Lately I've noticed a number of people seem to be abusing the comments system on Warwick Blogs, posting large numbers of comments on their own and their friend's blog entries in order to propel those entries to the top of the Hot Topics list.
I guess it's difficult to stop people doing this on their own blogs if they wish to, but it would be nice if blogbuilder had the intelligence to filter out these entries based on certain criteria, so that only the entries which are genuinely generating a lot of interest are shown.
Currently the Hot Topics list appears to be created by ranking recent entries based on the number of comments received on them. So I got thinking about what kind of additional metrics could be used to perhaps make the system less open to abuse. What follows is an initial list of possible factors.
- The number of people who have commented on the blog entry. Details of non-logged-in users can be faked, so it might be necessary to exclude these from the caluculation, or possibly give them a lower weighting.
- The average number of people who comment in between successive comments by the same author. This will flag up instances where a user posts a large number of comments in succession or engages in a two-way banter with another user in order to increase the number of comments.
- The number of links from other peoples' blogs which point to that entry. It'd be difficult to count links from externally-hosted blogs in this (unless you're Google, of course) but links from WB-hosted blogs (either in the body text or the "Writing about entry…" field) could be counted up to get a good measure of this.
- The average number of words in comments to the entry. It seems fair to assume that entries with many one-worded comments should be considered to be generating less interest than those whose comments contain a few sentences of the author's reasoned thought on the matter.
- The dictionary hit rate of the words in each comment. This would give a lower weighting to any comments containing random letters typed on the keyboard to boost the number of comments.
It seems a shame that so many uninteresting entries are making it to the top of the Hot Topics list at the moment through abuse of the system. This should be a place where the best of the Warwick Blogs output is shown off to the world, not a place where attention-seeking people who've worked out how the system works promote their dubious content to us all.