Losing lifeblood: Advogato's marginal appeal

Posted 31 Aug 2011 at 10:16 UTC by chalst Share This

Two days ago, gesslein announced his retirement, provisionally at least, from Advogato, saying No one can comment on my posts, and it doesn't seem to be reaching anyone.

There's a few things to explain the lack of feedback he received:

  1. You get comments from other Advogato users in their diaries, which you see on Recentlog. Anyone can create accounts, and new users' diaries have threshold 5.0, which means that most people who watch Recentlog will see them. So they are there.
  2. Why did gesslein expect feedback? I saw that he was working on a free computer algebra system, which sounds nice, but I haven't wanted to use a free algebra system recently and he hasn't told us why his is special, except to say that algebraic terms can have semantics-less functions in them and it seems to support differentiation. How does it compare in its aims to other systems that can do computer algebra, such like OBJ, Maude, Twelf, Mathematica, Labview, &c.? Is it an exploratory project or does it aim to meet an identified need? The easiest ways to drum up interest around here are to give an overview of your free software interests, comment on other people's diaries, and ask for help. If you don't take the right steps, you won't get the right reactions from us.

But that's really complacent as a rejoinder. While there is appeal to Advogato as a social network —the system has been much more durable than many more featureful social network offerings, it is an interesting ongoing social experiment, and there are a fair few free-software folk who watch the site than might be apparent from Recentlog and last login date— the site must be hard going for new users, taking a lot of time to build up standing and very little in the way of feedback that you are on the right track.

This message of gesslein isn't of an unexpected sort, but it bothers me, since he seems to be exactly the kind of person who would fit in very well here.

What can we do to make Advogato work better for new users? A practicable solution, if we find one, is unlikely to involve a lot of development work, but any ideas might be useful.

Related content
Ankh's article, Social Networks and Advogato, asks a similar question and provoked substantial discussion. I'm not asking, though, what would make Advogato a more convenient and syndication-friendly place, but what would make it easier going for new users.

Thanks for the feedback, posted 31 Aug 2011 at 13:09 UTC by gesslein » (Journeyer)

Sorry to leave Advogato so soon, and thanks for the feedback. I won't be using this service as a blog until comments (or notification of comments left elsewhere) can appear on the same page as the blog post. I am not worried that much about popularity as I am for long-time functionality and ease of use for both me and the readers.

Thanks for letting me try Advogato, it has been educational, interesting, and different.

George Gesslein II

advogato vs other social network sites, posted 1 Sep 2011 at 15:41 UTC by StevenRainwater » (Master)

I can't blame him, I blog using word press and syndicate it here. That let's me get comments as well as pipe my posts out to Facebook, G+, Myspace, Twitter, and even Advogato. I still check the recent log here every day.

I have a patch someone sent in to allowing blog comments but there's still other stuff ahead of it on the ToDo list, mostly security fixes.

Long term, I'm not sure what would make Advogato more useful to users. I know for myself, I'd like to look at someone's profile and see more current status information (project commits, twitter, flickr, other online activity).

my two cents, posted 3 Sep 2011 at 18:49 UTC by badvogato » (Master)

Steven, robots.net/recentlog.html parsing seems to be cut short as well.
gesslein, have you read this old article on New Yorker 'Multifold Destiny'? Does the name Grigori Perelman ring a bell? Prof. Li Miao's blog entry brought about my recollection of this paper.

But it is not possible to comment on blogs?, posted 7 Sep 2011 at 14:26 UTC by audriusa » (Journeyer)

Maybe this is technical and not a moral issue. It is, indeed, not possible to comment on Advogato blogs, only on articles. Is this a problem we are discussing? gesslein is certified high enough to post articles, maybe this is what he should be doing instead of resigning now?

Articles are not just blogs with comments, posted 8 Sep 2011 at 11:07 UTC by redi » (Master)

I don't think it's appropriate to post an article every time you want to blog, just to be able to get comments. I read gesslein's diary entries, it was interesting to see progress, but I am neither qualified nor interested enough in the field to have commented. Those four or five sentence progress updates would not be suitable as articles. If they had been articles I might have been inclined to comment, but only to say "shouldn't this be a blog not an article?"

Most discussion happens on recentlog, if you want a more typical blog format then as Steven said you can host it elsewhere and syndicate it here.

Linkbacks, posted 16 Sep 2011 at 08:45 UTC by cdfrey » (Observer)

I might have mentioned this a while ago, but if there were some way to link to the diary entry you are replying to, this would help a lot.

And email feedback for such links would be useful too.

For example, when I respond to someone in the recentlog, I add an HREF link to the post itself. This is great for people reading my post, but doesn't help anyone reading the original. If there were either an automated way of adding those linkbacks to the bottom of the original, or some way to tag the href so the software could use it smartly, then the conversations would be linked in both directions.

Email notifications, posted 16 Sep 2011 at 08:50 UTC by cdfrey » (Observer)

And email notifications would be excellent as well. For recent diary entries, or recent articles on the main page, people check frequently enough; but for comments or linkbacks that reference very old posts, email notifications would help, especially for the articles.

It would be nice to opt in to email notifications for this article, for example. Now that I've replied, I have an interest in what else is said. :-)

Re: Linkbacks, posted 21 Sep 2011 at 14:32 UTC by redi » (Master)

This week it's 9 years since I implemented linkbacks for mod_virgule :)

See redi:17 and redi:18. Unfortunately I no longer have access to the site hosting www.kayari.org so the patches might be lost :-\

Re: Re: Linkbacks, posted 21 Sep 2011 at 14:33 UTC by redi » (Master)

Oops, paste-fail, the second link should be redi:18

Organization is key...?, posted 1 Oct 2011 at 16:34 UTC by MartySchrader » (Observer)

Are we perhaps talking around the central issue of organization here? That Advogato isn't Sourceforge, never was intended to be, nor is it freshmeat or any other venue is clear. However, these other places are better organized in that you know exactly where to go to get certain stuff and you know how to add your content to the stream of consciousness. Y'know, Advogato still doesn't have any kind of organization mechanism for the project page, nor single line descriptions, nor any of that good stuff that would make it so much easier to get involved.

Do we need some stronger "social medium" kinda mechanisms in place here? Do we need ways to connect easier, share easier, respond easier? What are the barriers to participation? Is this the reason Advogato isn't any bigger nor have more participants?

Just asking. Don't know.

I glanced back after a few years, posted 9 Dec 2011 at 03:34 UTC by Ankh » (Master)

Interesting that this article on the front page mentions me; I stopped posting mostly because I couldn't see replies, didn't get notified if someone replied, and because a lot of the articles / blog posts were redirected from other sites, so the authors probably wouldn't see comments either.

Ralph did show that advogato's trust metric could work, and that was a huge contribution.

The site is basically unfinished, however.

Your Canting Dictionary , posted 14 Dec 2011 at 19:03 UTC by badvogato » (Master)

wish I know how to package it and sell for personal gain. YES. WE CAN.

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