The Internet’s social boom has been great in a lot of ways, but it has left us with a bit of a mess.
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There’s a real problem, and it must be solved, not avoided
Publishers often have Facebook, twitter, linkedin, google+, their own commenting, and maybe a sharethis addin that brings along anything else you might want. It’s a mess.
At Prismatic, we have an even worse problem to deal with. First, we need to support sharing to multiple networks.
The first action is sharing, which we deal with by having a single share action and toggling between only a small number of the most important sharing options - right now, just twitter, facebook, and email. We may get into commenting, but we have a lot more simplifying to do first, and we’d need to see a ton of users clamoring for it.
We also currently support other network-native interactions on content from other networks.
When we show tweets, we want users to be able to act on them with Twitter’s native actions - reply, retweet, and favstar. Likewise, for Facebook likes when we start showing Facebook content. The world of publishing is chiang and includes content published directly on social networks - Twitter and Facebook comments are the simplest examples, with other important content like code on github or designs on dribbble, it get’s even more complicated - which is why we didn’t start there. :)
Besides all these integration problems, we also have actions on Prismatic that serve a specific purpose, and we want to be sure we get this right.
Like, Favorite, Upvote-downvote, Read-it-later, and More-like-this
StumbleUpon, Pandora, and Zite have the thumbs-up-thumbs down style training. Community sites like Reddit and Digg do upvote-downvote community bulletin board style.
Mobile has given bookmarking a second life in the form of all the read-it-later variants like Instapaper and Pocket.
We’ve been curious if these can all be connected with the notion of a “like” and “dislike” in the form of our + and x icons, next to share.
There’s always been some ambiguity about the role of favoriting (+) and removing (x) in Prismatic. The remove action (x) is pretty straightforward - you remove content you don’t like, and we show you less content like that. The favorite action (+), on the other hand, does three things: 1) It saves the content to your ‘Favorites’ feed, 2) you can share your Favorites my making them public in your activity feed, and 3) we learn what content to show you more of.
This tri-role Favorite brings up some questions. Should Favorite just be a social action, similar to a like on Facebook, or a retweet or favorite on twitter? Should it be used for training the system to show me more like this? Can it be hooked up to broadcast to your choice of read-it-later bookmarking service? Or should these be split into two or maybe even three separate actions?
In Prismatic, we learn about your interests from every action you take, so we’re not worried about creating a separate signal just for you to tell us you think something is interesting. We don’t want to design around this thumbs-up-thumbs down training interaction. We’d rather let you interact with content and friends, and figure out which are the strongest signals that you find something interesting.
If we keep just one action (currently +), and allow you to broadcast those favorites to read-it-later services, allow you to share those favorites with others, and we learn from what you favorite, then there is the nice aspect of having only three actions; x, +, and share. But the downside is that it conflates some things, and perhaps saving/bookmarking should be separated from favoriting/liking.
So it all boils down to the question - should save/bookmark be the same thing as like/favorite, or should they be different actions?