Cake
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    • Whenever and wherever I try to interact with others online, I see a problem that is best expressed with three simple statements:

      1. When creating content, I want it to be seen by others.

      2. Most online platforms allow people to acknowledge they've seen something, either explicitly (thumbs-up, plus-one, upvote, ...) or implicitly (view count).

      3. When I consume content, I often forget to acknowledge it myself.

      If this isn't just me - and I assume that many people behave similarly - then this poses a problem: people want the recognition or "applause", or they will eventually stop producing content (or at least slow down). At the same time, we're bad at giving this recognition to others simply because interacting with some UI element isn't something that just happens as naturally as applause or other forms of non-verbal communication in "real life".

      All of the various interaction models I can think of have different up- and downsides, but not a single one of them is completely convincing:

      Reply - On old forums or BBS, the only way to applaud someone often is to write a reply.
      Upside: This obviously continues the conversation, and a reply is often more meaningful than a good number of upvotes.
      Downside: There are situations where writing a reply in unnecessary - and doing it anyway can be spammy and annoying.

      View count
      Upside: Can be automated, so that users don't have to think about it.
      Downside: Happens automatically, so doesn't mean as much. Can be confusing without context.

      Share count
      Upside: Sharing content is a really meaningful metric.
      Downside: Sharing happens even less than replies. Is not possible/useful in many situations.

      Thumbs-up/Upvotes
      Upside: Relatively easy to do...
      Downside: ...but still not automatic. Also, the fact that this implies approval means that it can't be used in some contexts.

      Up- & Downvotes
      Upside: Allows use in more situations, while still being somewhat easy.
      Downside: Can be abused for trolling. The fact that this is often used for content sorting at the same time means that users are tempted to downvote a conversation they've read even if they don't necessarily disagree with it.

      Clapping - Medium does this, basically allowing readers to upvote not just once, but as many times as they like.
      Upside: Allows readers to react in different ways without having to choose from a range of reactions. A bit playful, so might be inviting to readers.
      Downside: In the end, same as simple upvoting. Probably open to manipulation and/or "inflation".

      React (what Cake does)
      Upside: A whole range of interactions, none of which is explicitly negative. Allowing users to choose from many options can be inviting to use this feature more often.
      Downside: Too many options can be confusing for both parties: "Which reaction do I choose - and how do I interpret the random reactions I get from others?". As most others, doesn't solve the problem of this not being automated - and in fact, probably needs more mental capacity than just clicking an upvote button.

      So... are there any other ideas of what could work instead - or how to make one of the existing ideas work more reliably? Would some aggregate score that takes into account both explicit reactions and implicit numbers like view count, but doesn't necessarily display a simple number, work?

      (Last but not least - I've added the "Cake feedback" topic just in case this leads somewhere, although I don't think you're doing anything wrong right now. Reactions are sometimes confusing, but fun. ;))

    • Very good points!

      I have to admit that I do find it disconcerting to start a conversation and see no reaction at all to it. I should be used to it since I have been blogging for years - I allowed comments via Google+ but of course that capability has already been removed.

      On a platform like Cake I value the interaction that is possible, and I like that most have been thoughtful about responses.

    • Sometimes I will reply to someone’s post because the 🙂🤔♥️👍 options are insufficient to convey my actual reaction to their content.

      Other times, I will read a thoroughly intriguing post that engages me to immediately reply. And I will completely forget to show some love to the creator with an emoji like.

      I saw that your bike discussion was recently featured, @Factotum . I think that’s a way that Cake provides recognition for high quality conversation starters from creators. (Congrats, btw).

    • That is true. I've come to accept that my self-hosted photo blog (and in the last few years, my G+ collections) is first and foremost something that I'm doing for myself. Telling to myself that it is not public because I want others to see it, but mostly because I don't mind if others are seeing it, helps - a bit. ;)

      This and other platforms that are less about me, and more about the conversation between us, is different. If I participate in a conversation, I want to have some sort of feedback whether that participation is even useful to others.

    • Andreas

      I saw that your bike discussion was recently featured, @Factotum . I think that’s a way that Cake provides recognition for high quality conversation starters from creators. (Congrats, btw).

      This is true, and I appreciate the fact that it happened. :) Generally speaking, this could be added to my above list as

      Highlighting - done by the platform, whether automated or by a human moderator, to "feature" or otherwise present content to more people than would otherwise see it.
      Upside: If done right, can be something unique for the content creator. Helps generating all of the other forms of interaction, because more users see the content.
      Downside: In itself, not a form of user-user interaction. If automated, likely based on one or more of the other interaction types and can potentially be gamed. If done wrong, can lead to meaningless interactions, potentially invalidating the whole system.

      If the last part sounds a bit bitter, that's because exactly that happened to me on Google+. When Collections were first announced, I immediately jumped aboard, created some collections and even added many of my past posts to matching collections. Some of them were added to a (probably human-moderated, because none of their algorithms ever worked correctly) shortlist that was suggested to other users whenever they searched for topics or even when they signed up for the first time.

      The effect was an ever-growing number of collection followers (right now 90,000 vs. just around 1,000 that are following my profile), but no additional interaction - at all(!) - on any post I created for that collection. In the end, having that many followers turned out to be a bad thing, because it made every interaction that did happen worth less than before.

    • I never strayed into Collections on G+. I feel like my most meaningful interactions happened when there were active daily themes where there was a moderator and enough interested parties to support interaction between folks who were participating. The +s as an indication that someone saw the post were (sort of) good, but it was the commenting that I really valued and that made it worth participating.

      I agree on highlighting - it can be a good thing but I would prefer to understand how conversations are highlighted. Some of the selections make sense to me but others don't come close. Some highlighting can draw me into a conversation that I might not have seen, but for now I find that perusing the ALL category in addition to focusing on topics that interest me seems to be a better way to find converations.

    • For the first half of February, there were 151 new conversations started on Cake.  (Yes, I manually counted them.)

      How do you gain more eyeballs, reactions and responses to your conversation?

      I know this may sound simplistic, but I’ve seen plenty of conversations crash and burn because they lacked one or more of these three key elements.

      One, care about what people have to say and genuinely want to learn from others. If the “conversation starter” feels more like a selfie, you may want to find something else to start.

      Two, be passionate about the topic.  Most of us could pull together a conversation starter on a topic we have little interest in.  But although it might be grammatically correct and properly formatted, there would be no life to it.

      Three, be a subject matter expert (SME).  This isn’t a requirement—you can do fine if you have one and two covered and are at least knowledgeable enough on the topic to engage in meaningful conversation—but if I see a conversation

      on motorcycles, I’m more likely to read it if it’s hosted by @DangerDave

      on digital nomads if it’s by @Evergreen

      on Malaysia if it’s by @JazliAziz

      on Scotland if it’s by @lula2488

      on Colorado if it’s by @doughayes

      on Google+ if it’s by @ChrisJenkins

      on writing if it’s by @Felicity

      on gaming if it’s by @Factotum

      on running a nonprofit if it’s by @lidja

      on Brexit if it’s by @Richard

    • How do you gain more eyeballs, reactions and responses to your conversation?

      Just to make sure that I'm not misunderstood: while this is a related question, my focus here lies on a slightly different observation.

      It's not that I want to complain about too few eyeballs on my posts - instead, I get the feeling that I don't always properly express that my eyeballs have been on the posts of others. If this is not just my personal experience but that of others as well, this might be a hindrance for online conversations (or "content sharing") in general.

    • Each method of recognising online content has its pros and cons as you've clearly laid out. I often find that the easiest way to let a content creator know that I've consumed and enjoyed their content is simply by giving a 👍 on YouTube or a on Twitter. Or a reaction on Cake. These are the three places I consume user-created content the most. Leaving comments works well on Cake, but when it comes to YouTube and Twitter, if the content creator I'm following has hundreds of thousands or millions of followers, comments and replies can get drowned out, so I don't know if the creator will even see my comment. Ultimately, the "like" metric is easiest, and also the most likely method to be seen by the creator.

    • Something interesting which I feel is relevant to this discussion. I follow a group of creators on YouTube who collaborate together a lot. Three of these guys have a podcast with mostly weekly episodes. Last week, they were talking about viewership, and how they were imagining a future where our brains are interconnected to the internet, and if we watched a video or listened to a podcast, and we enjoyed it, our brain would automatically comment "LOL" or something on the post. It wasn't really a serious discussion, but something that just came up. Surely enough, on their subreddit when the podcast was posted, many of their viewers/listeners just commented "LOL". So this week they brought that up, and said that the number of comments they got (albeit the comments just being "LOL") on that episode were a lot more than the number of comments they usually get on other posts. So it's like they have a lot of listeners, but just because they never leave any form of "acknowledgement" on their posts, they are unaware of just how many people their content reaches.

      This week they thought of doing a similar thing again, but instead of leaving a "LOL" on the post, they asked their listeners to take a photo of their surroundings when they were listening to the podcast and post it online and tag them, so they can see where their listeners usually listen to their podcasts.

      I just thought this story was very timely and relevant to this discussion and wanted to share it.

    • Completely get what you’re saying. But I also think that my comments are related to your thoughts on what happens if no one engages with your content:

      When I consume content, I often forget to acknowledge it myself.

      If this isn't just me - and I assume that many people behave similarly - then this poses a problem: people want the recognition or "applause", or they will eventually stop producing content (or at least slow down).

      If you aren’t receiving applause—either because readers forget to provide a reaction or because no one is reading your content—then you’re going to be less inclined to invest the time to continue to create amazing content like this by @Denise

      or this by @JazliAziz

      Or this from @Felicity

      And I think the three keys of caring about what others have to say, passion about the topic, and sufficient knowledge for meaningful discourse apply to both conversation starters and responses. I certainly enjoy getting a notification that someone had a positive reaction to something I wrote, or that someone feels that it’s worth their time to engage with me in conversation. But I know that I need to do my part in earning that reaction or response. And my content creation tips, offered in my prior post, are more for the huge number of lurkers on Cake who haven’t started a conversation yet, rather than for regular contributors. I believe it was @ChrisJenkins who shared that less than 5% of Reddit users actually participate in discussions(!).

    • True story. When you look at their pageviews vs registered users stats, it's ridiculously obvious that the lurkers outweigh the participants by an order of magnitude.

    • So it's like they have a lot of listeners, but just because they never leave any form of "acknowledgement" on their posts, they are unaware of just how many people their content reaches.

      This is also a phenomenon I see a lot in open source software.

      It's not uncommon for an open source project to have thousands or even millions of users, but for the project's creator to have no idea how many people are using it because those users never say anything unless they run into a problem.

      A few years ago I wrote a CSS parser and released it as open source. Recently I was shocked to discover that it's been downloaded over 32 million times. In the entire history of the project, users have only filed 4 bugs, so I had no idea it was so widely used!

    • This was freaking hilarious! You captured perfectly the snake oil salesmanship of social media hucksters who promise 10,000 followers instantly.

      A guy who is a big social media influencer said something surprisingly honest in a webinar. He said that for most people, you can have an enjoyable platform experience if you have 50 regular readers who engage with your content. He said that’s more people responding to your content on the Internet than the fan mail an average magazine writer or novelist would receive a hundred years ago.

      I think my number is much lower than that, but I thought he did a nice job of putting things in perspective.

      Oh and I did you a solid by promoting your article on Twitter ⬇️. (I may have overhyped it a bit.)