How can we “fix” muti?

2009 February 9
by Ismail Dhorat

Muti, (Startupafrica review: muti vs laaik.it) the much loved social bookmarking service for South Africans, one of the oldest around has a debate raging online. This debate comes along every few months. Mind you i am a relatively ‘New’ user, just about a year. However in the time using muti, this debate has raged several times. Everyone pitches in with their ideas on how to “Fix” muti, and Neville founder of muti being the accommodating person that he is that cares for the community, tries to ‘Fix’ it or accommodate peoples views.

The last debate, was on the ‘down vote’ and the points made by Neville where valid, in that given the small number of users. People were abusing the down voting option. Example, someone self submits a post of their own. They then go ahead and down vote all the items that are ranked high thereby pushing their post to the top.

The down vote was initially removed, and after the last debate the system was modified to let the users moderate topics. Moderation works by assigning ‘mod’ points based on activity on the site. You can then use these mod points to moderate (Down vote) posts. A history is kept, and anyone can view who has moderated an item. This is to avoid abuse.

However, the bitch meme has started once again to “Fix” muti. Calling for down voting again, and quite strangely Stii‘s claims it’s a way to ‘revive muti’. Dont get me wrong, i respect Stii, his a cool cat, great smoking buddy and behind a successful startups Afrigator & Adgator. However, to think that the simple act of bringing back down voting will ‘revive’ muti is wrong!

The moderation function is the best solution, since it offers the advantages of a ‘Down vote’ while avoiding the disadvantages of the ‘down vote’. It’s implemented quite brilliantly if you ask me. So the issue actually is:

  • Mod points are not used by most people, only a handful of users actually make use of them. Most of the time i am near 0 with mod points with the amount of modding i do.
  • It could also be that people are afraid to mod some peoples posts so they don’t offend and continue ‘navel gazing’.
  • The mod system is too complicated and takes too much time effort compared to a simple ‘down vote’, which is just a single click
  • Not enough mod points for active mod’s to use

Shaun Okes states in the comments

If Muti is to be revived, it needs to open it’s arms to the mainstream Facebook users, the ones who think Joomla is the band that Johnny Clegg used to sing in.

I agree totally here, the actual issue is that the community is very small comparatively. Right now, it’s mainly bloggers and social media folks using the site. However, current users of muti need to realise that once the community increases the content is going to get less and less niche.

Neville states in the comments

The real problem is that there is not enough *up voting*. Down voting will simply make the number of up votes even less.
My theory as to why the upvoting has declined is that too many people follow Muti on twitter (or RSS), instead of coming to the site which is the only place you can vote.

Nic sum’s it up very nicely

What we, as a community need to do, is rally support for muti, active, registered members voting and submitting. We need to reblog about muti, get our new readers on to it, facebook it, spread the word and grow the community. Then some of these suggestions will be worth something. But for now, I think we need people, not downvoting.

Well what should muti (Neville) do?

First, lets list out the main issues, as currently there are several which all seem to mixed up in one pot and the general concensus seems to be that changing a few things will ‘fix’ muti. It wont, and we are confusing the issues here.

  • Self submissions & Spam
  • Down voting / Moderation is too complicated
  • Up votes are too few (Small community)

Self submissions & Spam

The simple fact, nowhere on the site is a clear statement made on self submissions, What is regarded as abuse and what is not? I sometimes self submit. I started off on the site only self submitting, however instead of being slapped on the wrists right away. I was gently told that it was not cool.

Maybe, instead of slapping them on the wrists a simple message to user that self submit constantly would suffice. This could be coded with an automated script. Hopefully then the user will start submitting other posts and muti would have gained a new user rather then just another spammer. The ones that only care about promotion will leave.

Another way this could be done is with a “report user” button, once enough reports are received a message is sent to the user.

Down Voting / Moderation

I think the moderation in it’s current implementation is working, the issue is not enough people are actually using it for the reasons above. So maybe making it easier? Another issue is that most people are using RSS feeds or twitter to get muti posts. In order to down vote you would need to visit the site.

So a possible solution would be to let people moderate/vote via twitter. I.e @muti “post title/post ID” (-), This then gets pushed to a script that makes the necessary changes on muti.

Small community

The grow muti’s community, which is small comparatively we can get a few quick wins with the following:

Facebook Integration

  • Logon with your facebook username & password
  • See which of your friends are already on muti & their posts
  • When you vote, you can choose to publish a story to your feed
  • A facebook application that lets you upvote, down vote, box in your profile
  • Add an option under submission to “post to facebook”, with the link pointing to muti

* Note: Apparently a facebook app already exists however i tried adding it but it seems to be an app for “Pages” only.

WordPress plugin & comments

  • A plugin, that lets you easily display either ‘hot’ or your liked items
  • The plugin should pull in comments from muti that were made on your posts that have been submitted to muti. This could then be linked to the page of that submission. So readers of the blog can visit and up vote. Similar to the twitter wordpress comments plug-in.

Twitter Integration & RSS

  • Let users up vote/mod via twitter since it seems like most users access it via this and Seldom visit the site.
  • Add an option under a submission to “Tweet this” with the link pointing to muti or when submitting a tick box to “tweet” it as well
  • In the RSS feed add a link at the bottom similar to the flares from feedburner to “vote up”

These are my suggestions to get the most of muti, and to increase the user base.

P.s if you are on Mac OS X and use muti often, check out instructions on how to create a desktop app for muti.

P.P.S Comment back with your thoughts on these suggestions and your own

P.P.P.S Just felt like having 3 post scripts :)

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