches when a niche is rejected?  Like that people can go right on earning reputation without skipping a beat?  That's a constructive way forwards that I haven't seen anyone disagree with.  I even thing @Ted has mentioned he's in favour of it!

To conclude, I really hope we move away from speaking of 'exclusionary' voting - I see no evidence of that, and wanting the network to present well just requires us to hold ourselves and each other to certain standards.  This isn't some sort of Draconian exam - we're allowed to get help from our fellow community members and the community is very helpful, so there isn't much room for excuses in my opinion.

Thank you for saying this, @Malkazoid. It's okay for people not to agree on everything. I know I'm a bit stricter in my voting, but now I don't feel too much of a burden about it because your vote is equal to mine, so if I'm "wrong" about something, you can effectively cancel my vote. A week ago, it would take at least two people to be able to do that, and it made me hesitate to cast votes at all on certain niches. I do intend to try to vote on EVERY niche, but if I'm leaning toward reject but not quite certain, I'm going to wait until there are at least a few other votes before I turn the entire voting bar red and potentially sway everyone else who doesn't click to see the voting breakdowns. 

When I do vote to reject, I've been trying to comment more with how to make a better niche suggestion next time. As I've told my friends I've referred here, Narrative has a learning curve, and a lot of the "rules" aren't obvious, so I'm happy to answer questions and give advice. (I gave someone a heads up on a niche she should bid on even though she's never suggested one herself, too!) 

As for reputation, I don't want anyone to lose rep maliciously, but if someone does lose rep because their niche was rejected, I'm happy to help boost their rep by voting to approve if they take all of the advice given to them in the comments and make a better suggestion next time. And as I stated above, I don't actually enjoy having my vote count so much more than almost everyone else's right now. It's a burden, because if I vote the "wrong" way, it takes NINE new members who haven't built up their rep yet to cancel out my vote. (Or now, Malkazoid.) That's a lot of responsibility.

I want Narrative to succeed, and that means I want as many members as possible to succeed. But mistakes will be made, especially by new members, and having their suggested niches rejected shouldn't be seen as a rejection of them, but as a learning experience so they can make a better suggestion next time. Now that content drafting is live (HOORAY!) there's at least another way for people to participate if suggesting new niches turns out not to be their strength. We can recommend that people who make redundant suggestions start drafting some content to submit to the niches that already exist!

And let's not lose focus: creating content is where the rep and rewards REALLY come into play. Niche suggesting was only the beginning, because it was the only real activity available to us. People might suck at coming up with good names and descriptions for new niches, but they can still be amazing content creators - or even mediocre content creators - and be able to earn rep and NRVE from their content. My strict voting on niche suggestions is because I take the long view and want everyone who submits content to any given niche to have as much chance of success as possible...and terrible or even mediocre niche suggestions will decrease visibility and earning potential for everyone involved.

@Malkazoid actually it is you and @Christina Gleason who are joining me, in asking to remove the seven day block, as it was my initial post that suggested it, with you both adding into the dialog...but whatever. 

https://community.narrative.or...ant-and-other-issues

To answer your question, no I Don't really think people are gaming the system intentionally,  but given that I have never met anyone on this platform in person, and there are many new people whom I haven't connected with continuous dialog yet; then I ask you, how can I make any real conclusion either way? Which is exactly what I did: Not conclude. 

I also clearly said that I am happy  @Christina Gleason is on the platform in a post that I addressed her directly.  Unless you have not read my  post just before the one that you are responding too. You may want to read that one as well.

Malkazoid, I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. According to Adweek a recent study of the reading level of the average Facebook posts according to the Flesch Reading Ease, is grade 5 or younger...And somehow it still managed to grow to 1.74 billion Mobile users (not including personal computers) I think Narrative will survive letting a few niches through in these early stages that yes "could be better", or " could be better for marketing" even though they are definitely understandable. That is what this post is about.  ( ...I have also read that google gives preference to websites that are in the Flesch readability ease that is between grade 3 -5 because more people read at this level in the world than the upper end...so there is that as well. I am not proposing we dumb ourselves down, but just don't be so worried about needing everyone to rise up to a grade 12 level either).

@Christina Gleason i just read your post from a few minutes ago. I agree there is room for all of us to disagree. And we can also try to change each others points of view, or more appropriately try to improve each other. I recognize that is what you are doing on each vote that you have been a "bit stricter" in your own words, trying to improve other Narrative's writing skills. Admirable of you, to an extent. And I too, have the right to try and change people's view as well, to convince people to be a little more accommodating and to recognize that people all fall into different places on the Flesch- Kincaid Index.

All that said, I have noticed your approach has been a bit more accommodating to my pleas for a bit of a relax, over the last few days @Christina Gleason. Thank you, not for me, because, I am not speaking for myself, but because I want people to  feel encouraged to participate. I don't want anyone to feel they are not smart enough to be here. There may be people here who cannot write to save their life, but can take photo like it is nobodies business. And their subject may not yet be listed. And they might not be on the Community page yet, to ask you both for help.

Again I reiterate a third time, I am very glad that you are here, Christina. Good female voices on this platform is like getting a cupcake for breakfast, to me...it is a very good thing.

Emily Barnett posted:

 

Again I reiterate a third time, I am very glad that you are here, Christina. Good female voices on this platform is like getting a cupcake for breakfast, to me...it is a very good thing.

Thank you. Wanna make a pact? When Beta goes live, we celebrate with cupcakes for breakfast! Or delicious muffins - which are definitely not cupcakes, but can be just as enjoyable when you get them with chocolate chips in them, or topped with brown sugar and cinnamon!

I was unfair in blindsiding you Emily, without mentioning that I was responding in great part to what you said on Telegram recently.  

I actually thought we had all agreed to disagree, tacitly.  So when I saw you talking about exclusionary voting and how annoyed you were, I guess your annoyance bred annoyance in me.  Funny how that works sometimes.  

And yes - you may well have originated the idea of removing the lock out period for niche suggesting - if so, I’d love for us to focus on that idea of yours rather than your annoyance at how others vote.  

Average reading levels are not relevant to downvotes over mistakes, confusing descriptions and the like.  This isn’t a question of difficult words.  It is a question of clarity and not having our content categories present with easily avoidable mistakes.  

I don’t have any problem with our differing voting styles, but it is a mischaracterisation to call having standards for niche descriptions as exclusionary.  Nobody is being excluded: they are being asked to try again and to get some help if they need to.  I’m sure you can appreciate the difference.  

I guess part of my reaction came from the bad optics of using that word on Telegram where some folks who haven’t even joined yet might be getting their first taste of the platform.  I think they would be getting very much the wrong idea about our community if the first thing they read was your description of ‘exclusionary’ voting. 

There - I’ve said my piece.  

Peace on earth, and onwards.  

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